|3 Previous Day|
Saturday January 11, 2014: Aruba: Driving to and Sailing on the Mi Dushi
The sun rose over the island of Aruba as the Coral Princess eased her way through a channel in the coral reef to the cruise ship dock. We had an early breakfast as the tour we had booked required us to be in the terminal on the dock by 8:35, but as it turned out there was no queue to exit the ship and we were in the terminal in plenty of time to wander around the semicircle of shops on one side of the terminal before boarding our bus.
This bus was not, however, a typical tour bus but rather a "banana bus", which is an old school bus that has been painted in gaudy colors, equipped with tassels rather than windows, and powered by a very high-wattage music system that kind of boomed us down the road. Although the music was so loud we had to shout to hear each other, the ride over to the Palm Beach area on the western edge of the island was pleasant.
We stopped in front of the RUI resort, a highrise resort with a white, very gingerbread type of facade, and walked down to a pier with a bar/restaurant on it. We packed aboard a small, open-sided shuttle boat with an awning on top for the short ride out to the Mi Dushi (English: My Darling). The Mi Dushi turned out to be a graceful looking Swedish fishing ketch built in 1925 that had been sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean and converted for excursion use around 1952, if I remember correctly.
The sailing rig had not, however, been altered as far as I could see, with the exception that stainless steel cables had been substituted for the original tarred hemp lines of the standing rigging. The sails all looked original and were operated by heaving away on lines connected to block and tackles to raise, lower, or trim the sails--no winches! The lines were secured by belaying pins stuck in holes along the gunwales on the sides of the boat, which harked directly back to the old days of wooden sailing ships.
Essentially, we were sailing a fully-functional antique with a gaf-rigged mainsail on the main mast, a jib or foresail at the bow, and a triangular mizzen sail set on the small mizzen mast aft near the helm. Just sailing the ship was a whale of a lot of fun in itself. I think both the Wagner clan on my side of the family and the Schmuck clan on Monika's side of the family would have enjoyed that old boat.
Main sail with gaff at top.
Our Captain had a craggy, almost fierce looking face, and had been leading sailing excursions for about 35 years on Aruba. He was a powerful man both in muscle power and in demeanor, and I told Monika that if I were going to get into a bar fight, he was certainly the man I would like to have at my back, or may even carving a path out in front! Our crewman was Alex, who combined the body of a professional weightlifter with the face of a fashion model and curly, sun-bleached blond hair. His really impressive musculature actually came from working the lines on the Mi Dushi rather than from a gym, however, and he hauled on some lines so hard that he almost levitated. The really hilarious thing was the effect that he had on pretty much all of the older women on board--when he went out on the bowsprit to haul up the mooring line, I counted no less than 4 women and possibly more with their cameras out to take a picture of this young Adonis!
Monika: Since on most of these jaunts only Bob gets some eye candy, it was nice that this time there was eyecandy for us ladies! Besides, Alex mixed a mean rum punch after we had finished all the diving.
Bob: However, Alex was no "boat bum"--he had already bought, remodeled, and sold a house in Connecticut for a profit and had a definite plan to invest in real estate in the northeast and in Aruba until he could afford to buy a boat and sail full time. I hope he makes it!
|3 Previous Day|
|Map of Homosassa, Florida||Map of Western Caribbean Cruise||Map of Panama Canal Cruise|