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Saturday, October 29, 2011

ACROSS THE CARIBBEAN SEA ...........



And out of nowhere appeared this beautiful 'weather window' with winds predicted to come out of the west, which in CURACAO is more or less unheard of ....... With hurricane season almost at a close, we made the decision to 'grab' that window with both hands ....... Just too good to be true ....... Our computer weather programs allow us to download wind strength and direction, rain precipitation, barometric pressure, wave height and cloud cover some seven days in advance, and generally it is fairly accurate .....



Our friend TIMO has been busy getting the frames of his new yacht built on his floating workshop ..... If you recall he lost his beautiful yacht " BLUE MARLIN " in the Venezuelan islands of Los Aves ....... But with guts and determination he is moving forward ....... ANNEMIEKE, his artist wife, is equally busy doing her magnificent driftwood sculptures for an exhibition to be called "WOOD FOR WOOD" ..... She will sell her painted driftwood sculptures and buy plywood to build their new yacht ...... The ultimate creative 'win-win' with a sad touch of recycling thrown in ......



It is wonderful to see TIMO at work in this open-air workshop with million dollar views of this enclosed harbour of 'Spanish Waters' in CURACAO ....... His little homemade runabout holds a portable generator that allows him to use table saws, jigsaws, and drills, but mostly it is all hand made glue and screw stuff .....



The man's got a plan ....... Drop the lead-filled keel in the water first, then float a platform over the top of it on which he will construct the hull with its frames .... When that's done, sink the float down over the keel and bolt the hull and keel together ..... Yes you have to hand it to him for ingenuity ..... TIMO is definitely a one of a kind 'hombre' ....



Meantime back at 'our ranch' we have an engine running hotter than normal ..... Which we thought was due to the intake being blocked with all the weed scum, but now that we are clean it still stays hot ...... By disconnecting the outlet hose from the exhaust system we notice that there is no appreciable difference in the salt water pressure when the engine is run momentarily ...... That means the the water pump's rubber impeller is 'kaput' ....."Not good", as they say .... The impeller is in an impossible position under the engine and to get it out is simply unprintable ......... Laurie took this photo from an angle where you cannot lip-read ...... But once you know what the problem is, it is no longer a problem, not so? ..... And shortly after it was replaced, we took off to begin the 400-mile crossing to PUERTO RICO (see that black line on the map above) ..... We motor-sailed till the middle of the Caribbean Sea when the wind finally filled in ........ Filled in from the East again, which meant hard sailing, and hard on the wind, hoping we could still lay our course for at least the middle of the island, and not get pushed West into the waters of the Dominican Republic .....



Really beautiful sailing with the winds somewhere between ten and twenty knots and fortunately with a very flat sea left over from the oil-like calms of the previous days .... No ground swell, no waves, a good six knots and in the right direction .........



Smooth sailing and the 'Queen of Florida' down below learning how to do 'crochet' now that she has a brand new grand-daughter "Sophie" who used to put her fingers in her eyes and nose, but is now in the bassinet making 'gangster' signs .....



This is probably boring, but days like these, with trade-wind clouds and smooth seas are a rarity during the Caribbean hurricane season which is not finished yet .... We just downloaded the weather on our satellite phone and there's 'welcome to two more in the making' picture out there ....... Another day or so and we'll be in Puerto Rico if the wind holds steady .......



We arrive in SALINAS at 0600, having done the journey in just under three days ..... We crash and sleep for a few hours, before making the call to Customs and Immigration ..... We need to get to PONCE to do the clearance and we rent a car at a wonderful $20/day to do clearance, shopping, sightseeing and getting a new phone, but not before coming to terms with this screeching green parrot with a nest full of young screechers in a palm tree ..... Incredible the noise they make ...... Way worse that Sophie with a nasty diaper ....



CULTURE SHOCK ....... As we drive into San Juan in the early morning with lanes and lanes of traffic at a standstill ...... If there is a depressed economy out there, we must have missed it ....... Every man and his dog is out there buying, selling, shopping and having a good time ...... The malls are packed and business is thriving ..... Oh, and everybody is driving .......



But the anchorage at Salinas is peaceful enough ...... Beautiful mornings with a magnificent mountain backdrop ....... The surrounding mangroves provide ample protection even if a late hurricane was to give us a passing blow ......



School curriculum also involves paddling a canoe, for on Friday we saw a bunch of school kids on the water doing paddling exercises, while at the same time learning about eco-systems and estuary habitats ..... Wouldn't mind going back to school just for that, but it is all in Spanish ....... Fast rapid Spanish .....



And when class is done, well, just hook on and the teacher will tow you back to shore ...... Oh, and we also discovered this secret door in a breakfast restaurant that leads to the kitchen ..... If you can't find it, just look for the door handle ......

Coming back to PUERTO RICO is also a 'culture shock' in another sense, for here Spanish is spoken with such volume, passion and speed, as to leave you reeling ...... Ask somoeone "Is this the way to SAN JUAN" and back comes this torrent of Spanish, with arm and hand gestures and comical facial expressions, which if you are smart like we are, means "YES" ................. Now this is completely different from, say, Northern Scandinavia, where very few words are ever spoken for fear of freezing your tongue to your gums ...... One reindeer herder was heard to say to another "I love my wife so much, I almost told her" ..........

2 comments:

The Gremlins Hammer said...

Your pictures are fantastic! What type of camera do you use?

We are preparing now for some more long-term cruising- getting ready to leave this winter. We can't wait to be back out there and away from all this traffic and constant go-go-go. We like your blog, it keeps us motivated while we are tying up some lose ends between now and leaving!

Orpailleur said...

Guys, haven't looked in for a while so am impressed with your move to the 21st century and a plastic boat. I don't want to know how much you offered but what percentage of the asking price was finally accepted? (good to know for the future)

Take care with the new 'baby'.

Regards