We set sail for Curacao the next island on our route westward through the Dutch Antilles, famed for the blue liqueur sold all over the world. The only name in these three islands with which we were at all familiar the others were all previously unheard of until we looked at this route.
We left early on Sunday 14 th June to ensure a daylight arrival and had a good sail over on a very broad reach with the main reefed and the big jenny poled out .The wind was strong as it consistently seems to be over these islands and once out of the shelter of the island the sea built up but this did not last very long as the journey was only 40 miles .We went to Spanish water a large natural lagoon with a narrow entrance which meant it was well protected from the sea but certainly not from the wind which blew relentlessly all the time .There are several anchoring areas within the lagoon and we decided to anchor as the marina we had contacted from Bonaire did not reliably have enough depth for us to enter .The new Rocna was christened and performed well on the first trial as we did not move for the duration of our stay and had enough confidence to leave the boat for day trips .Spanish water is on the SE tip of Curacao so we had to hire a car to get to Willemstad the capital to check.
Luckily a hotel near our anchorage had cars for hire and were very helpful with directions as Curacao is so much larger than Bonaire it took some getting to know .The capital city Willemstadt is further up the west coast and built around a larger version of Spanish water but with a wider entrance allowing very large vessels to enter .The entrance, St Annabai canal is guarded by an interesting pedestrian swing bridge , the Queen Emma bridge which swings open like a giant arm when required to allow vessels in and out .If it remains open for long the pedestrians are transported across the water by ferry .A larger very high Juliana bridge caters for cars and is certainly high enough for the largest vessel to go underneath .
The waterfront” Handelskade” is truly Dutch toy town and in fact a world heritage site. We had a welcome lunch break from the checking in bureaucracy in a restaurant in the old governor’s house overlooking this fine colonial architecture ,watching the moving bridge open for the first vessel we saw which was leaving on its way to Hong Kong flying the Bauhinia.
We settled into Spanish water life dinghying back and forth to the hotel where we left the car helped by our pleasant friendly Dutch neighbours who were living on a concrete boat which they had sailed from Holland .Sarah arrived on the evening of 16th July and we managed to get everyone and everything back on board in the dinghy. We spent the next few days exploring the island up to the northern tip visiting the beaches but missing the national park as we arrived at midday and it was too hot and without any prospect of any animals being visible at that time of day .
We saw the Curacao distillery , a plantation house grand in its day but faded now, the Hura Kurlanda museum about the slave history of the island .We sampled some local restaurants in the evening usually stumbled upon by chance but we were lucky. The island is quite industrial with a large oil refinery in the Willemstad and a busy port. Tourism definitely takes a back seat, it was a distinct change from the relaxed island life of Bonaire and certainly on a much larger scale.
We decided to leave in stages sailing up the west coast, we had one night in Pescadara bay which was very much quieter than Spanish water which is an understandably popular hurricane hideout. The next and last stop was Santa Kruz bay in the north west perfect for a dawn departure for Aruba which we did on 23rd July .