Posted by: rosyroadsadventures | August 16, 2012

Aruban Arrival

N 12° 31.04′   W 70° 02.3′

Oranjestad, Aruba.

Following a freighter into Aruba’s Barcadera port at sunrise


We made the passage to Aruba during the wee hours of Sunday morning. It was a decision made on short notice as we watched the path of TD-7 to our north which allowed a brief period of lighter winds. Originally we had hoped to break up the passage into two parts, with a stop for the night on the northwest tip of Curaçao and then a mostly daylight passage into Aruba. With the current forecast and the time-consuming check-out process in Curaçao it seemed best to just go for it in one longer, 12-hour overnight trip. Exiting the narrow and unmarked Spanish Waters channel after dark was not an option we wanted to try.

It was probably good that we planned it this way, since our check-out in Curaçao took longer than expected. We had the bus schedules nailed this time, but when we arrived at Customs on Saturday morning the office, scheduled to be open 24/7, was closed with a phone number posted to call for service. Having no cell phone, we found a clerk in a nearby jewelry store nearby who let us use the store phone. The person who answered in Papiamento (we think) hung up on Bob, whose Papiamento didn’t pass the test. We got the nice clerk to place another call for us and translate our request in the local language. The Customs officers returned within the hour and processed our clearance on their computer system which took some time as the system seemed to have all sorts of bugs. My name was listed twice on the crew list and they never were able to delete the duplicate entry. Then they couldn’t get our previous port to appear in the pop-up menu choices. The final print-out had all sorts of manual strike-outs and hand-written additions. Then we walked the mile to Immigration, across the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge, to complete that part of the check-out. We weren’t able to clear out with the Harbour Master since they are closed on weekends. Oh, well. That step didn’t seem critical, we had our weather window and might have to wait a couple of weeks for the next opportunity. We were leaving. Ayo, Curaçao!

This passage turned out to be more unpleasant and exhausting than the longer trip from Grenada to Bonaire. The conditions were not much different from our first night leaving Grenada except that the waves sometimes came at us from both sides astern. We sloshed around from side to side during the open ocean part of the crossing. Neither us us got much rest on our off-watches. I felt sick and Bandit couldn’t find a comfortable spot and tried to stand for hours at a time. We made time for a dog walk just before our sunset departure but still ended up with an accident below decks. Good thing it was a shorter passage. Several days of that would have been murder.

We got to the smoother, lee side of Aruba well before daylight and slowed down to arrive in Barcadera around sunrise. Check-in was painless. In Aruba they require all vessels, even small cruising boats, to come to the shipping port for clearance. I had grumbled about this unusual step but it worked smoothly. There is no shore-side assistance provided for docking in this area. A crew member must hop off with the lines to secure the boat. As usually happens in these rare scenarios, at about 10 feet from the dock the Captain starts yelling at me to jump off, and I course yell “Closer, I’m not a kangaroo”. (Yes, we sometimes yell on the Mar Azul.) Several of the immigration officers were outside on a break and took pity, helping me with the lines. They urged us to come to their office right away since they needed to check in the arriving freighter. (Immigration is the first stop here, then Customs.) I was designated Captain for the day and hurried ashore while Bob got the boat fully secured. The whole process took less than 15 minutes.

Then we quickly left for the Renaissance Marina, where manager Sanders was nice enough to come in on his day off in the middle of the Aruba Rembrandt Regatta to help us tie up in the med moor slip. He got top marks from Bob for professionalism, and from me, since he had emailed detailed information on how to prepare the lines for our assigned location. It was a luxury not to have to rush around at the last minute changing lines and fenders after visually assessing the slip.

The location is probably the nicest we have had in terms of comfort and convenience. The small marina is part of a large resort property, located in the heart of Oranjestad. Marina guests may enjoy all the resort amenities including pools, work-out facilities, and the boat shuttle to a private island. There are restaurants, cafes, casinos and tons of shops within close walking distance. This part of the island feels like Vegas in the Caribbean – minus the big headliner shows, plus a wide choice of watersports activities. We blend in with the tourists and have met Americans from many different states who stop by to chat when they notice our hailing port. Our slip, closest to the rock jetty and open water, has a fabulous view. There is a pretty park adjacent to the resort grounds for dog walks. All are content here. 

Being in a marina has shamed us to take on restoring the teak, which has deteriorated into an embarrassing state. We plan to mix some project time each day with pleasure.  This should be a fun stay. We caught up with Renegade and are hanging out with Bill and boat dog Cody while the crew are state-side.

Quiet, scenic spot on the far end of the marina – except for the island shuttles that come and go every 15 minutes during the day. Dogs are acclimating, usually ignoring the boats unless they come really close. Looks like this location is going to work out well.




  1. I really enjoy reading your posts and love the pictures. I had to laugh to myself when you were yelling “closer, I’m not a kangaroo” …….. sorry Bill

    • Thanks, Bob! Captain Bob is really superb at docking but it is still tough to do it short-handed. If I were at the helm I would probably suggest he swim to the dock.

  2. Glad to hear you made it to Aruba without too much trouble! Denise & I have walked on the dock in your picture! The one thing we remember most is the 100’s of iguanas that sun themselves in that area during the day! If you are looking for a special dinner out on the town, we suggest Madame Jeanette’s. It would require a taxi ride out of town, up near the hotel zone. They have great food for fair prices, in a unique open air atmosphere! Very nice after dark! Ask if you can take the water taxi out to Renaissance private island! That may be included as marina residents? Nice beach out there! Maybe I can talk Doug into a Aruba escape before you leave.

    • Our travel advisor is back!! Thanks for the tips, Glen. We will look for Madame Jeanette’s. The iguanas are still here – so tame – and the chefs feed them lettuce scraps just behind our boat. Bandit is fascinated with them. Yes, water taxi is free to us, so we plan to visit the private island one day. Would love to have you guys visit. We plan to be here until at least the end of the month and will then start looking for a weather window for Colombia. Going to be VERY picky on that one.

  3. Love hearing your stories! Continue having fun!
    Izzy and Jeff

    • Thanks, Izzy, Jeff & Ben! Sounds like you guys are really getting into the Grenadian Carnival experience and we are sorry we missed that. Best to our friends at Port Louis.

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