I wake up very excited about setting sail aboard the fabulous Bounty Adventures catamaran, but when I draw the curtains, rain is beating down like I’ve rarely seen this time of year on Curaçao. It’s 8am, those grey clouds are still rolling in and rain is pouring off my window pane. Luckily, the sky is clear by 9 am, so my little sun dance must have worked after all! I have 30 minutes to grab a bite, a towel, sunscreen and be picked up courtesy of Bounty Adventures.
As soon as I arrive at Pirates Nest located at the harbour of Spanish Waters I’m greeted by the friendly crew. A group of tourists and I climb aboard the Jonalisa and immediately the ambience is set for the fabulous sunshiny day ahead of us.
Captain Evert and Johanna, our energetic and charismatic hostess, greet us with humor and smiles, outlining the safety precautions and an overview about our day trip schedule.
Within minutes, Captain Evert is backing out of the dock at Fuikbaai and we gently cruise out into the bay surrounded by other marinas, yachts and windsurfers who have been enjoying the sport since the break of day.
With the breeze on our side, it is a perfect time to draw up the sails and let the wind take us on its course towards our first scenic tour in the adjacent Spanish Waters Bay which is dotted with beautiful beachfront properties and private villas. Next we pull a gentle 180 degrees and glide out towards the open sea along the southern coast of Curaçao.
At this point, I can hear the wind thrusting in the sails and am enjoying the sway of the catamaran and the wave undulations that make the boat leap forward while little sprays of fresh ocean water cool off my sun kissed face. Sitting all the way at the tip of the boat, I release all of my busy thoughts. I look straight ahead, taking in deep misty breaths and finally relaxing.
As we approach Caracasbaai, we sail alongside the Santa Barbara Plantation Resort that I’m now seeing in a totally different perspective from the water. It is absolutely gorgeous and dreamy! The water is calm and turquoise as we head for the coast and the clouds disperse.
My eyes explore the surroundings and I’m impressed to see a huge metal oil rig that looks like it’s straight out of a Star Wars movie! The 180 meter long, 60 meter wide and 33 meter high cabling and pipeline platform has been stationed there since 2012.
Captain Evert maneuvers the catamaran as close to the rig as possible. That’s when Johanne ties the rope to the pillar buoy, and we station ourselves very close to the giant metal platform. It’s odd to see set in this natural scenery, but delivers a surreal background to the sparkling blue water and tiny snorkelers beside it.
With no time to lose, everyone enthusiastically grabs snorkeling gear and enters the refreshing blue sea ready to explore the life beneath the surface of the water. I join in within minutes too, excited to see the multi-colored tropical fish and trail along the installation of the gigantic platform, testing my new underwater camera.
The clarity of the water and the view above the surface are sensational. I can’t help but bob my head in and out of the gentle waves. There’s just so much beauty to take in. I snap pictures gliding away from the boat and make my way to join our group. Johanne is pointing out a puffer fish and all kinds of tangs scattered about. The reefs are rich in marine life and I’m fascinated by the trumpet corals, elephant trunk-like branches that have a leathery smooth touch to them.
Aside from seeing all sorts of small to medium sized fish, it is impressive to watch Johanne dive deep and sway back up to the surface like a mermaid! I follow her to the metal pillars where live corals and other organisms have already grown in the few years since the platform has been stationed. Fiery orange and yellow moss-like coral cover the structures, and tiny fish come to feed off the plankton.
A feeling of complete abandon washes over me as I dive a little deeper each time, trying to keep my breath for as long as I can to be at one with the marine life. Over an hour feels like minutes, and soon it’s time to return to the softly swaying catamaran perfectly centered in my view against a picturesque blue canvas.
Upon our return, there’s a special kind of scent in the air. While we were exploring, the lunch buffet was set, and the physical activity has definitely opened up my appetite! Lunch is a delicious BBQ featuring juicy ribs, tender pork chops from the grill, chicken fillet accompanied by the captain´s famous peanut sauce and various salads. Not to mention an open bar consisting of soft drinks, fruit punch, water, beer, white wine, rosé, vodka and rum punch. For dessert: tropical fruits.
The atmosphere is so chilled. People are socializing, laughing, sharing travel stories or just being laid back like me and looking on, getting an overall feeling of the experience that I will be featuring in the next edition of Events Curaçao.
By now it’s 1pm and as we get moving again the same magical feeling of setting sail from Caracasbaai is splendid. Now we are drifting away from the coast and heading for open water toward our next snorkel destination at Caracasbaai. This time around, I opt to just relax and experience the stillness of lying down on the sunning net at the front of the boat. I am drifting away, hearing the trickling of the water as it ripples beneath me. I wake from a dream state to the sound of the anchor chain being drawn up, and we head back towards the open sea. The waves are undulating much more than they were in the morning which makes the ride exhilarating, yet the catamaran, due to its wider structure, is very steady and comfortable taking on the swells.
The entire day from beginning to end has been chilled and at the same time packed with many new things to see and do. No matter where I go next or what goes on tomorrow, I’ll know that the clear water, the colorful fish and the sound of the wind in the sails are still there waiting for my return.We are just minutes away from the dock at Pirates Nest, and I feel so at peace and enchanted by my day aboard the Jonalisa. After this wonderful experience, I know that one day soon I will be sailing with Bounty Adventures again.
by Sheila Botton