Down and up

It's March 1st, it's a Monday. In the late morning we still have no news from the Marina Varadero where we want to lay the mast. So we plan to visit the donkeys. I exchange some text messages with my favorite bus driver, Shoraia. Of course I want her to drive me to the Donkey Sanctuary.

As soon as I know your next departure time, my phone makes the sound of an incoming message again. Judith from Marina Varadero answers and announces the crane appointment for 8 a.m. the following morning. I don't like that at all. Either we have to leave at 7 a.m. so that we can get there in time, or we drive to Varadero today, spend the night in the wilderness and be there in good time. With a heavy heart I cancel the bus trip.

That was completely blind activism. A short time later, the final crane deadline comes at 1.30 p.m. That gives us time to visit the donkeys, remove the tree and take a leisurely crossing on Tuesday lunchtime. Shoraia does another lap with her bus, then we sit with her and let us drive.

A photo on the wall. That remains from Sweety.

Sweety is no longer there. I miss the sweet, plush, soft, cuddly sweety. He now lives in a stable in Holland.

To do this, Swa and Socks come down from their roof. The two could never come to terms with Sweety.

Swa is back on the counter

Socks has a huge petting deficit. Jens and I take turns for an hour. We caress the also cuddly soft tomcat professionally until he runs out of breath at the end and he has to go to sleep.

Socks feels good.

The little tiger just keeps getting bigger. She is now losing her baby fur and the short hair of a large donkey is revealed. In addition, she has become very trusting. You can stroke them like a cat.


We spend a totally relaxed afternoon with the donkeys and know that we have to work like animals the following day. The agreement with the marina stipulates that we have the crane twice for up to four hours. He comes once to take the mast off and once to put it back in place.

Sissi - again in Varadero

We leave Oranjestad around 11 a.m. and after just under half an hour we are in the slipway in Varadero. There my credit card is allowed to bleed first, half of the estimated amount is due immediately. By Aruban standards, the crane arrives at the boat at 1:35 p.m. The crane driver is relaxed and is not doing this job for the first time.

The crane is set up

When I'm working I can't take photos. When I take photos, I don't work. So there are no photos of us taking the mast down. There are no photos of the mast hanging on the hook. Why? Because during that time I had the mast foot in my hands and Jens carried the forestay. That's why he couldn't take pictures either.

The pulleys

After a good half an hour the mast is on the ground and the crane driver starts to dismantle his crane again. But since I have to pay for the crane for up to four hours and this price does not change, I ask the driver to stay with us for a few more minutes. We need to determine if it will fix the problem in 10 minutes or in 10 days. Do we need a spare part? Does a spare part have to be flown in from Europe?


It turns out, however, that the axis on which the two pulleys sit has only shifted in position. There are safety cotter pins at both ends, one of which is broken. This allowed the axis to shift and slip out of position. I replace the two split pins with stronger ones. Then we put everything back in place, close the top of the mast again and are glad that the crane is still there.

The crane driver mumbles something in his non-existent beard that it is the first time for him to put the mast and raise it again on the same day, but he still has enough time reserves on his watch. All in all, we need three and a half hours for the fun. Lose weight, repair, adjust. Yess. That saves us about $ 800.


For once we did everything right. We couldn't have taken the sails down at a better time. The wind picked up a lot overnight and with the gusts we are experiencing today, the genoa would still be in place. Bravo!

Cruise ship in March 2020 in Bonaire

Tomorrow is March 1st. Exactly a year ago we were in Bonaire and saw a cruise ship mooring at the pier every day, and on some days two. Of course there was this Chinese virus somewhere on the other side of the planet, but it had no effect on life. In the morning the crusaders stormed the island en masse, in the evening they disappeared again and we had our rest at our buoy - until the next morning.

Traveling was so easy. And cheap. We chose the island we wanted, when we cleared out we got the documents for the destination and then we set off. The entry into the destination country was uncomplicated, I just had to do the more or less long marathon through the various authorities. That was done in a period of between five minutes (Martinique) up to two hours (St. Lucia). In St. Lucia it took so long because the different authorities took their lunch break at different times.

The visits to the authorities cost more or less a lot of money, but it was cheap compared to the costs that travelers have to face today.

Martinique Carnival, February 2020

Now travel is complicated. And expensive. Those who want to travel these days have to prepare the bureaucratic part almost better than the sailing part. In any case, you should have additional supplies on board for two weeks in case a two-week quarantine is unexpectedly ordered at the destination. We want to move from Aruba to another island. Okay, what alternatives do we have?

Shopping street in Bridgetown, Barbados, on January 2020

Curacao. The shortest possible route. The prerequisite for entry is a negative Covid-19 test that is no more than 72 hours old. You register your trip via a website. You even have to give the estimated time of arrival in advance. The negative test result must be uploaded to a specific website. 125$ are required for each of the tests. Curacao can be reached in approx. 14 engine hours. Sailing is pretty crappy ... because the wind comes directly towards you. Choose a day of the crossing with a light wind. The number of Covid-19 diseases is very low.

Dominican Republic. Registration on various websites is required. They do not require a Covid test. When entering the country, the temperature is measured and that is basically it. Our friends at Chapo paid $ 260 in fees. This includes the service provider for the jungle of authorities. Sailing in the DR is very possible, because the wind always blows from the beautiful half-wind direction. The number of new infections with Covid is relatively high.

Puerto Rico. Is canceled due to a lack of health insurance coverage. This also applies to the US Virgin Islands.

British Virgin Islands. Still closed. The opening has just been postponed to mid-April. We cannot and do not want to rely on that.

Anguilla. When you're signed in, they let you in. There are also websites for registration here. They request a negative Covid-19 test that is no more than five days old. The problem here is that Anguilla is so far east that we have to fight quite a bit to get there. It'll take us more than five days. On arrival there is still a Covid test, followed by 10 days of quarantine and a final Covid test. That's pretty expensive, of course the normal fees come on top of that. After that life is fine because there are no more cases.

Party on Friday night in Gros Islet, St. Lucia, February 2020

There are no guarantees that the rules won't change overnight. Countries can close again because of the fear of the mutations or because of - uh - no idea. They can close, and so do they.

Grenada. The absolute toughest tour. 500 miles straight upwind. 500 miles against a current of up to 2 knots. Much harder than sailing from Cuba to Aruba. But our friends from Milena Bonatti were able to get their Covid-19 vaccination there. That would be quite a motivation for the ride. With an estimated travel time of over 14 days, we would probably no longer have to do quarantine. In Grenada the good AstraZeneca is used.

When our mast is repaired, we'll leave the island. For my soul, I would like a departure date before March 11th. We arrived in Aruba for the first time on March 11, 2020. The borders were closed on March 14th. The airport was shut down at the end of the month. Aruba went into a deep sleep.

Lockdown. March 2020

Curacao seems uneconomical to me, as the landscape is only slightly different from that of Aruba. The Dominican Republic is a so-called low-hanging fruit that is easy to pick. Will we be happy with that? All the islands in the east are difficult to reach. Should we go straight to France (Guadeloupe)? We can at least stock up there before we head back across the Atlantic to Europe in a few months. I dont know.

Or are we going to take on the effort for Grenada? The chance of a vaccination and possibly fewer visits to the authorities and Covid-19 tests in the future. I would like to use vaccination privileges. I'm still doing research.

There is still no opening perspective in Jamaica. Jamaica would be very easy to get to. According to hearsay, Jamaica will not open its ports again until cruise tourism is back on its feet. The few sailing boats that are sailing in the Caribbean are ignored by the authorities.

Britannia in January 2020. Comes too close for us between Barbados and St. Lucia. Our cell phones were in the on-board network. I can do without these things.

We'll likely be back in Europe when the first crusaders hit the Caribbean again. So Jamaica will no longer work this spring. Too bad, but not to change. Traveling used to be so easy, so spontaneous. "Hey, the wind is looking good for the next few days, let's go." Quickly to the authorities and then be free. You could change your destination along the way. The stop on Bonaire was spontaneous, we had papers for Aruba with us. I get nostalgic feelings, even though my career as a long-distance driver has been rather short so far.

I'm looking forward to a few days of sailing, even if they are exhausting. Sailing days are good for the mind.

Let your mind wander. January 2020.

The mast has to go down

We are waiting for news. The only rigger in Aruba reports in the late morning. He can't help us while the mast is up. So the mast has to go down. Jens takes off the mast ladder, brings the anemometer with him and takes a photo of the blocked pulleys.

Blocked pulleys at the top of the mast

We have to take the sails down, both of you. The mainsail is quickly taken down, after half an hour we put it neatly in the foredeck bunk. The Genoa defends itself initially. We can't roll it out because our great reefing winch is blocked again. I'm taking them apart. All parts are somehow firmly baked together. It is a mystery to me how I can ever make this winch free again. Fortunately, there is another winch right next to it, which we will use instead.

Genoa reefing winch. The inner disk should actually turn. It is firmly baked together with the outer ring, the brake.

We take the reefing line from the rope drum and can roll out the genoa in a moment of calm. Then she refuses to come downstairs. Then the wind sets in again. Then the sail almost falls into the water. We fight for a few minutes, then finally we have the sheet on the foredeck. We're soaked in sweat.

Done. The genoa is down.

We'll remove the tree later, we still need it to hold our awning. I also have to disconnect the power cables that supply the individual lamps.

When the mast is later attached to the crane, all shrouds, forestay and backstay are removed. Now finally the crane can put the mast on the ground. After the repair, everything works in reverse order and we are ready to sail again. So much for the plan. But we're not that far yet.

Hard Grooves Jazz Bar

We reward ourselves for our hard work with a visit to the Hard Grooves Jazz Bar. Not that we're into the jazz that comes from inside. It's dinner that drives us here. I hope the picture doesn't generate too much envy in Germany. The cats, who actually belong to the neighboring restaurant, are very pettable and want to attract the attention of the guests with silent, piercing looks, also believe that the food is good.

Begging in silence

Now we are waiting for news from the Marina Varadero. They have to organize a truck crane. When that is resolved, we will move Sissi there. That's how long we have to pass the time.

I'm not really happy.

Good news and bad news

We achieved our first success in combating our oil spill. In the meantime we have learned to use our carpet cleaning miracle cure. At first, we used too much baking soda and too little alcohol. In the meantime we have learned how to get the best cleaning result.

Above the dark oil dirt, below the soil that is currently being worked.

First I spread the baking soda on the dry carpet. Then I massage it into the carpet with my feet. I distribute it almost exactly as I distributed the dirt in the boat before, just with a little more care. Then I spray them all so far with alcohol that the carpet is soaked and I can no longer see the white baking powder.

This area can now be sprayed.

Then the work is done once. I sit in the fresh air, the alcohol vapor is difficult to bear. The boat must be well ventilated. I could imagine that otherwise an explosive mixture would form in the air. Ventilation also helps relieve headaches. After two to three hours, the alcohol has evaporated (at approx. 30 ° C room temperature). Then the first dirt stains should show up in the baking powder.

The floor dries slowly and brown spots appear in the white baking powder. That's the dirt that comes out.

Now I spray the alcohol over and over again, it loosens the dirt from the carpet. After three to four applications of alcohol, I let the carpet dry completely overnight. The next morning it is vacuumed, the dry baking powder is easy to soak up.

After vacuuming. You can clearly see that there is still dirt in the carpet. So another application is necessary.

Then I can assess the result and whether the carpet needs further treatment. If no further treatment is necessary, I use a sturdy brush to brush the last bits off the carpet and let them disappear in the vacuum cleaner. The result is impressive. There was a wide, black line on the floor of the forward berth, our high seas garbage can is always there, and we often walk along it. Now the floor is nice and clean again.

Forward berth after three applications. It was actually two applications and an attempt at learning.

Oh yes, there would be Tuesday morning. The rigger is with us on the boat and calmly looks at the top of the mast with the binoculars. Then he tells me that we probably have to put the mast down. He will try to come up with a solution overnight to solve the problem with the mast standing up. Otherwise the crane alone would cost around 1000 US$. Uh I don't like news like that.

Freshly sprayed on, allowed to dry.

I grab the spray bottle and give the floor another treatment. Aruba is stickier than our floor.

In times of Covid it is certainly not bad that we have disinfected our carpeting over and over and over and over in the last few days. There is no way our feet will get Covid. I cannot imagine that there is a place with a better disinfected floor.

Todo list is processed!

It's Wednesday. The painting work is in the final spurt. Jens has repainted the entire cockpit. So Sissi looks like new again. We are pleased with the result and that there are hardly any items on the to-do list. Nothing stands in the way of our planned departure on Sunday.

Freshly painted

It's Thursday. I have an appointment with Anneke. She offered to drive me to go shopping. One time Price Smart and Superfood. Now comes the commercial. We drink our own water on board. But sometimes it also has to be a drink with taste. We got to know Jumex juices in Aruba.


Partly there is fruit juice in the cans, partly nectar. But the stuff isn't too sweet and we've tasted all of the flavors so far. Besides banana and strawberry, I have the cans to myself. At Price Smart, juices are available on pallets for little money, you always have to buy 24 cans and don't know what's inside. There are three different varieties that are always put together differently. I buy eight pallets.

Should be enough for a few days

At Superfood I buy groceries for a week. Who knows how quickly we can find a smart supermarket in Curacao and how far it is from our boat. We prefer to be well stocked on the way, that has never hurt.

The to-do list is pleasantly short

It's a Friday afternoon. The last item on our todo list comes next. It is the obligatory rig check, which is carried out a little more thoroughly than usual after our ride from Cuba to Aruba.

I have no idea why we kept this point until the end. Probably there is no particular reason. The hatches and cleaning work were particularly urgent. In addition, we have never found a problem at this point that would prevent us from leaving. We dig out the mast ladder in the sail load and Jens is allowed to climb into the top of the mast.


The shrouds look great. On the way up, Jens checks the lower shrouds, upper shrouds, spreaders and, finally, the front and backstays for damage. Everything looks very good. Only the pulley, which is supposed to deflect the main halyard at the top of the mast, is crooked in its position. As a result, it cannot turn. It is completely blocked. As a result, we can no longer easily set or reef the mainsail. The main halyard can hardly be moved, if there is some pressure in the sail, nothing is guaranteed to work. If we had worked through this point earlier. Would have, would ....

If we had given the major case its own item on the list. We remember that the recovery of the Great on the eve of our arrival in Aruba was more exhausting than usual. But that was overshadowed by the motorless, exhausted arrival and the joy of having made it.

Our tile by the donkey

It's a Sunday afternoon. I'm sitting next to Anneke with the donkeys again. I am pleased to note that our tile has now been delivered and glued to a pillar. On Monday I expect news from a rigger whom Charly from the Chapo recommended to me. We hope he can solve the problem without having to put the mast. Otherwise…

... we have to go back to Varadero. Then a truck crane is rented. All of this needs to be organized and takes a few days. Aruba is sticky.

Oil spill

We have been struggling with a problem for weeks. A bottle of cooking oil struck us on the trip from Cuba to Aruba. How can this happen? Unfortunately, this can happen all too easily. We store our edible oil supplies in the lounge table on the lower level. Where customs officers commonly suspect the drug stash and smuggled alcohol. In Martinique we bought and stowed a lot of bottles of cooking oil last year. Little by little, these supplies were decimated, a good part of which we gave away in Cuba. The remaining bottles had too much freedom of movement. One of them fell into an exposed screw while we were dancing in the waves. Most of the bottle has leaked.

My foot. Jens' feet look like this too.

We didn't notice. We initially mistook the stains on the floor for water because it was precisely in this damp spot that the water was constantly dripping from the skylight. Gradually, the carpet turned into a black surface, our feet were constantly dirty and despite repeated washing with fresh water, the stains did not want to dry. In addition, the salon was getting dirtier and dirtier. It is only when I take a new bottle of oil from storage to cook that I see the cause of the whole problem.

First attempts with all-purpose cleaner are ineffective. We are relatively haphazard about how to approach this construction site. We also have enough work to do with the hatches and deck. We put the subject of carpet on the back burner, if necessary we have to throw it out and make do with the very worn wooden floor. He actually needs a lot of attention first. I also like the carpeting. Jens throws himself into the stuff and watches several YouTube videos on the subject of carpet cleaning.

Baking powder, the all-purpose weapon. And alcohol (not suitable for consumption)

We need baking soda and alcohol. So that the good Cuban rum doesn't go missing, I get several bottles of alcohol and a large bag of baking powder.

The easiest way to apply is with the spray bottle.

First of all, the baking powder must be rubbed dry into the carpet. Then the carpet is sprayed with alcohol. The alcohol dissolves the oil from the carpet and the baking soda absorbs it as it dries. When everything is dry again, the vacuum cleaner will remove the baking soda with the oil from the carpet.

Wait and let it take effect

While spraying you have the feeling of getting drunk from the fumes. Jens holds out bravely, the baking powder takes on a slimy consistency. We'd rather not use the gas stove now, not that another explosion takes place. It then takes hours for the baking powder gruel to turn into oily baking powder. Then you can vacuum.

After the first application. It's nice to see where most of the oil ended up in the carpeting. In the other places we are very pleased with the result.

Now we finally have the perspective that we can get the carpet clean again in a few days. We certainly won't be in Aruba long enough to complete this work. But that also works very well in Curacao.

Final sprint

Again I haven't written anything for a few days. This is mainly due to the fact that we are in the final sprint here. We are not only working on the absolutely necessary points on our list, but have now arrived at the points that are not absolutely necessary but would be practical.

Especially when sailing against the wind, it is extremely annoying that the phones on the navigation table go long distances or jump through the air. As a remedy, we thought of a small frame or a box in which we can also integrate the charging option for the phones.

A real Cuban cigar box

While cleaning up the souvenirs from Cuba, I noticed that the Cohibas cigar box was the perfect size. It can exactly accommodate our two phones and the wireless charge plates.

The magical inside shows itself

We still have the battens for the frame on board. Originally we wanted to use it to make a fly screen, but the wood was too delicate. Now it is used to protect the phones from slipping. They are each fixed in the optimal position for wireless charging.

The backside. Mmmm. It also has to be wiped with a damp cloth again.

Of course, the two USB charging cables that come out of the back of the box are a certain break in style. But I think it would be an exaggeration to install a connector and a distributor. There are also enough sockets nearby. Four screws hold the box securely in place.

While editing the photo, I noticed that I absolutely have to wipe it again with a damp cloth. That is what happened when this blog was published.

The cigars

Only the cigars suffer, they had to move out of their beautiful wooden box. Hopefully that won't harm them.

Always sweet - the begging donkeys

On Sunday I went to visit the donkeys again. As long as I'm on the island, I'll have to go there once a week. But we want to be on the next island next Sunday. So it was probably my very last visit. I'm a little sad again.


For Sweety, the time at the Donkey Sanctuary will soon be over. In a few days he will fly to Holland, where he will get a new home. He has terrorized his roommate cats a few times too often and is supposed to move out because of it. I think that's a shame because I would have liked to have taken him to Germany after my return home.

Boca Catalina

In contrast to the drone, the acquisition of the underwater camera was a good investment. On the one hand you can take pictures of the underside of the boat, on the other hand you can take nice pictures of the underwater world while snorkeling.


Actually, the thing is just annoying. The box takes up an incredible amount of space. The battery is dead. And for certain countries it only causes problems when entering the country. In Cuba it brings trouble. We're talking about the drone.

Often undesirable

We bought them in Spain on a whim, found them bad and only used them two or three times. Then we transported it halfway around the world. It's over now. Never again have to declare the drone upon arrival.

Cats and donkeys

You shall rest on the seventh day. Something like that is written somewhere. We can rest perfectly, so we stop work and go to the bus stop. There we bribe a bus driver from the San Nicolas bus line on Sunday to drive us to the Donkey Sanctuary - this is usually served by the Santa Cruz bus line, which does not run on Sunday.


I am happy to see Nella and Anneke again. With a little cat food in the luggage, the cats are happy that we are back. Jens rattles with the Tupperware jar and suddenly we are the center of attention. No, not us, the Tupperware jar. In return, Shrimp even gives up her beauty sleep.


Sweety is still being kidnapped by me. It won't be his favorite discipline, but he can enjoy it when I pound his stomach. After two or three minutes it will be enough for him, I have to drop him off.

Swa and Socks do not come down from their raised viewing position. As always, this is due to Sweety and not to the quality of our treats.

Swa and Socks

Oh yes, and there are donkeys too. We have a bag of carrots with us, which of course has the same effect on donkeys as cat food does on cats. And the donkeys recognize me. I want to give Kamino a carrot. At first he backs away because he suspects that the orange treat is medicinal. I guess I've put him on the back once too often. After a moment's hesitation, he took it, the other donkeys followed quickly.

Diva and Gipsy recognize me and ask for their carrots. Of course they will be served by me. Little by little, all old friends get their carrots. They would probably recognize me in a year too. The donkeys are very, very clever.

Begging donkeys

With that I come to the end of what will probably be the last contribution on the subject of donkeys - unless a donkey runs on our boat. There were enough donkey blogs in the past year.