Archive for: ‘May 2016’

Rio Dulce and the End of a Sailing Season

May 17, 2016 Posted by Deb

DebFlagAtSeaIt’s a nice, leisurely 40-50 mile sail to Cabo Tres Puntas in Guatemala where we stage for crossing the dreaded Livingston bar the next morning. It was great to get back to the jungle, howler monkeys, and a giant water slide (What??). There were only three lights on at night for the whole peninsula and they have a water slide?Cabo3PuntasWaterslide

We thought it would be a lonely, kind of nervous feeling night off that part of Guatemala and we had not checked in detail for any incidents in that area. Instead, we ran into three other boats. Oh … there is a cruise ship going to Puerto Barios now. Who’d’ve thought.LivingstsonSeafront

Jail

We crossed the bar, had the various government departments visit the boat, and went ashore to pay approximately $465 U.S. for our stay in Guatemala. There was a two-hour wait for our cruising permit because the officer in charge started the job the day before and could not get the system to print. The woman who held that position for years and had been telling folks to not use an agent but to just come to her, was caught for large scale embezzling. After a two-month investigation, they made her pay back the money (she had to get a loan) and then they arrested her.

The next jail chapter involves the Nana Juana Marina where we are currently residing. The entire management staff and some ancillary folks got arrested just a few days ago. This place is running on autopilot. They were skimming too. The arrestee list included a nice Austrailian woman who was connected somehow but basically just helping out. Money made it into her account as well. We don’t know what it means for this marina but some folks are dropping their boats back into the water as a result.HomesRio RioCurveBackstagePass RioNeytiriClouds RioDock

Cayo Quemado

CayucoRioThatchedHouseWe had a dinner date with Chris and Kelly of Seakist Services and we made it to Cayo Quemado with two hours to spare. Again weather and “events” had to all line up for us to actually make good on a commitment made weeks or a month earlier. We met up with Cannon Ball again as well. They built a home around the corner from Texan Bay and we met them in Pelican Cay, Belize. We will be returning to Cayo Quemado, or Texas Bay, to store the boat on May 29.

Fronteras

BrunosChucNothing much has changed in two years. A few folks have died, including our trivia partner Don and the guy who sold imported meats and cheeses and ran the AeroPostal outlet here where we had parts flown in. The main drag is full of buses, 18 wheelers, tuk tuk’s (motor cycle driven cabs), large and small cycles, and lots of people on foot with only inches between your body and the giant wheels going by.FronterasTruck

Belize 2016 and Home Turf

May 8, 2016 Posted by Deb

We waited out a calm day in Cozumel and we were off on Thursday, April 28, for San Pedro, Belize, and a rendezvous with the former Mokacat owner, Dale and his significant other, Kathryn. We have never taken on the Gulf Stream head on before. Every crossing to date we have positioned to cross the strong part of the current as close to right angles as we can. This trip was 250 to 300 miles, straight into the teeth of the current. Many sailors have posted waypoints for a strategy that involves hugging the coast but we found tremendous variation and eddies. Our first encounter took us for 8.5 knots down to 1.8 to 3.3 knots and we were jammed against mainland Mexico. We tried getting even closer but finally just went out to where we could count on a steadier 3-knot “in-your-face” current; and our speed over the ground went to 5 to 5.5, even though we were smoking. We were planning on being out two nights but by the time we got to the Chinchoro Banks, the current moved offshore, the winds went to 23 knots, and we picked up to 9.5 to 11 knots and made it through the Eastern Channel, Ships Bogue, and Porto Stuck to Cay Caulker all before dark on day two. Not bad. The boat did great but the passengers were knocked around like rag dolls when we got out of the lee of the outer atolls.SunsetBelizeSailing

San Pedro

We always liked San Pedro, Belize. Even though it is an open roadstead, salt spray everywhere, buried in golf carts, and full of tourists, it was our base for chartering out of TMM for years and we have fond memories of scrambling all over town to provision a charter cat. We always ran out of booze on those charters, sometimes by the halfway mark. This time we were there to clear into the country, say hi and goodbye to Simon at TMM (TMM is closing shop in Belize in June, 2016), and to pick up Dale and Kathryn.

Company was a bit of a concern since we needed weather windows to cooperate to get us there (we beat their plane by seven hours) and we were on what amounted to a 1,400-mile delivery run from Ft Lauderdale to Guatemala, all in about a month, and, as such, the boat wasn’t fully ready to party.

BlowingPalmTreesNeytiri was covered in salt and the humidity was unusually high; we were exhausted; we never un-pickled the watermaker, so water for four people was a concern; and we had plans to cover the whole country in seven days. Everything worked out very well, despite a large hole opening up in the dink on day one and threatening to leave us w/o a way to get to shore. We had 30 gallons of water to spare at the end of the week, thanks to the extreme conservation habits of Dale and Kathryn. With company, the fishing poles came out, and we were eating Cobia and Jack in no time. Dale was an impressive fisherman and fish cleaner.FishDaleChuckSunsetDinghyRepairLazyLizardDaleKathrynHelmChuckDaleAtMastLostReefersYokisChuck

The four of us had to scratch our heads to go from what we wanted to do and see in Belize to what we had time for given that we didn’t really want to power sail all day. We eventually decided on San Pedro, Cay Caulker, Water Cay, a power run to Pelican Cay and the Hideaway Resort and Restaurant, Hatchet Cay (2 days), and Placencia.

The Storm

We were hit by two nights of storms at Hatchet Cay. Neytiri was on a mooring but 40 kts out of the South and West really got our attention. The lightning show was one of the worst we’ve been in since the Mona Passage in 1994. The moorings held, the storm passed, and we had two days of cooler, drier weather.HatchetCayeBeach HatchetCayeDinner

Robert’s Grove Resort and Marina

We returned to Robert’s Grove Resort for a few days of laundry, relaxing, and water. It was surprising to see the change in two years. The house construction was complete but the marina was quite empty, the restaurants were on reduced hours, the deli and Sweet Mama’s were closed, the bathrooms were toilet paper challenged, the WIFI was very sporadic, the marina showers have never been built, the dive shop hadn’t had a charter in a week, and the French owner was history having been bought out by the Boris Mansfield company.RobertsGroveDock

Cozumel and the Cruise Ships

May 1, 2016 Posted by Deb

marina_CozumelSounds like an old rock band. Our weather guru, Chris Parker, suggested that we break up the Isla Mujeres to Belize trip into two parts because there was a calm day with no sailing right smack in the middle of the trip. We tried that and dropped hook off the Captania del Puerto in Cozumel and spent a day checking out of Mexico. We left the dink in a little marina north of the anchorage and started the Mexican clearing out shuffle which goes something like Port Captain, bank (to pay), Port Captain, and Immigration. Oh… and they’re not exactly in the same building. Some folks have to do four taxi rides.Street_Cozumel

The cruise ships gave us a break and were leaving when we pulled in; but now Cozumel has three cruise ship piers, and they run 3.3 million people a year through that island at the rate of 20 to 30 cruise ships per week. Wow! That little island was already standing room only on my 60th birthday, and it hasn’t gotten better.