|We had a great Pot Luck at Tortugal before we left, that's|
Tick and Bill on Scott's right.
|Deborah and Jerry, our friends from Tulsa,|
Oklahoma on Czech Mate
|The food was really great and there was lots of wine. I'm|
wearing the native blouse and skirt I bought at Lake Atilan.
|That's owner Daphne on the left.|
|What a spread! That's Andre, Kay and|
Walt, Dave and Ellen left to right
|Scott, Walt, Honoree, Julie and Peter aboard Scott Free|
|Honoree's a great cook and served us up some wonderful|
meals aboard "Will O' the Wisp"
Our Australian friends Peter and Julie Gowan (actually Kiwis but now living in Australia), that we spent time with in the Bahamas two seasons ago, flew to Guatemala to spend 2 weeks with us sailing up to Mexico. They spent one night in Antigua before catching the bus down to us. We gave them only one night to recover before taking off the next morning! It was a great night with appetizers and drinks over with Walt and Honoree and then dinner at Kangaroo Restaurant across the river. The ride as the sun sets up the creek to the restaurant is really romantic as was the night trip back. We couldn't wait longer as we need to exit the River mouth during the two times a month the tide is highest. Our target departure was that evening at 6pm. We scheduled our check out with Ruaul's nephew that afternoon in Livingston and his brother in law Hector to help us over the bar. Last May we had almost 2 feet of tide and barely made it over on our own so at night with less tide this time, we planned for assistance in advance. We could have made it ourselves as it turned out but we bumped violently on the bottom for a full 10 minutes - a long 10 minutes believe me. Once out of the river we happily motored the 2 hours over to Tres Puntas and put down the anchor well off shore. It was a lovely dinner with wine that followed as a celebration.
|The bridge crossing the Rio Dulce at Fronteras is one of the|
tallest in Central America. It's just downriver of Tortugal
and we passed under on the way out.
|Our berth at Tortugal Marina|
|One of the beautiful private residences on the River,|
reachable only by boat or plane/helicopter
|The gorge as we approach Livingston at the mouth of the River. The cliffs are very tall and hard to capture in a photo|
Another 60 miles brought us to Blue Ground Range Cay, a spot we anchored in last year with excellent holding and protection. We had a quiet night there and the next morning conferenced with our weather man, Chris Parker, on the Single Side Band. A norther bringing heavy winds was expected in Mexico on Saturday morning. It was now Monday. We decided to take off that very morning. The winds were predicted to be 15 - 20 knots steady with higher gusts, more than we generally like but from a favorable direction, on the beam and moving aft over the next few days. It was breezy as we sailed north behind the reef up to the main channel out to sea near Belize City. The Belize Harbor Patrol called us on the VHF (they saw us on our Automatic Identification System) to ask us questions but were satisfied with our accounting that we were "in transit". We had to turn directly into the wind for the last portion of the channel and passed a huge freighter entering. It was very rough but Scott Free can handle it. Once we were safely out to sea and turned north we expected it to calm down, but it didn't. It was about 3pm and it was a rough night ahead. The waves were very confused and it was hard to move about the boat. None of us felt like eating. We were glad we had a good lunch. I did manage to make some tea. Unfortunately Julie became quite sea sick and continued so until the following evening. Poor thing she was quite brave but miserable and couldn't get up for 24 hours.
We really appreciated having an extra hand that night. Peter took more than his share of watches. It was hard for any of us to sleep and unfortunately the auto pilot couldn't handle the gusty wind and rough seas. We mostly hand steered until the following afternoon. That is very tiring. It was so great to see the sun come up the next morning. It's all a lot easier in the daylight. By late morning Peter, Scott and I could eat a little bit and felt better. The waves were more regular and the wind both calmed down a bit and moved further aft. "Otto" was able to take control again at least part of the time. We were moving amazingly fast. We sailed the whole way and often were averaging over 10 knots. We had a 2 knot positive current for the last half of the way (it was negative for the trip south last year of course). We were all watching the expected arrival time on our chart plotter. Would we make it into Cozmel before dark? This was important not only to anchor with some light but also because our navigation lights had failed last night. The rock and rolling had evidently pulled out some wiring. The sun went down and we anchored only a few minutes later. YES!
|The view in the morning while we sip our coffee before setting off down River and up to Mexico|
|Relaxing in the warm water off Ranguana Cay, Belize|
|We couldn't believe this fishing|
boat anchored near us at Ranguana
Cay in Belize!
|At least a dozen men managed to live aboard and fish on|
this tiny vessel. They even cooked!
|A view of our cockpit while at anchor|
|One of the huge hotels on the beach at Cancun|
|A research vessel for Thor Heyerdaul.com was docked at|
the Naval Yard
We'll be here until later in March and another post will be coming soon on Isla Mujeres itself and the rest of our weeks with Peter and Julie.