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The Two Captains


7 October 2000 Santa Kruis Bay, Curacao 12d24.569N; 69d53.978

When I was here aboard the Aquanaut Explorer for six weeks in early 1989, the ship worked from a berth in downtown Willemsted just inside the famous floating pontoon bridge and just below the Queen Wilehelmina highway bridge that spans the channel in a soaring arch. One day, my fellow dive instructor Doug and I rented a car together and toured the island. We discovered Spanish Water, a virtual inland lake connected to the sea by a channel invisible to us. Gorgeous houses lined this bay, sailboats dotted its surface, while craggy white bluffs rose high above it all.

From that day I've had a special curiousity about Spanish Water, so it was very neat to spend the week anchored there. Like many nodes of the cruising community there is a very supportive social network, with bars to socialize in, facilities for laundry and special transports to take you shopping. The anchorage was particularly full because of an upstart hurricane threat named Joyce. Joyce spent her entire existence not just south, mind you, but BELOW the hurricane belt. The irony is that more boats than ever were south of the hurricane belt because the all the insurance companies required it this year! All these boats had to scurry somewhere to find a suitable burricane hole. We, too, started our preparations, but in relief watched Joyce steadily fizzle as she skirted offshore Trinidad and Venezuela. All we got was a gray day and a good freshwater rinse for the boat.

Meanwhile we picked up a gremlin in the generator, which would cause it to shut down after 30-90 minutes of troublefree running. We checked everything. It actually shut down once as Don stared at the gauges! This was particularly spooky as a friend had just destroyed his engine by prematurely concluding the alarm sender was faulty and continued to run the engine. After every electrical check known to man and mechanics, Don faced up to removing the faulty safety switch, and a new part, not to be found on Curacao, is already ordered. Fortunately the generator has not only a temp gauge but a second overheat sensor, so continued running can be done with very "little" concern.

Curacao was also the place for us to make our last big investment for world cruising: a multi-system TV & VCR. Non-travelers might assume that you can go anywhere and receive TV, BUT, not so. There are not one, not two, not three but several different broadcast systems in use around the world (several different sound systems, to boot)! We were not feeling very motivated, but friends ahead of us had advised us be sorry if we didn't, so, downtown at Boolchands (wait, blink, are we in St. Thomas?) we bought a new TV and VCR system that will handle it all...once we figure out how to handle IT! Only locale it can't handle is Brazil!? As a special added bonus, you can learn six different languages while trying to find answers in the manual!

In other shopping news, we shared a rental car with friends and splurged in a real live Cost U Less, just like the one in St. Thomas. Well, ALMOST like the one in St. T. Close enough that we were able to indulge in all sorts of familiar comfort foods which shall remain unnamed...oh, yes, and the "new" Minus 40 freezer is restocked with all the frozen goodies we loved so in the good old charter days!

We wrenched up our anchor from the midst of all those socializing cruisers and shopping opportunities and sailed west in super conditions along Curacao's coast, passing Willemsted, a string of refineries, and a new Captain Don's Habitat, to a little U-shaped indent in some cliffs near the island's west end called Santa Kruis. It was a beautiful day, and as always we are thrilled to have broken away. Moving west takes about 25 miles off our next leg to Aruba, which we will head for in a day or so.

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