A short sail south from the British Virgin Islands took us to St. Croix, part of the US Virgin Islands. It doesn't appear that all that many cruisers stop here, and of those that do, it seems many never leave. One anchorage at Christiansted was so full of boats, we could barely steer Moonshadow through all the moorings, anchor lines and miscellaneous dinghies.
St. Croix is right on the way to the ABC Islands, so we stopped to pick up some parts and mail we had shipped here. As we have found in so many other places, people are nice. Here as we were asking where to find a taxi, a man gave us a ride about four miles to the post office and back.
After topping up our fuel tanks, we headed out the channel for Buck Island where there's some good snorkeling, but we were back 30 minutes later with a broken alternator support. Fortunately, we were able to find a perfect replacement and were ready to go again the next day.
The snorkeling at nearby Buck Island is reported to be excellent.
Unfortunately, there was a lot of turbulence from surf breaking on the reef so we cut the swim short, but not before Deb made friends with this little guy.
He loved just hanging around under her ear and chin.
Stowaway Number One
After our Buck Island snorkel, we discovered that we had company. We calculated that Harry, the rat, had been a stowaway aboard Moonshadow since we tied to the fuel dock in St. Croix two days prior. Fortunately, we were able to trap Harry that night and tossed him over the side.
On the sail down to Bonaire we found some more friends who seemed to like keeping pace with Moonshadow.
The conditions were ideal as we covered the 420 miles in 51.5 hours.
And when we arrived in Kralendjik, Bonaire, another watery friend popped up to greet us.
The customs agents in Bonaire were very friendly, but we had to surrender our "weapons". Evidently they believe these could hurt people.
There is no anchoring allowed anywhere on the island, but mooring buoys are provided. The turquoise water under Moonshadow's bow was 12 feet deep, but at our stern the water turned deep blue as it dropped off to 60 feet.
The license plates on the cars in Bonaire all say "Diver's Paradise", and for good reason. We could see all 62 feet of Moonshadow's sleek bottom from 40 feet astern. That's great visibility!
With hundreds of great dive spots that ring the island, the diving is all done from the shore. Divers just wade in and pick their favorite depth as the bottom drops off a few dozen yards from shore.
We even had excellent snorkeling right under Moonshadow, where the fish were quite comfortable with a goofy looking human staring at them as they went about their work keeping the coral on our mooring blocks clean.
This little guy was confused, swimming upside down around Moonshadow's keel.
(you can always enlarge our blog photos by clicking them)
The Return of Harry the Rat
We did not know rats could swim until we caught Harry again, this time in Bonaire. After chucking him over the side for the second time we watched in horror as he swam forward trying to get to the anchor chain. The Captain courageously ran for the boathook and clubbed Harry repeatedly until he finally got the message. After sneaking aboard in St. Croix and again at Buck Island, then sailing with us 420 miles South to Bonaire, Harry had worn out his welcome aboard Moonshadow.
Meanwhile, Bonaire's downtown was a ghost town with back to back national holidays.
This big Iguana was one of the few creatures walking around town.
These clouds brought with them some squalls and a day of rain.
"September's Song" from London, England was moored next to Moonshadow. They had a lively time in the squalls.
Later we had drinks with Allan and Sheila Ward, who've sailed all over the Atlantic and Caribbean. After sailing upwind to Trinidad, the Wards plan to sell September's Song and return to life ashore.
The weather returned to normal and we celebrated with...
...lunch ashore at a restaurant where we loved the view...
...some more snorkeling.
We hung out with some new friends...
... and had a great dinner.
We hated to leave Bonaire but after eleven days, we found ourselves sailing on to Curaçao which is pronounced "Korsow".
Evidently, this boat's owner got tired of correcting everyone calling it
The island's principal city is actually two cities, Otrabanda to the North, and Punda to the South, separated by a channel into an inland harbor.
The two cities are joined by a floating pontoon bridge for pedestrian traffic.
Clearing into Customs at Curaçao involves a five mile bus trip from Spanish water, where all the cruisers anchor, into Punda for Customs, then a walk over the floating pontoon bridge to Otrabanda for Immigration The immigration office was closed for an hour and a half siesta so we waited. After that we walked back to Punda for lunch and finally a bus ride back to Moonshadow. That pretty much takes all day.
Stowaway(s) Number 2 - 5000
We returned to Moonshadow to find more un-invited guests. First we noticed some bees, then more and more and finally realized there was a hive being built on the canvas dodger directly over the main hatch going below!
Fortunately, we found immediate help. Dick runs the cruiser's VHF radio net from his catamaran "Isis". He also sells wifi time, so we'd met him that morning, and thus he was the only person we knew. Unable to even board Moonshadow without risking hundreds of bee-stings, we took our dinghy to Isis and begged Dick to help. He called the police who located a bee-keeper (who knew they had bee keepers on this little island?). Within 45 minutes David, our new best friend/bee keeper was aboard Moonshadow going to work.
The rest of that day and night we were running a seek and destroy mission to kill all left over bees. All together, we must have killed another 100 bees with our fly swatter below decks and saltwater hose topside. After a hour or so we finally had everything cleaned up. The next morning though, we had another several dozen freeloaders who had gotten below and scores hanging out in the cockpit.
That was enough, we immediately sailed on for Aruba. We left early so we would have time to sail the 55 miles to Aruba, clear in with customs and still tie up to the Renaissance Marina by mid afternoon.
Clearing Customs is always an adventure. While it is fine in Curaçao to leave your boat five miles away and take a bus to the Customs office, the regulations in Aruba require visiting yachts tie to the nasty commercial wharf at Barcadera where the Customs office is located. You must bring your boat to their wharf to clear in, and bring it back again when you clear out. The problem is, their wharf is a nightmare. For Moonshadow's 62 foot length, there was about 75 feet open between rusting Venezuelan "fruit boats". The wharf is concrete with rebar sticking out between huge black truck tires. Despite there being 20 or more Venezuelans aboard the fruit boats, police, and others on the wharf and nearby boats, not one person offered to help as we parallel parked Moonshadow in the 20 knot trade winds.
It wasn't our favorite part about visiting Aruba, but there were at least three things we loved when we got to the Renaissance Marina after clearing in:
First, it's a marina so we have water, electricity and WiFi. And if we want to go ashore, we just step off the boat and go...
...Second, we have the use of their resort facilities which includes a pool...
...and Third, there's a swim-up-bar!