July 2018 –
Greetings! After the monster hurricane season that was 2017, we have chosen not to take any chances in 2018: as we speak, Miss Contigo rests (peacefully, we hope) at Seru Boca Marina in Curaçao, outside of the traditional hurricane belt.
The well-trodden southern Caribbean “safe havens” for the season (June – November 1st) are Panama/Colombia to the southwest, the ABC’s along the northern coast of Venezuela (the option we ultimately chose, so more on these in a moment), and Grenada and its surroundings in southeastern waters. The main benefit of these locations is that by the time storms reach western Caribbean longitudes, most systems have spun up towards North America.
We have read that this season should prove kinder than last year’s jaw dropping display of nature’s raw power, given 2018’s (i) stronger trade winds, (ii) colder water temperatures, and (iii) higher quantities of Saharan dust in the air – all of which help to dissipate or contain the energy of storms as they develop off of Africa’s Atlantic coast. All this may sound a bit esoteric, but the final factor was very real to us! Contigo was caked in a perpetual Saharan grime during our 5 week stay in Bonaire in June and early July. Not great for us (rinse, scrub, wipe, repeat), but apparently great for the island’s ecosystem, which benefits from a transatlantic flow of amino acids.
If that’s the price to be paid for a reduction in storm activity, peace of mind while we are off the boat, and much needed respite to the islands decimated last year, we are more than happy to pay it!
Our last post came on the eve of Karl’s 34th birthday, which we celebrated in style at Brass Boer, fine dining on the ritzier end of Bonaire’s culinary spectrum. That said, on the whole, the island is better known for its quiet, understated charm (and of course amazing diving). Ask someone from Bonaire what they think about their own island, and they will likely tell you that it’s great, but beg you not to tell anyone else in the same breath. So we are probably breaking taboos here when we disclose that our time spent there was bona fide bliss. We barely moved Contigo, short of one run to the marina to rinse the decks and fill the water tanks, and a few quick laps around nearby Klein Bonaire.
The picture above – taken at Brass Boer – is as clean as we get these days. Below is the view at sunset, daily KLM flight from Amsterdam and all.
As mentioned in our last post, while in Bonaire, Conner completed her PADI dive training and Karl knocked out a refresher course. It had been years – maybe decades? – since his last dive. We grabbed the island’s underwater scene by the (elk) horns and saw all sorts of marine life while scuba diving, “lap swimming” up and down the mooring field, and free-diving off of the back of the boat. Contigo’s stern was at a coral wall that dropped off from 20 feet to something like 100 feet, so Karl put his PFI freediver instruction to good use and made daily attempts to swim down to the second floor. He got successively closer but never quite made it, so clearly we have to go back!
We went on the occasional day-sail to Klein Bonaire just across the harbor, where the diving is reputed to be even better than on the main island. Shown below, we are en route with Julián, our dive-master and confidant on all things scuba related. In a great example of life’s synchronicities (we stumbled into the connection), he is also first cousin to our friend Andrés, who has been a guest aboard Contigo in both Maine and the Bahamas.
We initially made the Julián-Andrés connection while we were en-route to watch a World Cup game at a local beach bar adjacent to the Wannadive shop. Yes, we watched copious amounts of soccer in June and early July.
It was sad bidding Bonaire farewell, but we had to get Contigo to her summer home in nearby Curaçao before our flight back to the US mid-July. On the way, we stopped for the night in Klein Curaçao, which acts as a beach destination for day-boats out of Curaçao. It was a pretty stop, and we pulled Booey (our dinghy) onto the sandy beach in the late afternoon to enjoy the day’s waning hours.
Unfortunately, the beach instagramming was also nearing a peak, so we made a hasty retreat back to Contigo. We are A-OK with the occasional selfie (see below, taken a few hours after the day boats had left) but some of the impromptu string-bikini beach modeling we bore witness to was seriously next level.
After a rock-and-roll night spent at the Klein Curaçao anchorage, we made the 2-hour downwind hop to Spanish Waters on the mainland. It’s hard to describe to non-boaters what a tiny side-swell can do to what otherwise should be a great night’s sleep. It’s like when you get a stone in your shoe while hiking. You finally get around to pulling it out, and the giant boulder in your mind is hard to reconcile with the tiny pebble that finally plops out!
We spent a little over a week in Spanish Waters. We cleaned, we scrubbed, we aired and we de-cluttered to levels that would make Marie Kondo proud. There was little time spent exploring the island – that, we left for October when we get back to Contigo.
Back On Land (A Preview)
A little over a week ago, we flew back to the US to visit friends and family, and get one step closer to our destination for the next 2-3 months: Asia. We are bound for Japan (aka our happy place), Thailand, and Hong Kong, where we’ll be engaging in all sorts of land-based adventures that we hope to share with you in the coming months. Part of the idea was to spend some time off the boat reflecting on our aquatic journey so far. For what it’s worth, we already miss being out on the water, the salty tropical breeze, and of course Miss Contigo.
At the same time, we get to visit loved ones (Yay! Talking to real people, not just inanimate objects!). Our first stop was Frederick MD to see Conner’s parents and enjoy home cooking, so we leave you with a final picture of the Esworthy women after one of their daily (and well deserved) raids of the family wine cellar.
Till next time, lots of love,
Conner & Karl
PS – One final, final outtake moment. A small iguana fell through our galley hatch in Bonaire while we were tied up to the dock. Evacuating this terrified fellow (Alien? See closeup) was a 20-minute, eye-wateringly funny affair.
Those oven mitts – part of a care package from Conner’s Aunt Virginia – are a good example of how ordinary objects are creatively deployed on the boat from time to time.