Sunday, December 22, 2013

Merry Christmas from Belize

Merry Christmas!
Christmas carols to a reggae beat, lighted boat parades and cruisers' potluck dinner instead of cocktails at the Sazerac Bar, Christmas Eve at Galatoire's and presents under our own tree with friends and family. Experiences are what makes life exciting.

Boat parade Placencia Harbor

We wish you all many pretty presents under your own tree and a New Year's Eve filled with fireworks and champagne. But mostly we wish for you a Caribbean vacation aboard Wahoo in 2014.

1st morning in San Pedro

We sailed from Isla Mujeres with a 20 - 25kt East wind which gave us a reach all the way down the coast. But a mighty current was flowing against us, often as much as 2-3kts. This is where the Yucatan Current takes its load from the Caribbean into the Gulf of Mexico. This was our 3rd trip between Mexico and Belize and we know on our fourth the current will be with us. It was a long 42 hours of sailing, the seas were high mostly 5 - 6ft but a few higher waves made an appearance all too often. Wahoo sailed along at about 8kts but our course over ground was lessened by that pesky current. We sailed 8 hrs to Cozumel for an overnight stop than 34 hours to the reef opening at San Pedro, BZ. The current and engine gave out just as we reached Reef Point which is the boarder between Mexico and Belize. Luckily we had both sails out and were able to continue making headway but that last 18NM took a little over 5 hours. Roy's skills, tools and abundance of spare parts got the engine's impeller changed and while there were still parts of the old one making the engine run hot we were able to douse the sails and motor gently through the reef cut to our favourite anchorage.
Johnny Cakes for breakfast, yummy

It always feel so good to shower and lay down to sleep after those long overnight passages!

Celie with Roy & I
Street walking in San Pedro
 A couple of hours sleep and we were eager to visit one of our favourite places. San Pedro Town brings back so many good memories and offers the chance to make more every time we visit. Our first stop was Hurricanes Bar and Grill to drink a cold Belikan and see Josh and his parents Daniel and Elodia. Also, they have the very best ceviche of any we've ever had and we have ceviche everywhere we go, so that's saying something. During this stop we spent some time with Celie who owns Holiday Hotel and is a very long time family friend of the Rosses. She had just started renting rooms when we came in 1975 with a 3 week old John Edward. Alex and Donna, Roy's nephew and his wife, got married at Holiday Hotel and last summer came back to celebrate their 10year anniversary.

Rice and beans with stew chicken, garnaches, salbutes - just for the other Rosses

We only stayed a week this time as we had to press on to Belize City and Cucumber Beach Marina. We had 4 boxes of supplies and parts plus two new house batteries being delivered to us there. Plus we were having trouble with the alternators we'd had rebuilt in the summer and Roy wanted a mechanic to look things over. We also continued having issues with the depth sounder and the wind indicator. The wind indicator was giving the right speed but from the opposite direction, go figure! We were counting on better internet reception for calls back to Raymarine who made most things electronic that steers Wahoo. On top of all that a Norther was expected and though we love San Pedro the holding is thin sand over coral. Not a good spot to wait out high winds from the North.
Wahoo behind the reef in San Pedro

Our trip through PortoStuck was a breeze as I've become a whiz at bow watching for depths and we were there before we knew it. Remember the colors - Sky(vodka) , Tanquerey, Amsterdam and that no no - Tequila.

Roy & his King Fish in the dining room at Old Belize
Of course we had to eat at Old Belize that night and Roy had his favourite. King Fish Steak. The guys who run the restaurant at Old Belize are from Turkey. They do a great job and always remember that Roy loves the Kingfish Steak and try to get it for him. The Norther blew in and we had days and days of rain but our boxes and the batteries got delivered, the mechanic came by and they figured out the alternator problems - it was wired backwards when it was rebuilt last summer. Roy talked to Raymarine and figured out why the wind was blowing backwards on our boat but the depth sounder is still an issue. They say there's a new downloadable system coming out in January that will fix the problem.

An aside here for anyone shipping to Belize - can't say enough good things about Belize Freight. They picked up our 4 boxes from John Edward's house in Houston. Put them together with the 2 160lb batteries we shipped from BD Batteries to their warehouse in Miami. They shipped and held the stuff until we got here. Lastly they delivered to the boat at Cucumber Beach Marina. The service and pricing was superb!

Cucumber Beach Marina and Old Belize, from the mast
We spent an evening with friends Mario and Solie catching up as we'd missed them during the summer. Had two interesting meet-ups. First the couple in the slip next to us were from Baton Rouge and she works for Worley (The company Roy works for when doing cat adjusting). We also had a pleasant shock when looking at Cruisers Forum we saw a message to us with a picture taken from the other side of the marina! Sure enough a fellow member was in the marina and recognised the name of the boat. His name on the forum is BelizeSailor and he gives really good advice for people asking questions about the NW Caribbean. We were grateful for his knowledge many times when planning the trip here in 2012.

Now a week later we are in Placencia where we'll spend Christmas and New Years before doing some more exploring along the cayes and atolls of Belize. You'll find the very tentative cruising schedule for 2014 under the Itinerary tab. That way you can plan when you want to meet up with us - the V Berth looks so lonely.)
Placencia is very busy now that the holidays are here. The small hotels all seem full. We saw lots of NO vacancy signs while taking a walk along the famous sidewalk, there's 13 sailboats in the harbour and look what just pulled in.

160 ft  - 10 crew
Here's some great signs - Left is a picture of the Placencia co-op. Middle pic is the sign on the left and...
Yes, the other picture... well its the other sign.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Marina Del Sol in Isla Mujeres

Roy and I are now in Isla Mujeres, Mexico aboard Wahoo. We arrived Thursday, Nov. 21 and our current plan is to stay on the boat until August next year. Note: sailing plans are written in disappearing ink. 

Poncho, the resident iguana met us on the dock
Bringing back the laundry
We arrived at the Cancun airport along with 7 other planes, all full of Thanksgiving holiday-makers. There had to be 1,000. people trying to go through Immigration and Customs. It took us two hours and that was with the help of a wily Skycap. After helping us find all four of our bags (Thank you Southwest for not charging for checked bags) and getting us into the line for Customs he took Roy aside for a whispered "I get you through this quick - $30". Before we knew it I was plopped in a wheelchair and we were zipping through the handicap lane! The kicker came when after we'd passed through the scanning machine, he leaned over and said to me. "Ok, you get up now". I was in front of those 1000s of vacationers, Whooooo, were those daggers in my back. But then we were called to get examined and every box had to be gone through. I'm sure everyone thought we'd gotten our comeuppance. Actually, it wasn't so bad. The Customs agent was a young lady who did her best and when she realised we weren't upset, and weren't going to give her grief for a little custom's duty, things went rather smoothly. In fact, she didn't even notice the 6 lb. of Manda Smoked Sausage. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Sebastien for waiting for us and giving us a ride to the Cancun-Isla Mujeres ferry.

Also, thanks to Sebastien for keeping Wahoo safe. She was in great shape when we got back . 

We had left Marina Del Sol in mid-July as a sleepy marina with most boats covered and owners gone. We came back to a bustling place as owners were arriving and getting ready for the Winter cruising season. Such a variety of boats and cruisers. We love it. Everyone chatters away about their own project and plans, yet there's always a hand when you need it most. 

Greg and Carol on their catamaran
We've met Greg and Carol from the Pacific Northwest. They completed a five year circumnavigation on their monohull which is moored in the Sea of Cortez. But they recently bought a catamaran to cruise the Caribbean, and call home a 65ft trawler in Seattle. These are dedicated and experienced cruisers, of 3 different boats. Next there's Jean Pierre from Quebec. He's retired and waiting for his wife to come visit around Christmas. He spends part of his time on Taj Mahal a 33ft steel sailboat and part of the time either traveling  or at home in Quebec. Across from us is another 40ft steel hull that belongs to Etienne and his girlfriend, Pam. They hail from Paris and Normandy. Last year they did a boat delivery that found them becalmed in the Pacific for 80 days! Of course Sebastien's boat Sea Rooster is also here and there are many more. But perhaps the most interesting is the 23 ft pocket sailing cruiser, Maus, from New Orleans owned by Martin and Alysia. They just left for a 9 day crossing of the Gulf of Mexico back to New Orleans. (yep, I said 23 ft - outboard engine if you're wondering)

Maus leaving for New Orleans

Wahoo needs work too. So we've started on the never ending list. 
Definition. Cruising: Fixing your boat in exotic locations.

Etienne working on the aft bulkhead - Tight Fit!
The stern bulkhead needed to be repaired as there was rot near the water line. I was wondering why there was a sloshing sound under my head at night.
The wind transducer quit working when we were in Belize during the summer. So our luggage included a new one. Of course the new one didn't quite work with our instruments, so Roy had to figure a way to fix that. All at the top of our 63ft mast.

We'd also brought two 18" X 2" x 1/2" stainless steel bars that Roy fabricated while we were in Houston. These were needed to repair the anchor holder which was cracked. So while making that repair we're installing new bow cleats. They're much bigger and as we anchor or pick up a mooring most nights, will be very handy. But what a job getting the old ones off. They'd been on since the boat was built in 1992. Lots of pounding and drilling was heard throughout the marina.

Wahoo also needs a new transducer to repair our depth finder which also quit working during the summer and the engine shaft needs some repairs. As Wahoo needs to be out of the water for these, we'll do them at Cucumber Beach Marina and Shipyard near Belize City. In fact there's a whole other 4 boxes of parts that's, hopefully, waiting for us there. 

As those of us aboard say - "If it ain't broke - just wait a minute."

Pelicans nesting in trees near the marina. Never saw this before.