It started off like a holiday as we were staying in an apartment, had not yet received the keys for the boat and were still getting used to the heat. At over 30 degrees during the day and not dropping below 27 at night it was a big change to what we were used to, and knowing that we were here for the long haul meant we didn’t do the typical British thing, baste ourselves like chickens and hop on a sun bed till burned to a crisp on day one just incase the sun should disappear.
A holiday doesn’t usually involve schoolwork but as the girls had started the school year on their new homeschooling system they were pretty used to it by now, so we got stuck in straight away. They are all doing well with it and as each one is very different they can have their own individual approach to it. It’s clearly not as fun or as social as actual school but, we can take the edge off this by being able choose days and start and finish times to coincide with snorkeling and exploring, now what’s not to love about that.
Knowing that once we had the keys we would have so much work to do, we made the most of exploring the island. The Queen Emma floating bridge was our first stop as we explored the city and with its scenic views across the ocean and the backdrop of the iconic colourful houses it fast became one of our favourite walks, trying to time it right so we were on the bridge during opening meant we could just stop and enjoy the surroundings.
We were spoilt for choice when it came to stunning beaches, our first and most likely favourite was Playa Maria – also known as Williwood. The bahamas has beaches with wild pigs that the girls so desperately wanted to visit so, when we heard of Willy and Woody the pigs here at Curacao we knew we had to visit. Our great expectations were short lived when we found that they were 2 large hogs in a filthy swamp at the side of the car park, ugh!!!. Thankfully the beach itself made up for it, it took just minutes before everyone was in the crystal blue water. Whilst swimming out to a floating pontoon and just chatting away with the girls, I get my arm grabbed suddenly by a panicked sounding Hope “Oh my god!! Is that a whale!!” I instantly look around, hopeful, and see that she’s looking down, meaning the big dark shadows below us. She pulls on her goggles and looks down “Oh, it’s ok! It’s just divers” I couldn’t help but laugh at the sheer relief in her voice.
We finally get the keys and with them comes the nervous anticipation and trepidation, with covid stopping us from being able to view the boat prior to sale we had put a lot of trust in the broker, the surveyor and our guts. The surveyor came up trumps and although there were many issues to sort out as is the case with all boats, the surveyor had brought them to our attention and managed to ensure we were not ripped off…. we at least had an idea of the amount of work it was going to need. The broker and i suppose the seller, well…. that was a whole other kettle of fish. We found as we moved our way through the boat and got to grips with everything, that neither had been honest, both had brushed so much under the carpet so to speak and glazed over so much, the photos also turned out not to be so recent. We should really have known, and to a certain degree did know but had hoped that it wasn’t going to be the case. We though, were determined to keep our spirits up, and so rolling up our sleeves and digging out the elbow grease by the bucket load we got to work, firstly stripping her of the mounds of personal items that the previous owner had left and then cleaning to which baking soda and white vinegar were most definitely not cutting it, clorox was to become my new best friend, and so dragging everyone down to the store and filling up all arms with as much as could be carried i think we came rather close to being reported as lunatics. Following 2 solid weeks of knuckle busting work, it seemed like things were finally moving forward, new and reupholstered mattresses had arrived, the through hulls had been checked and the antifouling was finished, we were ready to move into the water to start the next phase of work which could then include the mast and rigging.
The day had finally arrived, the boat was lifted and moved to the water, it was a slow process and following behind with a lovely British couple we had met who had been invaluable during our first few weeks answering any questions, and lending a hand when extra were needed. We all couldn’t help but laugh at Hope who was literally bouncing around the marina, the excitement just oozing out of her. Alas, she made it into the water, stayed afloat and apart from a smoking engine did not provide us with any other issues. The smoking engine would need to be checked, our gut instinct told us it was not down to lack of use . It proved to be the right decision when we were informed it had a bent valve, parts would need to be ordered and then it would be a waiting game to see if it could be fixed or if it would require a whole new engine which would bring on a whole new headache. Next was to have the mast removed, which meant we needed to move to where the crane could access it however, we had no engine…. the marina though seemed to be pros at this and strapped a small motor boat to her stern and smoothly maneuvered us around to where we would then become mastless and motorless, in essence we were nothing but a floating home. Two of our neighboring boats had theirs removed at the same time so we at least had a group thing going.
Whoop Whoop!!! It turned out to be a good few days from here, we left the hotel and moved aboard, with some strategic placing of items and lots of rearranging we found we all fit comfortably with enough room to each have our own personal space, it maybe small but it still helps and living rather minimalitstically felt like a breath of fresh air in itself. Next we found that the parts for the engine had arrived, the mechanic had worked his magic and voila! it was no longer a smoker and would not need replacing, we thus once again became a motor boat.
Despite the ups and downs and the fact that we are still so new to this lifestyle, it’s hard not to feel like we’re faking it hoping that we’ll make it, the month has been a success. Everyone is happy, there are no regrets, the only thing missing were other children, the girls were looking forward to being able to socialise and make new friends, we’re hoping this won’t be too far away. In the meantime the girls are befriending the 2 stray marina dogs and every other stray cat and dog out there. They may not be their own or mean half as much to them as their own do but they will still receive as much of their affection as is possible.