“Bonbini Dushi”!! Sailing through tricky waters to get to Curaçao!

A time comes when you know you need to go. You get some kind of ‘island fever’ and start feeling restless. You miss that cocktail of freedom, fear and excitement you only experience when sailing.

After months spent with our new friends in Bequia, playing pétanque and tennis, hiking and having way too many sundowners…saying goodbye wasn’t easy. But we had to!

The view from the top of Mount Peggy, Bequia
On top of the world!
Princess Margaret Beach, Bequia.

Our next destination – Curaçao

Curaçao belongs to the so called ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao). Geographically speaking, they’re not in that order; the first island you encounter coming from East is Bonaire, Curaçao is in the middle, and Aruba is the last of the three. I’m specifying this for a reason, other than just being pedantic :): while sailing east to west is quite a pleasant experience, I wouldn’t say the same about the opposite. Let’s say you come from East and decide to stop directly in Curaçao, like we did; going to Bonaire from there is no cup of tea! With 2.5/3 metres waves in your face and the wind on the nose, even a relatively short journey from one island to the other needs to be carefully planned.

The last goodbye to our good friends Joakim and Virginie from Drakkar @ Plantation House Bequia


Coming from Bequia, our trip to Curaçao was roughly 460 NM, which at an average speed of 6 knots, meant 3 nights and 4 days of downwind sailing. We took it easy and sailed most of the time with only the jib on. When the wind was lighter, 15 to 20 knots, we would have both the jib and the code 0 open.

The sailing was very enjoyable, despite the big waves (2.5 metres). Luckily the period between them (the interval between one and the other) was such that they didn’t bother us too much, that’s also because they were coming from the back!

Hiking in Bequia!

Sailing through tricky waters

In the past, there have been incidents of boats navigating close to the Venezuelan coast, who had been boarded and robbed, so we were a bit afraid at the idea of sailing in tricky waters. And when I say a bit, I mean I would freak out any time a boat, especially of fishermen, appeared to be chasing us. Mentally, I would go through all the best hiding places on the boat (wrapped up inside the code 0, or the second jib, inside one of the spacious cupboards containing electric cables, under the mattress in our cabin, right next to the leaky boiler Gc keeps fixing!)

I would have preferred to wait and travel in a convoy, but we couldn’t find other sailors leaving at the same time, so we decided to go anyway. I mean Gc did….:) I’m ok with procrastinating!

Our tricks not to be tricked!

During the navigation, we kept at a great distance from the Venezuelan coast, and turned the AIS off at night, from time to time. Luckily, the passage was uneventful, and we only met loads of cargo ships and few fishing boats on our way. The first night was quite challenging as the area off the Grenadines was very trafficked.

We kept seeing one cargo after the other on the radar, and needed to make sure we wouldn’t get hit by any! The other two nights instead, we were almost completely on our own, no one else around except for a great full moon which made the crossing quite magical.

Gc and I did 3 hour shifts starting around 9pm and finishing at 9am. After the first one and half days, we got into the routine and didn’t feel tired anymore. Gc spent most of the crossing experimenting with a new way to make focaccia dough, which doesn’t require kneading, and baked one tray after the other.
I spent time reading books, memorising poems and eating a lot of focaccia, while Gc perfected his technique :)!

“Bonbini Dushi” – Welcome to Curaçao sweetheart!

When we finally got to Curaçao, it was noon. Entering Spanish Waters, the main anchorage, was quite an experience. After months in the Grenadines, we were immediately hit by the change of scenery; luxurious villas scattered along Santa Barbara beach and golf resort, super yachts moored along the pontoon. We were not surprised to find out this is one of the richest and most expensive parts of Curaçao.

Spanish Waters’ anchorage though is definitely not one of our favourites. It is very crowded, the water is muddy, and it’s quite dangerous to swim around because of the motor yachts constantly passing by at full speed, and with loud music on. No chance of them seeing or hearing you if you happen to be swimming in the wrong place. A few weeks before our arrival, a boy had lost his life there, run over by one of these speed boats.

At weekends, there is more traffic here than in central London!


The only dinghy dock where you can leave the tender is small and rather neglected. You’ll see dinghies parked in second and third row and getting off yours can be quite challenging. The only positive note is that there is a security service, so less chances of your dinghies being stolen.

Despite this premise, we loved Curaçao and actually had a great time there! After 30 minutes on the island, we had already experienced first hand how nice, kind and genuinely happy to help, locals are.

Sunbathing on Kalki beach – Curaçao
Kalki Beach – Curaçao

The day we arrived and anchored in Spanish Waters after 4 days out at sea, we needed to go to Punda (the town centre) to check in into the island. This is a rather time consuming process as the customs and immigration offices are far from Spanish Waters, and they’re not close to each other. We read that it normally takes up to 3 hours to complete the check in.

Our case, though, was quite different! After leaving the dinghy at the gated dock, we asked for information about the buses going into town. The guard standing close by told us that they were not very frequent, that we had just missed one, and would have to wait at least an hour for the next. Reading disappointment on our tired faces he added, “wait a second”…and stopped a car about to exit the parking area. After a quick chat with the driver, we were welcomed aboard a comfortable Toyota Yaris and offered a lift all the way to the Customs office!!

Thirty minutes later, we were on a hunt for the immigration office, which was proving very difficult to find…we asked for information and… there we go…. another kind driver offered to take us there! He dropped us in front of the immigration office and waved us bye!

Last but not least, once we had completed all the check in procedure, we mentioned we didn’t know how to find our way back, and one of the immigration officers offered to give us a lift back to the town centre; 3 lifts in less than 2 hours! What a welcome!

The Queen Emma’s Bridge, connecting Punda and Otrabanda. It’s also known as the “Old swinging lady” as it was built in 1888!

Once in the beautiful town centre, we found a nice bar by the canal, and sipped the first cold beer in 4 days, which tasted incredibly great. Around us, the colourful building of Punda’s promenade, which looks a bit like a little Amsterdam, with Queen Emma’s bridge (“The old swinging lady”) opening in front of our eyes to let a boat through.

A stop for flamingos watching in…..Curacao

Our time in Curaçao

You know you’ve been too long in the Grenadines when you get overexcited when stepping inside a Carrefour! When we first went to the big Carrefour inside Sambil shopping mall, I felt overwhelmed at the sight of so much food!

There was even a deejay playing music in the middle of it!

Curaçao is incredible when it comes to shopping, it has several shopping centres, all kind of shopping districts and an incredible variety of produce. Fruits and vegetables are so abundant and cheap!

The first week went by running around to buy boat parts, fixing things, doing shopping (we bought new cushions and carpets for Gladan, bedsheets, clothes and whatnot, after months of deprivation :)) and getting Gladan ready for our new guest, Beatrice, GC’s niece who would fly in to join us for a few weeks.

Thanks to Beatrice we had a chance to feel on holiday again and spent a few days exploring the island. We went to the north-west part of the island, which is plenty of beautiful beaches, bars and turtles popping their heads out from time to time in Playa Blanca.

Locals are very relaxed and there is a great blend of cultures, religions, and languages.

We found a pirate in Curaçao!

“Nay nay” – Jo would say in between a cigarette and a sip of the fourth cup of our espresso coffee. ‘This coffee is amazing, Señorita!’

JO’s “dinghy” is an old rescue boat quite oversized as a tender 🙂

Jo is a legend around Spanish Waters and does a bit of everything. He was recommended to us by another sailor who mentioned he was a good mechanic – although a bit eccentric… Originally from Holland, he’s been living in Curaçao for the past 20 years and knows everyone there – especially beautiful women!

A few times he had to start his engine in a hurry and quickly sail away to escape from some very upset husbands. “One morning, I was drinking my coffee – filtered coffee, not even a tiny bit as good as your espresso, Señorita– he started telling me the story- when this woman I had only met the night before…you know how it is…showed up with her suitcase and told me, “Jo do you have an engine on your boat?” Yes of course, I do! “Then turn it on, quickly. My husband wants to kill me!” So I lit a cigarette, gulped down my coffee, and started the engine…”

“Bonbini Dushi”!!

Slim and fit, with blondish hair crowning his head like a crest, and a cigarette always in his mouth, Jo looks a bit like a pirate. He certainly is one of a kind! Despite his rough look, he is a generous, cultured and caring person. After working in a kindergarten for many years, he decided to change lifestyle and career and started working on cargo ships travelling around the world on big beasts.

Nowadays, Jo organises day tours for families on his 2 motor boats. He loves entertaining kids and their families and also makes pizza for them on board: “I make the real one, with great fresh ingredients not the shitty stuff you find around here…”

When it comes to food, Jo definitely knows his stuff. He took us around the island, introducing us to the best selection of street food; Sunayna’s chicken soup, the “batidos” truck which also makes amazing arepas, Mama’s Indian food…our heads were spinning around….so much food and so many stories from his past!

Going out with Jo meant stopping at every corner to eat something here or drink something there. A constant feast for our palates and souls.

I think we met the best pirate of the Caribbean’s!

When Gc (almost) sued Pope… and our stay in Grenada & Carriacou

Getting back to the Caribbeans after our summer break in Europe was no cup of tea. When Covid started to spread, all Caribbean islands shut their borders to avoid contamination. Health infrastructures in most Caribbean islands are very poor, or sometimes non-existent, so governments have been trying to protect islanders first by isolating them, and then by imposing very strict measures to people visiting their countries.

By September, most of the Caribbean islands had reopened, but procedures to enter the country were still very strict: not only you needed a negative PCR test to board the plane, but once landed, you were also requested to quarantine in a designated hotel for at least 4 days, until you’d get the results of a second PCR test. If they came back negative, you’d be free to move around.

Gc’s case was a bit more complicated……because he didn’t get the right test before flying back to the Caribbeans (he got a serologic test instead of the requested PCR test), and he got himself in trouble and was then requested to quarantine for the full 14 days. Luckily (at least for his pockets), he managed to quarantine on board his beloved Gladan, at Canouan Marina.

Sea view from Canouan Marina

The experience is not one he recalls with pleasure…instead of being able to enjoy the facilities of the 5 star marina he was paying to stay at, he was locked inside the boat, with 30+ degrees, 80% humidity level and tons of mozzies. One night the mosquitos were bothering him so much that, frustrated, he decided to challenge them. He shut himself in the bathroom, turned the lights on and offered himself as bait, waiting for them to attack. Fully armed with towels, our Italian Stallion of the Caribbeans, tried to kill as many as he could, shouting in a frenzy of rage. Luckily, there was no one around to hear him…

To buy food, he needed to text the marina staff, who’d come to pick up the list of food he wanted as well as the money, both conveniently placed inside a plastic box left outside, to avoid any direct contact.

Paradise Beach – Carriacou. Gladan is now part of the wall of fame!
Paradise Beach Club was a great place to spend an afternoon with plenty of other sailors and fun activities organised weekly!

After 4 days of initial lockdown, Gc was administered a PCR test by the Doctor of the marina, Dr. Pope, a very friendly and chilled out guy, whom we had previously met as he’s the one going around and taking sailors’ temperature upon arrival at the marina.

The day after, the results came back negative, which should have meant that he was free to go… Gc phoned Dr. Pope to ask for confirmation.

Pope said he’d check with the health authorities and get back to him. Few days went by, and no news from the Dr…..so Gc decided to get in touch with the health authorities directly. The person answering the phone that day was adamant he’d still need to complete the 14 days of quarantine even though he’d tested negative.

Ten days down quarantine lane, Gc was struggling to sleep and function normally due to the unbearable heat and the unforgiving mosquitos…

By then, with the quarantine almost over, it was time to get another PCR test as that was the requirement to enter the island of Grenada, the next destination.

GC got again in touch with Dr. Pope to schedule an appointment. “Good morning Dr. Pope, it’s Giancarlo here from Gladan” – GC said. “Ah, Giancarlo…..” – Dr. Pope’s voice sounded strangely apologetic. “Giancarlo, I’m so sorry…”

Sorry for what? Gc thought. He had just called him! “I was meant to call you back….wasn’t I?” – The Dr. continued. “To tell you that you were free to go… You’re not still in quarantine, are you?”

Gc couldn’t understand what Pope was trying to say…”Giancarlo please don’t sue me, I’m very sorry. You were free to leave when your test came back negative, but I forgot to tell you!” – Pope further explained.

Gc was on the verge of collapsing! Did that mean he’d spent 8 extra days in hell for nothing? He could have gone to the beach, the restaurant, the pool….instead of being confined inside Gladan. Gc couldn’t believe his ears!

Several G&Ts and a few days later, Gc was on his way to Grenada, leaving Canouan Marina, Dr. Pope, and the unhappy memory of his lockdown behind.

Gladan was wounded after a steel boat hit us in Guadaloupe….unfortunately we were not onboard when it happened, and neither were the owners of the steel boat when it started dragging towards us.

Gladan needed to undergo a bit of aesthetic work since another boat had crushed into us a few months before, while we were at anchor in Deshaies, Guadaloupe, a bay with notoriously bad holding.

Gladan at Clarkes Court Yard

Once in Grenada, Gladan was hauled out at Clarkes Court shipyard and spent 2 weeks on the hard.

By the time Gladan was splashed in, I was also back in the Caribbean’s, after quarantining in Barbados for 2 weeks, and – one might think – conveniently avoiding the joy of being stranded in a hot and dusty shipyard while the works were carried out!

My quarantine at the Hilton in Barbados…not so bad after all!

Once reunited with Gladan and my better half, it was time to discover the island!

Grenada is quite a big island, famous for its spices and chocolate.

We spent 3 weeks anchored in Gand Anse, a huge bay with a 3km long sandy beach. It was a great anchorage as it was quite sheltered from the prevailing winds, and located close to Spiceland Mall shopping centre as well as several good restaurants and bars.

View from 61° West restaurant & Bar, Grand Anse. Great food and drinks!
Walking around Carriacou

We rented a car so that we could move around easily: the island is big and not well connected by minibuses.

For us, digital nomads, finding a good spot to work from, whenever we move around, is rather vital. And such place needs to meet certain requirements; fast wi-fi, good coffee, air con (possibly not set to freezing temperatures..) and decent food.

As you can imagine, these things are not so easy to find in one place, but this time we were in luck! We managed to find two places that offered the perfect working conditions: “Knife and fork“, inside Spiceland shopping centre, and Bella Milano, not far away form the mall. The first had great smoothies and decent coffee, the latter real Italian coffee and pastries.

Office with a view…! Paradise Beach Club, Carriacou.

We also found one of the best pizzas in the Caribbeans at Antonio’s. After months in the Caribbean’s, a delicious pizza is always a treat and their pizza was really good even for Italian standards!

For drinks and live music Aziz was the place to be!

Grenada is famous for its HASH. Every Saturday, locals organise hikes in a different part of the island and everyone can join in by paying a small participation fee. There is a path to be discovered and clues along the way. Food, drinks and music await the “runners with a drinking problem” that find the right way back!

Grand Anse was also close to Port Louis Marina, easily reachable by dinghy. Every Friday morning, we’d visit the local fruits and veg market, inside the marina, where we’d get our organic provisioning and delicious homemade guava juices.

Carriacou is only 15 miles away from Grenada and is part of the same administration, together with Petit Martinique.

It is a small and rather wild island with basic (expensive) provisioning and beautiful natural beauties.

Sandy Island – Carriacou – Thanksgiving day’s Party

We spent most of our time between Tyrell Bay, the main (and rather crowded) anchorage, and Sandy Island, the most charming place on the island, where you can only stay at a mooring buoy by paying a daily fee.

A visit to Anse la Roche it’s also a must, and the lobsters served by Tim the King at his restaurant on the beach are to die for!

Pasta with lobster by chef GC!

While in Carriacou, we made a lot of friends and spent an incredible couple of weeks, eating loads of really cheap lobsters, snorkelling and walking around to explore the island!

Thanksgiving party on Sandy island – Carriacou
Sandy Island – Carriacou
Our friend Alex, he made us discover The Paradise Beach Club in Carriacou and kept us company during our stay on the island!
Alex, Karen and Hugo with their beautiful little one!
It’s always difficult to leave behind the friends you’ve made along the way…