We sailed at dawn from Santa Cruz Bay Curacao. Sadly we had discovered that the generator did not work the night before so here was our first problem to be solved in Aruba .We thought it was probably a blocked filter as we had used the generator a lot while at anchor in Spanish Water and the water was not crystal clear .It was a calm morning so easy to charge the batteries as we had to motor for the first 1.5 hours . Then the wind came from behind as always so we sailed with twin headsails all the way to Aruba , about 60 nm.
We had to check in at Barcadera the commercial harbour ,always tricky in a yacht but we managed to get alongside a small steel cargo boat with some help from the expert rope catching crew and completed the necessary bureaucracy in the usual bleak offices .We then motored north west up the coast to Oranjestad the main town. We opted for the Renaissance marina for convenience ,rather than anchoring c as it is right in the centre of Oranjestad . We were greeted by a very helpful Dutchman who helped us in stern to ,as there was a 30 knot crosswind by then, the usual strong afternoon wind ,we were very glad of his assistance.
We found that the marina was part of the Renaissance Hotel and we could enjoy all the hotel facilities of swimming pools ,beaches ,restaurants ,gym and of course the internet although the latter was the least pleasurable of them all as it was frustratingly intermittent .There were sea water lagoons which were excellent for swimming and less crowded than the pools .There was even a private island about 10 minutes away in a small speed boat with two sea swimming lagoons, turquoise water, fine white sand and resident pink flamingoes .Bliss!!
First though the generator was waiting for attention and sadly it was not the filter so it was a call and several e- mails to Cummins Onan and eventually a engineer flew in from Puerto Rico and discovered the impeller had cracked after only 160hours . We think this all dated back to the poor work done in Turkey and we decided that they had tested the engine dry while on the hard …no proof of course but Carlos the engineer from Puerto Rico was excellent and very efficient so it was all fixed eventually.
While waiting for him to arrive we had a good look around Aruba for a couple of days in a hired car going to the North end to the California lighthouse .We vetted many beautiful beaches on the way up .The north west coast starts with the low rise hotels and then come the high rise hotels all self contained resorts with all facilities and always a casino . Gambling seemed to be a very popular holiday entertainment all day long .The beaches were truly spectacular with clear turquoise water and white coral sand, if that is your holiday choice Aruba is certainly the place to come .We found some curious rock drawings in caves dating from the original Indian population and some interesting rock formations, reminiscent of Nigerian inselbergs , that we could climb and get good views over the rest of the island which is largely flat .
We explored the south and east coast as well where the Arikok national park is ,amazing dry rocky landscape with a really harsh and perilous eastern coastline .More caves and more drawings as well and then the beach to cool off .
Sighseeing completed we spent the rest of the days enjoying the island and the lagoon and sampling the local restaurants which were many and varied but all very enjoyable , often eating outside in the warm evening air .
Sarah left on 1st August we could see her plane take off easily from the resort island which was almost at the end of the runway which made it rather noisy but this seemed a minor drawback when we were relaxing over there .
We then began to prepare for our departure to Colombia ,we had to wait for the wind to reduce a little,any excuse to have a few more days with the flamingoes and the fishing pelican who came every evening for supper .
Wednesday 7th August was departure day so provisioning and refueling completed it was back to Barcardera the entry port to check out ..there was no alternative. This time we tied up against another larger blue steel boat manoevering again in a strong wind in a tight space as there is shallow water all around the docking area. We had a near miss with the bow roller tying up and with the wind vane on leaving !! This was shades of Sultan Qaboos in Muscat when we lifted out all our port forward stanchions in the commercial port !
Finally on our way to Colombia downwind again but not too rough and we watched the loom of Aruba from dusk until well into the early hours of the morning, clearly the popularity of the casinos still ruled .