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 2017



Hiking & History

Zeezwaluw Post number 1

Zeezwaluw and her crew are still in Curaçao, anchored in “Spaanse Water” at the south side of the island. As the columnist found out lately they have been busy. This01_walking time of year (December) they were not occupied by boat jobs but doing a bit of walking and socializing.

One of the walks was to the Jan Thiel salt pans nearby the anchorage of Spaanse Water. These salt pans are not in use anymore, too labour intensive, so nature is pristine again. The crew had discovered a few hiking signs along a path going into the right direction. But to have a more up-to-date hiking map they used http://www.maps.me an app like Google maps. Maps.me can, after downloading the required area, be used off-line. By zooming-in they learned that even the tiniest hiking trails were visible. Great feature! On a nice sunny day, they put their walking shoes on and off they went.

The first kilometres to the start of the trail was just along the road with holiday compounds so not too interesting. As soon as they reached the trail and beyond the first sign, nature was all around them.


The sandy path meandered through low bushes and some trees bending leeward. Along the path in tiny scrubs they saw many white objects, a kind of snail houses, but all were empty or dried out but still sticking at wherever they landed. Walking along the path which was slightly downhill they never saw other human beings, just birds and iguana’s. The first sight of the saltpans was through the bushes followed by a stunning wide view over the whole area.


These saltpans are home to flamingos and herons. It is really incredible for they are not flying away when approached by humans. The trail crossed a dam over the old seawater-intake to the saltpans; actually the salt-pans were a bit below sea-level for easy influx of sea water. The crew had a little pick nick/coffee break on top of the dam. So they could enjoy the view to the crystal blue sea on one side and the salt pans at the other.


Thereafter they did not follow the trail across the dam but meandered along the shore of the saltpans trough thick bushes before the path went uphill again. Most of the trail has beautiful views over the lake in different directions. The last part of the trail is a wide path up-and-down hills before it ends at the road again. During the 8km hike the crew did not see other hikers at all.

The crew was educated in Bonaire about the history of slave labour in the saltpans. So due to the fact that there are salt pans in Curacao, they liked to learn more about the kind of labour in the salt pans of Curacao. Was it also slaves who did the hard work?
As luck would have it, there was a special museum in Willemstad’s “Otrabanda” (means other side of the St Anna bay) about slavery in Curaçao.12_KuraHulanda

“Kura Hulanda museum” is situated in “Kura Hulanda Village. In the now renovated gathering of buildings was the old slave trade centre/depot. Part of the museum is situated in the re-erected old slave barracks.
The in Africa captured slaves were transported from their homeland in Africa across the Atlantic Ocean and finally brought together in Curaçao. After being sold the slaves were scattered all over the Caribbean Islands. Some of them were sold to landowners in Curaçao for different kinds of labour (also in the salt pans) which brought the African culture into this part of the world.


Due to the slave trade still many of the nowadays customs in Curaçao as well as in the other Caribbean islands have African roots. These custom related events and art from all over the affected African countries are shown in the museum. The crew spend a long time in the museum to see all those artefacts from highly skilled African craftsmen. It is tough to look at those old and very rare art objects in relation to who made them and where it came from.


They never realized how high the standard of African craftsmanship was in that period. You have to see the pictures to understand what the crew means.
But not only the beautiful art but also the circumstances the sailing vessels transported the slaves from Africa across the Atlantic Ocean was made visible.

In the cellar the darkest part of the museum, they re-build a ship’s cargo hold. The cargo was 21_ShipsCargoHoldthe slaves, chained on hands and feet and to each other without a matrass, for the duration of the passage. The tiny space in height and width available for grown adults was unbelievable, they could hardy move.

As sailors and ocean crossers, the Zeezwaluw crew was able to picture and imagine what a horrible sea voyage that must have been for those poor people who never saw their homeland again. Finally in 1868 came abolition and freedom for the slaves in the Dutch Caribbean Islands. This period is still a painful subject to talk about for many of the citizen of Curaçao, due to Dutch merchants and sailors had been involved in the slave trade.

The Zeezwaluw crew was very impressed by the beautiful art this museum exhibits as well as explaining the dark period of slave trade in general and Curaçao’ place in it, they told the columnist.



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/


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

Spaanse Water anchorage: 12° 04′.835 N 68° 51′.743W
When you enter Curacao waters, anchor in Spaanse water flying the Q-flag. The next day you do the check-in at Customs & 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 times. VHF hailing channel is 72, with a cruisers net 6 days a week at 8 a.m.

For more and specifice information and pictures about the Anchoring areas, we refer to the Facebook page; Curaçao Cruisers Information. This is a cloosed group but join them and you will have acces to all the important information. In the file section Documents, or follow this 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 Costums & Immigration and where to obtain the anchor permit (Naf 10,=) and many other things. To repeat it here, is useless for its too much.
The information below is our experience during the time we have beenin Curacao.

We were anchored at the above coordinates which is in sector A, the nearest to the dinghy dock at the fishermans harbour. The holding in mud was excelent, 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 sertain 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. Ocasionally a reversed wind will turn you 180°, so anchor a safe distance from your neighbour boats.

The dinghy dock in the fishermans harbour is where the free of charge shopping bus to Vreugdenhil supermarket, leaves Mon-Sat at 8.30 a..m. next to the gate. He returnes from the supermarket at 10 a.m. Other shops (Budget, Farmacy, 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 roundaboud opposite restaurant Pirats nest. Latest schedule of all busses (change regualrly) at the Bus station in Willemstad.

Internet: Free Wifi at restaurant Pirat’s Nest and you can use their dingy dock.
We used Digical 4G prepaid SIM card (15GB/month, Naf 75) for the internet. You have to buy the SIM card in Willemstad at their office on Brion Plein, just cross the Pondjes Bridge to the Otrabanda side.

Water boat: Delivery day is Wednesday. Call “Waterboat” at Ch 72 for a delivery on wednesday.

The above information is available in a Pdf file for off-line reading as well, klik HIER


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”.

Hopp 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 Curacao, 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.