Welcome aboard “SY Zeezwaluw”

From 2002 the Dutch Sailing Yacht “Zeezwaluw” took Ineke and Riens Elswijk to many remarkable countries and countless wonderful people.

Follow them in “the Zeezwaluw Post” and “Travel letters” or share their experience with anchorages or ports from St Petersburg to Haifa and from Holland to the Azores & Madeira Archipelago & the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. Very new are South America (Suriname) and Caribbean Sea (Grenada & Martinique) and the ABC-islands (Bonaire & Curacao)

You will also find information about these sailors, their galley secrets and “SY Zeezwaluw”.

For more information or specific questions, contact them via email.

Zeezwaluw Post, latest news   Newest Travel letter:  Bonaire & Curacao



On the hard and floating again

Zeezwaluw Post number 3

Yes, Zeezwaluw is floating again after 4 weeks on the hard in Curaçao Marine. The last “Post” told the crew went to Holland for a drivers licence and came back with the flu, (and the drivers licence). It took some time to recover as this flu was a nasty one, or …. the crew have zero tolerance for the Northern germs. Hence, the planned “yard time” had to be postponed till February 26.

In the early morning of February 26 the crew pulled the anchor after about 3 months in Spaanse Water (SW). On their way to the narrow and shallow entrance channel, they found out the depth sounder did not work. Luckily it was on their way out of SW, so they knew to stick to the middle of the channel, the deepest part. All went well.

After 2 hours motoring they approached the Pondjes Bridge in the Anna Baai. The bridge opened after 10 minutes waiting time. Passing the bridge Zeezwaluw became the objective of many cameras along the bridge. The crew assumes Zeezwaluw will appear in many holiday pictures of the cruise ship passengers. Just before 10 a.m. they moored alongside the pontoon at Curaçao Marine, for the haul out.

3_Curacao Marine, 3 maartAt 11 o’clock Zeezwaluw was hauled out and rested on the trailer for pressure washing. By 1 p.m. she was standing on supports near our friends at “SV Hanna” (US) and “SY Rafiki”(NL). It was time for the crew to adjust Zeezwaluw to land conditions. (Hose pipe in the outlet of the galley sink draining in a bucket, digging out all the tools and paint equipment etc.).

Next day the real work started. First was to attack the Raymarine depth sounder problem. Could they get it working again or not??? To be honest, they did not try very hard for it was 23+ years. Due to the shape of the hull underwater, the depth sounder was installed in a “little boat-shaped” protrusion.

The first week Riens spent with looking at the internet and local chandlers, for a replacement Raymarine depth sounder fitting in the old housing. No success or way too expensive. By searching the internet Riens found at SVB in Germany a complete new set of depth and speed instruments (including 2 cables and combi display) for a third of the price as at the Chandler IWW in Curaçao. March 11 it was ordered and SVB would send it to “ship in Transit” at Curaçao Marine in Curaçao. Now the normal yard work could be divided between the crew.

Riens’ goal was to get out the leaking and temporarily fixed bronze thru-hull fitting (epoxy underwater putty and epoxy + fiberglass mats). This was the reason why Zeezwaluw had to go on the hard in the first place.

So the next few days Riens was busy on his knees, working upside down under the floor to get to the thru-hull. Once the old one was out, the new Maralon thru-hull fitting could be installed. So, one problem out of the way and a job well done, the columnist thought.

Ineke was in charge of “the bottom job”. Scraping the barnacles off and sanding the bottom. Thereafter she had to repair the tiny spots with epoxy filler to get the bottom smooth again. Together they applied 3 coats of antifoul (Micron 66) and a 4th coat on the rudder and the wind and water line. Job done too! (as well as the other haul out maintenance jobs)8_Curacao Marine 18 maart

Almost all jobs were done by the end of March except the installation of the depth sounder. Why???

Well the delivery by DHL Post of the parcel from Germany to Curaçao took some time. First the parcel was gathering dust at the collecting facility of DHL Germany for 1 week according the Track & Trace system.Pakje Thereafter it was at Curaçao Customs for a few days. Then the T&T system became confusing. Contacting DHL office in Curaçao learned that their office only does “Express” deliveries. Zeezwaluw’s parcel should be at the post office. The crew went to the post office for collecting the parcel, there the answer was; “no parcel”, yet. The following days, contacting the post office by phone did not work.

9_Waiting_timeIn the mean (waiting) time we enjoyed our view of the yard from the bow, while the yard staffs was renewing the grit so she would look at her Easter best!

Finally Melissa, of the office of Curaçao Marine tracked down the parcel, after 2 days of telephone calls. The parcel for Zeezwaluw was sitting in the other Post Office in Willemstad! Grrrrr! To make a long story short, Riens walked to town and collected our precious parcel and walked back with the large parcel too (total 5,5km). It was March 28 by then.

Just before Easter the crew was able to start the process of removing the old instruments, cables and display before installing the new equipment. Easter Monday (a holiday in Curaçao) they were ready with all the jobs. Time for consulting with the yard manager about splashing day! The first opportunity was April 4, the next day at 8 o’clock in the morning. Well, that was excellent!

The columnist was informed and he came for the splash party and made pictures and a little movie of the happening. Enjoy Zeezwaluw’s slow and careful ride on the trailer and getting into the water again.

The next few days the crew will prepare the boat in Curaçao Marine marina for the 500 Nm sail to Sint Maarten. Keep an eye on Marine Traffic for Zeezwaluw’s departure from Curaçao and arrival in Sint Maarten.

More news in Pdf form from 2018

The newest travel letter: Bonaire & Curacao



ABC-Islands, Curacao

The pilot to the ABC Islands we used was one of the Gotto Go Cruising Guides; “The ABC Islands” written by D. Waterson & D. van der Reyden (ours was an old edition). Another possibility is using “A guide to the ABC islands” from Frank Vigentino; this is a free download on http://freecruisingguides.com/5_FlagCuracao

The island Curaçao has several anchorages from east to west at the south side, as the ABC-pilot will show. Nevertheless most cruisers are anchored in Spaanse Water. It is a very save and enjoyable anchorage.

Spaanse Water anchorage: 12° 04′.835 N 68° 51′.743 W

When you enter Curaçao waters, anchor in Spaanse water flying the Q-flag. The next day you do the check-in at Custom & Immigration. That’s the easy and official way.

Spaanse Water is divided in several sectors where you are allowed to anchor. A and B are separated by a fare way, which should be free at all the times. VHF hailing channel is 72, with a cruisers net 6 days a week at 8 a.m. (end of February 2018 it stopped, no netcontrolers available)

For more and specific information and pictures about the Anchoring areas, see the Facebook page; Curaçao Cruisers Information. This is a closed group but join them and you will have access to all the important information. In the file section Documents, or follow the link and you will go directly to the Pdf file. In the Pdf file is all the important information you like to know; for example, where to find Custom & Immigration and where to obtain the anchor permit (USD 10,=) and many other things. To repeat it here is useless for it’s too much.

The information below is our experience during the time we have been there.

We were anchored at the above coordinates which is in sector A, the nearest to the dinghy dock at the fisherman’s harbour. The holding in mud was excellent, but be aware that some places have grass where the holding is not that good. Zeezwaluw was anchored in + 6m with 35m of chain in the water. Have a swim to be certain where your anchor is. The winds are commonly from the E between 15-20kn. In the afternoon the wind picks up but dies at sunset again. Occasionally a reversed wind will turn you 180°, so anchor a safe distance from your neighbour boats.

The dinghy dock in the fisherman’s harbour is where the free of charge shopping bus to Vreugdenhil supermarket is, leaves Mon-Sat at 8.30 a.m. next to the gate. He returns from the supermarket at 10 a.m. Other shops (Budget, Pharmacy, hardware shop etc.) are in walking distance of Vreugdenhil and can be reached with the same shopping bus. We were very content with the bus and the supermarket’s extended and very good stock and prices.

Bus to Willemstad number 6A stops at the roundabout opposite Pirate’s nest. Latest schedule of all busses (change regularly) is available at the main bus station in Willemstad.

Internet: Free Wi-Fi at the restaurant Pirate’s Nest and you can tie-up at their dingy dock. We used Digicel 4G prepaid SIM card (15 Gb/month, Naf 90) for the internet. You have to buy the SIM card in Willemstad at their office at Brion Plein, just across the Pondjes Bridge to the Otra Banda side.

Water boat: Delivery day is Wednesday. Call “Water boat” at Ch 72 for a delivery on Wednesday. Unfortunately, at the end of February 2018 the water boat went out of business. We do not know if they are coming back at all.

Curaçao Marine, marina & hardstanding 12° 06′.5 N 68° 55′.3 W

Curaçao Marine uses trailers of different sizes for getting in and out of the water which works great. The staff is very careful in handling your boat. The yard is divided in long term storage and short term. At the short term storage you are allowed to stay on the boat and do your own work. Short term storage is a few $ cents more as at the long term. They provide a ladder to get on and off your boat for free. There is water and electricity 220/110V near every boat. Free Wi-Fi. Toilet and shower block. No washing machine but a laundry pick-up. A free shopping bus runs from Mo-Za to Vreugdenhil supermarket. The chandlers Budget Marine and IWW are in walking distance. Guarded 24/7.

You can get more info at their website: www.curacaomarine.com or sent an email to: info@curacaomarine.com       Telephone number: +599 9 465 8936

There’s a small marina too with the same facilities as on the hard standing.

We have been in Curaçao Marine on the hard for just over 4 weeks doing our own work and were please by the staff. They are very friendly and helpful. We can highly  recomand Curaçao Marine.



Travel letters 2017 –


I6_First_sunset_in_Kralendijk_at_Bonairen 2017 we only had 7 months of traveling. Zeezwaluw has been on the hard in Clarks Court Bay Marina & Boayard untill the end of May 2017, almost till the start of hurricane season. For we did not want to spend a second hurricane season in Grenda we started to move north during “good weather windows”.

Hopping along the west coast of Grenada north via Carriacou Island to Martinique. From there a jump across the Caribbean Waters to the ABC-islands. First Bonaire and 2 months later to Curaçao, where we are at the moment.



ABC – Islands, Bonaire

The pilot to the ABC Islands we used was one of the Gotto Go Cruising Guides; “The ABC Islands” written by D. Waterson & D. van der Reyden (ours was an old edition). Another possibility is using “A guide to the ABC islands” from Frank Virgintino; this is a free download on http://freecruisingguides.com/

In 1_Flag_BonaireBonaire anchoring is forbidden at all times. You have to use the little red & white mooring buoys profided by the National Marine Park (NMP). Harbour Village Marina (HVM) collects the fees of $10,=/d (2017) for the NMP. No reservation of a mooring bouy, rule is first comes first served. If non available, you are allowed to use one of the orange diving buoys, but as soon as possible you have to move to an official mooring buoy or sail on to another destination.

When you arrive during the dark hours, it is very difficult to spot the mooring buoys or to monouver to pick-up one. You are allowed to go into the HVM and tie alongside the starboard quay side. (we moored in-between two hugh motoryachts just for the night). Report to the HVM office as soon as its open.
Normal procedure on arrivel is:
• Pick up a mooring buoy (if available)
• Check in at customs & Immigration
• Go to the HVM to pay (in advance) for your moorng buoy for the time you like to stay.
The water is cristal clear and heaven for divers and snorcklers!


We were on mooring buoy 39 depth 4.4m, (see the picture of the mooring field) this mooring has 2 concrete blocks (others have sand screws) from each block/screw runs a line to a red-white buoy. Attach your own lines through the eye of each buoy and attach both ends of each line to your ship.Bonaire mooring field

The mooring field runs from east of the Harbour Village Marina to Karl’s Beach Bar. In some places is a double line of moorings of which the inner ones are in more shallow waters. In the picture you will find the depth in meters of each buoy.

We were not able to use/recieve an open WiFi signal but used instead Digicel. A prepaid Sim card and an internet package is very cheap (15Gb/month for US $32) and works fine. Digicel shop is in the main street behind the waterfront behind Karls Beach Bar.
Garbage disposel is opposite Karl’s Beach bar in the green dumpsters or at HVM.

There is NO official dinghy dock but you are allowed to tie up at Karl’s Beach Bar (do not tie at flower pots) or in HVM. There has been a duscussion lately (oct 2017) where to tie up in the marina. To be sure you are not in the way, ask the manager in the marina office where to park your dinghy. We never had a problem at any of the two places.

To all other information about Bonaire we refer to the Facebook Page Bonaire Cruisers. Once you have joined them, you find in the files section the PDF file with lots of usefull info about Bonaire, like free shopping busses to the supermarket and so on.

For the above info is an PDF file click HERE


Travel letters 2002-2004

49 Gulkrona (F), steenkunstApril 2002 we moved from a house to Zeezwaluw and started our live aboard life. Due to the fact we sailed the first year north to the Baltic Sea we met few live aboard, only weekend sailors or holiday people so for travel letters was no need to.

But once sailing south we met live aboard of many nationalities and from the start there was a bond between likeminded people. There for only from 2004 we started writing travel letters on a regular basis. But we had a great time in the Baltic Sea and want to share those experiences with you. These travel letters are written in hindsight so to speak but we hope you will enjoy them.

For the next travel letters go to: Travel letters 2004-2010.



Mediteranean Eastbound Travels

054 CapoliveriFrom 2004 to 2008 we traveled with Zeezwaluw eastwards through the Mediterranean Sea. We were hopping along Spain, Italy and Greece and their islands further on to Turkey and Israel at the end. At the start we thought spending 2 year at the most in the Med. Well, it turned out to be so amazing due to the country’s history; we spent 6 years in the Med before we managed in 2010 to untie ourselves. We hope you will enjoy the travel letters with our adventures.



049 Akko,At the end of August 2008 we reached Haifa in Israel. We stayed a month in this town and saw a lot of the northern part of Israel due to our sailing friends who live there. End of September we sailed to Ashkelon to winter. It is the most southern marina in Israel and near the Gaza Strip. We enjoyed our stay very much due to the friendly people, many historic sites and of course the weather. Our stay was cut short due to the Gaza problems early 2009 as you can read in the last travel letter of Israel. We hope you have fun reading our adventures and enjoy the many pictures.



Mediterranean westbound travels

27 Sardinie, Castelsardo

From our departure from Israel we have been travelling westwards out of the Mediterranean. Not as quick as we thought we would but we had a great time in visiting new and old places again. So, travel with us out of the Med to new horizons.