Thursday, March 28, 2019

Raccoon Attack and Other Stories

First of all, his name was Chucky. But we didn’t know that walking out on a very dark dock to get our dinghy. It was late and Yoli’s bar was closed where we keep our dinghy. Suddenly this large raccoon appeared and rushed at our legs. We were surprised and scared - thoughts of rabies shots in the stomach ran through both of our heads. Scott batted him away with our shopping bags and yelled, but he kept coming on. We jumped in the dinghy and frantically untied the painter while pushing off. It was quite a scene.
Next morning we reported the situation to Yoli, the owner of the bar and the dinghy dock. She became quite upset.
“You go right back there and talk to Reagan (her husband) and don’t let him sweet talk you!”

We were rather mystified but not for long. There was the said raccoon playing around Reagan’s woodworking shop. Reagan laughed and dismissed the concern. “Chucky” is the pet raccoon of one of his employees and he loves to hug your legs. But who is going to know that unless you are already acquainted! Let’s just say that Yoli agrees with the surprised customers
Here's Chucky!

Well, that’s the most humorous of my stories. I’ll get the serious one out of the way next. Our good friend Renate Mendria on Emerald Seas had a heart attack on Friday, March 16 while anchored at Shag Bogue with 3 other boats. After they anchored Renate felt totally exhausted, unusually so, and told Jim to go over for a drink with the others while she rested. After he left she experienced numbness spreading down her arms and up to her chin. She felt like her teeth were loose. She called Jim and he returned. The other boats contributed advice and aspirin & nitroglycerin. She felt somewhat better after these and they decided to wait until morning before getting her to the hospital. Early the next morning Jim and Mike sailed the boat over to Cucumber Beach Marina where Don & Rosie on Chicharne were waiting with a taxi. Renate was admitted to the hospital and stayed until Monday afternoon. She had tests which indicated she had a minor heart attack with little heart damage. They don't really know what caused it and that will have to wait until she has further tests home in Vancouver. On Thursday, March 21 we went up there to see her with Dani & Jens from Arwen in a rental car from Placencia (7 hour round trip). We took Jim and Renate out to lunch right there at the Cucumber Beach Marina. She seemed just like herself and it was hard to believe what she’d been through. We’re so sorry that we’re so far away! They are such good friends! On Friday she had a visit with the cardiologist and on 3/25 she and Jim flew home to Vancouver. Happily, they have insurance which took care of the expenses. They have left Emerald Seas at the Marina until Jim can either come back with someone and take it to Tortugal Marina on the Rio Dulce, or hire a delivery captain.
Scot & I, Renate & Jim, Jerry & Deborah earlier in the season

Our other stories all involve problems with Scott Free. She is 29 years old and showing her age. Not in appearance - she looks great - but in mechanical failures. Our first recent excitement came just as we were approaching the reef entrance to Wippari Caye. An unfamiliar alarm went off. We frantically looked around for the reason. “Try the engine room”, I suggested. Oh dear, it was flooded up to the main engine and water was spraying around. It was the salt water pump - - the hose had burst. We had forgotten to shut off the pump after cleaning the chain and anchor. We shut off the engine and started manually pumping, adding power to the automatic bilge pumps. A half hour later we had emptied the engine room and bilges. Now came the scary part. “Would the engine turn on after being soaked in salt water?” What a wonderful engine sound that was!
But there was no guarantee that this situation would continue so we headed to the nearest Marina, seven miles away. Meanwhile, Scott started washing off all the engine parts and checking everything. We made it to the Sapadilla Lagoon and anchored just outside the Marina. Unfortunately, the starter motor didn’t work a second time so we had to send it off to be rebuilt. And Scott installed a new saltwater pump hose.
Luckily, this is a lovely place to be stuck in. The lagoon is a beautiful anchorage and the Marina has a laundromat, convenience store and a Beach Club with pool and restaurant. We suffered lying in the pool with Margaritas. I know - you feel sorry for us - not!
Heather with a section of the dinghy raftup in Sapadilla
Lagoon. Fun time getting together in for sundowners and
an appetizer pot luck.

Sunset looking over the Lagoon

After installing the rebuilt starter motor we sailed out to the Funk Cayes with Emerald Seas (this was before her heart attack) and anchored in a gorgeous cut between two cayes not far from the barrier reef. There we bought conch from a local fisherman (and feed him lunch and cold drinks- these guys spend all day out in a tiny wooden canoe) and Renate made the most delicious conch fritters. We snorkeled during the days and took turns entertaining each other on our boats - perfect.

Well, lots of other boat parts have failed since then - the rudder sensor (can’t use the auto pilot), the portable VHF, the hydraulic seals that power the rudder (no steering at all) and the alternator (charges up the batteries with the engine). We moved down to Placencia after the starter motor was rebuilt and installed. The rudder sensor and new radio made it down to Customs from the U.S. but nothing is easy in the third world. After taking the boat shuttle (the Hookey Pookie) to Independence on the mainland to recheck into the country (necessary every 30 days), he went over to pick the package at the Placencia Post Office. Oh no, they are over in Independence. Too late that day to get there. Next day he goes over and meets with the Customs officer at the Independence P.O. He can’t release the parts because Scott doesn't have a Belize radio license (he has a U.S. one). He needs to get one from the Public Utilities Commission. OK says Scott, I’ll leave the $25 radio with you and just take the boat parts I need. Oh no, says the Customs officer - you take all or none. So Scott worked his way through the red tape at the PUC to get that license and returned over to the Independence Post Office. Now the Customs officer was missing. Luckily, Poppy, Scott's taxi driver, knew where she was - a softball game. Would you believe, she left and released the package. Hopefully, her team didn't lose as a result We're sitting here right now waiting for the hydraulic sealers to be rebuilt. “Still not feeling sorry for us?”. Well, you’re right…

One more story and that’s it for now. We were anchored in Placencia harbor with at least 30 other boats when a squall hit us at about 8 pm. We weren’t at all concerned as our anchor was well set and before dark we checked and there wasn’t another boat in front of us. But suddenly we got a VHF call warning us that a boat was dragging into us. Scott went out to the bow with our big flashlight and I put on the engine and got on the wheel. A local fishing boat with 7 men was trying to motor back and forth just in front of us. The wind was howling and rain pouring down. I tried getting out of their way with our engine and bow thruster but they kept coming back. Then we realized they had tried to anchor in front of us and had caught their anchor in our anchor chain. Finally, one of the fishermen dove off their boat and managed to untangle it. By this time their boat was alongside ours and we all registered relief together. They reanchored behind us, thank God!

So only a few of the stories encountered this season. There are many more….for another time.