Sailing to Curaçao

Bonaire to Curaçao is only about 35 miles, almost dead downwind, with the island behind us blocking waves for the first third or so. So while it’s not as short as, say, Statia to Saba, it’s a pretty comfortable day sail. Of course, everything is more complicated in the COVID era. Curaçao doesn’t require entry tests for vaccinated people coming from Bonaire. But this policy only applies to vaccines administered in the Caribbean Netherlands, so despite getting the same jab, we found we would be treated as unvaccinated. We’d heard that testing on arrival might involve a long delay, so we opted to test before we left Bonaire.

Results were back in a little over an hour, and we hurried to immigration to check out before they closed. We squeeked in before the deadline, had one final dinner at Het Consulaat, and headed back to the boat to tie down and sleep.

We wanted to anchor in daylight with plenty of time to check in, so we woke up early and looked at the daily morning lightning. After some squinting, we decided it was mostly south of us, and took our first tack to the north. One major advantage to mooring balls: it’s super quick to untie and go, versus scrubbing gunk off a long chain. Here’s the pre-dawn collection of thunderheads as we left Bonaire behind us.

The waves picked up a little more than this photo between the islands, but not to the point where it was at all uncomfortable. We even got a nice boost from surfing as we rounded the corner up Curaçao’s coast. We radioed the coast guard as we approached, and they gave us coordinates for the quarantine anchorage. (They also took a couple of loops around our boat in their helicopter; we imagine the patrol was a little bored that morning.) So we dropped sail outside the channel, motored into Spanish Waters. We started out aiming for a spot near to the entrance, but there was a big monohull repeatedly failing to hook a small anchor, with lots of angry shouting in French back and forth across their boat. So we gave them a pass, and dropped our anchor in a nice quiet corner of the bay. We settled in to wait for the coast guard, who would arrive at very end of their day, well after moonrise.

So the check-in would have to happen the next day. We were very fortunate, because our friends Drew and Patricia offered us a ride with the last moments of their rental car. This was a bit of a debacle: we assumed Andrew could go alone, because on every other island “the captain” can check in “their whole crew”, and other boaters reported doing this with no issues. But immigration insisted that they needed to do a face check, so we had to go back to get Jazz, at which point we were riding a little closer to the rental car deadline than we’d have liked. (When we tried again, nobody looked at either of our faces below mask/hat/sunglasses.) It turns out that we’d “created” this “problem” for ourselves by getting tested in advance. If we’d needed a test, someone from immigration would have been on the coast guard boat to test us, and would have done the face check then. Instead, we’d only been face checked by the coast guard themselves, which does not count. Anyway, we made it up the stairs to harbor control, across the river to immigration, and back in time for Drew to return the car. A quick stop for lunch at Pop’s Place, where we met this little derp, and back to move the boat.

Harbor control had insisted that we pick an anchorage from this map, despite (in theory) not having been allowed off our boat to see where there was space. (We were assured that there was space; always very comforting.) The quarantine anchorage is pretty, but wasn’t one of the choices at the time, and as we’d discovered the previous night, has a bit of a mosquito problem. Unsurprising this close to the mangroves. So we picked B, and that turned out to be a pretty good choice, as it has the best air flow. Captain Cat-in-a-hat seemed reasonably OK with our choice.

B also has the most activity, it seems: there’s a windsurfing school near the S in “SPAANSE” above, and the students like to play between the boats. Here are some kids sailing by (shot and posted with permission, which may have led to the crash you can see coming here. Poor instructor had been flexing for a full minute at this point).

Once we were settled, we went out to dinner with Drew and Patricia at the pier. Oh, and this was our wedding anniversary! I think this counts as celebrating in style. We always seem to be busy with logistics on the important days.

Speaking of logistics: our friends were coming to visit! So, having settled into a spot, we set out to make the boat ready for guests. In this case, part of that included making new pillows. “Why didn’t you just buy pillows?” Well, we tried, but the only pillows for sale in Bonaire were HUGE, way too big for our small boat berths. So Jazz fixed the problem.