Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Tuesday 25 June - Tuesday 3 December 2013

WOW that is a LONG time for us to be in the “same” place. Spending 23 weeks in Guatemala was a very different experience for us. The Rio Dulce, a fresh water river & lake, is where we kept the boat during this hurricane season, at Mario's Marina. The area is very beautiful surrounded by green mountains, a tropical jungle, hot, & humid with a lot of rain. Now we know the hurricane season is the rainy season, but even the locals were commenting on this being an above average year for rain fall. That combined with not being in our usual blue water jump in and swim environment was an adjustment for us. 

The marinas of the Rio Dulce are spaced out along the river, many like ours, not having road access. The main town servicing the boating community is Fronteras AKA Rio Dulce Town, on the north side of the only bridge across the river. It is a bustling little town with shops lining both sides of the small two way street. At any given time the street is filled with people walking, bicycles, motor scooters & bikes, Tuk-Tuk's, cars & vans & buses, & all size trucks. When one of the larger vehicles stops for whatever reason the opposite one lane becomes a two lane, it is an amazing site with surprisingly very few accidents. The one BIG 2500 sq foot supermarket along with many small tienda's (shops) and multiple fruit & veggie stands would be where we would provision for the season. In the beginning hunting the different shops looking for what we needed was always a day's adventure. We had a great variety of fruits & veggies to choose from for extremely low cost. Even eating out for lunch and or dinner was always a pleasant surprise on the low cost. With the exchange rate of 1 US dollar equal to 8 quetzales (Q), a meal was $5-10 excluding drinks. 

There are a lot of boats kept here on the Rio Dulce during hurricane season, however most of the owners leave and go back to their home countries for a good deal of that time. That or make plans for land tours of other parts of Guatemala. Guatemala is a big country compared to all the Eastern Caribbean Nation Islands we were use to visiting. From our little remote area off the Caribbean side all the way to the Pacific and north to Mexico it has a lot of different sights to see, most of which take several days at least. There are a few local day spots to see, some easier to get to then others but all involving several means of transport. We managed to do a few, but not as many as we would have liked due to timing issues. 

There were several boater events that we took part in, dinghy poker runs, a 4th of July pig roast, several movie & trivia nights out at the different marinas hosted on different nights, music jam sessions, cruisers pot luck dinners, card & domino games, boaters re-sale / swap meets. These were all great fun, many also provided free launcha (boat taxi) service. Launcha's are the local wooded boats used up & down the river, many able to hold up to 12-14 passengers and many with an awning overhead. We could & did use our dinghy at night a few times, but taking a free launcha made the trip back to our marina a much nicer & safer trip.   

We took several “road” trips, the first being to Guatemala City shortly after we arrived, as my passport was going to expire in 4 weeks. Guatemala city is a SIX (6) hour bus ride from the Rio Dulce. We used the Litegua bus line, nice buses like a Grey Hound bus w A/C and seats that reclined. But 6 hours is still a long time to sit on a bus!! After a few days touring Guatemala City we went to the city of Antigua. A beautiful old city with cobblestone streets, that use to be the capital of Guatemala before 2 earthquakes destroyed much of the city in 1773 and they moved the capital to Guatemala City. It is now a UNESCO world heritage site and they are trying very hard to preserve these beautiful old buildings. The weather in both Guatemala City & Antigua is totally different than on the Rio since they are in the mountains at 5000 ft (1500 m). Cool temps and NO humidity which was a welcome change. We stayed at a lovely B&B El Montanes, and had a great time walking the streets of Antigua seeing the sights and finding good places to eat. We went out to a coffee plantation to do a zip line and also did a sunset hike up Volcano Pacaye. After a week we went back to the boat on the Rio. 

We signed up to take Spanish lessons from a local lady, Rita, who works at a marine service company as well as being the fire chief, a teacher and a mother of a 2 year old. A very accomplished young lady !! Steve & I had private lessons 3 times a week for an hour then changed to 2 times a week for 1 ½ hours for a month. She was a great help, we are still practicing and learning on our own, a small improvement for me and a big improvement for Steve. 

Guatemala, like many countries, has a 90 day limit for people to stay in the country. When we entered the country we filed for an extension for the boat since we new we would be here longer then 90 days. But there is NO extension for people, you must leave the country for at least 72 hours every 90 days. I was going to be flying to Texas to visit family for September but Steve was going to have to leave sometime in September to extend his Visa. 

So we put a road trip together to go to Copan, Honduras. There were several other people here in the marina in a similar situation and who also wanted to see Copan, known for its magnificent Mayan ruins. We got 6 more friends to join us, making it cheap to hire a private van to take us over (5 hr. drive!) and pick us up a few days later. Vicki & Bob from S/V FoxSea, Saundra & Charlie from S/V Island Sol & Marie & Steve from S/V Saben all went along. Another quaint cobble stone street village. Also at 5000 ft, so still warm but not as hot & humid as the Rio, another delightful change. We stayed at Hotel Don Udo's, and had a great time exploring the town and its many restaurants. The main ruin site is Copan Ruins, we hired a guide to walk us through and were glad to have the help in explaining the history as well as leading us around the place. We came back a 2nd day on our own to see the museum, and 2 other ruin sites near by. We went to the Macaw Mountain Bird Park & Nature Reserve, where they help release the birds back into the wild and then to a Zip Line. It was one of the better ones we have been to, and we have been to a lot (8). Just zip lines, no obstacle course here, but they were long and fast. One was so long that they grouped us up in 3's so we had enough weight to get us all the way across. We went to some hot springs up in the mountains, about an hour ride by van on very bumpy roads, different pools fed by the hot springs so you could find the right temperature for you. It was another fun adventure and everyone got their passports stamped to be able to stay in Guatemala for another 90 days.

Once back in the Rio, I had a few days to get ready before flying back to Texas to visit family. My flight was leaving Guatemala City at noon on Thursday, so I had 2 choices either catch a bus the day before & spend the night in the city OR catch the 3 AM bus leaving the Rio Thursday morning to get me to the city in plenty of time to get to the airport. I chose the 3 AM bus, which only takes 5 hours since it does not make as many stops. We left the boat a little before 2:30 for the dinghy ride into town along with Bill & JoAnne from Ultra with their dinghy and a suitcase I was bring back for them. We knew we could not go to our usual dinghy dock as it has a gate to the street that gets locked after 10 PM. So we went to another dinghy dock with street access and found out that it too had a locked gate up by the street ! This gate had a 3' x 2' opening, just big enough for us to climb through one at a time and pass the luggage through and get to the bus station with time to spare. 

My 4 week visit turned into a 6 week visit due to health issues with my parents. I was very thankful to be there to help in their time of need, a very small pay back for the many times they have helped me. The early part of the visit was a lot of fun being with family and visiting friends. I even got a weekend trip out to Phoenix to visit one of my brothers, his wife and my nephew. Hanging out & playing in their pool with my nephew was great fun. The shopping was overwhelming as usual !! It was wonderful visiting with friends & catching up on all the changes in everyone’s lives. So glad to be able to re-connect in person, even if it is just once a year. The love & support from family & friends old & new means so much to us.

Meanwhile back on the Rio, Steve had a list of boat projects to do. We had a small water leak in the generator so he found someone to come work on that. They decided to take the generator OUT to work on it, which was a job in itself. We were communicating via emails and Skype, BUT he did not tell me how sick he was feeling. Since there was not much I could do, and I was worried enough about my parents he decided not to tell me he was sick. Luckily Willena on S/V Kajan Diva, a nurse, saw how sick he was getting and dragged him to a local doctor. Long story short he got there just in time, Doc put him on the right medication, had him stop all alcohol & caffeine and he started to recover. He is now feeling great. Steve had ordered paint for a bottom job, and once he was feeling better got the boat hauled out and the bottom painted. Back in the water and back to the marina in 3 days, glad that was done while I was gone. On his way to the haul out facility he found our cockpit chart plotter was no longer working. So once back at the marina he had to find someone to come work on that, turned out to be the same guy working on our generator. Later he also found the radar was not working. Not so easy to find the right person to work on these special problems in the Rio. Guillermo and his crew are great, but being the only ones in the area, their time is spread very thin. You can find great workers, but things can take a LONG time to be fixed, add that to the language barrier, it makes the Rio a challenging place to get work done. 

I arrived back in the Rio 7 PM Wednesday night October 9th, Steve met me at the bus station and we loaded the 3 suitcases plus a carry-on and a backpack into the dinghy and headed back to the boat. Steve had prepared dinner so we had a nice meal as we caught up on all that had happened over the last 6 weeks. This is when I learned of him being sick. The next 2 days were spent unpacking all our goodies I brought back AND repacking as we would both be catching the bus on Sunday back to Guatemala City to spend the night before catching an early morning flight out on Monday. This time we would be flying to Baltimore MD, renting a car to drive to Dewey Beach Delaware for the wedding of his son Sean. 

Neither of us had ever been to Delaware and were glad to see this cool little beach town, just down the street from a Tanger Outlet Mall in Rehoboth Beach. Not that we really needed to do a lot of shopping, but there were several things I was unable to find when I was home. Steve was glad for the opportunity to do some shopping, yes it is exciting for us to go to a Home Depot. When you have very limited shopping it is always a nice change to have variety & choices. Sean & Carrie and some of their family & friends started showing up Wednesday and it was great to see them again. The next couple of days were spent enjoying beautiful cool sunny days and visiting with Sean & Carrie and other wedding guests. The wedding took place on the beach on Saturday, the one day it rained, but it stopped long enough for the beach ceremony to take place as planned. It was a beautiful wedding for a beautiful couple. We spent a few more days there before heading back towards Baltimore staying one night near Bethesda to see our friend Gina, who works in the area. Then the last night at a hotel near the airport to catch an early flight out on Thursday. 

Our flight back to Guatemala was through Houston with an 8 hour layover. My sister Carol picked us up and we went by to see my Mom and Steve's house before going to have lunch with my Dad and one of my brothers at my parents house. Re-packed our carry-on(s) as we had a few more things delivered since I had left, plus I had left a few things behind. Loaded up again, Carol brings us back to the airport to catch our evening flight back to Guatemala. Spent the night at a hotel in the city before catching the 9 AM bus back to the Rio and the boat & hot humid, rainy weather. Still good to be back home unpacking and putting things away again. 

While we were gone we had some workers at the marina take our companion way stairs out to have them sanded and re-varnished and the boat waxed. Now we had to get the generator back in with the replacement parts we'd brought back with us. Took a few more days to get that finished and brought back to the boat, but it sure looked good, all clean and shiny. Original leak fixed then discovered another one on the exhaust elbow, which was easily removed and brought back to the shop to weld. Another few days and it was all hooked back up and running. The same guy is working on our Ray Marine chart plotter & radar, but they are NOT fixed yet!!  
Halloween costume party here at the marina. Then Bill & JoAnne S/V Ultra return from their 2 month vacation to Turkey, Greece, Texas & Florida. Have a couple of catch up dinners with them, filling each other in on what has taken place over the summer. A couple local activities, a hike at Tijax Marina and trip to Auga Caliente / Finca Parsiso a hot springs waterfall.
Made plans for another week land trip, to Antigua again (1st time for Bill & JoAnne) and Lake Atitlan. We stayed in a different place in Antigua this time, one we heard of from friends Jody & Stephen on S/V Blue Pelican. Lovely little home of an expat, where she rents rooms for only $22 a night. Hiked the volcano again this time doing the morning hike. Which is the better one as you have more time to spend on top, not having to worry about it getting down before it gets dark like the first one we did. Full disclosure, I had been having chest congestion so after a short time hiking up the volcano I could tell I was going to have trouble breathing. So this time I rode one of the horses up. It was a beautiful day and we had some great views, and an easy walk down. The famous hotel Santo Domingo, also an old monastery and museum, also has a place up on a hill that we heard was a great place to have lunch with beautiful views. The hotel offers a free shuttle up & down so we got a ride up. The views and food were great and to our surprise they had a zip line up there also! It was late in the day and they tried to get us to come back the following day, but we convinced them to let us do it so we got in another zip line adventure (#9).

Thursday we headed up to Lake Atitlan, a 2 ½ hour van ride. Here we stayed at Hotel Utz Jay (means beautiful view in Mayan) in the main town of Panajachel, just a block off the main street and a few blocks from the waterfront. A beautiful lake surrounded by three volcanoes as the backdrop. A vote was held on another volcano hike, and lost 0-4. We had a beautiful day for our lake tour seeing 4 of the villages along the lake, all still having a strong Maya culture showing in their traditional dress and the goods they sell. We took the slow ride along the shore line to see the sights. In between the villages are some fabulous private homes and villas. The lake water has risen quite a bit over the years (50 ft!) and some lake front property is now submerged, a problem they are trying to address. Sunday we caught the early van back to Guatemala City, Steve & I were to catch the bus back to the Rio Dulce. Bill & JoAnne stayed in the city so they could go to the embassy on Monday to get pages added to their passports.

Thanksgiving week !! Hard to believe. We learn our marina was planning a pot luck dinner with the marina supplying the turkey's and stuffing and the boats all bringing a dish to share. It was a great feast. Talked to most of our families via Skype and once again realizing how much we have to be thankful for. An added bonus was a cool front came down we had lows of 68° & highs of 78°, no humidity with some cloud cover but no rain. So we had really nice weather for a few days, don't get to say that to often in the Rio Dulce.

December is here, many are making plans to leave, and we want to be among them. Looks like a good weather window during the first week of December. During the week Steve had been trying to contact and communicate with Guillermo, the guy fixing our chart plotter & radar. As I mentioned above he is the only one who does specific boat repairs so he is a very busy guy. A stressful couple of days trying to get him back to the boat to finish up, finally late Tuesday afternoon he arrived. Radar fixed, chart plotter returned, still not working thinks now it could be a problem with the HSB cable. We have our equipment back we can proceed with our plans to leave. 

Wednesday we fill jerry cans with gas for the dinghy and get some fruits & veggies, won't see these low prices for a while. Last load of laundry and straighten the boat out for Thursday morning departure.

Link to Pictures;

May have to cut & paste this link ??

Monday, June 24, 2013

Another week in Roatan

Another Week in Roatan
Sunday 16 June – Sunday 23 June

Week starts off with cloudy skies and we have rain most of the day on Sunday and Monday. A wonderful shrimp piazano (sp?) dinner on Ultra. Tuesday the sun is trying to come out Steve takes the dinghy to go for a haircut while I get a taxi to take me to La Pina Spa. A beautiful spa located at the Pineapple Villas. Have a wonderful massage and get my haircut at their salon. Tuesday night, along with several other boats, we order pizza and ate it on the marina deck. Then Ultra showed us all a movie. They set the screen up on their deck, plugged the projector into the outlet on the dock and we sat in the lawn chairs watching the movie outside, so glad the rain stayed away.

Wednesday Steve is working on upgrading his PADI card so he won't get a hard time when he goes to rent tanks. Darren from the dive shop put him in touch with Jana an instructor. In between lessons he puts a coat of water proofing on the bimini. I went snorkeling with Bill & JoAnne over to Lobster city. A 3 minute dinghy ride from our marina next to Little French Cay is a very shallow area where there are 100's of lobsters. All part of Roatan's marine park so they are safe. This place is amazing, under EVERY little rock ledge there are several huge lobsters. You would be hard pressed to find this many lobsters in such a small area anywhere else. They are out just walking around, and some even come out to greet you to see what you are doing. Even got to see a moray eel this time. That night our HH gets rained out half way thru so we quickly run to the porch in front of the now unoccupied rooms by the dock. Steve gets done with his night wreck dive just in time to join us for a drink as we are finishing up. Steve had made a delicious Thai Beef Massaman stew the other rainy night, and we had plenty left over. Just needed to make rice so Bill & JoAnne joined us for dinner. 
Thursday, Steve goes with the dive boat and his instructor to do 2 more dives while I take the dinghy and go with Bill & JoAnne to do one dive from the dinghies. Jana is working hard getting Steve all he needs for his upgrades and found the tests he needed to take. So we were pretty sure he would be done so Friday looked to be a free day so we made plans for a car rental. Steve worked hard completing all the questions while I made a salad for a joint dinner on Ultra that night making plans for the following day.

Friday morning the rental car was delivered at 9. Jana came by then also to review Steve's answers, he missed the section on navigation so he had to finish that part up. WOO HOO he passed, only missed 2 questions, so now he has his Advanced Open Water certification. So by 10 we were on our way in the rental car. Since we did not get to see much of the east end of the island we went that way first. The rental car was delivered with not a whole lot of gas so I got a little nervous especially when we could not find any gas stations on the map out east where we were. We missed the turn offs to Jonesville & Oak Ridge two places that showed they had gas and wound up out at Paya Bay. Enjoying beautiful sites along the way. Went thru the village of Punta Gorda on the way back to the main road. Then stopped at Cal's again for lunch before passing by our marina on the way to French Harbor and a gas station. We had a Hyundai Accent and I know they get good gas millage but some of the “roads” we were on got very steep and were gravel with a lot of holes & bumps so not the best conditions for fuel efficiency. But now we had enough gas to comfortably drive around and make a few stops at supply places. Both Ultra & us had a list of a few things we needed from hardware stores so while we had a car and could easily get to them that was added to the sight seeing. We make it back over to West End and this time spend a little more time in the shops. Have a drink as the sun sets, then watch as the streets get busy at night time. Find a street vendor for some good cheap dinner then head back to the marina.

Saturday we get up early to use the rental car to bring the dinghy gas cans to the gas station to fill up then go to the grocery store to load up all before 9 when the rental car agent is due to come pick the car back up. During our island tour on Friday, we learned about an event going on Saturday night at the Parrot Tree Plantation and had stopped by to ask about it. They were calling it Noche de risa AKA Laughter night. So for a change we thought it would be fun, so I announced it on the morning net to see if any of the other boats would want to go. We had a good response and said we would work on how we would get there. We tried to get Fantasy Island & Parrot Tree to give us free transport it is not that far and they do it for people going to the airport BUT not for us. We got Parrot Tree down to sending a van for $5 a person, then JoAnne negotiated a better deal with Hyde tours for only $3 round trip per person. We had 8 people going but then at 4 another boat came into the marina, and even though they just did a crossing from Caymans the couple wanted to join us, letting their teenage son and daughter stay on the boat in the safety of the marina. We were picked up at 6 after a short HH on the marina deck then went to Parrot Tree, for the other 6 joining us their first time to see this beautiful property. The set up was great and they had a Mexican food buffet for $6, the only thing we did not think of was that the “show” would be in Spanish! Not sure how funny the performers were as the Spanglish speaking people were not laughing very much, but at least they understood what was being said. We all had a good laugh about the fact that we could not understand what was being said and enjoyed a night out at another beautiful spot.

Sunday we are getting the boat ready for a Monday departure. We have Bill & JoAnne over for dinner as they celebrate their anniversary. Steve will go check out first thing Monday morning then we will do an overnight trip to Livingston Guatemalan to check in to the country that we will spend hurricane season in.

Sunday, June 16, 2013


Saturday 1 June - Saturday 15 June

We left Cayman at 8 AM Saturday under cloudy drizzling skies with 15 + knot winds. We put out full sails and turned the engine off as soon as we cleared the mooring area and the rain even stopped. Once out of the lee of the island waves & wind started to quickly build, 1 reef in the genoa. By 10 the skies were lightening up as the sun was trying to come out, never quite made it but at least the skies were a brighter gray with blue spotted around. The day passed with 2 more light showers and one 5 minute downpour. Winds a steady 16-20 knots 4-6 foot seas on the beam some just forward some just aft sailing along at 8+ knots with a reef in both main & genoa. The wave rhythm was such that you had to have a really good hand hold at ALL times or you could go flying off balance in a second, not so much uncomfortable but very tiring. As the sun set the winds increased 20-24 knots, so we put a 2nd reef in both main and genoa. When Steve came on for his watch at midnight we put the 3rd reef in both sails to try to slow us down this also made the boat more level, still heeled over but not as steep, still did not help me sleep.

Quiet uneventful evening, the following day was a little brighter with just scattered clouds but the waves were a little more confused coming from different directions sending spray into the cockpit every once in awhile. We kept the 3 reefs in both sails since we were making such good speed we were going to arrive too early (dark) if we went any faster. The waves got back into a steady rhythm but still continued to spray the cockpit with salt water every so often. We have 1 corner in the cockpit that stays mostly dry, usually my spot ☺, but I stayed down below and let Steve stay up in the cockpit for the day. Not that it was all that more comfortable down below being tossed around as the boat spiraled down the waves, still unable to sleep just braced in trying to read. Kept checking to see if Steve wanted to trade places for a while but he said he was OK on deck. We rearranged the aft quarter berth for sleeping the 2nd night and had some dinner in the cockpit. Steve went down below and had a good rest, waking at 1:30 saying he slept great and even I could maybe get some sleep back there. I just do not do good on short 1-2 night passages and sleeping. I awoke after an hour as we were passing the island of Guanaja (wah-NAH-ha) then got right back to sleep for another hour until Steve had to turn the engine on to motor thru a cut where there was no wind, no way to get back to sleep with the noise from the engine. The boat was flat so I tried to go back to sleep up front in our berth, but then we started crashing into waves as we made our way to the south side of Roatan. Unable to sleep, back on deck by 5:30 to 6:30. Still a ways to go along the south coast of Roatan in flat calm waters, now slow sailing again so Steve had me go back down to try to get some sleep and I managed 2 straight hours of sleep. Final approach to the harbor we contact the marina to get better directions in and see how we will dock to get lines & fenders ready. Tied up to the dock by 9:30 where we learn it is actually 8:30, now on Central America / Central time. Glad to learn the correct time as soon as we got here ☺.

After Jerry the dock-master and net controller got done with the 9 AM cruisers net he came back to see if we were settled in. Not good, no power from the electrical outlet. Another boat using an outlet from the same pedestal had power and we showed we had a connection just NO amps coming out. An electrician was called for. In the mean time Steve tried to wash down the boat, first the spigot broke off when Steve tried to remove the hose attached to put ours on, I found the control line and shut the water off. With the use of the dive shop's vice, he got the old fitting off and glued it back to the PVC pipe and was able to get a very weak flow of water before it stopped all together. I stretched my legs by walking the grounds of the resort. It is a very beautiful place, BUT the hotel and all the other amenities that go along with the resort facilities are ALL CLOSED for the season & some renovations. So no restaurants, bars, WIFI, TV, etc etc. The grounds and beaches are beautiful and the dive shop is open. Darren who runs the dive shop is very friendly and willing to work with us to do some dives when my brother arrives. We did get the electrical connection working thanks to Pedro so AC on the boat, but no water for that day. With A/C I was able to clean the inside of the boat and got our salty clothes & sheets sent off to the laundry. Steve got a taxi to go to town to clear us in. Jerry from the marina hosts a HH a few nights a week, that night only us and the one other occupied boat at the marina were in attendance. We had talked with Elaine & Bob on M/V Mar Azul during the day, they had been in Roatan for the last month so had plenty of tips to pass on. All in all not a bad day for our first day in Roatan. And a wonderful full nights sleep !!!
Tuesday June 4 another partly cloudy day, Still NO water, owner is down here and we talk to him and he is working on getting it back up, the marina has one of the near by hotel rooms available for showers & toilet facilities BUT with NO running water that is of no use also. With all this going on they are offering a discounted rate of only $20 a day with electricity & water included so still a good deal. We forgot about the 9 AM cruisers net on the VHF so missed that then did a few things around the boat in the AM. Went to see if laundry had been returned but not back yet we did not want to wait around all day for it so got the dinghy in the water & motor mounted then went to explore the surrounding area by water. We had walked the grounds of the island but now wanted to explore the surrounding water ways. We stopped by Frenchy's 44 for lunch, we can see their WiFi signal but needed a password. After lunch as we dinghy around we see 2 new boats coming into the area, I recognize one of them as friends of S/V FoxSea the visibility is bad so we go over to say HI & tell them where the deep water is.

As they anchor we explore the area a little more, stopping back by their boat at anchor and filling them in on what little we have learned on the area. We tell them about the HH at the marina so plan to see them there later, they and their buddy boat inform a few other boats at anchor so we have a big turn out for Tuesday's HH, BUT the marina does not do it on Tuesdays !! We had missed the net so were not sure of the days, we all had a good time visiting the boats at anchor just went back and brought their own drinks in. All 4 of the other boats at anchor (S/V FoxSea, S/V Saben, S/V Panache & S/V Loafer's Glory) are also headed to the Rio Dulce, so we had a lot to talk about. Most important is that high tide will be on June 21-24 so that is when we want to be in position to cross the sand bar into Livingston. Jerry the dock-master lent us his phone WiFi booster so we could connect to the internet that evening. We had been trying to reach our buddy boat Ultra on the SSB radio with no luck, so they had emailed the marina to check on us. Jerry let them know we had arrived safe on Monday morning but was thoughtful enough to let us send a message to them also. 
Wednesday we have water !!! still NOT much pressure but we get the boat washed off in the morning. We had a broken zipper on part of the bimini that Steve had fixed with an electrical tie. On the trip here, luckily right towards the end, the tie broke so we took down that middle section of the bimini. There is an awning & canvas repair shop listed with the marina info sheet so we called to see if maybe they could fix it, if not Steve would put another electrical tie back on. They came out right away and said they could get it done either the same day or by the next. We thought we had to take another section of the bimini off but he said no need since it was just the box on the zipper that was broken he could just replace that one side, good news for us. My brother Walter was scheduled to arrive at 12:15 so at 12:30 I called to see if he was thru customs. Turns out he was still in Houston !!!! His passport expires June 26, and Honduras will not let you into the country if your passport expires within 6 months so the airline would not let him fly. Instead he drove to Houston (from Austin) to go to the passport office to get a replacement and rescheduled his flight for Friday. Another HH hosted by the marina making plans for a dive on Thursday.

Thursday we rent tanks from the dive shop and all meet over by our boat at 9:30, after the net, to load the dinghies up with our gear. Another Steve in our group from S/V Saben had checked out some of the dive buoys so knew which one we wanted to go to to do our wall dive. All geared up and in the water when Bob noticed an air leak. We had 2 snorkelers with us also, so He and Larry went back to try and get the leak fixed while the rest of us dove a great dive with Jacques from S/V Panache snorkeling above us. Back to the boats to wash the gear down and lunch. After lunch Steve & I took the dinghy to explore what was in the other 2 bays and the mooring balls down past Coco View the next resort east if us. Snorkeling is pretty good right out in front of Coco View and the moorings on the reefs to the east look to be good future dives. Another marina around the corner from us Brooksy Point, had pizza night so we met the other boats over there for a pizza dinner. Ann Marie & Larry from S/V Loafer's Glory are leaving Friday to continue west to the Rio Dulce as they have plans to fly home for a couple of months.

Friday we are up early to defrost the fridge, then Steve gets things prepared for dinner so we can do another morning dive and then be busy with my brother when he arrives in the afternoon. Load up the dinghies with dive gear and get underway to do another dive, this time a little east of the marina. We put in at one dive mooring and went along the wall to the west to the next dive mooring. Jacques can't dive due to an ear injury so swims on the surface above us then brought the dinghies down to us at the 2nd mooring when we were done. A few of us still had a little air left (800-1000 lbs) so we stopped at the wreck in front of Coco View to get down for a better look as it was 40+ ft deep so when we snorkeled it the day before could not see much. Two good dives with one tank of air pretty good.

Back in time to get cleaned up and wash down all the gear, have a snack as we waited for Walter to arrive. Once he got here we took him over to Little French Cay for lunch. While waiting for our food we had a tour of the grounds where they keep Birds, monkeys, deer & even 2 jaguars. The baby jaguars (4 months) came to the main land Honduras with the circus and for some reason they could not keep them. The owner of Little French Cay worked with the government to insure he would have proper cages for them and got permission to keep them along with the birds and monkeys and deer he already had there. Visitors & Cruise ship passengers come here via a boat from Frenchy's 44 restaurant on the main land across the way but we just took our dinghy over and as long as you buy a drink OR food they are happy to have us there. On this day there were only a hand full of others on the island. Afterward we stopped by Arches iguana farm, also very close by. Apparently iguanas were starting to become scarce on the island so he put some on his property to keep them safe and lets them run wild. A strange place, with 100's of iguanas, chickens and a few monkeys he also helps save green turtles. Friday was a big HH at the marina, a big catamaran came into the marina with several people on board. One was Marco the manager of Mario’s Marina where we are heading to in the Rio Dulce. It was a nice surprise to meet him and be able to talk to him, and confirm he was still saving our spot.

Saturday we had arranged with Darren the dive master at the marina dive shop to do two dives with our group of 7. The winds had picked up a lot over the last two days so taking the dinghies out was not an option plus one of the dives was a little further away. With the rough seas even the dive boat was being tossed around quite a bit, for us used to being on boats is was no big deal BUT for Walter is was not so fun. He did great and managed both dives without getting sick even if he came real close. Between dives the captain took the boat inside the reef in calm waters whenever he could on the way to the next spot which helped out. Walter was glad to get back to the marina on solid ground. Showers & lunch on board and he felt much better. Walter & I went over to Brooksy Point marina to do internet while Steve made a dish for the marinas pot luck dinner that night. A fun time with great food. I tried to explain to Walter that it is not always all fun & games & happy hours but I don't think he believed me.

Sunday we had a group of 11 to do an island tour from 9-3. When we got back Walter wanted to go back over to the beach at Little French Cay while Steve & I went to Brooksy Point to do internet. Picked Walter back up just as the sun was setting, then stopped at Frenchy's 44 for dinner.

Monday we had a group of 6 to go ZIP LINEING. They have 5 or 6 different outfits here on the island, we went to Caribe Sky, since they were open and gave us a good deal. No obstacle course but the zip lines were long and fast !! so we all had a fun time. Monday evening another marina HH where Flur (Dutch name) from True North treated us all to some 23 year old Ron Zacapa Guatemalan Rum to finish the evening off. After we finished that bottle he brought out a 7 year old bottle of Flor de Cana, needless to say we all slept good that night.

Tuesday we had decided to take Walter sailing to give him a better experience of what our life is more like. 20 miles south of Roatan is a group of islands called Cayos Cochinos. These 13 little islands are a marine natural monument, a biological preserve with a coral reef research institute working with the Smithsonian Institution to do reef studies. I gave Walter some sea sick medication so he was good to go and we had a nice fast sail over. We went to Cochino Grande and it was just beautiful with some great snorkeling near by. The winds & waves were too strong to go over to the other near by island so maybe next time. Spent a lovely evening on a mooring with the stars all around a quiet night in a secluded anchorage is how most nights are spent.

Wednesday a morning snorkel then lunch before leaving to head back to Roatan, arriving back at the marina at 4:30. Wash the boat down then over to the beach to meet up with the on going HH that had a change of venue from our usual spot by the docks. Get caught up on upcoming events and tell about our trip then back to the boat for dinner. It's going to be a busy weekend, they are even opening the hotel for some events and for a large group to stay here.

Thursday early morning rain showers, followed by beautiful sunny skies as Walter packs up for his 1:30 flight back to Houston. Walter had asked Flur if he could get him some of the 23 year old rum and he did dropping it off at the boat for him to pack away. With the resort being busy getting ready for people they turned the WiFi on, still can't get it on the boat but up in the lobby we can. Walter had talked to our taxi driver on Monday after the Zip Line and arranged to be picked back up at the marina at 11:30 to go to the airport. 11:45 NO taxi, so we asked Darren at the dive shop to call and they were NOT on the way so Darren's friend that was there talking to him agreed to take Walter to the airport. So he got his ride to the airport and made his way back to the states after a fun 6 days in the sun. Steve had already gone up to the resort lobby to get WiFi, after Walter left I did the same. That night we had a group of 9 go to Cal's restaurant. The food was GREAT at good prices, with a beautiful view and breeze. A place worth more then one visit for sure.

Friday we did another 2 tank dive with the dive boat. At 35$ a dive with a 20% discount since we are staying at the marina it is a good deal. The weather was a little more settled so seas were much more calm. We can see why this island is known for it's diving as the reefs are very beautiful with a lot of sea life. Back to the boats so nice to have the marina water to wash down our gear. Lunch on board, then I went over to Brooksy Point marina to do some laundry, they have 1 washer & dryer cruisers can use. Steve had help to go up the mast and replace the wind-vane that had fallen to the deck a while back with the replacement that Walter had brought down for us. When Steve came down he saw that Ultra had arrived !!!! We had talked to them on the SSB radio that morning and they were going to come to Roatan on Saturday but decided to head over on Friday. It was so great to see them again. Just in time for HH at the marina where we get caught up on what we have both been doing.

Saturday mornings Brooksy Point marina provides a van to go to the grocery store. We had 13 people from 8 boats going and were wondering how we would ever get our groceries back. But the grocery store had it all worked out and had a small delivery truck to bring all our goods back while we went back in the van. We had a big down pour just as we were loading the truck so waited around until it stopped. Back to the dinghies at the marina and to the boats to unload. Ultra talked to Jerry the dock-master and we figured out a way to fit them into the marina. We moved one of the unoccupied boats, then had lunch during another rain shower, before helping Ultra come into the dock at 2. Afternoon was spent putting away laundry & cleaning the boat, putting it back together after moving stuff for Walters visit. Steve making a German potato salad for the nights pot luck dinner. Rain held off and we had another great dinner by the dock. Just as we were finishing the winds picked up so we got everything put away then just a small shower. The resort was putting on a party for the big group they opened up for so we went down there and watched the Garifuna dancers then a bonfire on the beach to end the evening and another great week in Roatan.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Grand Cayman

Grand Cayman
Saturday 18 May – Saturday 1 June

We arrived under cloudy skies at what we thought was 11:30 (actual 10:30) and called into George Town port security to announce our arrival. On Saturday OT charges can be applied after noon so we were hoping to avoid those. Port authority told us since it was a holiday, Discovery Day, we could just take one of the free moorings and wait until Monday to clear in, sounded good to us. We picked up one of the orange moorings with Ultra coming in right behind us getting the next one. After a long crossing we were glad for the time to rest and get caught up on internet and the water is so BEAUTIFUL with the moorings right on reefs we could just swim & snorkel right off the boats. Later in the day port security called us on the VHF radios and said they did want us to come in to clear in as they were taking Monday off for the holiday also, and told us there would be NO overtime fees. We had to take the big boats a short distance and tie up to the concrete commercial dock to go to customs. The guide book mentions a $30 mosquito spraying fee to clear in but no one came to spray our boats and it was FREE to clear in. Just wanted to know if we had any guns on board & if so would need to turn them in during our stay. Filled out some easy paperwork and we were done ! Back to the moorings we just left still under cloudy skies, letting another boat know they too needed to clear in. Now we were able to go ashore whenever we wanted.

Sunday was a bright sunny day and we snorkeled around the boats, still resting and getting caught up on emails.

Monday we rented tanks and took the dinghies north along 7 mile beach to a dive mooring and snorkeled one wreck and dove another. I was able to get 2 tanks, but they would not rent Steve a tank as his dive card only shows him to be a basic diver. He has been diving since 1977 and is a much better diver then me BUT his card does not allow him to rent tanks. The rental company would be liable, if he dove with a company and a dive master they would not be concerned but they would not rent tanks to him to dive on his own. So they let me rent 2 tanks and we just did one dive each. The dive was of the USS Kittiwake, an ex US Navy submarine rescue ship that was purposefully sunk in 2011 to form an artificial shipwreck reef. It was really cool as you could swim in and out of the different sections of the ship. Steve had a little air left so cleaned the prop when we got back to the boats.

Tuesday I rented 2 more tanks, they gave Steve a quote on an upgrade for his PADI card but at $250 he thought it was too high. We dove another smaller wreck then went off to see some of the coral reefs near by. When we came up we were a little further from the dinghies then expected. We were with Bill & JoAnne from Ultra, who saw us so Bill brought our dinghy over to us so we did not have to swim so far. We had talked a few times with the other boat that checked in right after us, Ismael & Olga from Barcelona Spain on the catamaran Cuatro Patas. They were going to join us for drinks on Ultra that night and we were all going to go for a bike ride the following day. So after returning our tanks Steve & I walked down to the bike rental place to rent bikes. We find out Wednesday is another Holiday, election day, so many businesses close, and NO alcohol is allowed to be sold until 7 PM. The bike rental place was going to be closed so they wanted to charge me for 2 days rental. Did not seem fair to us since we just wanted them for the one day. Got the owner over and we worked it out to just charge us for 1 day for one of the bikes & the 2 for the other. We went over to Ultra that night at 7 as planned for drinks, but Olga & Ismael did not get there for another hour, we thought maybe it was a Spanish thing to be late. We had a nice visit and planed to meet at the dinghy docks with our bikes at 9 Wednesday morning.

Wednesday Ultra & us are by the dock waiting and JoAnne & Bill thought they saw Olga & Ismael getting ready but still not there. Ismael comes in to have someone look at a problem with his bike and then goes back to get Olga & her bike. Again we are thinking it's a Spanish thing to be late. It is a perfect day for a bike ride with the holiday very little traffic on the roads. So we head to town and ride around the closed shops then a little further out to the southeast. Back towards town on another road and we stop at Margaritaville, the one here has a pool so we thought we would cool off and since it was now almost noon maybe get an early lunch. Well the guard says they open at noon BUT that is still over an hour a way. This is when we learn that WE have been an hour off since we arrived 3 days earlier !!
Back on our bikes and head out west toward 7 mile beach. Stop at Treasure Island hotel and they let us swim in their pool to cool off. We talk with Olga & Ismael about the time difference and explain that we just thought they were an hour late all the time. We really had a good laugh over this !! Dried off and back on the bikes heading NW. Found a place for lunch then a few more stops along the way to Hell. Hell is an actual name of a town here and it has this little field of iron rock that they call hell. It was closed and is just a tourist TRAP, but for us a place to ride to so we could say we rode to Hell & back. As a bonus we passed a place called Timbuktu on the way back. On the way back Ismael, Olga & Steve thought they were in a race to see who could get back first while Bill, JoAnne & I were happy taking our time seeing the sights along the way. I made a wrong turn and found the Cost U Less so we were thrilled to learn where that was. Stopping in in Camana Bay, to go up the 75 ft observation tower with a 360 view of the island, but it was closed for refurbishment. Back towards the dinghy dock where Steve was waiting for an hour to re-join us to go back to town to Margaritaville. They have a water slide in their pool that JoAnne wanted to try. Place was just about empty with the holiday & still NO alcohol allowed to be served, but we had brought a bottle of rum, so a few cokes were ordered and we made our own drinks to end the day in the pool before heading back to the boats.

Thursday we go to Cost U Less to go crazy, been a while since we had been in a big store. Between Bill & JoAnne & our purchases we almost filled up the delivery van. JoAnne & I sat up front with the driver and Bill & Steve in the back with the boxes for the ride back to the dinghies. Dinghies LOADED up and back to the boats to unload and find room to put things away. As I was doing that Steve went back in to dump the boxes we had to pack things in and went across the street to the wonderful grocery story called Kirks. Picked up a few items that we either could not find OR did not want 2 huge bottles of something we just need 1 regular size bottle of. Shopping is an all day event !!

Friday we move the big boats up the bay a little to the middle of 7 mile beach. They have a Jet Pack you can fly and JoAnne & Bill were going to do it. They had made a noon appointment, so we took the dinghy to shore to sign the waivers, even Steve & I had to sign a wavier to be on the mother ship. We took the dinghy out to the pontoon boat for JoAnne to get her instructions and to go first in the jet-pack. The instructions & gearing up took longer than her 10 minutes of flight time, but she had a blast. Next up Bill and he too had a blast even while doing an unintended flip into the water. Back to the boats and over to North Sound. Entrance to the sound is through the reef that borders the north side. It is about 5 miles wide & long and very shallow. First stop is over to stingray city, a sandbar that we inched up to and anchored then took the dinghies over to feed & pet the stingrays. The rays know everyone comes to feed them so they come to greet you and once you are in the water are all over you looking for food. Their skin feels like velvet, and as they eat from your hand it feels really strange, doesn't really hurt if they manage to get your finger but still a weird sensation. Back to the boats, Ultra stayed there overnight we moved across the bay to be closer to the marina & chandlery the following morning.

Saturday the chandlery is next to Harbor House “Marina”, more of a boat yard with a fuel dock and a boat launch ramp. We were 99.9 % sure we could not bring the big boat in but we got the depth finder out and went in by dinghy to see. We were right no way was Ocean Star going to get fuel there. But we filled up the gas tanks for the dinghy and went shopping at the chandlery. Two of our lines are staring to show some wear so we wanted to be sure to have spares for when they need to be changed out. Not having seen a boat supply store for a while Steve had quite a list of things he needed. Ultra had gone to another marina for fuel and were now coming over to go to the chandlery as we went to the other fuel dock. They are NOT used to a lot of transient boats here in Cayman and the channel markers are not very good so moving around this big shallow bay was a challenge for our 6'3” draft. This is a new and very nice marina but not made for big sail boats either. We get to the fuel dock with the winds blowing us onto the dock, making it hard to move forward, get 45 gallons of Diesel then walk the boat back down the dock out of the way while we get some lunch at the lovely George Town Yacht Club before going to the hardware store. Back to the boat and even more trouble getting off the dock with the winds blowing us on. With more help from the great staff at Barcadera Marina we get away by 3, slow go across the sound and out the reef into deep water where we have a lovely sail back around to George Town. Pick up our same mooring and get cleaned up for a night out. We had planned to go to the Wharf restaurant & bar to see the Barefoot man show with Bill & JoAnne & Ismael & Olga. BUT even though the sign says every Saturday night this night was not included, no music at all. So we walked to town seeing if anything was going on there, nope! This is a cruise ship town and the 4 ships we have seen since we arrived have all left way before sunset so “downtown” closes up at night. We find a place on the water playing some music but they are closing at 10 but let us stay to closer to 11 when we leave and go back to Cuatro Patas for a night cap and talk some more to 1 AM.

Sunday we sleep late, cloudy day, good day for a few boat chores and get our dive gear put away.

Monday I found a place for a massage while Steve went to clear us out (free) then to a few more hardware stores. Bill & JoAnne had a broken head that had to get fixed so they spent the day running around trying to find parts. Steve & I met back up for one more stop at the grocery store, and a late lunch. We were going to have another get together on Ultra before we left BUT they had been too busy so we said we would just have drinks on our boat. On the way back we see friends Roger & Sasha on Ednbal (green tree frog) had arrived so we invited them over for HH at 7 also. Stopped by Cuatro Patas and after explaining to him what happy hour is, he said he is always happy not just for an hour, and confirming that we both showed it was 3:30, went back to the boat to put things away and clean up. At a little after 6 Roger & Sasha show up and Steve & I just laugh as they are an hour off just like we were, at least they find out on their 1st day as we explain our 3 day mix up on time. We have a fun night on which we thought was our last in Cayman as we were set to leave Tuesday morning to head for the Bay Islands of Honduras.

Tuesday after early morning rains, we are up getting ready to leave. Listening to Chris Parker's latest weather report & predictions. Does not look good, very light winds as we leave and as we arrive at islands surrounded by reefs, squally conditions with big waves. We have a long way to go so need wind but don't want to arrive in unknown waters under adverse conditions. We had a bad connection as we were listening to the weather report so missed part of what was said. We left the mooring but shortly out to sea decide to turn around and go back to wait for a better weather window. We still have a few days to make it to Roatan by June 5th for my brothers visit. More rain after we got back and cloudy most of the day. All geared up and ready to go then not going kind of put us out of sorts so just a lazy day.

Wednesday  listened and talked with Chris Parker about the weather and our passage. It was a good thing we turned around yesterday, the weather on our passage would have been awful with large clusters of very violent thunderstorms and lightning. Looks like we'll be waiting it out in the Caymans for a while. Managed to get off the boat and using our cart brought our laundry to a coin operated laundromat (very nice & clean) where I did 4 loads of laundry. Planned ahead and brought extra garbage bags to double bag all the nice clean & dry clothes for the 10 minute walk back to the dinghy dock in the rain. I am sure people driving by thought I was crazy. Called Steve on the VHF to come pick me up, back on the boat and into dry clothes for lunch. Rained the rest of the day.
Thursday & Friday still more rain !!!! Can't remember having this many days of continuous rain. Friday Steve runs back into customs to clear out again, since we never cleared back in they had him do that first then gave us new departure papers, still ALL FREE. One more stop at a few stores then back to the boat to get ready for Saturdays departure.
Link to pictures;

Hope to add some DIVE pictures & a few more when I get copies from JoAnne

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ile A Vache

Ile A Vache, Haiti
Saturday 13 April – Tuesday 16 April

Saturday we have the morning free to do internet as we wait for our departure times. We were making water when our water maker gave us a trouble warning message. Turned out to be a blown fuse & melted fuse holder. We had an extra fuse and VERY LUCKY for us Ultra had a fuse holder so Steve was able to quickly fix that problem. Although it is still a mystery as to what caused the fuse to blow in the first place.

We will be sailing almost dead down wind 116 miles which will take about 15 to 16 hours depending on estimated travel speeds, we will be entering a new harbor so want to arrive with good light. The winds have been blowing strong from 8 AM to 8 PM, but die out during the evening. Ultra departed around 12:30 and us at 5:30 since Steve was downloading an update on his computer. IF we make good time it is easy to slow down but real hard to speed up without using the engine, and we will be in fuel conservation mode for our travels west where fuel stations are not so easily accessible.

We make great time to start with just the genoa out and calm seas. Once the sun sets the wind dies, and even though the seas are only 2 foot swells, every few minutes a 4-5 ft. wave comes along sending the boat into a spiral motion. We average about 6 knots and arrive in Port Morgan, Ile A Vache by 1 Sunday afternoon. Ultra had arrived about an hour earlier and called to warn us first about the barely visible fish traps and then about the boat boys.

As we are approaching the anchorage the boat boys start coming out in their wooden dug out canoes or surfboards looking for work. A little overwhelming as we are just 1 boat, hard to have 15-20 small jobs for these young men & kids to do. We explain that we have been sailing for 19 hours and are too tired and for them to come back. We get settled in and cleaned up but once we pop up into the cockpit they all start approaching again.

One older bigger stronger man, Karma, who seems to know more about boat jobs, we get to wax the side of the boat, another we had get a bucket of freshwater (saving our water-maker water) to wash down the boat to clean the salt off before waxing. Hand out some cookies and candy and to one an old snorkel mask and to the others we just have to say sorry no. They are all very polite and speak very good English as well as French saying they need money to help with their schooling. A beautiful place but very poor so the people are struggling to make the best life they can. Most live in the little village Caille Coq by our anchorage and they have no electricity or running water, there are NO cars on this island. There are 3 resorts near by, but not a lot of business so don't know how many people they employee. Later that day we go over to the hotel to take a walk and stretch our legs then by Ultra for a toast to end the day. After our long passage it is an early night for all of us.

Bill & JoAnne had talked to one of the boat boys about taking us to the market the following day. This is a big event that takes place on Mondays & Tuesdays at a village called Madame Bernard a couple of miles east of us. People from Les Cayes on the mainland come over on “boats” to sell their stuff, as well as locals from other villages on Ile A Vache. It is a sight to be seen, and several options to get there and back. We had first talked about walking, about 1 ½ hours then getting a water taxi back but no one could tell us how much the taxi would cost. Then we decided to take the dinghies, BUT Steve wanted to leave our dinghy here so the Karma could finish polishing the side of the boat AND Steve thought we were just going back to the hotel dock and walking. He missed the part where we were taking the dinghy ALL the way to the market. So we climb into Bill & JoAnne's dinghy with Ashley the guide and the 5 of us get soaked on the way to the market. Bill did a great job trying to keep us out of the waves but we got splashed pretty good, we even had water come in from the stern so JoAnne got a workout bailing the water out. Always an adventure. We got to the market area and were amazed at the scene. First a little detour to a nearby orphanage, run by Sister Flora a Franciscan nun, to drop off a few things then back to the market where we stepped back in time experiencing this marketplace. It was an amazing experience. Our trip back downwind was much drier and we were all grateful for that. Karma is still busy waxing the boat and doing a wonderful job. We have several others come up asking for work, but have to decline for now. Bill & JoAnne have several working cleaning their boat. Karma had also taken two 5 gallon fuel tanks to fill for us so we add 5 gallons of diesel. After Karma was done with the wax, another young man, Widlin, stopped by so Steve gave him the job of waxing the top deck. Several people stopped by to see about doing laundry for us and we do have some that needs to be done, but something about handing my laundry over to someone in a dug out canoe with salt water on the floor to take to a village with no electricity or running water did not sit well with me. I did some of my own hand wash items and glad we have plenty of sheets and towels so the dirty ones can wait. All afternoon people stop by trying to sell things or offer service. We understand but also just have to say no. We can not give out work or things to everyone.

Tuesday we were going to leave but the weather prediction was for less then 10 knots of wind, with a long way to go we want to sail and NOT motor, so we decide to wait until Wednesday to leave. We got approached as soon as we came up to the cockpit asking for work. I was doing another load of hand wash laundry, and Steve was replacing a broken light fitting in the guest quarters. One young man suggested he could clean the bottom of the dinghy, which was a good idea so we let him, we also gave him another old snorkel mask. After that we had to get off the boats for a walk and to not be solicited for more jobs.

Bill & JoAnne come by to pick us up just as Widlin came back to finish waxing the top decks, another great worker. We beach the dinghy by the village picking up three 13 year old boys to act as guides. Not that we really needed them but it was just easier to have them tag along and show us the way. Walk thru the village and over to another bay with a fancy hotel, the Abaka Bay Resort, has two helicopter pads to bring in guests. We have a drink and buy the boys a coke. Come back another way and the views are spectacular from up on the hill. Back around to see more of the village and to another hotel, this one not so fancy but a nice local place Steve & Bill have another beer and the boys another coke. Hope they didn't get sick as these are the big 20 oz bottles and I am sure they do not usually drink 2 in an afternoon.

Back at the boat Widlin is just finishing up, he even cleaned the rags he used with some left over water from my laundry. We give him one of our boat cards with a note on the back saying what a good worker he is. Karma also stopped by the boat to get a gallon of gas and we gave him a boat card also recommending his services. It is a hard road for them here, hope some of them can make a good life for themselves. I guess word got out about getting recommendations next thing we knew Ultra was surrounded by boat boys asking for them.

It has been a lovely time here and we were surprised to have internet. One side of the bay has a hotel with internet the other side homes with no electricity. A strange world. I know I keep saying we might not be having updates for a while and then we find internet, so not sure when the next update will be as we leave Ile A Vache Wednesday morning. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

DR West Con't

DR Heading West
Saturday 6 April – Saturday 13 April
We depart our anchorage in Salinas at 10 Saturday morning, Ultra had already left at 8:30. We have a slow rolly sail, winds are light and seas have good long rollers but we are able to sail. By 2 we finally put the motor on for the last hour and are anchored by 3 next to Ultra in the small basin at Barahona. As we are anchoring we hear a guy yelling over at Ultra, who are doing their best to ignore him. We are pretty sure he is one of the “officials” we need to check in with but he just needs to wait a few minutes to let us get anchored, settled in and put the dinghies down. At one point he looks like he is telling us to bring the big boats up to this “dock” which neither of us would fit into. By 3:30 Bill & JoAnne come by to pick up Steve and they go over to check in. The guy in the red pants that had been yelling to us is with immigration and he and 2 other officials along with a local that speaks better English all go over to Ultra. Yes it was a full dinghy. Ultra gets cleared in then they come to our boat to clear us in. We let them know we need our international despacho to leave the country, as this is the last port to do that at. We need to go to the main office to get our passports stamped. Bill drops off all 3 customs guys at the nearby dock, and comes back to our boat with JoAnne & the the interpreter to pick up Steve & I. We go over to the government dock, which is a big concrete dock NOT made for dinghies. The locals are looking at us like it's OK to leave your dinghy here, but they don't understand that it would shred the dinghy. So we climb out using a fishing boat and Bill takes the dinghy down to another vessel tied up to ask the captain if we could tie to his boat. It is a research vessel exploring sunken ships and he kindly says yes. Next we pile 6 people into a tiny car to go to the immigration office. Get our passports stamped and will have our despacho the following morning. Car ride back towards the docks we see some stores are open so get out and stock up on a few more provisions. Dinner on Ocean Star that evening.

Sunday Bill, JoAnne & Steve go over to the nearby dock to get our despacho but learn via the translator they have to go to the main office. They go back over to the government dock and tie up to the research vessel again and this time walk to the immigration office. Some how the walk up was shorter than the car ride the day before. Back to the boats and we are cleared to leave the DR even though we have several more stops to make. We all go over to Ultra and spend the afternoon planing and making routes for our upcoming passages, then finish with dinner on Ultra. Bill brings us back to our boat (our dinghy is still raised up on the arch) and we climb aboard, as Steve is unlocking the companion way I hear some one talking. It is in Spanish so I am looking around in the water for either someone swimming or in a boat. Then I see a young man sitting down behind our starboard side steering wheel, and yell to Steve that someone is on our boat. He yells at the guy, asking what are you doing. I yell for Bill to come back with the dinghy. Not sure what he wanted, he was NOT threatening if anything he was afraid of us and rightly so. The boat had been locked up and it did not appear that he even tried to get in, all the items in the cockpit (shoes, cushions, towels) were not moved. You could see the blue paint from the bottom of our boat that had come off on his feet and the paint was just by the aft section where he was crouched down. Think that is why he started talking, to let us know he was there. He tried to say something in Spanish about home but we did not understand and did not want any part of whatever he thought he was doing. Bill took him to the near by shore even though he wanted to go a little further, but Bill was not going for that. Guess we will now also keep a look out for stowaways.

Monday we are underway to Isla Beata by 7:30, Ultra having departed earlier, we both have great sails over. Anchored by 3 off a beautiful beach in turquoise water with a little fishing camp and a Marina de Guerra outpost. Just relax on the boats that evening and enjoy the quiet, and a sky full of stars at night. Tuesday after lunch we go “check in” just stop by the guard house to let him know we have our papers. They are making soup with an enormous lobster, easily 5 lbs, and allow us to take some photos. We walk the beach in both directions when it ends it goes to jagged iron rock, which we walk along for a while also. The NE end being a lot more jagged. Back to the boats to get our snorkeling gear and head over to the headland to snorkel and explore some caves. After the hot walk the cool clear water feels wonderful. Back to the boats to clean off and watch another beautiful sunset followed by dinner on Ocean Star.

Wednesday underway by 11:30, Ultra left at 10, to head over to Bahia de las Aguilas (Bay of eagles). We have a great sail over with full sails doing 8.5 to 9.5 knots downwind. With a lunch stop along the way in a bay that looked like it might be good for snorkeling BUT was NOT good anchoring as holding was terrible. On to Bahia de las Aguilas where at 4 PM we find GREAT holding in sand & turtle grass (no turtles or conch) and a BEAUTIFUL ISLOLATED beach ! One of those extraordinary rare spots that you just imagine what sailing is all about. Breath taking even to us after 3+ years of sailing and anchoring in many beautiful spots. Sunset and dinner on Ultra as we admire our surroundings.

Thursday late morning JoAnne & I go in to walk the beach. Run into a couple of locals who speak English and are so friendly and happy and surprised to see us. This is even a remote spot for locals, who come from Barahona about 70 miles away by land. Back to boats at 1:30 for a swim & lunch. Bill & JoAnne go out in the dinghy to see if there is any good snorkeling, but just grass. Stop back at our boat for an afternoon drink then a boat of fishermen come by to sell us lobster. The negotiation on price went on for some time with some pretty funny interpretation before we finally settled on an agreed price. We had them break off the heads so they could keep them and they cleaned the tails for us also. Dinner on Ultra of grilled lobster tails & Steve made carrots & rice & a cucumber salad to go with it. 
Friday underway at 8:30 to go 5 miles to Cabo Rojo to see if we can get last minute internet, NOT a very pretty anchorage, an Alcoa mine creating a lot of dirt in the air. We worked our way in to anchor up wind of this and the beach is supposed to be pretty but with the industry around it no longer is. That and as I was up on the bow coming in watching for sand to anchor in I saw a LOT of jelly fish !!!!! We are anchored by 10:30 and YES we have internet.

We were just going to stop for a few hours and rest before doing our overnight to Ile A Vache. Ultra left at 2:30 then an hour later they called and said they were coming back. A wind gust of 35 K broke their main sail baton, and when they got in discovered the main sail was pulling away from the sail slugs. These downwind runs can be hard on a rig also. They got things repaired and we all had a restful night changing plans to depart the following day on Saturday.

Link to Pictures:

Friday, April 5, 2013

South Coast of DR Continued

South Coast of DR continued
Saturday 30 March – Friday 5 April
Saturday the skies have cleared and after a hectic early morning JoAnne & Bill & Steve & I catch a ride with the marine staff to first go by a auto part store. Bill needs some spare parts for his hydraulic steering system, and knows they will be hard to find. No luck at the auto store, so we get dropped off at the “bus station” to get the bus to town. We are going in to see the Zona Colonial, the historic section of the capital city Santo Domingo. The area is on the river and mixed in with all the buildings from the 1500's is a living neighborhood, with great architecture along with homes and cafe's and parks. We are on the bus by 11 and 30 minutes later get dropped off, just a word about the “bus stations” there is NOT just one like back in the states. Depending on where you want to go and whether you want the express bus makes a big difference where you get on & off the bus. Luckily Raul from the marina dropped us off at the right spot and told the guy which bus we wanted. He also explained how to find the bus station (alley) for the trip back. We have a fun time exploring the old neighborhood and wind up hiring a guide for a few hours to do a walking tour & point out and explain some of the historic buildings. We wind up taking a taxi to the bus station and are glad we did as it was very hard to find the one going to Boca Chica. We get on the almost full bus and a few minutes later after loading on a few more people to standing room only we get underway back to the marina. We had explained to the conductor as he came by to collect our $70 Pecos ($1.75 US) that we wanted to go to the marina next to Boca Chica. As we got close we told him we wanted to get off but he kept hand signaling to us to wait. Well we passed the marina and got left off at the beach, not very far as we had walked this same area with Sean & Carrie the week before. I guess he thought he was doing us a favor by bringing us to the beach where the BIG party was. It was a fun thing to see as we walked back to the marina, the place was a mad house, just full of people in & out of the water here to enjoy the Easter holiday weekend. 
Easter Sunday we have rain almost all day long. JoAnne & Bill come to our boat for dinner, even though they made most of the food as they were out on a mooring and we still had our dinghy tied off from the trip up. Even with the bad weather there were still people down on the beach, can't imagine what it would have been like if weather was good. We have a nice Easter dinner and start making plans for our journey west.
Monday, first priority is to find a place where Bill can get his parts for his steering system, so back into town to a place called Tony Rodamentos and they have the parts and are able to make the ones they did not have. A few other errands in town then stop at the grocery store on the way back. They have an Ole store (like a WalMart) and they give you a free ride back to the marina. Don't think they have ever seen 4 people buy so much. We tried to explain that we lived on a boat and would not have access to a store like that for a while, but I think they just thought we were having a big party. Back to the boats to find room to put things away. Tell the marina that we will need our despacho for the following morning as early as they can get it.

Tuesday morning, Steve washes down the deck of the boat while I wash some clothes, taking advantage of the free water. We get our despacho a little later than what we wanted and are underway by 9:30 to make the 60+ mile journey. Winds are on the beam BUT very light so we have to motor sail the whole way. We read that diesel was available in Salinas but did not think there was a place to pull the big boat up to a fuel dock so were concerned about getting fuel. So we decided to keep the motor running for 8 ½ hours as opposed to sailing for 16 to 17 hours and arriving at 3-4 AM and figure out the fuel situation when we got there. As we pass the point to turn into the bay at 5:30 there are still a few fishermen out with big long nets. There is also a huge fish farm in the middle of the entrance to the bay visible to us and also GPS coordinates listed in guide. The channel has markers that lead you further into the bay and towards the anchorage. We are anchored in front of the Salinas Hotel, although we did not realize it was the hotel at the time by 6 PM. Talk to Ultra who is about 1 ½ hours behind and will be arriving after dark to let them know about the fishermen and their nets, and to let them know we will have dinner waiting when they arrive. They have a slow ride into the bay and once thru the channel markers we guide them in with our spot light. Veggie pasta on Ocean Star once they are settled in.

Wednesday we all sleep in then we need to find the Marina de Guerra (Coast guard) to check in. We first dinghy over to one of 2 places that we thought could be the hotel to find out it was a private residence. YES it could have been a hotel, it had 3 boats tied to a dock with a bar on it, two more moored nearby, and a helicopter pad. But it was a private residence. Some people live large and well. Our 2nd stop was the right place and the Marina Guerra guy was on the dock waiting for us, along with a captain from another boat. JoAnne speaks a little Spanish and we learn that he wants to come out to our boats to check them. We also communicate that we need diesel fuel for our boats. We learn that we have to get a ride in someones truck to a gas station about 3 miles away. We do not have jerry cans on Ocean Star as we hold a lot of fuel and have always been able to get fuel at a dock. Guess things are changing as we move west ! Luckily Ultra as a lot of them :). We were all in our dinghy so the guard climbs in with us and we go first to Ultra. As JoAnne is showing the guard their boat Steve & Bill start emptying cans of fuel into their tank. Then we load up five 5 gallon cans into our dinghy and go to our boat to “fuel up”, with the guard to check out our boat. He just looked around, really just wants to see the boats. He even helped us fill our tanks, as five gallon cans are heavy. JoAnne & Bill come by in their dinghy with their 5 empty cans along with 2 for gas just as we are finishing up. We load our 5 empty cans, along with the guard back into our dinghy. He takes us down the shore to another dock where we unload all the cans and go meet Louie.

Louis is going to take us to get fuel so we load all the cans into the back of his little pick up, Steve, Joanne & Bill pile into the back, while I get in the front with all the back packs and Louis and off we go to the fuel station. Get all the cans refilled and back to the dock. The guard is still there & he and someone else come to help carry them all down the dock and reload the dinghies. The dock was also at a restaurant that Louis owns. By now it is 2 and we are all hungry so we go upstairs for lunch. We had noticed a strange looking “building” on the way in and on the cover of the menu is it's picture, it is the salt pond right down the road. So after lunch we walk down to check it out. It is still producing salt and we get to see this laborious process up close and personal, like a walk back in time. Back to Ultra to unload all the now full jerry cans. Then a trip into the hotel to buy a drink and get the wifi code. We tried to order rum punch, but even though the waiter spoke a little English he told us they only had Presidente light beer. We saw the bar with liquor bottles so not sure what that story was about, Steve & Bill got a beer, JoAnne a coke & me a water. Back to the boats for a quiet evening doing internet.

Thursday a beautiful sunny, windy day, too windy to go dinghy exploring. We relax on board using the internet connection while we still can. Downloading and Studying maps of the new places we will be heading to. Ultra served up a great Tex Mex dinner and we brought the margaritas. Followed by a fun game of hearts.

Friday the winds have calmed down a little so we take the dinghies over to the beach. Which is on a very narrow stretch of land with the bay on one side and the Caribbean sea on the other. The sand is is volcanic so not the pretty white sand we are use to, and not very good snorkeling, but it is always good to walk along the beach. We got to see some fishermen hauling in their nets and emptying out their catch before going back out to deploy the nets again. We are always dodging these boats and their nets but we have a lot of respect for them as it is another hard job that the locals do. We enjoy a picnic lunch on the beach before stopping at the Marina de Guerra to get our despacho to leave on Saturday.

Next stop Barahona, not sure if we will have internet there, and are very sure we will not have it at the next few stops along the south coast of DR. So it may be a few weeks before the next blog update. Wish for fair winds and calm seas.

link to pictures;

Saturday, March 30, 2013

South Coast of Dominican Republic

South Coast of DR
Friday 15 March – Friday 29 March

We had a calm crossing of the Mona passage from Puerto Rico to the Dominican Republic, we had to motor most of the way but the seas were calm so made for a comfortable (but noisy) ride. 22 hours after leaving PR we were entering the Marina Zar Par in Boca Chica DR. The marina sends out a tender to guide you in and we go to the fuel dock to clear in with customs & immigration and get fuel, 3 hours later we get to our slip. Don't think it usually takes that long but everyone was very nice & helpful, the marina staff even drove Steve to a bank to get some local money. We had noticed in PR black ash on the boat and first thought it was someone having a big BBQ on the beach. Now in the DR we notice it again and are trying to figure out how we still have ash on the boat after 22 hours at sea. We learn that they are burning the sugar cane fields and the black ash just goes every where during the month of March. NOT mentioned in any of the tourist guides :). Free water at the marina so wash the boat down and get it ready for guests arriving Sunday & Monday. 

Sunday morning a little more getting the boat ready. Then Steve makes a wonderful pork tenderloin with apples, apricot, cranberry & sweet potato that just has to be heated up when he gets back from picking Sean up at the airport. They get back around 8 pm and after Sean gets settled in we have a great dinner. Monday Sean goes to meet Carrie at the airport, and the taxi drops Steve off at the grocery to be picked up on the way back. They all arrive back on the boat around 12:30 as we meet Carrie for the first time showing her around the boat and let her get settled in and changed into island clothes. We walk down to the beach known as Boca Chica and find a beach restaurant to have a late lunch. Once seated at the table on the beach we immediately start getting approached by vendors. They are selling EVERYTHING. From food & drink, even though we are sitting at a restaurant, to sunglasses, watches, jewelry, even 4' x 3' pictures, massages, pedicures & of course cigars. It was hard to have a conversation in between the hundreds of times we had to say NO GRACIAS. Not the most pleasant experience but entertaining and a true Dominican experience.

The beach is lovely and for a late afternoon on a Monday very busy and getting busier. We (me) did get suckered into getting the “best pina colada in the world” drink down the beach, it was NOT but we used the beach lounge chairs to drink them & refused his request for a tip for the already overpriced drinks. Rule # 1 find out the price first !!

Back to the marina by 5 to request our despacho for the following morning so we can go to another anchorage. Unlike the other eastern Caribbean countries, in the DR you need a form allowing you to move from one spot to another. We get ours to go to Bayahibe where we will get another to go to Isla Saona our goal. Bayahibe is a interesting little village and anchorage. It is home to about 30 catamaran day trip boats plus several 10 to 20 seat motor boats that take tourist from near & far resorts out to Isla Saona, a national park.

Bayahibe has its share of vendors selling souvenirs, but they have huts you can choose to walk by or go in and look, and they are not too pushy. Steve, Sean & Carrie had gone in the night before to let them know we had arrived. The next morning we all go in to see the town and find an ATM so Carrie & I can get some DR Pesos, and to get our despacho to go to Isla Saona. Isla Saona is an island with beautiful beaches all around it, it gets busy for a few hours during the day with all the day trip boats, but they are almost all gone by 3 and at night we shared the anchorage with 3 other boats. The day trip boats have assigned areas so no one beach is swarmed with all the people. This being Carries first time staying on a sail boat we are happy to show her this wonderful part of anchoring out off beautiful locations. After a few of the catamarans left we took the dinghy to the beach to check in and walk the beach and swim.

Thursday we had made arraignments, in Bayahibe, for a dive shop to come out to our boat at Isla Saona to take us diving. When we get up we see that Ultra has arrived and is anchored near by. Steve & I go by to say HI and even though they just got in 2 hours before they join us to go diving in an hour. It was of course subject to the dive shops okay, which they did and since Bill & JoAnne have equipment & tanks it was just a matter of loading 2 more people into the dive boat. A little later start then planned but the dive sights were close by and the guides were not in a hurry. Back to the boat to clean off equipment and a late lunch followed by relaxing afternoon. Sean & Carrie go swimming again, Steve makes a Bulgur salad to bring over to Ultra who invited us all over to dinner that night. Dinner followed by some rum tasting. Friday Ultra leaves early to continue on to Casa de Campo marina to clear into the country while we do some more exploring of the island.

Bill had lent us a dive plane that he made. You tow it behind the dinghy and using a mask, hold on & hold your breath & dive down and snorkel, angling the board to either dive or come up for air or go left or right. Sean said it was the closest he's ever come to feeling like a porpoise. The dinghy's not going fast, only 2-3 knots, but it's way faster than you can swim, and effortless gliding along the bottom.

Even if the weather is not good, partly cloudy with a few showers, we still have fun and visit another beautiful beach that we have to ourselves to have a picnic lunch. We got our despacho Friday night so are ready to leave early on Saturday. We were going to go all the way back to Zar Par marina so left at 7, but Bill & JoAnne called on the radio telling us how wonderful Casa de Campo marina is and Saturday night is a free BBQ at the yacht club. So we make the decision to go there. It will be a longer taxi ride for Sean & Carrie to the airport the next day but they will get to see some place different. The marina sends a boat out to help us get into our slip and we are docked by 9:30. Check out the marina and surrounding area then decide to head to the beach.

Casa de Campo is a huge complex of 7,000 acres on which sits in addition to the 370 slip marina, a luxury hotel, 4 golf courses, equestrian center with 3 polo fields, a skeet shooting range, tennis courts, numerous shops and restaurants, private million dollar homes, the beautiful Minitas beach, Altos de Chavon a stone paved medieval village over looking the Chavon river, complete with an amphitheater to mention a few amenities. It employees 15,000 people mostly from the near by town of La Romana. The marina rates are very reasonable, for our 50 ft boat $50 a night, restaurants are also reasonable but the shops are VERY expensive as is the laundry service that I learned the hard way. But now after almost 57 years I can say I have IRONED sheets & pillowcases :).

Getting ahead of myself here, so we are on our way to the beach Saturday by 10:30. One thing this area lacks is a cheap way to get from point A to point B. All rental properties come with a golf cart, and you can rent them here at the marina, but NO shuttle buses !!! Only taxi's, not a cheap way to go short distances. As we were learning this a very nice gentleman came out of the grocery store and asked where we were going. Carrie (who is fluent in Spanish as well as French and was our WONDERFUL interpreter while she was here) told him to the beach, and he gave us a ride. It was a lovely day at the beach with NO vendors trying to sell us anything. Lunch at the beach then a nice 30 minute walk back to the marina getting to see some gorgeous homes and landscaping.

Saturday evening the yacht club hosted a free BBQ for the beginning of the sports fishing season. The yacht club, is a beautiful building outside and in, decorated with mahogany wood, art work and fantastic lighting. It is open to all and has a great bar with a friendly staff. We thought it would be a cash bar but soon learn Absolute vodka, Brugal rum, another liquor can't remember & Presidente beer and a passion fruit rum punch were all free, paid for by sponsors of the party. We were all very happy with the choices. Wait staff served appetizers, as we listened to live music waiting on the BBQ hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, coleslaw and salad, followed by more live music. Eleven pm we decide to go up to Altos de Chavon to check out the village, even at night it is beautiful and you feel like you are in an old stone village not one that was built in 1976. JoAnne talked one of the security guards into letting us ride in the bed of the little pick-up trucks (I got shotgun) up to the village for $15 ($5 each couple). We had a fun time seeing the sights at night and had made arraignments for him to come back and pick us up at 1. He was a no show for the ride back to the marina but we found another security guard who between JoAnne & Carrie made the same deal to get us back to the marina.

Sunday morning we were all moving a little slow but this was Sean & Carrie's last day so we got up and they packed up then we got a ride from the taxi driver set up to take them to the airport to bring us up to the hotel for a couple of hours before they had to leave for the airport. The hotel pool is beautiful and it was a great way to make the most of the morning before their 12:30 departure to the airport. They are on their way to the airport and we go back to the boat to find a note from Bill & JoAnne that they were riding their bikes heading to the pool then would go to the polo fields to watch a game at 4:30. We rested for a few hours then got our taxi guy to bring us back up to the polo grounds across from the hotel to find NO game on Sunday. So we go back to the hotel and find Bill & JoAnne and decide to get a free hotel shuttle to Altos de Chavon to see it in the daylight.

They really did a great job at recreating an 18th century village and it is fun seeing it and the views of the river. Catch the 7:15 pm hotel shuttle back to the hotel with several other hotel guests, I lend Bill & JoAnne my flashlight so they can ride their bikes back to the marina and the hotel driver drives Steve & I back to the marina. We walked through the plaza where all the restaurants are to check out menus. JoAnne & Bill make it back safe and we go out for dinner. A great day ending a great visit with Sean & Carrie and for Steve & I to celebrate 3 years of cruising living on our floating traveling home.

Monday I go to find the laundromat and find out the one here at the marina is no longer here, only one up at the hotel so they call someone to come and pick up my laundry. I should have guessed since a hotel was involved that it might be a little expensive but when they bring it back two days later never in my wildest dreams, did I think they would IRON the sheets and pillowcases and Steve's shirts & shorts – crazy !!! What did I say at the top of this blog ASK THE PRICE FIRST, won't forget again.

Monday late afternoon Frank the harbor master came by and said we needed to adjust our boat lines since our solar panels were hanging over the walkway and he was afraid someone would get hurt. We had had this conversation with another boater and agreed, BUT if we moved the boat out any further we could not get off, even if we put the dinghy behind the boat in the water the dock was too high to climb up on to, and the marina staff helped tie us off this way. We did tape plastic bags with bright color paper on the corners to act as a warning flag. Frank said we still needed to do something so he got us a passerelle (gangplank) that 2 marina staff dropped off. Steve & I tried to get it to work on our own but we could not get it secured so I called back saying we needed some help and next thing we knew 2 dinghies & 2 golf carts came up to help. It took us about 30 minutes to rig it up right but we got it done. Still a little overhang onto the walkway but Frank came by to check and said that it would work. Still a little tricky getting on & off have to be careful not to hit our heads or trip over the lines holding the passerelle in place.

Tuesday there is a polo match so I rented a golf cart and gave Bill & JoAnne a ride up to the hotel pool then back to the boat where Steve is finishing up changing the oil on the engine & generator and start putting the boat back together. Riding a golf cart around the marina you feel like 10 – 15 MPH is a good speed, out on the nice paved roads it feels really slow. So slow my leg was hurting from pressing the petal down so hard trying to make it go faster (it did not). This was an electric cart but even other electric carts were passing me :(. I needed a sign that said sorry- I am going as fast as I can. You probably had to be there but it was pretty funny.

Steve & I go up to the hotel at 4:30 to pick up Bill & JoAnne to go across the road to the polo fields to watch a game, the first time for all 4 of us to see a polo match. It was fun but by 6 we were ready to head back to the marina for happy hour watching the sun set. Wednesday Ultra leaves the marina to go over to Isla Catalina, we were staying for one more day to do another boat project, polish the stainless on the arch since we are backed into the dock it is easy to reach. Wednesday night there is another party in the marina with free drinks and heavy hors derves for the Toy Box grand opening, they are located next to the Mistral Bar & restaurant who provided the food & drinks and had a great musician. The Toy Box is a concierge service company for the “ villa clients and yachts, super yachts and mega yachts” there wording but I guess it included us cruisers also.

We had planned to leave Thursday morning meeting up with Ultra back at marina Zar Par, but heard of another free party with live Jazz Thursday night at the Azimut cafe so decided to stay one more day. Steve had been working almost non stop for a few days and was looking forward to an easy day before getting underway. Thursday morning we get a hold of Ultra to let them know of our change in plans. Steve had one little project to do – grease the main roller furling track, and with the light winds it was a good morning to do it. He got it done just in time for the rain which lasted all afternoon. Our final night event was not as good as the other two, just free Chivas scotch which I do not drink or champagne and only nuts and cheese for snacks. They did have some paintings from 3 local artist on display that were really good, they had to move them inside along with the people as we had a light evening shower for a few minutes. Back to the boat by 8:30 for dinner and to get the boat ready for an early morning departure.

8 AM Friday morning Steve goes to check out with the marina then with the Coast Guard to get our despacho to go back to Boca Chica. He comes back at 8:30 with several marine staff so we can hand off the passerelle then we need them to ease off the stern lines so we can bring the dinghy back and haul it up. We leave the dock to go circle around in front by the fuel dock so Steve can secure the dinghy, tying the lines so it does not swing / move while underway. By 9 we are heading out the channel, under gray skies with a cool temperature of 76°, calm seas and light winds to start so just put up the main sail. By 9:30 winds have picked able to carry the genoa and and turn off the motor. We have a great sail, winds build during the day so first put a reef in the genoa then a 2nd reef and one in the main. Average speed of 8, hitting 10.6 with one wind gust. We were outside the marina trying to get them on the radio by 2, took them a while to answer and they gave us a choice of going back to our old slip or since the winds were still blowing they had a side tie slip available which we took. All tied up by 3, washed down the boat and called Ultra who was out on a marina mooring close by. Ultra came by for drinks and to make plans our future travels west.

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