Happy people on a happy island

What is the best way to start this post? It's best to start with my new habits. After morning coffee, I usually go to the bus stop and ride a few laps with Soraida until she leaves for work. On each lap we pass the vaccination center in Santa Cruz and see the long lines of people waiting for their vaccinations. Passengers are almost always waiting at the nearest bus stop, who proudly tell as soon as they board that they have now received their vaccinations. What strikes me in particular is that these people all get on the bus with a smile under their mask, that they have a particularly happy conversation. Sometimes people just walk past the bus and proudly point to the plaster on their upper arm. Around 30 percent of the local population are now vaccinated.

Bus stop in Santa Cruz. The dog is not vaccinated.

Almost two weeks ago I was looking for a new V-belt and was able to order one from Napa. Although I had the promise that the delivery would take place by the end of next week, I also ordered one in Germany that Barbara will bring with me. I've been in Aruba too long to bet a euro on appointments here. It's Friday, and so it's the end of the week when I drive past Napa with Soraida. In front of the door there is actually a delivery truck with parts, I go in and ask. You still have to check the delivery and call me when my two V-belts come with you.

The delivery truck is at the door. Is the V-belt included?

I'm back on the road quickly and after a few minutes Soraida collects me again. The voltage increases. Will Germany or Aruba win? The delivery date for the V-belt from Germany is Monday, 5:30 p.m. when KLM lands from Amsterdam.

While I ride another lap in the bus, a forklift moves into position in the parking lot and unloads the van.

The delivery is being unloaded.

Soraida is closing time. I walk a little more down Main Street, then I stroll to the boat. As soon as I have told Jens the state of affairs, my Aruba phone rings. Napa is on the line. The two V-belts ordered were included in the delivery. After a moment's thought, I walk to the bus stop and let myself be driven to Napa. Now the things are there, now I can install one of them too.

The new V-belt. Made in Mexico.

I am now one of the happy people in Aruba too. I didn't get a vaccination, but I got an important spare part. I stand at the bus stop and stare a little at the sky. It feels unreal to me that after such a long time I will be leaving Aruba for quite a while. Everything here feels so familiar, meanwhile Frankfurt is very far from me. Sailing, spending a few weeks on the water, that too feels strange. Hopefully it won't be long before I get used to it again. How will it feel to have Aruba far away in the wake?

Caribbean-type power pole

In any case, the new V-belt is installed after a few minutes. After starting the engine it looks a lot better, it looks like it should. I noticed a small leak in the external cooling water circuit, so I retightened all hose clamps. Then this leak will also be eliminated and the engine is ready for the return journey.

Easter sailing

The weather forecast fits perfectly. On Easter Sunday, the wind should decrease by about five knots. In addition, Soraida has two days off, so we arrange a leisurely day trip. On Saturday Jens and I get Sissi ready to go sailing. It's a lot less work than we expected. We've been pretty tidy in the last few weeks, we've always dutifully put the tools and other stuff back where we took them from. So we still benefit from the order that we actually established for the crossing to Guadeloupe.

We get up early on Sunday. Jens takes care of the tarpaulin that provides shade for our cockpit. I just want to check the engine for a moment. Oil level, cooling water, V-belts - the usual check before we leave the port. The experienced reader of this blog knows that an accident will now happen which will prevent us from leaving the port.

Recently we had this little water damage. A fine jet of water sprayed merrily against the engine from the pressurized water pipes. How long it has been like that, I can't say. During the last engine check a month ago, when we removed the mast in Varadero, I didn't notice the problem. But it probably already existed before, I wasn't thorough enough. In any case, the rust is blooming on some of the pulleys.

Rust. You can't use it anywhere.

Shit. It has to be said that way, because the rust has left its marks on the V-belt. We have to put some work into this first. We need a new V-belt and the belt pulleys have to be derusted, otherwise it will be destroyed again immediately.

Damage. Not completely. There are more broken spots.

Fortunately, we have replacements on board, because the auto parts dealers are closed over the Easter holidays. I quickly write a message to Soraida that we will start an hour later. The manual is needed.

Engine repair manual

I haven't had to change the V-belt yet, so I don't have the necessary knowledge. The process itself is very, very simple and quick. Loosen a screw, carefully relieve the tensioner and then remove the old V-belt. By the way, we have the version with power steering. What normally drives the power steering moves our impeller.

Then I derust the pulleys with a toothbrush and rust remover until they are nice and smooth again and cannot destroy the next V-belt. Then the new belt takes the place of the old one, it is now put under tension with the tensioner and then Jens starts the engine. It will be exciting. Was the repair successful? Can we go out now? The engine starts immediately in the first attempt to start.

The short film gives the answer very clearly, we can't go. The V-belt is just too loose. It can be moved a hand's breadth when the engine is not running. This is too much.

Let's come to the dirty secret of Harald B. from Aurich, from whom I acquired Sissi. When he sold the boat, he also showed me the many spare parts that he still has on board. From air, oil and diesel filters to bilge pumps to the conscious V-belt. The secret is that many of the “new” spare parts are not new at all, but have already left their lives behind. Why he did that? Of course, I can't just blame Harald, I didn't look inside the manufacturer's packaging. My omission.

With regard to the used spare parts, there is no longer any risk, because we have all used them up to the present day. The “new” electric bilge pump immediately acknowledged service with a smoke signal after it was installed. Thanks to Charly von der Chapo, I was able to quickly get another pump last year, which is now doing its job reliably. The “new” air filter for the engine was already used, but looked better than the one that did its job from Holland to Aruba. Barbara will bring us another one from Germany, because so far I have been looking in vain in Aruba. The “new” V-belt goes straight to the bin. I am confident that I will be able to buy two copies in Aruba, Soraida knows all the auto parts dealers. Otherwise we have to wait for Barbara. The “new” anchor lantern caused a popping short circuit when it was first tried and was thrown in the garbage. The “new” impeller was porous and the blades were easy to break off.

Happy Easter!

I spend the day in the cockpit with Soraida. We enjoy the snacks she brought. In the course of time, my anger at myself disappears. Even if Easter is almost over in Germany - Happy Easter from the Caribbean!

Relaxation

We have a plan. At last. Nobody can close the Atlantic to us. That is why we are now planning the return trip to Europe from Aruba. Bermuda is currently open, we could make a stop there, just like in the Azores. As always, it all depends on the wind. In the middle to the end of April we get reinforcements from Frankfurt, Barbara will accompany us on the Atlantic crossing. This will enable Jens and me to sleep a few hours longer. Until then we will do a few more work on the boat, mostly painting work.

Painting work

It's nice to see how the boat becomes a little more beautiful almost every day. The only thing I don't dare to touch is the ceiling paneling of the salon, it's all too crooked and needs to be renewed in Europe. All in good time. In doing so, neither of us ruin each other. Sometimes Jens goes to the beach or I go to the donkeys, sometimes we work on the boat and sometimes we take care of our vacation. Yes, it now feels like vacation sometimes.

Swa gives a lesson in relaxation techniques

I see Soraida almost every day now. So much for that. It feels good, it feels right I look forward to the future. We want to go sailing on Easter Sunday. Jens tells me that his friends no longer believe that I will leave the island at some point. He would probably have to come home by plane. He doesn't have to.

I miss winter, the change of seasons. Aruba offers eternal summer. I've already missed two winters. Solutions can be devised for all other problems.

Socks' relaxation technique

So while not much is happening here, we have good news from our family. Our parents and sister all received their first vaccinations. In view of the current situation in Germany, that calms us down a lot.

But even here in Aruba, the numbers are rising rapidly. That was last after March 18, a national holiday (“Aruba Flag Day”). Now the Easter holidays are just around the corner and the government has tightened the measures. There is a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for everyone. Restaurants and bars have to close at 9 p.m. After 7 p.m. you are no longer allowed to go to the beach. Only two people are allowed on the road and a maximum of four people are allowed in the boat. In particular, violations of the curfew are punishable by heavy fines. Whether because of the measures or because of the beautiful weather, the daily number of new infections has decreased somewhat in the past few days. At times there were over 100 new cases a day, and we've been under 50 again for a few days.

The governor is visiting parliament

This has nothing to do with Aruba Flag Day. Sometimes you see this flag in front of the parliament building, it's the governor's flag. It consists of the flag of the Netherlands and the Arubas. Anneke described it to me a while ago. She sees them often because she lives on the same street as the governor. When he's at home, it blows on his doorstep. It is always pulled up where the governor is.

Eagle Beach

On the way to the supermarket I pass Eagle Beach again. I haven't been there for a long time because Jens has always been shopping by bike for the past few weeks. I prefer to take the bus, then I don't have to drive against the wind on the way back. Actually, the island seems very crowded to me, but the beach shows that the island's infrastructure can withstand a lot more tourists. I can also see it in the fact that not everyone is still going back to work. Edward, for example, is still waiting for his employer to reassign him. Fortunately, there is still government money for such people.

Unobstructed lake view

This picture is rare. The two high-rise - uh - cruise ships are on their way. Of course they will come again, but for a day or two the view of the lake is unobstructed.

I sit down at the computer and order things online that we can't get in Aruba or that are too expensive here. They will all find their way in Barbara's luggage. Excess baggage is cheaper, faster and more reliable than transport by post. We have to switch back to the data flat rate for satellite telephones so that we don't become poor. Otherwise almost everything is dry. Time to relax.

Relax with a delicious dinner on Soraida's terrace. Fluffy rice with vegetables, great spices and perfectly marinated chicken parts.

One year in Aruba

A year ago today, we arrived in Aruba for the first time. We have been planning to leave Aruba for three weeks. It's bewitched.

Aruba in March 2020 before lockdown.

Jens brings the wind sensor to the top of the mast today. Everyone pretends to be dead when the instruments are tested. The fuse has blown. After the exchange, the data bus runs again (NMEA 2000), but only supplies power and no data. When I disconnect the anemometer everything is normal.

So either the sensor is defective or not connected properly. Or the cable in the mast was damaged when it was removed. We have to find out now.

We are on the move, we finally want to move on. But Aruba sticks.

Positive: The dentist repaired my tooth yesterday. For less than € 200 I got the examination, an X-ray and the repair. When I think of the prices in Germany ... I can go again. Slowly but painlessly.

What else needs to be done before departure? Not much. Repair wind sensor. Hitch the sails. Refill supplies. Depart.

The first point can be fatal. In the worst case, the mast has to go down again. Annoying, tedious and expensive.

Negative: There is a short circuit in the data cable. To replace the cable, the mast has to go down again. But we don't do that in Aruba anymore.

From now on we will determine the wind strength via the charging current of the wind generator.

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.

tiger

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?

axis

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.

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.

Jumex

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.

Summiteer

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.

Sweety

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.