After a fabulous 11 days and 11 dives in Bonaire, not to mention exploring the island by car, it was time for us to move on to Curacao. We set sail at midnight on Wednesday 4th November after a couple of final get togethers with cruising friends.
Over the past 3 years we have met up with Rob & Rhian from SV Beyzano and Diane & Jeff from SV Horizons in various anchorages here in the Caribbean, but unless plans change, this is probably yet another final farewell, as our route will soon take us through the Panama Canal, whilst Horizons and Beyzano will continue cruising in this region for now…..
En route we made a brief stop at Klein Curacao, a flat, dry island 12 miles off the coast of Curacao. With beautiful white beaches and great diving (2 turtles, a ray, around 10 lion fish and squillions of other fish and various corals) it was definitely a highlight. By 8.30am there were already 2 large tourist boats moored off the beach launching their punters into the clear, blue water for snorkeling, diving and swimming.
We carried on to Curacao and wended our way through the narrow, windy channel past the fancy Santa Barbara Golf Resort into the protected lagoon, Spanish Waters, at the southern end of the island.
We opted for anchorage C, which was completely empty except for us! Spanish Waters has 5 clearly defined anchorages and once you have selected the one you want, you report to the port office in Willemsted where you pay your $10 anchoring permit, which allows for a stay of up to 6 months.
Willemsted has a distinctly Dutch feel to it with the attractive pastel coloured buildings lining the entrance to the huge Schottegat bay.
After clearing in with Customs and Immigration we visited the Kura Hulanda Museum, which houses an impressive display of African artifacts and documents the history of African slavery to the Caribbean. We could easily have spent half a day here, but we had to return to the port to collect our anchoring permit. On our return to Willemsted the following week to clear out, we wandered around the grounds of the Kura Hulanda hotel. The hotel is comprised of the afore-mentioned museum and a whole section of Otrobanda district, which has been expertly renovated to reflect the history of the area.
Another museum worth a visit was the Maritime museum directly across from the customs building, in which there is a scale model of the impressive Queen Emma pontoon bridge that links the Punda and Otrabanda districts of Willemsted and opens an average of 20 times daily to allow shipping through. When the bridge is open, a free ferry transports passengers across the Sint Annabaai channel.
Away from the ‘Dutchness’ of Willemsted we explored the hiking trails around Spanish Waters. The reason we chose anchorage C was that we had read about a Tugboat wreck dive, which we could walk to easily from the southern tip of the bay.
We locked our dinghy to a tree and took a number of hikes around the area exploring the Beekenberg Fort, the busy waterfront church (on Sundays), which had formerly been a hospital to care for the sick sailors who had initially been quarantined in the derelict house on the hill overlooking the Tugboat Bay.
During the slave trading era, slaves were quarantined here and the ones who didn’t make it were thrown over the hill, so we were told on our first morning as we sat chatting with Willem at the Tugboat bar!
Amazingly, during the few days we were in Spanish Waters, I happened to read a guest post on a blog I enjoy, only to be led to the author’s blog and a photo of the pup at Willem’s Tugboat bar, the quarantine station and Beekenberg Fort! Small world!