Posts Tagged: ‘adventure’

Cast Iron Canoe: 2017 Edition

May 31, 2017 Posted by Deb

Namekagon River

Namekagon River

A traditional canoe trip that started decades ago and which we’ve been a part of for many years. Our sailing life has kept us away too long, but we made it back this year. Old sailing friends, Forrest and Yvonne on s/v Nazdrowie, who we met in the Dominican Republic in the 1990s introduced us to the group; and it has been a party ever since. This year we picked the Namekagon and Saint Croix rivers over the three-day Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Tent City

Tent City

e

We Know How to Fill a Canoe

The weather started out great and stayed better than the forecast for three days. We did have rain and hail, but we built a tarp city and we’re pretty much impervious to bad weather. True to Cast Iron tradition, we had two Dutch ovens, plenty of liquid refreshments, and a wrap-up five-pound bacon fest on the final morning that forced Deb to stay upwind. No injuries to report other than a number of tick bites that sent Deb to the doctor for the anti-Lyme routine.

Tarp City Going Up

Tarp City Going Up

Hail On the River

Hail On the River

We did have a longer than normal 22-mile day due to full campsites that featured a 1.5 mile sprint to beat out another group to 12.3 mile campsite. Unfortunately, Deb and I won the race but missed the campsite sign. The sprint pretty much turned our arms to noodles for the next two days. Oh well.

Land Ho

We look forward to the transition both from the ocean to land in the spring and back to the boat in the fall. With each move, we have a high energy vision of what we’re going to do “this time.” Yeah, right. We seem to forget that the seven-plus days it takes to put the boat away and the exposure to air conditioning and airplane air usually leaves us half dead with colds. This switch was no exception but we did get a couple of days of Casa Grande Palm Creek pickleball in before the bad colds really set in. We motored north in the RV on a three Wal*Mart run with 102-degree fevers. It is now late May and we’re just barely back on our feet again. And hey, it’s cold up here in May.

Wanna Go Outside at 100 Degrees and 100% Humidity?

Wanna Go Outside at 100 Degrees and 100% Humidity?

Plans

Our plans change weekly but our high-energy vision included an extended summer on land with biking, pickleball, a variety of water events, camping, and other north country fun stuff. Now we’re toying with the idea of getting rid of all the mobile stuff including the RV and Neytiri and looking for a home or a townhome. Our future yacht broker is begging us to bring Neytiri back to Florida again and to do so immediately. That ain’t happening but we may get back on the boat early in the fall and sail her back to the U.S.

So … we’re going house hunting at 10:00 tomorrow morning after moving the final leg of our RV trip from Melcher-Dallas, Iow,a to Woodbury, MN. For us, home ownership again is a big and scary change.

Toys Are Out in Iowa

Toys Are Out in Iowa

Celebrating Hayden's Soccer Win with Dorothy, Cindy, and Halle

Celebrating Hayden’s Soccer Win with Dorothy, Cindy, and Halle

Late Entry: The Famous Roatan Yacht Club

We thought it was famous and very nice 22 years ago. We were worried that we weren’t dressed well enough to go into the restaurant. It seemed very British. We had just finished a long ten-day passage from Cartegena, Columbia, somewhere around November, 1995; and we weren’t too presentable. We stored our dinghy there during our last visit four years ago even though it had been closed for new owners and renovations. The carpenters were banging away.

Roatan French Harbor Yacht Club

Roatan French Harbor Yacht Club

Little did we know how far the Yacht Club had fallen. This year, the property has been seized for money laundering and the official government “Stay Out” signs are up. We had to find another dinghy dock to get to town and our Plan B four years ago was the shrimping/fish station. They’ve had a very bad fishing season and we were advised to stay out of that area. So … by word of mouth we found a lady in a small house down from the police station car graveyard with a little dilapidated dock on a shoreline filled with floating garbage. The routine is to hand her 50 Lems (2 bucks) and walk to town.

Only Sign From the Street

Only Sign From the Street

Murder at the Yacht Club: A German Hotel Owner is gunned down at his Business
Nicolai Winter, the German owner of the French Harbour Yacht Club was gunned down at his hotel by a man in this thirties, presumed to be from the mainland.

On March 6, 2007, around 9:30pm, the murderer checked into a room at the hotel and came back to ask for Winter’s assistance in opening the room door. While Winter with three other Yacht Club staff walked towards the room, the assailant pulled out a 9mm gun and shot Winter several times. The assailant then fled the property on foot.
According to Yacht club staff, Winter was alive for some time after the shooting. Bay Islands Voice was notified of the shooting and called Preventiva Police, DGIC and Ambulance in Dixon Cove. No one picked-up the phone. After a visit to the Dixon Cove ambulance station the attendant said “none of the vehicles are working.”
The frontier police and DGIC police arrived at the crime scene 30 and 60 minutes after the shooting, but no immediate search of surrounding area was done and no road blocks were set up. The murderer, presumed by the police to be a contracted killer, was not apprehended.  Winter bought the Yacht Club in 2004 for in excess of one million dollars. The legal future of the Yacht Club is far from certain. According to Honduran law, in absence of a testament, Winter’s closest relatives: his mother, or his sister will inherit the property.
According to Felipe Danzilo, a lawyer involved in the sale of the Yacht Club, Winter did not yet make all the payments on the property. The previous owners of the Yacht Club: Marcel Hauser and Peter Beuth, still hold a mortgage on the Yacht Club.

Within a week of Winter’s death the old owners of the hotel brought the “Pluribus” company owned by Daniel O’Connor, a American business owner from Tegucigalpa, to serve as a “safe keeper” of the Yacht Club business interests. O’Connor made efforts to assure the continuous functioning of the business: that the employees received their salaries, hotel stayed open and he plans on having the Yacht Club’s restaurant open by Semana Santa. “Every business has a value as long as it is running,” said O’Connor.

O’Connor, who has lived in Honduras for 12 years, was shocked by the lack of concern about the murder displayed by local business community and local business leaders. “This is disappointing in a community that prides itself on being tourism oriented,” says O’Connor. “This will bring a negative impact on tourism here.”

Source :  http://www.bayislandsvoice.com/issue-v5-4.htm

Roatan Wrap and Return to Guatemala 2017

April 23, 2017 Posted by Deb

The Changes in Roatan

A great island but evolving with up to five cruise ships at a time and thousands of cruise ship people on a power vacation clogging up the roads and filling up the beaches. Fantasy Island has suffered a big change. While the west end of the island parties and booms, Fantasy has hit the skids. Here’s a list:

  1. The well went salty so tap water and showers are with sea water now
  2. The generator partially died so they cut of power to the boats on the dock (us) from 7:00 a.m. to up to 8:00 p.m.
  3. The garbage piled up and the flies invaded
  4. With no A/C from shore power, the flies invade the open hatches and companionways
  5. Boat temperatures run around 93 degrees in the sheltered marine environment
  6. The WIFI bounces between 750 bytes to 10K with some spurts to 200K
  7. The pine trees get sap and debris all over the boat

FrenchCayDockSo … we paid for a month, we stayed two weeks, and we left for the anchorage to get comfortable … no refunds. We were also waiting for our 90-day “stay out of Guatemala” time restriction to expire on April 20.

We each thought Roatan was great for two different reasons. One of us voted for the La Pina Fitness Center followed by Herbie’s Sports Bar and Grill and the other voted for our day trips east and west. We definitely underachieved on the tourist stuff … maybe because we were coming to the end of our year or we were fresh out of buddy boats.

LaPinaPoolLaPinaFitnessCenter

Rather than go through the five-day port captain shuffle on Easter we elected to pay for an agent to clear us out. Bateman did a great job and even topped off one of our phones. Those who didn’t use Bateman missed their weather windows because the port captain told them to come back after the holiday in a week.

The Short, Easy Hop from Roatan to Guatemala

Don’t believe it. We’ve had lots of friends and acquaintances run into real trouble with weather on this stretch, not including the recent incidents of piracy in broad daylight. We motored in calm weather to get to Roatan and figured we would wait for a good breeze to sail downwind back to the west and Livingston, Guatemala.

The forecast from three sources all had the wind from the East North East at 15 to 18 gusting to 21. That is perfect for a downwind run and we put up the gennaker in case the winds were a bit light.

We Had Big Hopes for This Sail

We Had Big Hopes for This Sail

We did not bother topping off with fuel and probably should have. The actual wind was about zero for a few hours followed by mostly winds right out of 270 to 310 degrees at 10 to 15. That’s basically in our face. When the wind clocked, we put of the main and flew for about 45 minutes. The wind finally shifted to the east as predicted and was too light to sail so the main came down. We had a few more teasers and put up sails only to take them down minutes later. Of course, at night we had a squall with blinding rain and lightning in all directions.

Sailing through the Corner of Honduras, Belize and Guatemala

Sailing through the Corner of Honduras, Belize and Guatemala

Star Trek Trivia: Admiral, There Be Whales Here

Star Trek Trivia: Admiral, There Be Whales Here

We crossed the bar at Livingston about an hour ahead of schedule and again very close to low tide. Raul’s office informed us that the computer had us a 89 days, not 90 as is required. It was touch and go as to whether we were going to be let into Guatemala; but when the correct palms get greased, the rules can be bent a little. We grabbed our old berth at the Crow’s Nest in Cayo Quemado and Carlos had his extended family out there to give Neytiri a thorough cleaning and a wax job to get ready for showings up at NanaJuana Marina.CayoQuemadoWaterLilliesNanaJuanaSunsetPoolNanaJuanaDockSunset

Belize 2017

February 27, 2017 Posted by Deb

Belize starts and ends with Yoli’s. It’s a cruiser bar in Placencia run by Reagan and Yoli, and it is laid back like no other bar we’ve been in. There is only one TV so it’s not a sports bar, and you can gamble on the playoffs and Super Bowl if you’re so inclined. Most don’t watch TV because of the human entertainment floating around and through the bar. A cruiser can run a tab under his or her first name and tabs can get as high as $40,000 US (it was eventually paid off), many walk behind the bar and grab their own drinks, and a few listen to the Lost Refers and buy their t-shirts (we have two). Within minutes of dropping our hook we walked up the dock to Yoli’s and the Lost Reefers were playing. Actually, it was their lead, John, alone that day because the rest of the group were up in Belize City. A great welcome home to Belize.

Yoli's and A Lonely Lost Reefer

Yoli’s and A Lonely Lost Reefer

Jerry Jeff Walker

We caught him at the Minnesota Zoo last year but Belize is home for him, and the two-week long Jerry Jeff Walker Camp Belize in San Pedro started shortly after we arrived. We had friends flying in for the first week featuring a number of concerts and a lot of impromptu music on the beach. We headed north with Flying Fish in the hopes of getting in on the music and seeing friends. We made it to Colson Caye and got a weather update. A potentially tough norther was coming and that part of Belize has little protection from the north or northwest. We spun for more sheltered turf and Flying Fish kept going because they had company coming through Belize City. We watched weather for a few days, but the friends from the U.S. flew home long before we arrived in San Pedro.

Jerry Jeff Walker at Fido's on Ambergris Caye

Jerry Jeff Walker at Fido’s on Ambergris Caye

Roberts Grove Marina

We settled in for a stretch of bad weather and kind of stayed. It’s nice here, there were plenty of boat projects, and we could squeeze in a bit of exercise. The resort is going downhill each year and we hear lots of rumors as to why. This year Habaneros was closed half of each week, the bathrooms had no paper, diesel was not available, they were down to only one working Hobiecat, and the gym was closed. We talked our way into the gym each day and Deb wrote a long letter to management about the other stuff. The next morning we had diesel and from that time on we’ve been treated like royalty. We believe, and rumors support, that there was some kind of a labor/management issues and her letter shook things loose (as in the workers had not been getting paid).

Our Own Private Restaurant With Live Band Just Outside the Cockpit

Our Own Private Restaurant With Live Band — Just Outside the Cockpit

Morning Workout Beach at Robert's Grove

Morning Workout Beach at Robert’s Grove

Floating Gym

Floating Gym

Robert's Grove Sunrise

Robert’s Grove Sunrise

Bike Rise Up the Peninsula to Na'ai Resort

Bike Ride Up the Peninsula to Na’ai Resort

Goodbye Trip with Flying Fish

We spent time with Claudia and Claudius on Flying Fish in their decompression phase after company left. We did the Placencia Sidewalk Art Festival and several restaurants with them. Both boats sailed north to Caye Caulker, and was that a ride! We had up to 31 knots just as we were crossing the English Channel and it was pretty exposed. As a result, we did the length of Belize in two days with hours to spare.

Reggae Band at the Placencia Sidewalk Art Festival

Reggae Band at the Placencia Sidewalk Art Festival

Placencia Sidewalk

Placencia Sidewalk

Finally Got a Photo of Neytiri Under Sail

Finally Got a Photo of Neytiri Under Sail

 

Hurricane Earl

San Pedro and Caye Caulker recovered well from the hurricane. There was a lot of new construction. The Lazy Lizard at the Split survived so the young backpackers still had a place to hang out. The TMM dock was destroyed and rebuilt but TMM is long gone. Sad.

Lazy Lizard on Cay Caulker Post Hurricane

Lazy Lizard Backpackers on Cay Caulker Post Hurricane

New, Shorter Version of the TMM Dock

New, Shorter Version of the TMM Dock

Hurricane Earl on San Pedro

Hurricane Earl on San Pedro

Water Caye, Garbutt, Pelican, Hatchet and Home

We made a point of checking out the new resort at Garbutt and the new bar built by Reagan (Yoli’s) at Hatchet Caye on our trip back south. At Garbutt we ran into Rendezvous (Peter), Wanderlust, and Wahoo (just in back from the East Caribbean) and were invited to one evening of their floating party north. We don’t know how they can keep up that pace because we were partied out after only one night with them (and low on rum).

Floating City Goes by From Water Cay

Floating City Goes by Water Cay

Garbutt Caye Sunrise

Garbutt Caye Sunrise

Hatchet Cay Pet Pelican

Hatchet Cay Pet Pelican

Neytiri & Flying Fish Together at Robert's Grove

Neytiri & Flying Fish Together at Robert’s Grove

Last Voyage of Flying Fish

Last Voyage of Flying Fish

Heading North to Mexico and Key West

Heading North to Mexico and Key West

Lago Izabal

January 14, 2017 Posted by Deb

Few venture out on this giant body of water west of Fronteras. The main reason few go there is fear. We were kind of proud of ourselves 21 years ago when we ignored the old sailors advice and spent 10 days circumnavigating Lago Izabal The highlights then were the hot and cold running waterfalls and hot caves at Finca El Paraiso, the town of El Estor, and the jungle rivers full of howler monkeys. We (Chuck mostly) were also concerned this year because of the old stories that wouldn’t die of drug operations and bad guys.

Once again we set out with a buddy boat Flying Fish with Claudia and Claudius from Munich. They were great and together we put together a wonderful four-day lap of the lake. Now they want us to write an article for the local riodulcechisme net and newspaper.

Heading Out Under the Bridge, Flying Fish Takes the Lead

Heading Out Under the Bridge, Flying Fish Takes the Lead

Not Easy

Not Easy

Spanish Castillo San Felipe Built to Guard Against British Pirates

Spanish Castillo San Felipe Built to Guard Against British Pirates

Fronteras to Denny’s Beach

Denny’s Beach was and maybe still is on occasion a party destination. We found the place under new ownership, kind of empty, and with bad weather coming. It was also for sale again. We enjoyed ourselves but had a bit of a bumpy night as the northwest wind caught us on a lee shore.

Champagne Birthday Brunch for Chuck

Champagne Birthday Brunch for Chuck

Denny's Beach Sunset

Denny’s Beach Sunset

DennysBeach

El Estor

The town was a former British outpost for supplies to Honduras, hence the name “The Store.” We remember 21 years ago it as a wonderful small town where the women went nuts over a four year old blonde haired son of our travelling companions on Gooseberry. They kept playing with his blonde hair. There was also a women’s coop with large outdoor fabric making looms. They were churning out fabric for Patagonia. We also remember that we had to keep a tight watch on boats and dinghies.

Now the town is bigger, the troops at the Navy base said they would keep an eye on our boats but that it wouldn’t be a problem, the town administrator treated us like royalty with staged photos, and we had a whole lineup of folks helping set up a couple of days worth of touring in the area.

El Estor Waterfront

El Estor Waterfront

El Boqueron, Juan, and the Boqueron Canyon Project

We walked along the waterfront to the municipal building near the city dock and found Eric, a city administrator, just leaving work for the day. He showed us around, took a few photos, and lined up Juan Tacaj, the man in charge of the Seacacar project in Boqueron Canyon.

Seacacar Mayan Women's Coop Making Pendants

Seacacar Mayan Women’s Coop Making Pendants

Village Children at Q'eqchi

Village Children at Q’eqchi

Hanging Bridge at Q'eqchi

Hanging Bridge at Q’eqchi

With only a partial understanding of what we were getting into, we headed off in a large SUV for Boqueron Canyon and a major serendipity surprise. We first got a tour of the school and the Mayan carvings they were doing to earn money. We then found out we were in for an innertube trip after a hike to their ceremonial cave. Then, as you can see, we were treated to one of the prettiest canyon trips we have ever seen with two young boys keeping us out of trouble. Very cool.

RiverElBoqueronCanyonClaudiusMiniCoconuts

Rio Sauce

Rio Sauce

Claudia & Deb

Claudia & Deb

RiverElBoqueronCanyon

Ceremonial Cueva With Juan Tacaj

Ceremonial Cueva With Juan Tacaj

ReadyToTubeTubingCrewTubingCameraTubingFriends

Here is a link to the project run by Paul Heesaker from Silverthorne, Colorado: http://www.riosguatemala.com/legacy-builders

Ensenata Los Lagartos y Rio Polochic

The next day at 6:00 a.m. we were picked up for a tour of the famous howler monkey rivers that feed into Lago Izabal. Our guide worked the whole shoreline and we caught all the animals waking up for the day. We can’t remember how far up we went 21 years ago but there are enough twists, turns, and side channels to spend a day and more if you get lost.

Sunrise On Way to Rio Polochic

Sunrise On Way to Rio Polochic

River Exploration At Dawn

River Exploration At Dawn

Environmentally Friendly Nickel Mine

Environmentally Friendly Nickel Mine

Chuck & Claudia

Chuck & Claudia

PedroDebChuckPlayaIguanaOnLimbFlamingos3GoingDowonRioPabloMtnBkg

Lago Izabal Wrap

Nothing but a positive experience on our trip and this area. It is a shame that leftover tales have kept so many away. Our security was very important to all of the officials we met and we were treated like visiting celebrities.

Biking Iowa and Minnesota

August 4, 2016 Posted by Deb

Martensdale - Gray's Lake - Cummins Loop

Martensdale – Gray’s Lake – Cummins Loop

Riverside on the Root

Riverside on the Root

Lanesboro After the Storm

Lanesboro After the Storm

Biking or Tree Climbing?

Biking or Tree Climbing?

Pikes Bay Trail on Cass Lake

Pikes Bay Trail on Cass Lake

Chippeway National Forest Trails

Chippewa National Forest Trails

Putting Neytiri Away for the Sixth Time

June 16, 2016 Posted by Deb

We’ve decommissioned in St. Martin, Curacao, Guatemala, Georgia, Florida, and now Guatemala again. There’s no escaping the fact that it takes seven to ten days of really fun work like pulling heavy sails down, oiling anchor chain, heads, and other wonderful jobs. We took breaks and hit the pool at NanaJuana often but the happy hours were lonely until the last day there when boats started pouring in for hurricane season. That was nice. We finally did the hike at Hacienda Tijax and our guide said we were the best “old people” she had seen for dealing with the heat and humidity. For us, it was cool in the jungle compared to working on a boat. Once we moved to our final storage location in Cayo Quemado, the air conditioning was stowed and we cooked at 97°F with 87% humidity for the final teardown.

Oiling the Anchor Chain in the Guatemala Heat

Oiling the Anchor Chain in the Guatemala Heat

NanaJuana Pool Time

NanaJuana Pool Time

Swing Bridge at Hacienda Tijax

Swing Bridge at Hacienda Tijax

Found a Spot for a Skinny Dip

Found a Spot for a Skinny Dip

Old People Hikers

Old People Hikers

Saturday Market in Fronteras

Saturday Market in Fronteras

How to Cross the Road

How to Cross the Road

Tucked Away for Another Day

Tucked Away for Another Day

Honduras

Deb pieced together a cab to San Pedro Sula in Honduras followed by a flight to Phoenix via Dallas.

Trip from Rio Dulce to San Pedro Sula in Honduras

Trip from Rio Dulce to San Pedro Sula in Honduras

Breakfast Under Coca-Cola Mountain??

Breakfast Under Coca-Cola Mountain??

We had a two-hour window to switch planes, and we missed by about 12 hours. It’s funny that we made all our sailing deadlines for three months and a little storm over Dallas blew the endgame. We waited until 2:00 a.m. for a crew to show up for our plane; and as they walked up to applause from the crowd, they announced that they had “timed out” and the flight was cancelled. We found a hotel for the night and cancelled our reservations for a car and hotel in Phoenix. They were pretty nice about refunding some of our money. The next day we slept in and did our first UBER ride to the airport. It was $45 for a taxi to the hotel, and we split a $16 dollar fair back to the airport the next day with UBER. Wow!

Casa Grande

Both the town and the RV were right where we left them. The difference was that Palm Creek, where we did the early winter last year, was a ghost town. We found the odd human at the pool from time to time but 119°F for three days kept the few that still lived in the RV park inside. We ran 48 amps of A/C around the clock and the refrigerator pretty much gave up trying. It was nice to be back in the land of big box stores but the ghost town RV Park had us feeling like we late getting out of Dodge. We headed up the hill (8% grade) to Flagstaff and the V10 got a workout. We did not need A/C again until we got out into the flats of New Mexico and Kansas.

An Entire Wall at Palm Creek Labelled Romance

An Entire Wall at Palm Creek Labelled Romance

Lake Afton in Kansas - Almost Home

Lake Afton in Kansas – Almost Home

Propane Fill - Short Hose Workaround

Propane Fill – Short Hose Workaround

Staging in Iowa

We stop for a week or so at the pole barn in Iowa where we store all our summer toys. Oh … and the odd car and van. This year we’re extending the layover to attend a birthday party for the kids of nieces and nephews. It feels like they were kids themselves just a few years ago. Tick Tick.

Our Private Trail Got Popular. Great Western Trail from Martinsdale to Des Moines

Our Private Trail Got Popular. Great Western Trail from Martinsdale to Des Moines

Calorie-Positive Biking at Cummins Tap – Great Western Trail

Calorie-Positive Biking at Cummins Tap – Great Western Trail

Deb Even Took Time Help Out with Bible School

Deb Helped Out with Vacation Bible School

Sunday Pool Day with the Family in Iowa

Sunday Pool Day with the Family in Iowa

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.

Isla Mujeres

April 24, 2016 Posted by Deb

Isla Mujeres has been a happy place for us and it was again. Prices have gone up and our favorite marina now really knows how to charge. But Chepo, the dockmaster, remembered us and really went out of his way to get us into Marina Paraiso again. Oh … and we have internet again. What a refreshing feeling so I guess we’re addicts.

Barlito and Free WiFi

Barlito and Free WiFi

Old friends are scattered all over the Caribbean for us and Mexico is no different. Nash and his restaurant called Nash’s is still here and Wayne from Dances with Dragons just finished a circumnavigation that started and ended at the Soggy Peso here. We bought him a couple beers to celebrate. The shot below is a mini-Red Frog Marina (Panama) reunion.

Nash's With Dances With Dragons and Neytiri

Nash’s With Dances With Dragons and Neytiri

Soggy Peso One More Time

Soggy Peso One More Time

Street Walker in Mexico

Street Walker in Mexico