Update – Sea Turtle Rescue – 22 December 2022

Sadly, the injured turtle we were able to hand off to members of a Curaçao conservation team could not be saved. They also confirmed our suspicion that her injuries were definitively characteristic of an engine propeller wound. Watercraft-rated injuries and deaths of sea and fresh water turtles are not uncommon and correlate with the number of registered craft in an area. Studies of stranded sea turtles indicate that as much as a third of the turtles had been injured from an encounter with a vessel. The overall incidence is likely much higher as many die in the water https://wildlife.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/jwmg.21665

Sea Turtle Rescue

Mid-morning, while relaxing in our cockpit with steaming hot tea, George spotted a turtle. It doesn’t matter how often you see them, it is always a treat.

Mural in Curaçao capturing the charm and our fascination with sea turtles

In this case, unfortunately, it did not take long to see the turtle had some serious damage to its shell and appeared to be lifeless.  The turtle shell bobbed along, being propelled by the current, waves, and wind for half an hour, or so.

At times I saw a flipper above the water.  Each time I hoped perhaps it was still alive, but the flipper would fall back and again, and all that was visible above the water was it’s damaged shell.

Then, just for a moment, I thought I spotted “her” raise her head.  I kept watching and was certain of what I saw the second time. She was breathing.  George and I quickly hopped in the dinghy and slowly approached her.  As we neared, she left no doubt that she was alive, albeit very weak, as she attempted to dive below the water to distance herself from us.

Approaching a boat anchored beside us, we asked if they knew if there was an animal rescue center on the Island.  Jimmie and Judy on Poppycock responded that they didn’t, but did offer there was a large aquarium.  A quick Google search later we found a phone number and a gentleman from the aquarium took our phone number and offered to connect us with a wildlife conservation team.

The turtle was now drifting closer to shore and we feared she would be pushed by waves into the rocks along the shore.  George approached her again in the dinghy and successfully guided her further out.  Shortly afterward, we lost sight of her and, although George searched very carefully for her, she appeared to be gone.

It had been about an hour since we saw her last when a member of the conservation team called and advised us that it could be several hours before they could get out to our boat.  George was just explaining that we had not seen her for at least an hour when there she was again.

The conservation team member let us know they could come immediately if we could capture the turtle and bring her to shore. Concern that we would lose her again encouraged us to try to catch her.  We knew the dinghy engine would spook her so George agreed to attempt to paddle to her.  If we could get close enough to her, I would try to catch her in our fishing net.

IT WORKED!  She was a big turtle but we managed to get her in the dinghy. The only issue now was that the wind and tide was pushing us further and further from our sailboat, Ice Floe. Under the best of circumstances it is difficult to paddle the dinghy, we could not get there against the wind. in our haste, we had forgotten to get the dinghy engine key.

Her shell was very badly damaged and her right front flipper was torn on the underside
She offered no resistance

I hailed a boat nearby and a man approached us to offer assistance just as George remembered he had had hidden a spare key for the dinghy engine. Felt a bit foolish, especially as George has been quizzing me repeatedly over the last week to make sure I remember where he had hidden the key.

George wet a towel and draped it over her and we brought her to shore. The rescue team told him that was exactly the thing to do (he always knows what’s best)

This marvelous turtle is now in the hands of a vet and members of the conservation team.  They said they will keep us apprised of how she does.  We’ll let you know. 

Varadero Aruba Marina and Boatyard – First rate yard for Sailing and Motor Yachts

Of the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao) Aruba is not the most frequently visited by the sailing community. Last April we began to explore putting Ice Floe on the hard in the Varadero Aruba Boatyard for a number of very practical reasons. We knew very little more about the Varadero Aruba Varedaro Boatyard other than that it accommodates both motor and sailing yachts.

First and foremost, we have been flying Jet Blue since we began cruising in the Caribbean and our experience traveling with our miniature poodle, Duhkxy, has never been questioned. While Jet Blue has joined most airlines in no longer recognizing emotional support animals to accompany passengers on flights, having Duhkxy join us in his carrier, under a seat has never been an issue. Duhkxy is our steadfast companion.

Beside the comfort of knowing Duhkxy would be accommodated, Jet Blue Flights to the US are very affordable in comparison to flights on any carrier from Bonaire or Curaçao and Jet Blue flies direct from Aruba to JFK, one of the only airports clear a dog into the United States from another country.

Duhkxy is a great sailor

We knew very little more about the Varadero Aruba Marina and Boatyard other than that it accommodates both motor and sailing yachts. We can now say, with no reservation, that the Marina and Boatyard provide outstanding service and safety for routine boat work and to store a sailing vessel on the hard. Rishi manages the boatyard and he rivals the efficiencies we enjoyed with Judith, the office manager. Captain Paul, the dockmaster is charming, available, and knowledgable.

Approach to the Marina

Facificiously, George commented, “Aruba is the only island, in my experience, that uses sunken boats as navigational aids for both customs and the Marina”. There are few channel markers, but the charts are an accurate guide to the marina entrance.


Upon arrival following a two and a half day sail from Bonaire, we anchored immediately south of the entrance to the boatyard to take sails down in the unprecedented high winds being experienced at the time. Since that time, several sailboats have anchored in the same area for weeks. We too, anchored there when we returned this spring while waiting for a boat part. Good holding and calm waters.

Boat Storage and Services

Rishi manages the boatyard and he gets the highest marks for the reliability, timeliness, and quality of services. He is almost always available and he and his team are collegial, responsive, and competent. The yard did a fine job checking on Ice Floe through the summer months, removing and replacing a boat cover if a storm approached and making sure no mildew, insects or critters found their way aboard. When we arrived, her cover was off and the outside of the boat washed and before we left the dock we got a fantastic waxing by hand.

The haul out and launch of Ice Floe was completed with very capable staff showing up on time and without issue. Once in the water, stiff winds presented some challenge to docking and the Dock Master – Captain Paul, left nothing to chance with a well articulated plan and two men and himself on the dock to assist. Good thing too, as George who is especially expert in dicey wind forgot to put our dagger board down and once Ice Floe turned broadside to the wind she was off like a kite.

Transient Slips

We like to stay at the dock a day or two before Ice Floe is hauled out and after she is launched. If you want a slip upon arrival or before departure, be sure to book a good time ahead. There are very few slips that are not taken and unless you have secured a reservation, the few open ones may not be available. A reservation will guarantee that a slip will be open for you when you need it.

Should you elect to visit here, don’t be put off that the marina is located very close to the airport. Flights in and out stop shortly after dark. Also, initially disconcerting was that the garbage dump (mountain/landfill) was on fire when we arrived and continued to smoke for several days. However, prevailing winds carried smoke swiftly away from the Marina).


We routinely take a room for several days upon arrival and before departure and Judith booked us into a very affordable, comfortable, and convenient room across the street from the yard. The air-conditioned room is equipped with a comfortable bed, very nice bathroom including shower and hot water, small fridge, coffee pot and microwave.


The Fish House is a very pleasant dockside restaurant on site with very good food and free internet. We enjoyed fish tacos, fish and chips, wings, shrimp linguine, and of course, happy hour. Their menu is quite extensive.

The staff is collegial and efficient and presented George with a complementary flan desert on his birthday.


There is a lovely beachside restaurant just a dinghy ride away that we enjoyed on several occasions. We have it on the authority of Captain Paul that it serves the best pizza on the island. We can attest to the fact that the pizza is very good, as is the service and atmosphere. Happy hour is from 5 to 6, just be sure not to order a minute early or late.


Showers are available, but they are in the boatyard with a locked gate after dark. When requested, you can usually get a key or make sure you shower in the daylight hours.

This boatyard may not provide some of the services you often enjoy such as a small market or laundry machines. Speak to Judith, at the front desk for anything you need. She is a treasure and the marina’s orchestra leader. Nothing escapes or fails to get her attention. She, Rishi, and Captain Paul work in synchrony.


Judith, at the reception desk, arranged taxi rides to and from the airport, as well as car rentals. You will need a car for any shopping or sightseeing as the boatyard is not within a short walking distance to much of anything.


There are many well-equipped supermarkets. Ling and Sons turned out to be our overall favorite.

Next post – Getting acquainted with Aruba