30 Jan Travel Journey 10 | ABC – Islands
Travel Journey 10 | ABC – Islands
1 september – 1 december
It is 8 October when I land on Curacao by plane. I worked in the Netherlands for 3 months with great pleasure. We had a wonderful summer and exactly when the weather started to get colder I flew towards the sun. What a wonderful feeling to skip the winter again this year. It is nice to be on the boat again and to see Niels and friends made up on Curaçao again.
After 2 weeks we sail to Bonaire for the umpteenth and last time. We now know this trip quite well and are starting our first cruise. When we are 5 miles from the coast we see a high-speed powerboat approaching us. It turns out to be two friends from Curaçao who wanted to test the new 300 HP outboard engines and immediately took the opportunity to say goodbye to us. After about 10 minutes they sail back to the shore and we continue our course. Not much later a helicopter comes flying over. That happens often in this area and we wave goodbye to him. When another helicopter flies over half an hour later, something starts to dawn on us. Could it have to do with the powerboat that came to say hello to us? It is now almost dark when a third helicopter comes flying over. This time it is a combat helicopter with the doors open. The helicopter hangs just above our ship and we see two soldiers with guns in the doorway. Would they suspect us of drug trafficking? This helicopter also flies back and it is now pitch dark around us. A few lights come out at full speed out of the darkness. It is a rubber boat with at least 8 armed soldiers on board. They order us to bring the ship to a halt and so we have to lower the sails in the dark on the high seas. There are 2 men on board to search our ship. Soon we can make the situation clear and after two hours of searching they leave the ship again. Everything is fine and luckily we can continue our course. What a respect for these men, what kind of work they do. A bit of a shame about the amounts of fuel they have used with this promotion, while we try to be as clean as possible.
After 26 hours of sailing we will arrive on Bonaire. All mooring buoys are occupied, so we are forced to lie down in the harbor because you are not allowed to anchor here. We are in the rainy season and due to the lack of wind in the harbor it is full of mosquitoes. To drive you crazy! Fortunately we manage to score a mooring after a few days of surveillance and we get rid of those miserable creatures.
There is a full program of 2 weeks ahead. The municipality of Groningen comes to us with a number of people to work on a special project that we have set up with Groningen Clean Thanks to Me (GSDM). Artist Maria Koijck will build a giant flamingo from the pink plastic that we will clean up for several days with different groups from the beaches. The first day arrives and a clean-up campaign is planned with around 10 other organizations of the island. This makes this clean-up the largest in the history of Bonaire. When we arrive at the beach at 10 a.m., there are already a lot of people busy cleaning up. Everyone seems to get their satisfaction somewhere else. One sits on a square meter and stays there for 2 hours until the smallest pieces of styrofoam throw in his garbage bag, the other is dragging large fishing nets and ropes. Around noon in the afternoon I think at least 200 people are cleaning up. What a successful first day. Two days later we go with the classes of teacher Mirella to a stretch of beach a little further. Niels and I already taught the effects of plastic in nature before the summer holidays, and even then the children were very enthusiastic. Now that they can contribute to building a flamingo, that enthusiasm has only increased. In the meantime, we do not have to worry that there will be no more plastic on the beach, because with every wave a new load of plastic hits the beach.
A few smaller clean-up actions follow while Maria is busy hanging the steel flamingo frame full of pink slippers, bags, wheels and other junk. After a week and a half, the flamingo is finally finished and she is showing off on the boulevard, right in front of the quay where cruise ships arrive daily. The governor of Bonaire baptizes the flamingo and we can deduce from the amount of photos that bystanders take that this project was successful. On to the next project!
We get up early the next morning because we have to go on. Bibi and her friend Olivier join us on board. We got to know this couple on Bonaire and they are happy to sail with us to Aruba via Curaçao. Bibi dreams of a journey like ours and when we say we are still looking for people to cross the Pacific with us, her eyes start twinkling. First let’s see how she likes our boat and the trip to Aruba is perfect for that.
We make a stopover in Curaçao to stay the night and get up early the next morning. Janneke and Gijs also sail a part for fishing but after a fishless morning we drop them at the western tip of Curaçao. In the meantime, we hoist the gennaker and head for Aruba at a nice speed. The sun almost sets when a group of dolphins pops up in front of the boat. The four of us are standing on the front deck watching the dolphins when I mutter that there will probably be no fish because of the dolphins. Less than 5 minutes later, the mill starts rattling and the rod is bent. A beautiful yellowfin tuna of around 15 kg will be in the boat 20 minutes later. We already fantasize about the delicious sashimi and tuna steak that we are going to eat that evening when the other rod suddenly becomes crooked. From the sound of the whooping mill you can immediately tell that this is an even bigger fish and after a nice fight Olivier manages to catch his first tuna. And what for 1, around 30 kg! After a wonderful trip, this is the icing on the cake.
Never before did we eat such delicious tuna. Fortunately we can use the freezer of a friend of ours on Aruba so that we can enjoy these fish for the next two weeks. We are anchored at Nikki Beach and are the only ones in the anchor bay. Tired but satisfied, we sit and chat after dinner when two men come up from the darkness next to the boat. It turns out to be friends Pepijn and Paul who made a night dive and wanted to surprise us. What a welcome.
Pepeijn temporarily lives on this island due to work and we can use his house and car. We enjoy the luxury of a hot shower, a large fridge and a washing machine. How simple things can be when you have learned to live without them.
Our boat is still loaded with plastic from Bonaire for recycling, so our flowerpot bakery is running at full speed. This means that we bake 1 pot a day, because after we have to leave the press with the plastic in the sun for at least 3 hours to heat it, it must then cool for at least 3 hours in order not to burn your hands on it.
If the wind blows well I decide to drive to Playa Grandi for kite surfing. Big waves break on a reef just off the coast, with a slightly flatter lagoon inside. The water is mirror clear and I see a number of large rays or other fish shooting beneath me every time. Suddenly I see a lot of turmoil in the water and a group of dolphins appears to be hunting in the lagoon. They don’t seem to care much about me and it is a wonderful sight to see them swim in that shallow water. I then crash hard a few times because I am not paying attention and an incoming wave is knocking me over.
Due to an appointment on the San Blas Islands with a friend from Curaçao, we have to leave again after about 3 weeks. We eat one last time at “De Zeerover”. We have eaten here several times over the past period. Favorite are the shrimps that you get served in a large bowl and that you can pick open. Delicious! You throw the remaining shrimp shells off the jetty and are eaten by the many fish. To the delight of the guests, Niels blows his plate into the water and decides to take off his clothes and make a leap from the jetty into the water. Soaked, he eats the rest of his food. That is at least 1 plastic plate less in the sea!