Friday, May 27, 2022

Almost Finished!

Scott at the wheel off North Carolina

When last you heard of our two heros, they were anchored in Belhaven, NC on Tuesday, May 24th. The next day they averaged 8 knots an hour, despite 20 knots of wind dead on the nose in the Albemarle Sound, and pulled up at Coinjock Marina at 6 PM. Luckily, they had made the reservations not only for the marina, but for the Prime Rib dinner that Coinjock is justifiably famous for. From Coinjock to Norfolk there are lots of opening bridges that unfortunately only open on the hour, except for the last one which closes over rush hour - very frustrating to manage the time between bridges. But when they finished that, they took off for an overnight up the Chesapeake Bay to Herrington Harbour South in the pea soup fog!

Coinjock Marina's famous prime rib dinner. Pete got the 32 oz and Scott the 16 oz - neither finished their meal and we'll have the leftovers for dinner ourselves.

We do not have radar so this was nerve wracking and neither of them got much sleep. Their method was to call every boat that appeared on the AIS (Automatic Identification System that shows other boats that have it and displays your own) and ask if they had radar and if so, what they were seeing. Happily, one boat ahead of them had it and was going to the same location, so they followed it. They pulled into the Marina at 6 AM and tied up to the fuel dock. Only 5 nights from St. Augustine, FL to close to Annapolis, MD! Amazing. Later they were moved to a slip. We have reservations there for a week. The boat needs to be emptied and cleaned for showing and then moved over to Herrington Harbour North where it will be hauled up for the season. 

Tied up at Herrington Harbour South in Maryland Friday morning, May 27th.

I on the other hand drove down to my sister Paula's at Belcamp, MD for one night and then on to our son Sean and husband Will's month long rental in Washington, DC. I had dinner with my son James and family nearby. The next morning Sean and I drove down to the Marina, picked up Scott and Pete and drove Pete to National airport to catch a flight home. Scott and I will spend one night here before returning to the boat and days of hard work. We'll move the boat over to Herrington North on June 6th and haul the next day. So our 20 years of cruising is coming to an end and that's all right!

Some shots from Pete's Instagram account

The night's were fairly cold as you can see from 
Pete's clothing.

Pete was able to post on 
Instagram throughout the

Notes on the charts.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Progress on Two Fronts


Marty and I in a selfie taken Wednesday morning before I took off for Maryland

Scott and I moved into two different paths on Sunday morning May 22nd. He and our friend Pete left St. Augustine at 6:45 AM on Scott Free and motored out the inlet for an offshore passage north. Pete's meeting in Boston had been postponed so he was now able to stay with us until Saturday! I drove to Beaufort, SC for a one night stay at the Hilton Garden Hotel, planning to drive north again in the morning to meet up with them. The expected rendezvous was Georgetown, SC that afternoon. 

But the weather proved better than expected and the men continued for a second night, sailing in the Beaufort, NC inlet Tuesday morning May 24th (now don't get your Beauforts mixed up - they are a long way apart!). And since it was 7 AM when they arrived back in the ICW, they continued their journey, anchoring at Bel Haven, NC, mile marker 136 this afternoon. Now to put this in perspective, St. Augustine is at mile marker 778. So they jumped 642 miles in three days! Pretty amazing! If Scott and I had continued up the ICW it would have taken us 10 days, at least. The journey was overall good with a few squalls and no local thunderstorms (lots in the distance). But they will enjoy a good night's sleep tonight for a change.

I on the other hand felt pretty comfortable at 5 PM until I took my blood pressure. It was very high again and got higher as I took 2 more readings. I drove to the Beaufort Memorial Hospital and as soon as I entered they took my readings and we all panicked (well, actually only I did). It was 253/105. I didn't know it went that high! They kept me there for 5 hours and did a number of tests, all fine, and lowered my blood pressure. The doctor gave me a temporary prescription and told me to see my primary physician as soon as possible. Long conversations with our sons James and Sean really helped me.

I made reservations to fly home to Boston Monday evening. That night was our regular "Fourth of July" Zoom and everyone was concerned (I had notified them of the situation). Marty Wolf volunteered to pick me up at the airport and host me. That morning I was able to make an appointment at Harvard Vanguard Associates with my PCP for 9 AM Tuesday morning. 

My visit went very well this morning. My numbers and test results looked good and we set up a program to monitor my blood pressure. She gave me two new prescriptions and now I'm back in Concord with Russ and Marty feeling much better. I had several conversations with Scott and they plan to continue on the ICW up to the Chesapeake this week. I will drive to Washington DC tomorrow to see my sister for one night,  and then James and Sean for two nights, before meeting Scott and Pete on Saturday, wherever they are. Our car is at Sean's house in Dorchester making that all easy. 

So all well that ends well...Thanks for all your good wishes!

Monday, May 23, 2022

Change of Plans

Scott and Pete just before taking off in St. Augustine at 6:45 AM.

Scott and Pete left St. Augustine Sunday morning in overcast weather. And I drove up to Beaufort, SC to stay one night there before meeting them on Monday. After settling into my hotel, I took my blood pressure and it was very high and it got higher when I took it several times again. The Beaufort Memorial Hospital was the only option as it was a Sunday and around 5 PM. I was there for 5 hours until they managed to get my numbers down. They got me right into a room when they measured my blood pressure as soon as I entered the emergency room. Let's just say - very bad. They have given me a temporary prescription and told me to see my physician as soon as possible. 

After talking to both James and Sean, I made reservations to fly back to Boston on Monday at 8:30 PM from Charleston. Direct flight and actually the only choice. My friend Marty Wolf is picking me up at the airport and I'll stay with her in Concord. This morning I got an appointment at my medical practice, Atrius Health, for 9 AM Tuesday. I need to get this under control.

I was so happy to hear from Scott this morning. All is well, although it sounds like they had a rough night. They are coming into Georgetown, SC (50 miles north of Charleston) mid day and will stay there the night. Then probably move up on the ICW for awhile. Pete is going to stay until at least Friday so they can make progress together. 

So, change of plans for now. 

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Help is arriving!

 Pete Whinn is flying down to Jacksonville, FL on Saturday morning to join us for 3 nights. Pete is an old friend of our youngest son Sean and we've known him for many years. He had hoped to join us on the trip from Mexico but the dates didn't work out. Now he'll be helping us get up to Charleston, SC offfshore from St. Augustine. Right now it looks like he and Scott are going to leave Sunday morning and get in on Monday. There is still a possibility that they might manage to get to Beaufort, NC by Tuesday morning, but that's a slim chance. Pete has to return to Boston by Tuesday night. And I have decided not to go. We rented a one way car, picking it up here tomorrow and returning it to Charleston. We will use it to ferry Pete to and from the airports and I'll drive up to Charleston to meet them.

A full moon seen from our slip at the Ft. Pierce Municipal Marina 

We left Ft. Pierce as planned at 6 AM Monday (pretty much in the dark but with no difficult current to deal with), made it through the Haulover Canal Bascule bridge at Cape Canaveral at 5:30 PM and anchored just off the ICW not long after. That was a long day, almost hours, mostly hand steering. The next day Scott figured out how to convert Captain Bob's ICW track into a route we can follow on our autopilot - what an improvement. The auto pilot can be used on the straight away sections and the bright red line helps in the hand steering curvy bits. In addition we have the latest Army Corps of Engineers surveys of the ICW showing the shallow areas (lots of them) and so far they have helped us avoid going aground.

A view the other direction in towards the city and Crabby's Restaurant. We haven't taken many photos on this section of the trip. I'm particularly sorry we didn't get any with Mitch and Diane Korbey!

The next day we took only 8 hours and we happily pulled into a slip at the Hallifax Harbor Marina in Daytona. But the previous months have taken a toll on me. At the supermarket we took our blood pressure (our cuff has been broken for almost all of the trip) and my reading was 210/92 and then 205/94. I have never had readings like that and was very concerned. My urgent care nurse at Atrius Health told me to go to Urgent Care. The doctor there recommended doubling my blood pressure medicine. And I had another idea. I wrote Pete and asked if he was still interested in crewing with us. He wrote back last night and said he'd fly down on Saturday for a few days. Knowing that, we decided to take a break from the non stop movement. We'll stayed another night in Daytona and traveled up to St. Augustine today. We got reservations at the Marina here. Wednesday morning my blood pressure (I did take the prescribed amount of medicine) was 136/76. Big difference! It was up again a bit Thursday evening but it was a long day.

St. Augustine Municipal Marina where we are staying 3 nights.

We're back to walking as well, in Daytona and now in St. Augustine. All in all, life is good and we are lucky. 

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Back on the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW)

Dawn at Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL Friday morning the 13th of May

We were up early on Friday and had one more weather discussion with Stormy - not totally happy with the possible squalls/thunderstorms, "stray" he said. But otherwise it looked good. So we stopped and got diesel and water at Burdines and were on our way at 8:45 AM. The day started out pleasant but after we left the Hawk Channel we found a miserable negative current. I rarely see 4.8 knots on our speed! So we headed out to sea to catch the Gulf Stream and with that current were doing 8 knots - nice. But the seas were lumpy and a night of that made sleep impossible. Plus we hit one or two squalls. There was thunder and lightning off in the distance but happily, not near us. 

Next day we examined our mental state and possible destinations. Fort Pierce looked good and we set a course for that. It looked like an ETA of 4 PM outside the inlet. As soon as we were near enough to land to get cell service we called possible Marinas in Ft. Pierce - no room at the Inn.  At this point we lost the positive current and best possibility for getting into am anchorage was later than 6 PM. And we weren't sure of the anchorages suitability. So sudden change in our plan for safety, we set a course for the Lake Worth Inlet  

What a exciting entrance. Breaking waves between the jetties and tons of high speed boats passing us on both sides sending waves every which way. But once inside it was calm (no change in the passing boats, it was after all, Saturday!). We've been here before and knew a really good anchorage at the north end of Lake Worth, so made for it. The anchor was down and our beers were popped at 1:30 PM. Lunch followed, a nap, drinks and dinner. We were sound asleep by 8 PM.

Than up at 6 AM as the first of 9 opening bridges awaited us just north of our anchorage. Another boat was waiting at 6:45 as we pulled up, and we followed them through all of the bridges, making excellent time. Our destination was Fort Pierce and an evening with our old friends Diane and Mitch Korbey. They had inspired us by cruising for 20 years before we bought Scott Free. And they spent two weeks with us from the Bahamas to the Dominican Republic back 15 years ago. They invited us to their Yacht Club for drinks and dinner. 

We put in calls to several marinas in Ft. Pierce and much later, got a reluctant acceptance from the City Marina. The current through this area is huge, 3+ knots, and they were really worried about our getting into the slip and even more about departing in the morning. They almost canceled, but agreed if we departed tomorrow at 6 AM. Fine with us. Oh and that would be high tide - good news, as we hit something hard on the way in their channel that stopped us short. We managed to get around it, but hopefully the tide and their advice will see us out in the morning without incident!

Tomorrow we'll continue on the ICW hoping to make the 70 miles to Port Canaveral where we know of a good anchorage. Then we'll see about jumping offshore again for another one night trip. 

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Heading North Again

This morning Stormy (one of Chris Parker's weather gurus) said we could leave tomorrow Friday so unless something changes in the morning we'll be off. We'll do at least one night and maybe two if the weather stays good. We should at least get to West Palm Beach with the one night and if two, then not sure, Cape Canaveral, further?  We really do need to go as far as possible. Our insurance wants us in the Chesapeake by June 1 and that seems really hard. 

A view of Boot Key Harbor, Marathon from our cockpit.

On Wednesday we rented a car for 24 hours from Enterprise. We chose the "we'll take a chance and you pick the car" option - the same price as a compact. And the young man gave us a Mustang Convertible! Tooling down Route 1 to Key West for the night was extra fun. We walked all around the old town and had drinks on the waterfront followed by an excellent dinner at Sarabeth's Restaurant. Nice break! Just before retuning the car the next day (after a bunch of errands) we had lunch at Castaway. Last time for eating out for awhile. 

I'll post an update when we reach our next destination. Wish us luck!

The harbor walk in Key West

We enjoyed watching all the boat - we almost
came here instead of Marathon.

But we love walking the inside streets
and admiring the lovely homes and 

Scott and I pose in an appropriate spot.

Sarabeth's James Beard award winning apricot
peach bread pudding - Yum!
And Scott's oyster plate at Castaway!

Sunday, May 08, 2022

Made It!

 We finally made it back to the U.S. and it's wonderful. But the passage wasn't easy (we always ask our weather forecaster Chris Parker for an "easy" weather window). We left on Tuesday May 3rd and once through the reef at Isla Mujeres the wave height was the promised 3 - 5 feet, but as soon as we approached the Gulf Stream it turned into a total washing machine with higher, closer together and randomly directional waves. The bow hit the downside of some waves so hard it broke one of the inch thick teak planks in the bow sprit in half. But our boat otherwise can take a lot of this, we however have a harder time, especially to be honest, me. 

We had a great evening at the Varadero restaurant in Isla a few days before our departure - live music, wonderful food and fun company. That's Eduardo, Joe, Scott, Lindsey and myself enjoying our mojitos. They are new friends we've gotten to know at El Milagro.  

But eventually we got through the Gulf Stream and it calmed down. Well at least until 10 PM when a series of unpredicted thunderstorm/squalls hit us with winds up to 30 knots. And the wind was almost dead on the nose. Now up until this time we were motor sailing. There might have been enough wind to sail alone, but we were close hauled and we don't point up well. So we were being pushed in a northwest direction when we wanted to go northeast. Keeping the engine on helped us minimize the drift. Happily, we always reef our sails before nighttime, so when the storms hit we were a little better off. When things got too much to handle we just headed off the wind (of course, more off course). We didn't get any sleep that night. Scott managed to eat but my stomach was too queasy. 

The band was terrific and reminded us of our two trips to Cuba. Scott and I had lunch here the previous day so early that we got to know 3 of the staff - Jose, Saul and Coney. Coney didn't know that in England her name means a rabbit. In the Caribbean it's a small grouper!

At times like this I yearn for dawn and when it happens, everything immediately improves. The seas calmed down and were able to take a tack to the east. But the wind direction was too fluky so we finally just took down the sails and motored. New problem - loud knocking in the area of the prop and shaft. At first it was intermittent and then by the next day, constant. So any minute I was afraid that the engine would quit. And wouldn't you know, that second night, still a hundred miles from the U.S., the wind died down and we would have been unable to sail. So if the engine had quit we'd be drifting in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. But otherwise it was great. The sky was clear with millions of stars, not a cloud in sight and the seas were reasonable comfortable. We were both able to get some sleep and I managed to start eating again (toast, crackers and granola bars). 

Looking back at our Marina as we exit our slip. Joe was very helpful with casting off and brought our dinghy out to us. We left a little later as the day before the check out from Mexico took MUCH longer than it should have. We were lucky to finish before their offices closed. Still we managed to check out of the Marina, fuel up at a nearby fuel dock and leave Isla at 10 AM. 

The next dawn was quite lovely and we had only 5 hours to Key West. I was on watch and I changed our course to our original plan for Marathon, Florida. Back a day before, our ETA (estimated time of arrival) there was after dark and we didn't want that, so we changed our course to Key West. But a favorable current during the night and then entrance into the Gulf Stream (now headed east off the Keys) bumped up our speed over the bottom to 8+ knots so now we were looking at a 4 PM arrival. 

And we picked up a mooring in Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL at 4:30 PM on Thursday, May 5th and popped open our traditional can of beer to celebrate. The Marina allowed us to come in the next morning so we enjoyed a wonderful dinner. I always make a lot of dishes for the trip and even more this time as I was able to freeze several things in the communal kitchen. Scott had managed to eat the chicken salad, coleslaw, potato salad, and chaya soup during the trip. But we still had a whole roasted chicken, lentil stew, and homemade spaghetti sauce.  A good night's sleep capped a good day. 

Friday was a busy one with lots done and new problems. Our dinghy motor quit working for a start. Luckily a neighbor was heading into the Marina and he gave us a tow. We had made appointments for our second booster COVID shot at a nearby Walgreens and I had a pile of laundry A big "Closed for two days" sign greeted us at the Walgreens pharmacy - staffing problems! Scott called another Walgreens and arranged to get our shots there. We're ended up with 4 taxi rides that day and formed a friendship with the two drivers, cousins from Jamaica - Junior and Brian. Shots over, we headed in two directions. I did laundry at the Marina and Scott shopped at West Marine and Home Depot. We hitched another tow ride home at the dinghy dock! Repairing that motor is a high priority for tomorrow.

Another accomplishment was scheduling a hopefully quick haulout at a boatyard here on Tuesday afternoon to look at our propeller and cutless bearing. If the problem is the rubber disks on the prop then we're in luck. Scott has ordered new ones and they'll be here in time. If it's something else, we might have to stay at the boatyard. Time will tell. And so will I - next post!

We ordered one of their specialty plates - all 
seafood and amazing! There were several kinds
of fish, cooked in different ways, shrimp,
octopus, lobster, beans & rice and salad. 
And it was beautiful!

The restaurant was a local hangout more than a 
tourist destination. These women were having a 
fun get together while their nearby children 
played in a toddler pool.

In fact the place was hard to find, on a back street.
It fronted on the canal into the lagoon with a dock
that big boats tied up to rafted together sometimes.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Close Call for a Weather WIndow!


Dani and Heather on Scott Free Saturday night. They came for dinner..
April 25th. We took off early in the morning (after the weather forecast) to walk into town while the sun wasn't too hot. Breakfast at Mariscos de Huma on Hidalgo, the main, walking only, street was delicious and fun people watching. Then we found the Mercado, public market, where Scott scored some chaya, Mexican spinach plant. I'll use it for a soup or stew. It was a lazy day for me actually. We ordered pizza from Oscar's for dinner!

We walked this lovely beach on the ocean side of the island on our way back from the Mercado. The beaches on the protected side of the island are packed with people and restaurants.

April 26th - This morning Stormy (one of Chris' weather forecasters) told us that a good weather window was coming up, leaving Friday morning. We fired off emails to anyone who had expressed an interest in crewing. They would have to fly down tomorrow Wednesday if they wanted to come with us as we needed to all be here for a full day of checking out of Mexico on Thursday. That was too soon for everyone, although Sean tried very hard to arrange transportation from Denver, where he was working. But he would have had to fly overnight from L.A. and that was just too much! But kudos for trying!

Three of the staff pose while they prep for the BBQ. This is our communal kitchen which the guests can use to cook their meals. 

Carlos and his helper came early and spent the day cleaning one of our fuel tanks and polishing our fuel. Scott spent the day watching them and assisting. I sat up at the Marina enjoying the breeze and getting to know some of our neighbors. That evening was the weekly BBQ here, fantastic buffet with grilled fish and ribs, lots of vegetables and salads ($20 each). The staff here, all men, do the shopping and cooking. Pretty much all the guests signed up - fun evening. 

April  27 - We were carefully set up to listen to Chris this morning up at the Marina. We didn't want to take a chance the internet would fade out. The SSB isn't very clear tied up here. And it was a good thing we did. Chris started out describing our 3 day passage and then said, "Oh, Oh!" This doesn't look good." Saturday night the wind was ramping up and turning northeasterly. Right on the nose. He advised that we wait until next week. Boy, were we glad we didn't arrange for a crew member to come down today. If they had come, we would have probably left on Friday and had a difficult time. But with a crew member we would have managed - not just the two of us The alternate strategy would have been to stop in the Dry Tortugas, or go up to Naples on the west side of Florida, which is really out of our way. 

We walked into the north end of the island and had lunch at the North Garden restaurant. It was really hot in the mid day sun and I thought about "mad dogs and Englishmen". We hitchhiked back. This works out incredibly well. We only put our thumbs out for golf carts with only 1 couple and almost always get picked up. Dani & Jens gave us this advice and we've been doing it a lot. 

So we're here for another week and with mixed feelings. We love it here and are enjoying the island and our Marina very much. But it is getting really late for getting home. We have many doctor/dentist appointments in mid May and our insurance company wants us in the Chesapeake by June 1st. It could take weeks going up the east coast once we get to Florida. Oh well, one day at ta time 

Achiote (also known as annatto) paste
is rubbed into the fish and then the filets
are layered in the rack with sliced onions
and tomatoes. Yummy!

Sunset off the end of our pier at El Milagro

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Settled in El Milagro Marina

April 21st - The next morning after our arrival, we started the check in process. What a horror show checking in is here now. I guess in the past we have always used Chepo at Marina Paraiso as an agent so didn't face officialdom on our own. We first had a hard time finding a place to put our dinghy. There isn't a spot downtown any more. Dani had told us about "Scott's Landing" near El Milagro but we couldn't find it. No signs or people on any of the docks near there. So we left our dinghy at the El Milagro Marina and walked - they allowed us to do that but Scott didn't think they were friendly and has taken against them. I hope he changes his mind as I really like it there. 

Heather, Dani, Jens and Scott at the Soggy Peso restaurant. 
So we arrived at the Port Captain's office just before 10 AM. We had to wait while others finished and then she said we needed 5 copies of everything. Scott only had the original and 4 copies. So we were off to find the copy place and when we returned, another wait. But now she says we have to go to the hospital and get our papers stamped by a doctor there. A helpful person waiting told us to take the bus - much cheaper. Scott told the bus driver to let us know when we got to the hospital (down in the south end of the island) but he forgot and when we were concerned, told us to get off there and walk. Another 8+ blocks in the sun. So next we got the papers stamped and took another bus back. No exam, tests, anything -just fill in lots of forms and get stamped. By the way, the doctor was using carbon paper to make copies. We hadn't seen that for a while.
El Milagro Marina and Hotel, looking out the dock area. There isn't a restaurant but a full kitchen for residents and lots of comfortable options for eating or lounging. 

Back in the Port Captain's office, she said we needed to go to Immigration next and then return. By now it's 12:30. So Immigration wasn't too bad and not far away. Now we're back again and this time Customs people are waiting for us. Two of them want to go out to the boat. I waited for Scott as our dinghy is better for 3 big guys. They all return and it's Agriculture next (in the same office as the Port Captain luckily). When that's finished she hands us 2 forms to fill out and as I'm doing so announces that it's time to close the office. We have to come back tomorrow morning. It is 2:20 PM and they are closing at 2:30 (not the scheduled closing of course) but she won't finish us up. Boy were we upset - hungry, tired and hot. 
Happily after several wrong attempts we found "Skull's Landing" where we were able to get a cold beer and some lunch. Back to the boat and collapsed for a nap. We're meeting Dani & Jens at the Soggy Peso tonight for dinner. 
Going up from the dock where Scott Free is tied up, there is a bar area (BYOB) and further on the left is the communal kitchen with everything you could want. Beautiful Mexican tiles decorate every surface.

April 22nd - Great night with Dani & Jens! We got to know them at Tortugal Marina and they are part of our Tortugeezers Zoom every Saturday since the start of COVID. From  Germany, they now split their time between their home in Majorca, S/V Arwen here in Isla, their RV (currently parked at Rosie's (from Chickcharne) house in Montana and another residence in Germany. 
There was a very nice restaurant across from the Port Captain's office where I waited for Scott yesterday, Marina Bartolome that had a dock out front. So this morning we dinghied in there and had an early breakfast before returning to finish the check in process. No wonder she couldn't finish us up yesterday! It took 4 more hours. By 1:30 PM Scott was exhausted and stressed. He would have been happy to spend another night at anchor. But we had little water left and the security of the Marina was singing a siren call to me. Kindly he agreed and only an hour later we were tied up at El Milagro Marina. We celebrated that night at the Sunset Grill and made new friends with the owner Felipe, his wife Margarita and their son Leon. 
Beach areas are on both sides of the dock

April 23rd. -
Having filled up our water tanks, our next job was replenishing our food stores. A huge supermarket, much like Walmart, called Chedhui is an easy walk away. We stopped and had breakfast at the Cafe Verde. There were too many bags to walk, so we took a taxi. Dan & Jens are leaving soon for a inland trip around Mexico, so we had them over for dinner. Fun evening!
Early that morning I spoke to our weather guru who surprised us with a good weather window starting Monday. Unfortunately we won't be ready then. Scott has arranged for someone to look at our fuel problem. They are coming over tomorrow morning and would schedule the job for next week. So we will not be leaving until at least Thursday. We have a number of potential crew members but they won't have much notice. We aren't sure of weather window until 3 o4 4 days in advance and they would need to be here the full day before for the checking out process. 
April 24th - 
Carlos Miranda came over this morning and gave us a quote of $500 (US) to do the job and he'll start on Tuesday. It's another beautiful day in Paradise. We look forward to our Family Zoom at 4 PM and the Fourth of July Zoom at 6 PM (our time). 
This iguana blends right in with the cactus. 
There are a lot of them on the property.

Several living room areas are under the roof but
open at the front and back. There are a number of 
hotel rooms and suites.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Finally in Isla Mujeres

We have finally arrived in Isla Mujeres, almost a month later than hoped and expected. But we are safely anchored in the harbor and will check into the country tomorrow. We left Cozumel at 7:30 AM. We used the engine only twice - once to push off from the mooring ball and second to enter the complicated channel into the Isla harbor. And it worked fine. Scott had changed all the filters and felt sure it would. But we sailed all the rest of the way and kept our mainsail up until we anchored. We had a lot of wind almost on the nose for the first 80 % of the trip - 16 - 20 knots with gusts up to 24. This wind was against us and the 3 knot current which we had with us. So we were going over 9 knots for hours due to the current. And the waves, supposed to be 4 -5 ft were much bigger. But our boat is good in these situations, just not us. We barely managed to drink water and hit the head for 6 hours. Then the wind and waves subsided as we neared Isla, exited the current, and the wind diminished as well. 
Tomorrow we will talk to the two possible Marinas here and then we'll have dinner with cruiser friends Jens and Dani, who called to welcome us as soon as we arrived at 4 PM. Then we had our celebratory beer and a nap. Later I made corn chowder for dinner while we enjoyed the sunset. 
The view of the sunset off our stern at Isla Mujeres. It looks so peaceful and empty. NO WAY - coming into the harbor we passed hundreds of boats. The shore of the island was packed with more boats, beaches packed with people. But where we are anchored, at the back of the harbor, it is possible to look out at this view. 

Monday, April 18, 2022

A Good Ending to a Hard Night's Passage

After towing us for about 2 hours to Cozumel, the Mexican Navy rescue boat rafted up to us to put us on a mooring in front of their base. 

April 17 - We are celebrating my birthday here in Cozumel but it was a very difficult trip. We had an early problem with the engine coming out of Sapadilla Lagoon but Scott thought changing the filters would resolve it. And it did until we got 100 miles down the coast in the early evening. And the engine hasn't worked since. We managed to sail all the way until just south of Cozumel but our auto pilot didn't work for most of that time and we had to hand steer. The sails wouldn't seem to balance and so the auto pilot and ourselves by hand had a very hard time. Our boat doesn't go upwind well and our "tacking angles" are very bad - so we were having a hard time getting east to Cozumel. And then the wind dropped and we were stalled.. 
We had been talking to friends on the Northwest Cruiser Net that morning and they instituted hourly check ins. Jeff and Sue on Blue Jacket contacted the Cozumel Port Captain and he offered to arrange a tow. Scott didn't want to do it for some time (we also were concerned as we didn't have much cash on hand) but finally agreed. Not long after the Mexican Navy rescue boat arrived with 3 men and towed us 2 hours into a mooring off the Navy building (just south of the regular anchorage). So we are there now and what a relief. And they didn't charge us anything!!! (Happy Birthday Heather). 
Scott gave me this lovely necklace and cooked up a terrific dinner for my birthday.

But now our problem is getting to Isla. The weather for tomorrow is for Light & Variable and we need to be able to sail. Our engine "might" work for a while but it isn't certain. From Cozumel we need to go northeast up the channel and that doesn't look good tomorrow. And the forecast from Saturday was for wind filling in from the NE Monday night. So we'll talk to Chris tomorrow morning. We can't check in here but we were told we can stay here until the weather allows us to go.

April 18 - We enjoyed the first sleep (and real meal) last night we'd had since Friday. It was so quiet and peaceful on Scott Free! After our conversation with Chris this morning, we decided to wait until Wednesday when the wind turn more easterly to continue on to Isla Mujeres. The officials here have agreed to our remaining on this mooring. We expect a bouncy night tonight when the front comes through with northerly winds but we're on a safe huge buoy. 

(earlier notes from before our trip) April 13 - Scott checked out of Belize and we did last minute provisioning and laundry. Marc's son Hadrian arrived so we had them over for dinner. I managed to make a lasagna and carrot cake - lots of baking in the hot weather! But it was all great and sad to say good-bye.

April 14 - An even sadder good-bye was to Yoli, Reagan, Cherie and Eric. We went in early this morning after talking to our weather guru (all continues to look good). As we were exiting the north entrance of the harbor a pod of dolphins escorted us - good luck sign for sure! It was an easy trip up to the Reserve Marina at Sapadilla Lagoon - sunny day with wind behind us, around 10 knots so we motor sailed. We haven't been able to find the slow water leak so wanted to fill up our tanks. We had planned to anchor out in the lagoon but the dockmaster Taina gave us a price we couldn't refuse (much less than expected) so we stayed on the dock for the night. 

April 15 - After talking to Chris at 7 AM and the Northwest Cruiser NET at 8, we were off the dock and starting north. The rest of the trip is covered in the first post. 

Two of our Mexican Navy rescuers. 

Scott's birthday dinner for me - Pork Chop,
coconut ginger rice and squash

Our cruiser friend Renate sent this shot from
the AIS tracking website. That's our boat
showing on it's way the north off of San 
Pedro, Belize.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Update April 12 - Plans are made!

 April 7 - Thursday

Our new cruiser friends Roni & Jerry heard that we were renting golf carts and taxi's and insisted we borrow their golf cart for a week. They are building a house just north of Thunderbird Boatyard and are still living on their boat at the dock there. They have a car as well so the golf cart was a spare.  We took our friend Marc and his newly arrived crew Volker up to the Maya Beach Bistro for dinner. 

April 8 - Friday

Roni & Jerry checked out this morning and we took them out for lunch and a swim at Mariposa and returned their much appreciated golf cart. 

Roni & Jerry

That evening as predicted the cold front blasted it's way south with squalls up to 30 knots all night. Happily the holding is good in Placencia harbor and no one (as far as we know) dragged. But the hatch over my bed started leaking again with the heavy rain and I had to move to the v berth. Funny how you get used to every day noises, in the stern stateroom it's the dinghy creaking and the wind generator over our heads. But in the v berth it's halyards beating against the mast and the anchor chain that's creaking. But my mantra was, "I'm safe and dry so stop complaining!"

Two of Reagan's workers helped us reinforce our dinghy. A quite lovely piece of mahogany was
bolted on the stern to provide a strong anchor for our outboard.

Scott's got a list of boat repairs and projects to complete but the leak in the water system has found a new outlet (Mark had found one source when he and Connie were visiting) and it's in an inaccessible location. So we're conserving water like crazy. Yoli let me have a long hot shower at her home.

April 9 - Saturday

It rained and blew all day but we had a fun afternoon at Yoli's. It's Trivia afternoon at 3 PM and we teamed up with John & Shelia and came in a respectable third. No walk today - too wet.

April 10 - Sunday

It cleared up nicely for Yoli's BBQ and what a fun afternoon with lots of friends and great food. 

Marc and I and Volker 

Yoli & Reagan at the BBQ cooking ribs, chicken, pork chops and this week only, lamb steaks

April 11 Monday

We talked to Chris Parker, our weather guru on the SSB this morning and it looks good for starting north on Thursday and making it to Isla Mujeres on Monday. We have to check out on Wednesday as Customs, Immigration and Port Control are closed for Easter holidays. Rosie & Don, our long time cruiser friends from Montana on Chickcharne arrived and we went out to Rick's for dinner with Rosie's daughter Monica, who had just flown in.

Heather, Scott, Rosie and Don having fun as always

April 12 - Tuesday

We spoke to Chris again this morning and have made our plans. Tomorrow Scott will clear out of the country (they are closing early on Thursday and no one knows how early it will be). Thursday we'll head north to the Reserve Marina to fill up with water and then anchor. Friday we'll sail north to Bannister Bogue above the ship channel and anchor. Saturday we'll carefully exit through a gap in the reef and sail overnight up the coast. On Sunday we should arrive in Cozmel later afternoon and anchor for the night. Monday we'll sail up to Isla Mujeres and check in. We haven't settled on a Marina yet. Our former Tortugal cruiser friends Dani and Jens are there right now and we'll be hanging out with them. HOPEFULLY!!! I'll try and put a quick update in underway if possible. 

The end of Yoli's dock is a favorite hangout for 
the birds.

Amazing flowers everywhere on our walk!