Our view from Arashi Beach.
Our last few days in Aruba were spent in a northwest anchorage called Arashi Beach near the lighthouse and a pretty public beach. While the anchorage was still rolly, we really appreciated the beach setting where we could alternate between dips in the clear water, cool beverages at the small bar and strolls along the tourist strewn sand.
Captain was extremely happy here as she would swim then roll in the sand to her hearts content. Plus there were SO many people who gave her love and attention that she really did not want to return to LIB!
Captain is quite the ambassador and because of her we met people all along the beach. Since there is no cruising community to speak of in Aruba, Captain’s introductions to new friends was even more welcome than usual.
Captain amid her friends Pam, Tiff, Chris and Lisa.
We ended up meeting several groups of visitors but we really connected with two groups and since both expressed interest in our sailing life, we invited them to come visit us on LIB.
John, Mark, Zachary, Gerry, Frank, Lisa and Chris…. the youngest at the helm?
Once again, I forgot to pull out my camera, so I don’t have pictures from the day Becky, Tanya, Jeb and Shawn went sailing with us, but both days were really fun. Our guests soon became friends and I can only hope our paths will cross again. Thanks for trusting us to share part of your vacation time guys. It was a pleasure meeting each and every one of you!
Eight large boats and a couple of small ones.
Aruba tourism is huge as evidenced by the number of day boats taking people to various snorkeling spots. Just count the number of boats in the pictures above and below this paragraph. These were to the port and starboard side of LIB as we motored away from Arashi Beach.
Just another six day boats!
I mentioned already on our boat FB page that the checking in and out process for Aruba leaves a LOT to be desired. The docking is especially poor as it is set up for very large tug boats or cruise ships and small sailboats or motorboats do not fit well against the dock. The people in and about Aruba are delightful, but the Customs and Immigration people were much less helpful, in our experience. I get it though; we cruisers are small potatoes and little revenue compared to those who arrive by plane or cruise ship….
Sailing against the trade winds is no fun, so this calm day was perfect!
We set out for Bonaire on a fabulously calm day with winds of less than 4 knots and seas that were calmer than our Aruban anchorages!
Venezuela is right there!
If you look closely, in the distance of this picture, you can see Venezuela. It is easy to forget that Venezuela is only about 25 miles from Aruba. Many large, private fishing boats have come from Venezuela and are docked in Aruba. I assume this is to find a safe refuge since Venezuela is in such a sad plight.
We anchored in a small bay on Curacao overnight, then motored on to Bonaire. WHAT a welcome back to Bonaire we had. Our friends Josee and Andre whom we met in the Dominican Republic were already in Bonaire and had scouted out a mooring ball in case we needed it. (You guys ROCK!)
Kathe and Gary of s/v Tribasa Cross, whom we met waaaay back in the BVIs in 2015, were on a mooring ball and Gary was in the dinghy to greet us when we arrived. How fun is it to bump into people you met years before?!
Plus we were able to reconnect with Kathi and Tim of s/v Two Oceans; fellow Puerto Rico refugees!
Needless to say it is awesome to be back in a cruising community where we can reconnect with familiar friends (notice I did not say “old”) and new friends are just a mooring ball away.
The reefs include more color than you can imagine!
Now that we are back in Bonaire, once again we are diving daily. We find the diving here fabulous! By early afternoon, we are very hot and ready to drop our body temperatures. Scuba diving and being underwater for an hour is an excellent way to cool off and explore at the same time.
Here are just a few pics from diving in Bonaire…
Who knows what might pop out from a crevice?
My favorite “find” so far was this octopus!
This doesn’t do justice to the myriad of colors.
Loads of fishies!
This eel was fast…. or was I hesitant to get too close??
Nature reclaiming man’s waste and making it pretty-ish.
It is really nice to be back in Bonaire where we are surrounded by other cruisers and we can enjoy the water that surrounds us. There are good grocery stores and we can find most things we want and everything we need. The winds are returning this week, so we look forward to finding a good kiteboard spot soon.
Happy Thanksgiving to our U.S. readers. As usual, thank you for stopping by.
Wow, sorry for the lack of blog posts. I would say it’s been super busy here, but that is a relative term. We have been busy, but a lot of what we have been doing is researching things for the new boat. (Skip to the bottom for that news.)
Our view when anchored off Nikki Beach.
Aruba is a beautiful island with a population of a little ever 100,000 as of 2016. The locals are extremely nice and cheerful, so we feel very welcome here. However, the focus is certainly on the tourists who arrive via cruise ship or plane and we little cruisers are sort of an afterthought. Which is understandable when you consider that just yesterday there were four cruise ships in port which is probably about 20,000 visitors!
In this picture I captured 3 cruise ships and an airplane!
Checking into Aruba by private boat is a bit of an adventure. Boaters must tie up to the large commercial dock which is not well situated for a small boat. When we arrived, the wind was beating us up against the concrete wall and the only protection besides our boat bumpers were old tires. Let It Be came away with a lot of black tire marks on the side and we were tense the whole time we were at the commercial dock, but thankfully we didn’t have any other damage.
All of the paperwork was completed at the dock and immigration and customs came to us; but it took a while!
There are pretty much only two marinas available here and currently they are very full with boats from Puerto Rico that ran from Hurricane Maria and boaters who have escaped Venezuela.
The Renaissance Marina.
We stayed in the Renaissance Marina for a few days before our trip to the U.S. and it is a nice place to stay. The marina is right across from all of the action of town and there are two hotels associated with the marina where we were welcome to swim and use the restrooms.
Since returning from the U.S., we have been anchored off Nikki Beach which is right next to the airport. This is not a calm and quiet anchorage, so don’t expect flat water. But the beach is nice and it is easy to pull the dinghy up on shore. We have enjoyed taking Captain for walks twice a day on the beach and we have been swimming or SUPing most afternoons to get some exercise.
There are other beaches along the west coast of Aruba that are even prettier than Nikki Beach, but they are not well protected either.
We have rented a car a few times and explored most of the island by car.
How many animals could survive here?
Driving around Aruba, the east coast is rugged and dry. Although years ago, there were supposedly a variety of grazing areas for cows, goats and other animals, we didn’t see any areas that looked capable of supporting cattle; and we are here during the rainy season.
The east coast water was pretty but rough.
We are still considering moving up to Palm Beach on the northwest shore of Aruba so we can dive some of the shipwrecks, but much depends on the winds.
Aruba’s two largest visitor populations are from the cruise ships and repeat time share owners. Both visitors seem to really enjoy their time here and many of the people I’ve spoken with make Aruba a multiple repeat vacation destination.
Prada? Cartier? Ralph Lauren? Gucci?
I think Aruba is so popular because it is an easy place to get to and there are many familiar amenities that make it perfect for those who like a taste of home when they travel. You will find most recognizable restaurant chains here and every upscale designer seems to have a store front.
A “ying/yang” lounge chair?! Suits us pretty well.
We have certainly taken advantage of several of the restaurants and enjoyed many delicious meals here in Aruba. We have enjoyed access (by car) to very well stocked grocery stores. We have loved swimming nearly every day.
Dinner at Elements was one of the best meals we had in Aruba!
We have also enjoyed spending time with our friends Shelly and Greg of s/v Semper Fi, who also sailed away from Puerto Rico just before Hurricane Maria. Greg and Shelly have spent a lot of time on Aruba and they have been really helpful in learning what Aruba has to offer.
One other thing we appreciate about Aruba is that we were able to have the bottom of LIB cleaned and repainted. LIB was on the hard for three weeks while we were traveling in the U.S. and we are very pleased with the work performed at Varadero Aruba Marina and Boatyard. Once again LIB is clean, painted and ready to sail.
It has been pretty interesting to watch the constant coming and going of the cruise ships at all times of day and night. More than once we have awakened to Captain barking at night and when we look outside, there is yet another ship leaving with all lights blazing.
The picture is poor, but you can see how amazingly bright these ships are at night!
If I have to summarize my thoughts about Aruba, it is a bit like living at anchor in a small city. If you are a city person at heart who is living on a boat, Aruba might be the perfect place for you! Frank and I are both looking forward to getting back to a little quieter anchorage if we can find one. Next week the wind is forecast to lighten up so we will probably leave here and sail back toward Curacao and Bonaire.
One upside to the HH55 is that there are many ways to customize the boat, everything from choosing aft or interior helm stations to designing the cabinets in the galley and hulls.
It is really fun to have these options but it takes a good deal of thought, planning and research. Unfortunately when we have s-l-o-w internet, research is very time consuming. But we are plowing along and making decisions.
The folks at HH have been very responsive to our questions and they are working hard to help us build the boat we think will work best for us when we circumnavigate. Also, Gino Morrelli has been amazingly helpful with the details of the boat and with catching things in the renderings that we need to consider.
The very first decision we had to make was which helm station configuration we wanted: the interior, center helm station or dual, outdoor, aft helm stations.
The interior helm is a very cool feature and we thought it would be really nice to sit inside during passages and helm from indoors. Whomever is at the helm would remain part of the activities indoors and would not be isolated at an outdoor helm station. We have some concern that during ocean crossings, water could come through the trampoline and swamp the pit by the mast where lines are adjusted in the interior helm configuration. Plus the interior helm is a great way to reduce sun exposure and help prevent skin cancer.
The outdoor helm configuration is familiar and comfortable. With dual helm stations, docking would be easier because you could be in the helm station closest to the dock so you can see easily. Removing the helm from the salon would allow for another sitting area indoors and make the salon more open physically and visually.
Image from HH55 layout page.
Both configurations have positive features, but for us, the dual, aft helm is our choice. When sailing LIB, Frank and I love to sit at the helm together and watch the world go by, so we have a hard time imagining ourselves sitting inside the salon as we sail.
HH and Gino Morrelli are working with us to make sure the outdoor helm station seats are comfortable and will accommodate both of us as we sail. Perfect – for us anyway.
So there you have it. Our HH55 will be the dual, aft helm stations. FYI, this was not a difficult decision. I think most people know instinctively which would be better for their preferences.
Thanks for reading our blog. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. If you want to see what we are up to more often, please visit our FB page: Let It Be, Helia 44.