Cindy and I returned to the southern Caribbean island of Aruba on Wednesday afternoon, exhausted and jet-lagged. I had gotten one hour’s sleep the night before after working into the wee hours of the morning, and Cindy had flown all night from California to meet up with me in Atlanta. We slept almost thirteen hours that night and awoke feeling much better, though our circadian rhythms were not yet in sync.
On Thursday morning, we decided to try out our newly-purchased bread machine (which we purchased in the states and I stashed in my carry-on luggage on the plane). We were very pleased with the finished product. It will be nice to have fresh bread whenever we desire it. After our bread-baking experiment, it was time to ascend the mast. I slipped into the bosun’s chair and attached the main halyard and the topping lift. Cindy took her spot at the helm station and winched me 65 feet in the air to replace the cover on our anchor light. (For some reason, it falls off periodically. This time I tried to secure it with wire ties. The duct-tape I tried last time didn’t last too long). While up there, I inspected the rigging. I think I’m going to need to replace my main halyard soon as it is showing signs of wear from twisting on itself. I also resecured our single-sideband radio antenna which runs up our port shroud and is held in place by wire-ties which systematically succumb to the hot tropical sun and require regular replacement. The day was topped off by a 2-mile walk through town, followed by burgers on the grill aboard Beatitude. Since our bodies and minds were still feeling slightly jet-lagged, we soon retired to our berth.
The daylight hours of Friday were consumed with more boat work. I crawled down into the engine compartments to change the oil in our dual Yanmar 39-hp diesels. While there I checked fluid levels, filters and belts to make sure all was well and ready for our next passage. Then we turned to the windlass. Since purchasing Beatitude four years ago, we upsized our anchor from the 55-lb Delta to an 85-lb Mantus. We love our oversized anchor which affords a much more restful night of sleep when on the hook, but when adding in 200-feet of 3/8″ chain, that’s a total of around 420 lbs of tackle to haul up, plus the force required to break the anchor free from the bottom in which it is (hopefully) securely buried. Our 1000-watt windlass would usually trip the breaker once or twice every time we raised anchor. So, while in the states, I purchased a 1500-watt replacement in hope that it will perform better with the heavier load. Replacing the windlass, like most other boat jobs, tested my patience and fouled my mood. After at least two hours of trying to remove the old one, I had had enough! On a boat, the salt air tends to corrode most everything metal. A job that looks so simple (in this case, removing four nuts and pulling the windlass components apart) turns in to a Herculean effort of determination and grit. When at wit’s end, I walked away to try another day. Actually, I asked the marina office if anyone was able to take a look at it and help me. I was told someone will come today or tomorrow to assist. At least, while I was futilely toiling away on the windlass, a diver was in the water cleaning our bottom. So, the afternoon wasn’t a total loss. My foul mood was further exacerbated, however, when we decided to go over to the beach on the private island. We threw on our swimsuits, grabbed our towels and walked over to the pick-up dock, only to discover that I didn’t have our Renaissance Marina/Hotel cards which are required to use the facilities. After searching high and low, we wrote them off as permanently lost while away in the states and in need of replacement.
The frustrations of the day, however, were soothed by the activities of the evening. What fortune came our way when we discovered that the Caribbean Sea Jazz Festival was taking place on Friday and Saturday evening here in Aruba! And not just in Aruba, but here at the Renaissance in Oranjestad! The festival takes place on four stages with groups performing on each throughout the evening. We experienced a wonderful night of world class music. The jazz here was permeated primarily by music with a heavy dose of funk and R&B, interspersed with some latin rhythms and afrobeats. We started our evening by listening to the young group of performers known as Live Expressions followed by the big-band sound of the Franklin Granadilla Jazz Orchestra. Next, we swayed and moved to the sounds of Dumpstaphunk, a New Orleans-based band with a couple of Neville family members in the group. Our penultimate jazz performance of the night was by my favorite group of the night, New Cool Collective, the “Dutch pioneers of jazz.” Their style consisted of a unique fusion of latin, afrobeat, and jazz. During their performance, they also collaborated with Mark Reilly, a UK jazz singer, who brought an extra flair to the stage, although I much preferred Cool Collective sans singer. It was way past my bedtime when the final act of the night took the main outdoor stage, Kool and the Gang. At 12:15 a.m., this iconic group which began in the 60s as the Jazziacs, took the stage for a raucous conclusion to the night. We crowded close to the stage to enjoy some of their greatest hits. It was a high-energy finish to a wonderful evening of music and food.