Friday, 14 August 2015

3am Attempted Theft, 8x2 and Flyspray

boys and boat 2

Into our second month, in Curacao, Dutch Caribbean, one of the safer places to sit during the hurricane season.  Awaiting the NZ winter to pass, we will store our boat on the hard, and fly home 25th August to make some more money…


Dave and I suddenly awoke from our deep sleep to an odd sound, like rope grinding outside our port.  Dave stood on the seat in our cabin, in his boxers, poking out of the hatch in the direction of our dinghy, which he couldn’t see, (normally bobbing in the water).  Jumping up on deck to get a better look I heard him suddenly yell, “hey, what’re ya doing?”, to which a man in the water yelled, “I shoot you!”

Not knowing how many men were out there, fear and anger suddenly welled up and over took me and I yelled back at the voice outside my port “there are children on board!” Worried that the kids would’ve woken to the alarm in my voice, I raced out to the saloon, hearing the man still threatening to shoot.  Thankfully only Salem had woken, the most chilled of the three, lying there, eyes open, he asked very casually if the man had a gun. I sat with Salem praying aloud.

I heard Dave’s strained yell, in reply to the shooting threats, “we’ve got a family on board, man!” (this still makes me chuckle, you can take the ‘coastie’ from the east cape of NZ, but you can’t take the ‘coastie’ out of him! -Not that I would want to).

Half a minute later, Dave comes in through the back hatch looking bewildered.  I’m not sure whether there is someone following him or if he is going to grab any of the little valuables we have to give to them.  A quick hug, I ask where are they, he says they have gone, he watched the man swim back.

Surprised at the outcome, I ask what happened… the man was holding something up out of the water, he was in between the dinghy and the boat.  It was too dark to see him or the object he was holding, when he threatened to shoot. Dave looked around to see what he could use to fend him off and there was the plank of 8x2 wood the kids had been using for a diving board.  He picked it up and said to the guy, “I’ll throw this plank of wood on your head!” To that the guy swam off, yelling ashore to someone, “shoot em, shoot em”.  Thankfully, no shots were fired.

We tried to vhf the police and coast guard but nobody answered.  Suffice to say, we didn’t get much sleep after that.  Got me thinking about various conversations/arguments that often arise amongst cruisers about whether to carry a gun, or not, on a boat.  I was reminded of one such German cruiser we had spent some time with in Trinidad, that had had such a colourful past, I wished I’d written notes about his life!  His advice was, if you have a gun, you have to be prepared to use it…without hesitation. ‘Cos if they have one and see you with a gun, they will not hesitate to use theirs first.  Or, they may get if off you, either way, you’re stuffed, and they probably walk off with a better weapon than what they set out with. So I started thinking, what is something I wouldn’t hesitate to use?  It didn’t take long to find my answer…flyspray!!  The stuff we bought in Trinidad is almost lethal, a spray of that near the face and they would be gone-burgers!

Talking to friends anchored near us later the next day, she has worked for an Aussie government aid agency in many of the Pacific Islands, and said, if the man had had a gun, he would’ve shot, he wouldn’t have been talking about it. That made sense.  Talking to others later, all said, they’re after the outboard, after some quick $$. 

We realise that tying up closer to shore than others is a risk, but we are now raising the dinghy onto the deck, and storing the engine on board in the evenings.  We keep the vhf on channel 74 with our friends anchored nearby to alert/help each other.  Also, lifting the boarding ladder, it would be very difficult to get aboard, even using the stern lines.  I have found a fog horn, which sits next to our aft hatch along with my trusty can of flyspray, so be warned, don’t mess with the Mama and her flyspray!


Salem recounted the events that morning to his brothers in such a chilled out tone, it took hours for the news to sink in.  Eli tried to get a bit more concerned about it, but we reassured him of the safety measures we would make and thankfully, it passed, like some dumb movie we had just watched.  It took the best part of a week for Dave and I not to wake to every sound, and living on a boat, rocking around, with waves lapping against both shore lines and the boat, meant we were waking a lot! 

We could go out into the other anchorages with more boats, but they too have also had an attempted robbing just a week before.  It’s also much more sheltered here, we’re not dragging, mostly very still, close to other nice beaches, and can swim off the boat, which is not so easy or safe out there.  So we’ll take our precautionary measures, stay here and keep praying. (N.B. three weeks have passed since writing and we had a very peaceful, non-eventful time).


Where were these guys when I needed them?!

On a lighter note, Eli’s birthday managed to coincide with some immigration issues we were having.  Due to his sudden great desire not to sail anywhere, anymore, we were faced with two options: pay $2400 for the application of an extension, or fly to Bonaire and stay in a hotel for a bit of birthday luxury for less than half the extension brainer really..


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The Caribbean love their “roly poly’s”…. cactus fence surrounds the accommodation.

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Good food and luxury = a very happy Eli, no wonder he’s over the boat!  Must confess, I did not make the cake, we only took carry on luggage and I didn’t want to risk it getting confiscated at the airport, so shock horror, we bought one (was rather tasty though). 

I had my birthday too, the week before..


Woke up to a delicious breakfast and cup of tea in bed and great cards from my lovely boys.  Not to mention the wine and chocolate, what better way to spend a birthday than on a boat somewhere tropical instead of the usual freezing cold temperatures I would normally have back home?:)


Look what we discovered on our walk..

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shells growing inside trees… a coastie wondering why he is so far from the surf…a tree appears to be sprouting cactis.


And then, there was cake, made by Eli, so good you would never have known it was made in a pressure cooker.  Carrot cake with cream cheese icing, hmm, hmmm, sorry you missed it!  Our neighbours also took the boys for a few hours, we joined them later for snacks and drinks.



Spot Eden inside the R.

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A lot of beautiful/interesting artwork by local artists on various walls..



Lunch, yum.


Dushi apparently means something along the lines of sweet, anything good.

Back home..

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Boom time for Salem (mum, is a photo really necessary?!)… Salem and Eden are “sailing”, catching the gusts of wind, they go floating down, then pull themselves back on the stern line!

IMG_20150713_173407 While Dave and I sat under the dried grass umbrella at the beach enjoying our ice cold beers purchased from the bar nearby, these boys set to work looking for treasure at the volleyball and soccer sandpit/courts.  Whenever they found something, they would race over with big grins, when it was a coin they would say, “is this enough to pay for your beers?!” They did find enough to pay for almost two rounds of beers - $11 ( NZ$8.80).  Child labour never looked so sweet..course we didn’t actually spend their hard earned pennies.








My apologies, in the previous post, I claimed the structure in the background was an oil rig.  It is in fact a cable layer, that moves across the ocean, but currently moored.








Turns out the snorkelling here is just as good as Bonaire, you see bright fish as soon as you put your head in at waist deep water.  It’s very clear and there are loads of fish.


The dive site here is called the red tug.  Salem and Eli took off together, Eden went for his longest snorkel ever, swimming the whole way with Dave by his side in water up to 5 metres in depth.  Dave said he kept squealing, not in terror, but sheer delight as he kept seeing all the fish and chasing after them!  They headed round past the end of the rocks in the picture to find Eli and Salem standing up shoulders out of the water and waving, they had found and were standing on the top of the sunken tug.  Dave and I went out together later, it was amazing to see so much coral growing on the tug and loads of fish in through the windows.


Boys were very pleased with themselves that they managed to climb to the top and jump off this.  Even more so when they saw a “muscly guy” wasn’t able to get up!


Just so you know what Eden snorkelled around!


Curacao’s National bird: the Oriole.  Chortles quite loudly.

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Went on an island tour with our friends/neighbours of the anchorage, finishing up with pizza.


The joys of bottom scrubbing (the boat, that is): little creepy crawlies that love to stick to every imaginable surface of your skin and then give a little bite.  Hence the lycra jellyfish suit Dave is wearing to prevent them from getting too far.

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Dave helped friends on their 65ft yacht to sort out a few jobs up their very high mast..

(thanks for the photos Sue)


Almost at the top!  Roofing experience coming in handy.

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Campfire cooking on the beach: Salem was amping and he made several rounds of baked potatoes with butter and garlic.  One night he did it for a party of 12 of us!


Speaking of culinary adventures, visited a friend’s boat who showed us these “super food” dried bugs he had bought.  He offered the boys a smoothie he had made, but mentioned there were some crickets in there.  I decided to try the mango, banana, orange,lime and cricket concoction and it was tasty.  At one stage I did feel there was something in my mouth that needed to come out, picturing cricket legs, I was relieved to find it was only some mango fibres!

Eli confided later that he was trying not to hurl or pass out while I consumed the smoothie!

I can tick that off as the strangest thing I have eaten while away (actually, ever!).




Came to the conclusion we needed to head back to Bonaire to haul out and store our boat for some fairly considerable savings.  Ended up motor sailing 12 hours into the wind and current.  Was pretty sweet conditions considering.  Unfortunately the boys were spewing honey puffs all over the deck all day but we were extremely glad to arrive.


Checked out the boat yard, pretty basic but has to be one of the few boat yards you get to walk to the pristine water’s edge for a swim.  (A water desalination plant is next door.) 


Well, that’s all from us for now, for those in NZ, boys are on serious countdown, two weeks and we’re home!


To those that are praying for us, thanks a heap, we really appreciate it, and don’t stop!


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