At the Curacao Dive Festival
Curacao’s third annual dive festival was held during the last week of May, with free activities, workshops, films and lectures, focused on safety and creativity, and of course diving. Curaçao has more than 60 identified dive spots surrounding its coastline with 57 coral species and more than 500 species of fish.
Two very dedicated divers and photographers of the Wet Digital team, Robbie Ahlgren and David Eaton came from Round Rock,Texas to present their lecture, "Curacao, it’s Underwaterful!" Eaton is a professional photographer by training since the early 1970s, with degrees in ichthyology and chemistry, and advanced degrees in analytical chemistry. Robert (Robbie) Ahlgren has over 20 years of diving experience, and an inestimable expertise in videography. His productions have been featured on the Learning Channel.
Experienced underwater photographer Marijke Kolenousky gave a workshop about Coral Spawning in Curacao.
Juan Botero MD, director of the Hyperbaric Department and wound physician of the St. Elisabeth hospital in Curacao gave a workshop on fitness and diving.
Joel Dovenbarger, representative of Divers Network Alert (DAN) talked about identifying the symptoms of decompression illness and provided "diver first aid tips that could save your dive vacation" during the festival.
A Titanic Struggle
On June 8, Pro Sail Curacao organized the second annual Curaçao Sunfish Championships, a sailing event that counted many participants of great caliber. Thirty-one sailors in twenty-seven boats took part in three one-hour back-to-back races on Spanish Waters.
It was a titanic struggle. After all, Curaçao has many skilled and experienced Sunfish sailors. One important competitor, Cor van Aanholt was absent because of health problems. But he was excellently represented by his children Ard (14) and Odile (10) who sailed in the youth double and so now and then took the wind of the great A-class sailors.
Alex Roose, who again delivered the prize ceremony in his own and unique way, mentioned the youngsters’ performance as a remarkable one. Hans van der Gulik took top honors in the A class, followed by Jurgen Schneider and the young Michiel van Wickeren. Titleholder and veteran Niek Kort had to give way to the younger lads and finished fourth.
The B-class was won by Tony de Haas, and in the Youth Single Alexandra Siebels sailed best. Ard and Odile turned out to be unbeatable in the youth Double and finished first in all three races.
The prize giving ceremony took place on the premises of sponsor Pro Sail, near the well-known restaurant, The Boathouse, at Spanish Waters.
Curacao’s annual Budmar Challenge race for yachts, which took place for the fourth time on June 15th, is becoming a beloved tradition. Budget Marine organizes and escorts the race, and provides lunch and prizes for the participants. The race takes all day, starting in Spanish Waters in the morning, heading out to sea in the direction of Fuik Bay where lunch is served. As an extra dimension, an anchor start takes place for the second race.
Strong winds and high waves caused blisters and sweat this year but also provided a tense action that was missed during the calm Piet Dijk race a few months earlier when the same competitors met.
The participants on the Demarrage, Marvin, Merlin, and Chamba II were all youngsters of the "Sea Scouts Mgr. Verriet.” They did a tremendous job at sea, however, the veteran’s boat Melody took the overall win.
Chamba II was the best J-24 and third overall behind the recognizable, always participating orange boat Marvin.
Zeelandia: A Classic Comes to Curaçao
Zeelandia is a steel ship, 35 meters/115 ft long, built in 1936 in Holland and first used as a transport ship in the waters of Zeeland, for which she was named.
The name is still the same, but in the year 2008 the sailing destination is quite different. The new owners sailed Zeelandia across the Atlantic to Curaçao where she underwent a huge renovation. After the transformation, the Zeelandia now is a live-aboard cruise ship offering trips of varying lengths. The owners tend to focus on divers from the Netherlands, with packages sold through tour operators.
The Zeelandia has seven double cabins and a cabin for four, all equipped with private shower and toilet. Five permanent crewmembers take care of the navigation, food and beverage, accommodations and dive facilities.
The newly introduced ship was seen and approved by Eugene Ruggenaath, the island commissioner of tourism, who withstood an introduction trip on the grand “Old Lady” at rather rough seas very well.
During the dive cruises Zeelandia will sail within a few hundred meters from the coast of Curaçao. The owners consider it extremely important that the ship will bring no damage to the precious coral reefs around the island. Special buoys, sponsored by local companies will be placed.