Happy Birthday Tessa

tessa-9th-birthday-2 Tessa celebrated her 9th birthday today!  It started out a little rocky.  We all did a quick walk downtown, and I was going to make her birthday cake when we got back to the boat.  I already had the mix and frosting, but no decorations.  After walking around for awhile, I started to not feel well.   The grocery store is not close in town, and it was too far to walk so I started looking for a backup plan of an icecream cake.  We checked at Baskin Robbins but no luck.  I was going to have to make the cake.  Tessa, knowing I wasn’t feeling well, said she didn’t need a cake.  That was sweet of her, but no one in my family has a birthday without a cake.  Tessa joked she could just have a donut from Dunkin’ Donuts, (there are about 3 Dunkin’ Donuts in Aruba!).  That gave me an idea.  I bought a half dozen Dunkin Donuts.  Back at the boat, I assembled them into something resembling a multilevel cake, complete with whipped cream decorations.  I put 9 candles on top and it was perfect.  She loved it.  While I assembled the cake, Dan and Tristan decorated her room and the boat with Happy Birthday streamers and balloons.  That made her very happy.  I had bought her birthday gifts back at Christmas time and they had been hidden.  It took me awhile to find a few of them.  She also had a few from Grandma and Grandpa.  We spent the rest of the afternoon, playing games and having fun. Later, the guy from the French boat Josie came over to see if we had any charts on Colombia.  Dan gave him what information we had.  We found out he was sailing with his wife and 3 kids.  I told him it was Tessa’s birthday.  He went back to his boat and brought back his wife, 5 month old son, 2 year old son and 5 year old daughter Noel.   They brought a present for Tessa, a DVD, and some hair bows.  What  a nice surprise!  Noel stayed on our boat for awile and played with Tessa.   They had a great time.  Come to find out, they know  our friends on Toucan.  They met them in Curacao.  Unfortunately for us, they will be leaving for Cartegna before we do, but we should catch up to them there.

Santa Cruz Curacao/Aruba Passage



snuggling  Aruba passage

We left early Monday morning and headed to Santa Cruz, on the north coast of Curacao.  We anchored here to shave twenty miles off  the normal sixty plus mile trip.  The anchorage was exposed, and when we anchored around noon, some northern swells were giving us a bit of a rolly anchorage, but not too bad.  At seven pm, right after the sun went down, the guy from the dive shop on shore came out to us and told us we’d better move.  They just got the call on the radio that bad northern swells were coming tonight and where we were wasn’t safe. If the Coast Guard saw us there, they’d make us leave.  He told us to come on further in the narrow inlet (lined by high cliffs) and anchor in the middle.  We had rejected this spot when we first came in as the holding was supposed to be dead, loose coral mixed with sand, a mixture our anchor doesn’t like, and the spot we were currently at was all sand.  Dan and I decided we’d better follow his advice as it was already pretty windy and a little lumpy where we were.  Tristan and I had the anchor hauled in record time, and in the twilight, we entered straight into the narrow inlet and dropped the anchor, hoping for a catch the first time.  Luck was with us and we were set, in the dark.  It was a little nerve wracking.  If we dragged here, we would head right into one of the rocky walls.  At least we were getting a break from the wind.  We had a restless night as we woke up to check our position every so often. 

santa-cruz   beach-sant-cruzSanta Cruz


 This morning at six thirty we hauled anchor and set sail west for Aruba.  In the beginning the wind was light, about ten to twelve knots, and northern swells.  The swells built, not enough to be scary, but short enough to make you sick if you went inside the boat.  I guess we don’t have our sea legs yet.  The only one who seemed fine was Tessa, but she can handle just about everything.  The wind stayed pretty light until we got to Aruba and then they kicked up to twenty five knots.  We checked into the immigration/customs at Barcadera.  It was interesting tying up to the dock with twenty knot winds pushing you off.  The guidebook said not to expect any help at the dock, but a nice guy from one of the Colombian fishing boats watched us come in, and gave us some much needed help with our lines.  That was an unexpected surprise.  Dan handed him a cold Polar.  At first he said that wasn’t necessary, but we insisted.  Check in was quick, and with our Colombian friends help again, we got off the dock and headed to the anchorage near the airport.  Tomorrow is Tessa’s birthday so we will go into town and explore and celebrate.  Tonight, it’s early to bed!

haircutting  Tristan cutting his own hair.

Bizarre Boat Behavior Part 2 or Blame it on the Equinox

tessa-and-the-jellies1 Tessa and her jellyfish.  You have to look really hard to make it out.




We are just going to blame the last few days on the Spring Equinox. There really is no other explanation.


It started Thursday night. Mathew, Tristan’s friend from Antigonne, Tristan, and Theo from Tyree 111, were trying to use the internet. We are in the water, on the dock, far from the office where the internet is strongest, so the boys were sitting outside the office playing Club Penguin online. A rather rotund Norwegian man was also using his computer, trying to SKYPE his wife back in Norway. He wasn’t having any luck and seeing the boys “wasting the internet playing games” set him off. According to the boys, he called them “little ba#$@$%s” and “rich Kids” and they were using all the internet and he couldn’t get his call through. He wanted to know what boat they were on and they wouldn’t say which set him off even more. The boys wisely decided to come back to our boat and told us what was going on.

This is where good parenting comes in. I listened to their stories and sympathized with them. Then I explained that when people get really mad like that, generally it’s not because of you. Usually something set them off before you got there and you just happened to be next in line. We don’t know what happened to him before you showed up, so while it was wrong for him to talk to you like that, we need to have some understanding. Then I looked at Dan and said “Dan, you need to go kick some a#&!” (I call it the yin/yang of compassion.)

No I didn’t really say that to Dan but I did say he needed to talk to the guy. So Dan and the boys went back up to the office and the boys got schooled in problem solving among grown men. After loud talking, finger pointing, name calling (he called Dan short, not sure why but maybe in Norway that’s a big insult) and nearly coming to blows, Dan was able to explain how the internet really works. It’s a lousy system and actually it’s SKYPE that takes up the most bandwidth so really the problem was with him! In the end, Dan did get the guy to apologize to the boys. Apparently he was having a big fight on the phone with his wife back in Norway and that started the whole thing.

The next morning, we are sitting on our boat and here comes the Norwegian, “Are you using the internet?” Asking every boat, trying to find out who is using all the bandwidth because I guess he needs to finish the argument with his wife. Craziness!!!

That morning, a big fuel truck pulled up on the dock next to our boat. He was there to supply fuel to two new power boats docked next to us. This was his second trip and I told Dan that we should try to get some fuel from him as it would be so convenient. The driver told us we’d need to talk to Maureen up at the office, so Dan did. Her reply? “No. You can’t afford it.” What??? “It’s too expensive for the small amount you will need. The delivery fee is expensive.” What delivery fee? The truck is literally 3 feet from our gas tank. “Too expensive for you!” Ok. Whatever!

That night I came back from the shower and one of the Venezuelan’s had his truck parked again about four feet from our boat. The engine was running and he left the lights shining in our cockpit, lighting it up like a Christmas Tree. I looked around and they were standing on their boat just talking. I called to them and I asked them to turn off the lights. They just looked at me like I was crazy. I couldn’t think of the term for lights in Spanish. I thought it might be luminaries but then I thought that might mean a small votive candle. so I did the American thing of talking louder and using weird hand motions from the 1970′s when you used to pull a knob in and out to turn on the lights. I could be saying “Turn off the lights” or “Let’s play pinball.” It was really close. Finally someone yells back, “Yeah, just a minute.” He could have walked 15 feet and shut the lights off but no, he opted to talk for another ten minutes before moving the truck. I was about to just reach in the truck and shut them off myself but with my luck I would have accidently put the truck into drive and drove it onto our boat. I didn’t need that kind of international incident!

Yesterday, we had an absolutely frustrating day of trying to check out and missing immigration. Tessa and Tristan were playing with Simi and Theo on Antigonne. Tessa had been spending the last few days really pushing our buttons. For school on Thursday, I told Tessa she could sit on the back of the boat and observe the jellyfish swimming around and later we would do some research together. I was busying helping Tristan when Dan asked me “What is Tessa supposed to be doing?”

“She’s watching the jellyfish. Why?”

“She’s got two jellyfish in a plastic container in the cockpit.” While observing them, she decided to catch them with a bucket. Now she could observe them up close. Dan told me to make sure never to have her observe sharks!

That afternoon we walked over to Tyee 111 and introduced ourselves to Lucie and John, Simi and Theo’s parents. We were having a beer and good conversation when Tessa burst into the cockpit of their boat.

“I lost my shoe in the water,” she yelled. She’s very upset and so I ask her what shoe she’s talking about.

“My shoe with the hump!”

Shoe with the hump??? What is she talking about? Dan and I both had flashes of the shoes that “special” kids had to wear. What a great impression on our new friends! Actually she was talking about her new flip flops we bought (they had a little heel, hence the hump). Now most people would say flip flops, big deal, but it was a big deal. We spent a long time shopping for flip flops for her that would last. These were twenty dollar flip flops, and her only shoes besides her heelies. Dan and I jumped up.

“Your new flip flop? We have to get it.” We sprang into action. Tessa tried to stop us. “It’s gone! It’s under the dock!”

“We have to get the flip flop!”

Dan and I scramble out of the cockpit, calling back to a stunned Lucie and John “Sorry!” “We’ve gotta go” and lastly, “Flip flop! Flip Flop” like a crazed version of “Rainman.” I hear John calling faintly behind us in his heavy Canadian accent, “It’s only a flip flop eh.”

We scurry back to the boat and in the water I can barely make out a floating flip flop. “Get the net!” I yell and a few minutes later, Tessa’s shoe is safely back on Alegria. Dan asks me if we can go back to Tyee now and finish our beers.

“Are you kidding me? We just ran out of there like crazy people, yelling flip flop, flip, flop! They think we’re freaks! We’re the freak family who’s daughter wears shoes with humps!!”

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