Saturday, April 14, 2007

April 2, 2007 - April 14, 2007 - Aruba and Boston

We've had bad luck with the ABC's. The car we rented in Bonaire was sideswiped (but we hammered out the dent before returning the car), we ran aground in Curacao (but were able to back off without much trouble), and we damaged our transom at the customs dock in Aruba (gelcoat only, but it made a good crunch). All three of the islands are arid; so now we have a thick layer of dust covering the whole boat, both outside and inside. On the upside, Bonaire had crystal clear water for swimming and snorkeling, Curacao was loaded with culture, and Aruba has wonderful restaurants. If you come to Aruba, do not miss Mariana's - easily the best food we've had in the Caribbean.

For travel back to the US, Aruba has the benefit of being one of four countries where you can clear US customs outside of the US. The others are Bermuda, Barbados and some airports in Canada. So the day after we arrived here, I flew home with our cat, Lenore. She just wasn't cut out for the high seas. So she will be spending the rest of our trip at Sten's mother's house.

While I was back in the States being wined and dined by Brett and Cory and John and Jay, being chauffeured around by Alena, shopping until I hit the 140 pound luggage limit, and negotiating an offer on our house in Charlestown, Sten stayed in Aruba to tackle our massive ABC punch list. In the past few weeks he has:
- repaired all of our faulty interior lights
- replaced our faulty battery monitor panel
- repaired our shower pump for the umpteenth time and installed a check valve in the line
- dethawed the ice flow that was our freezer and then repacked with improved (if temporary) insulation
- finished the autopilot installation (this was a big and complicated project that took almost a week to complete)
- changed the main engine gear oil
- cleaned the heat exchanges on the main engine, generator and fridge
- redid the white rigging tape wherever it was coming loose
- fixed the door on the kitchen sink cabinet
- fixed the 12V outlet in the nav. station
- replaced a bolt on the alternator mount to keep it from loosening up again
- fixed a saltwater leak in the generator
- repaired the generator fuel supply problem
- changed generator lube oil
- cleaned the interior stainless surrounds on most of the ports onboard
- lubricated the head pump shafts

In the meantime, I read five romance novels. I'm going to have to start writing one soon - Sten isn't going to buy my "research" excuse for much longer.

Between all the steamy tales of time traveling highlanders, I managed to make us some food for passage (including stuffed shells and East Coast Grill pickles) and did loads and loads and loads of laundry, which is really just a great excuse to sit in an air conditioned room, sip iced coffee and read romance novels. But all of our interior and exterior cushions are now clean.

I also prostituted myself for a free car rental. In exchange for a few hours of my time during which I pretended to be skeptically interested in a timeshare opportunity in Aruba, we gained access to a car for a full day of grocery shopping, visits to every hardware store on the island looking for the parts to complete the autopilot installation, filling our empty propane tank (1 of 2), and a little side trip up to the resort area to see why so many people come to Aruba year after year.

Seriously, Aruba is just another South Shore suburb of Boston - really far south. Between the multiple Dunkin Donuts, Taco Bell, sushi restaurants, and more guys sporting Red Sox hats than on opening day at Fenway, we feel like we've wandered back home. To complete the homey feeling, one afternoon while I was back in Boston, Sten was walking down a street outside of the tourist zone when he was approached by two guys coming from opposite directions. He thought that they were working together and he was going to get mugged, but they were actually competitors, trying to sell him "weed or any other sin they could come up with". The more determined of the two followed Sten all the way back to the touristy section of town. A nervous situation.

There are about a dozen other cruising boats here, all but one of which is in the marina in town. The other boat sharing our anchorage at the end of the airport runway is from New Zealand. The couple on board is in the 7th year of their circumnavigation. Although the anchorage here is quite loud, between the planes taking off from sunrise until late at night, and the jet skis, dive boats and water taxis zipping around all day, it is a nice enough place to swim and Sten has been enjoying fishing off of the boat and from the dinghy at sunset. He thinks that the very aggressive fish that keep taking his lures are ladyfish, but we aren't certain; and, it seems a shame, when we are just going to throw them back, to keep them suffocating out of the water to take a picture to send to Sten's dad (our fish expert) with an ID request. So they remain a mystery fish. Regardless of the type, Sten has been having a great time catching them.

Even reading this over, I still can't believe that we've been here for two weeks. We need to get moving. What's the Dr. Suess line? "It's midnight before it's noon, December before it's June. How did it get so late so soon?" - something like that. We were supposed to be through the Canal by now. Everyone we meet tells us that we're moving fast, but it seems like the weeks are just slipping by. We keep getting stuck at the "work" stops and don't get to spend enough time in an amazing place like Las Aves. After the two weeks we spent in Grenada to have the shade panels made for the cockpit, and the extra week in Aruba, we're so behind schedule that we have decided to skip the San Blas islands. Maybe we'll get to see them on the homestretch. Sten completed the autopilot installation today so we're leaving Aruba tomorrow. We expect to arrive in Colon, Panama by Friday.

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