Archive for: ‘April 2014’

Mexico: Paperwork Heaven

April 26, 2014 Posted by Deb

Heading Offshore: Belize to Mexico

Heading Offshore: Belize to Mexico

On Our Way

On Our Way

Be forewarned or have a good sense of humor when you enter Mexico with a boat. We were a little of both and had to add rum to the mix to survive. We took the easy way out and hired an agent to do the bulk of the heavy lifting while we shifted into tourist mode. What we didn’t know was that the touring we did in the two and one half days it took to get legal (our agent was working the Cancun area the day we needed him) was illegal and has resulted in multi-thousand dollar fines. One couple left the marina area to go to the El Cid lobby to get cash to pay the officials and were not on their boat when the officials arrived. I believe the starting number for the fine was over $3,000, but I heard they got it down. We made sure we were on the boat when the agent and officials showed. We had to write a letter explaining why we were in Puerto Morales instead of Isla Mujeres (our exit papers from Belize said Isla Mujeres) and we had a lady make sure we had no fruits, vegetables, or meat on board.

The agent provides color copies of documents from immigration, customs, and the port captain. Color copies are required for the next step, the Temporary Import Permit (TIP) along with all our original documents. We drove to Puerto Juarez in a rental car only to find the office closed. Our next attempt worked better but our expensive agent forgot to include a copy of our immigration cards in the packet so it was off to a papelaria to get copies made because, get this, they don’t make copies at the Juarez Port Captains office. Another notch up on the unbelievable scale is that they only accept U.S. dollars and do not make change (we’ve since heard they have made change for some). We brought exactly US $52.20.  The third attempt went fine except that Elizabeth, the woman in charge that day, acted like she had been thoroughly berated for making a mistake and went over everything five times She even called her boss on the phone over a small printer glitch.

Lunch Stop: Playing with the Croc

Lunch Stop: Playing with the Croc

All in all, Mexico set a paperwork record for us and it wasn’t cheap, either. It appears to be a system that was designed to generate maximum employment.

North to Mexico

April 19, 2014 Posted by Deb

The winds finally went east and Neytiri headed north under full sail at about eight knots. The wind was still shading a bit north of east and we had to hold 23 degrees but the current made it a very fast run. We did 176 miles in the first 24 hours and topped the trip off with a 10-knot motorsail into a briefly north wind (23 kts) at the very end of the trip for a total of 216 miles.

ElCidMarina

We pulled into El Cid Marina and are in the lap of luxury now for $29 per day. El Cid has an acre of swimming pools, gym, Jacuzzi, and buffet dining. I am the sole user of the gym and Deb is the sole user of the pool in the early a.m. Otherwise we kind of avoid the place because it is Easter-vacation crazy here. Deb said the only action in the pool that early is all the tourists placing towels and t-shirts on pool chairs to reserve them. Then they go back to bed, probably hung over because it is not only all you can eat but all you can drink here as well. My guess is the Cast Iron Canoe Club could bankrupt them.

EL-CID-Pool

Locked, Card-Operated Gate: Can Anyone See a Design Flaw Here?

Locked, Card-Operated Gate: Can Anyone See a Design Flaw Here?

Road Trip

We rented a car at a neighbor resort called Now Jade. We checked it out the day before by hiking the beach and stopped at their beach bar. After getting a beer and a smoothie the bartender came over and said he was just informed we were not guests and was sorry that he could not serve us anymore … that this was an all-inclusive resort and there was no way to charge me other than to sell me a day pass which would be “very expensive.” We asked him how we would pay for our drinks and he said “They’re on the house.” We left him a tip.

The road trip included Puerto Juarez, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Akumal, and Tulum. All were inundated with Easter crowds. We came back with supplies from Walmart, Home Depot, NAPA, Sams Club, and (for Chuck) McDonalds.

Playa del Carmen: A Dock and One Palm Tree When We Were Here in the 80’s.

Playa del Carmen: A Dock and One Palm Tree When We Were Here in the 80’s.

The Big Blow

April 14, 2014 Posted by Deb

We ran away from San Pedro, Belize, to find protection from a strong “Norther” that was predicted to hit in two days. We were guilty of not taking late season cold fronts seriously but made it to the Bluefield Range just in case. Deb was sitting on the salon roof trying to get internet coverage as a black wall moved toward us. Minutes later we were in a record blow for us at anchor with winds peaking over 50 knots. The wind noise made anything but screaming at each other pointless. Deb got to hold down a runaway solar panel while I put on foul weather gear and wore my dive mask (it wasn’t so bad I had to use the snorkel) to fire up both engines to take pressure off the ground tackle. We dumped a second anchor overboard and watched flocks of frigate birds flying as hard as they could into the wind and going by us backwards at 20 to 30 knots. It’s probably safer for them in the air than hanging onto a mangrove.

Frigatebird-flock

Belize Fishermen

We usually chat with the local fisherman about the weather when they come by to sell fish. Fernando, the only resident of the Bluefield Range presently, told us it wasn’t going to rain or blow that night. He had barely paddled home when all hell broke loose … so much for local knowledge.

Fernando took over a broken down fishing shack on the north tip of the Bluefield Range about two years ago and calls that home now. His brother swings by from time to time bringing booze and other supplies and Fernando lives off the ocean for the rest. Fernando knew the history of the island and knew Ricardo (owner) and Finn (Norwegian cook now dead) well. He put in very long days fishing.

Fernando

Wayne (another fisherman) stopped by with two buddies when we anchored off Robinson Caye. We saw a powerboat coming toward us under a makeshift sail and with no real keel, they drifted downwind about as much as they went forward. Their boat was full of coolers with fish that they needed to get to market in Belize City. Their problem was that they did not have enough fuel for their outboard and had been relying on normal trades to get home. Bad idea because the winds were northeast. They wanted a fish for fuel trade but we just gave them a couple gallons of fuel because we were flush with fish. They were all smiles as they idled a 40 hp Yamaha back to Belize City. We don’t know how they fared.

As we moved to Water Caye to stage for Mexico, another Wayne came out to sell fish. This Wayne was more of a legend and makes a point of contacting any boat that anchors off Water Caye. Here is what Dale on Mokakat wrote about him.

He lives in the house at the end of the island over the water.  Since it is not technically on the island, he is allowed to stay there, but he cannot go ashore.  He has a little solar charger, a battery, a small TV, and a small light.  He cooks on a propane stove. He gets supplies from fishing boats that come back and forth from Belize City.  It’s crazy to see his little house and then see the huge cruise liners, with an incredible amount of electricity, lights, and food, passing almost every evening and morning.

Wayne

We also got a chapter of the Wayne story. He was hired as the cook at the Bluefield Range after Finn died and knew the entire history of Ricardo’s little eco-resort on that island right up until hurricane Wilma cleaned it off down to the pilings and busted up the island. He got the cook job when some of Ricardo’s workers showed up on the island while he was in Finn’s old shack cooking up his supper. He said there wasn’t much left over for him that night.

WayneHouse

San Pedro Gets Bigger

Those who visited this year may like to know that San Pedro is growing. These barges are headed for the area just south of the Blue Water Grill. They are putting in a large resort in that area.

SanPedroBarge1SanPedroBarge2

Cast Iron Canoe Two

April 9, 2014 Posted by Deb

Party Barge

Party Barge

The second Cast Iron Canoe Club delegation blew into Belize at the end of March. Minnesota has been hemorrhaging its frozen citizens this winter and, from the weather news, we don’t blame them. The Belizean weather, sailing, eating, and drinking gods were smiling on Forrest, Yvonne, and Elsa Cournoyer and Jeff and Lisa Smith. The fishing gods ran hot and cold and seemed to have blessed a northern Minnesota dud of a lure that was a big hit with mutton snappers in Belize.

We started out at Roberts Grove in Placencia with a kick back day of provisioning and Hobie Cats.

HobieCat_WaterSpot

ForrestElsa_HobieCat

ElsaYvonnePool

The highlight of the provisioning was three cases of bottled Belikin and a lower waterline for the port hull. Of course there was the obligatory sampling of as many of the restaurants and bars from Roberts Grove to Yoli’s as we could fit in. Our first mobile day was a tack up to Hatchet with three lines in the water.

Yoli's in Placencia

Yoli’s in Placencia

Pelican Caye

We did a trolling headsail run to Pelican and the famous Hideaway Caye where Dustin, Kim, Ama, and Caye (the big Rottweiller) put on their usual great show.

The Bar is Up and the Dog Eats Cameras

The Bar is Up and the Dog Eats Cameras

Water Toys Off Pelican Caye

Water Toys Off Pelican Caye

The next islands were a blur because we made up the trip as we went along and focused on maxing out our trolling time. We ran headsail only to South Water, Colson, and one long day to St. Georges followed by Caye Caulker. That is practically the whole country on a headsail with three lines out.

Jeff_CatchingOne

Jeff_MuttonSnapper

ForrestElsa_Hug

The Bar at St. Georges Lodge

The Bar at St. Georges Lodge

Lisa with a “Good Eatin Fish”

Lisa with a “Good Eatin Fish”

Jeff and Lisa off Colson Caye

Jeff and Lisa off Colson Caye

Big Bang Theory Shirt

Big Bang Theory Shirt

Full Jellyfish Protection Mode

Full Jellyfish Protection Mode

Belize Wrap Up

Cast Iron 2 saw the news about 17 inches in Superior (Yvonne’s home town) just before they left. We dropped them at the water taxi in Caye Caulker and Neytiri got empty again. We moved up to San Pedro to provision, dump garbage, do laundry, and clear out of the country. The wind got stronger every day and the boat was covered in salt both inside and out from waves crashing on the reef. Neytiri is currently hiding in the Bluefield Range from an anticipated strong norther and staging for a window to go to Mexico.

In the four months that Neytiri has cruised Belize we have made the run from Placencia in the far south to San Pedro in the far north four and one half times, visited dozens of islands that were new to us, entertained four rounds of company, and gone through countless bottles of Belikin and rum.