There followed much consultation with Chris Parker over possible weather windows for us to return from PR to Curaçao. If you don't sail in the Caribbean then you'll probably never have heard of Chris. He has a weather forecasting business, providing detailed info for cruisers in and around the Caribbean. He provides free info every morning via HF radio and more detailed customised info for "sponsoring vessels" via HF, e-mail, web cast, telephone, etc. "Sponsoring vessel" is a kind of not very secret code for "people who give me money". We listened to him whilst we were pinned down in Aves in April, and he certainly has access to more info than most cruising sailors even when they're tied to a dock with WiFi access, and also some pretty decent software. Without a doubt, when you're anchored in the back of beyond this is a really useful resource.
We had "given him money" - oops sorry, "sponsored him", after being in Aves for more than a month. Not, I think, because we really believed on an intellectual level that he could forecast the weather much better than we could ourselves with the info we already had and the info he gave us for free, but because we had this kind of pathetic subliminal belief that giving him money would somehow make the weather better! The fact that he also took away part of the decision making responsibility was also something of a relief.
Anyway, for whatever reason, we were now a sponsoring vessel and sitting in Salinas PR chewing over the weather. We made contact with Chris, "If you go now you should have a great window. If you don't, there will be increasingly heavy squalls and you have to wait at least another week." Excellent! Decision made, no time to think about it. A million and one things to do in order to "go now". And then we were gone - on route to Curaçao. With 25k winds Lindy had a 'déjà vu' look in her eyes!
Unfortunately...... when we raised Chris on HF the next morning his forecast was somewhat less "great" and unless we were able to sail uncharacteristically quickly, the squalls from the next tropical wave were set to hit us well before we got to Curaçao! In the event we did sail uncharacteristically quickly (160 miles a day), made a very fast crossing and were only troubled by one 40knot squall. And almost before we knew it we were back in Spanish Waters. But not for long, a week later we'd organised a lift, scheduled a welder and Samarang was lifted (actually trailored - another new experience) ashore at Curaçao Marine.
After a month on the hard we took time out to visit the UK for the first time in 3 years. Two and a half weeks that disappeared all too quickly with the normal round of flying visits to family & friends and manic shopping. Our two strongest memories of this trip are - Cold! It was the end of August, but we almost never removed our fleeces. And it wasn't only that we're adjusted to warmer climes, it was only 15°C. Secondly, was how affluent and upbeat everything seemed. We'd been reading nothing but gloom about the economy for the last year - recession, depression, etc, but it just wasn't apparent to us. The shops seemed fuller and the checkout queues just as long as we remembered them. Or perhaps we really have been in the third world too long.
A few days in Amsterdam. Lindy's first visit ever and my first for nearly 30 years. Even colder than the UK, but a real pleasure just to be there. The Rijks Museum perhaps says something about the Dutch psyche. It's been under refurbishment for a number of years now, so that only a few rooms are open with something less than 10% of it's normal exhibits available for view. And has the entry fee been reduced to take account of this??? I think you know the answer! This is the nation that is famous for inventing the concept of inviting someone out for dinner and then asking them to pay for themselves!
Back in Curaçao. Three more weeks in the apartment whilst we make the boat habitable, then finally back in the water on 5th October 2011. A few more weeks to fix all the things which were previously perfectly reliable, but now inevitably no longer work and then we'll be on our way.
Always depending on the weather..........................