13-Oct-2006 -- We are already a well step ahead in the Caribbean Sea, and this noon we arrived at 12N 69W, a nice offshore Confluence and with only 14 km in a reasonable vicinity to land. The Confluence is south of Curaçao, a part of the Netherlands Antilles.
The Netherlands Antilles form an integral part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and comprise two groups each of three main islands in the Caribbean Sea and about 440 km apart: Bovenwindse Eilanden, the windward and NE group consists of the islands of Sint Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba. Benedenwindse Eilanden, or leeward group consists of Bonaire, Curaçao and Aruba (they are often called shortly "ABC" Islands).
Curaçao was discovered by the Spaniards around the year 1500. The island was occupied by Spanish adventurers until they were formally acquired by the Dutch in 1634. The first Governor of the group was famous Peter Stuyvesant. The islands came under British rule for a short period at the beginning of the nineteenth century, but Dutch rule was continued in 1802 at the Treaty of Amiens.
In 1954 Netherlands Antilles became fully autonomous in internal affairs and constitutionally equal with the Netherlands. Under a separate constitution Aruba became an autonomous part of the Netherlands in 1986, and independent from Bonaire and Curaçao ("status aparte"), with the intention to become fully independent within 10 years. However, at Aruba's request in 1990, references to eventual independence from the Netherlands were deleted.
Curaçao, the island we see from the Confluence, is hilly and appears barren from the offing. Looking towards ENE we see Curaçao's eastern part with Santa Barbara Hill (Tafelberg). Exactly to NE there is Willemstad, the capital of Curaçao and which stands on both sides of Sint Anna Baai. A narrow channel leads into this bay, over which "Koningin Juliana Bridge" spans, connecting both parts of Willemstad, namely Otrabanda W of the Bay and Punda on its E side. The vertical clearance of this bridge is 55 metres. Willemstad has a population of 150,000 and is an important tanker transhipment terminal. Further there is a shipyard which can carry out extensive repairs.
Close WNW to Willemstad are the "Drie Gebroeders" ("Three Brothers") Hills. Finally looking towards NW we see the conical shaped Sint Christoffelsberg, the highest elevation of Curaçao (375 metres). Finally with a look on the nautical chart you see the whole arrangement.