Tuesday, October 31, 2006
The hurricane season is coming to a close and we are getting the boat ready to leave Beaufort, North Carolina. It is a sad time and a happy time for us. We have met many new friends here and Vern and Kathryn have been wonderful hosts. Everyone one is here to see us off this fine Nov. 13, 2005.
Our first few days are uneventful and sailing/motoring is good. Cape Fear, Charleston, South Carolina, Fernandina, Florida, St Mary's, Georgia. These are a few of our stops.
Charleston had a little excitement when Gary took Doc to shore one morning. The current if very strong in this anchorage and Gary had had a little trouble when he stopped here on his way up to Beaufort. I am on board, and get a call on the radio from a neighbouring boat stating that he thinks we are dragging. I said - Not possible, but thanked him and said I would keep an eye. Well not five minutes later, I look up and we are now sitting on the other side of the channel. YES, we dragged. So by the time gary found us on the other side, White Diamond, the caller, was over at our boat with his dinghy and 25HP motor, Gary is standing on the bottom and the tide is going down. After a three person effort, we get off the bottom and re-anchor. Our saviours were Ron and Evelyne Chadband s/v White Diamond - fellow Canadians.
Fernandina will always be remembered as the small quaint town that celebrates the day after Thanksgiving by going shopping in their PJ's. That's right, everyone goes shopping in their PJ's and the shop keepers offer discount and coffee and treats. Even the dogs were dressed up. It was a fun time and a place not to be missed. St. Mary's, Georgia is just a short three miles up the inlet and had we known they host a big turkey dinner on the American thanksgiving for all the boaters going down the ICW. We missed it by a day. Next time.
Once in Florida, Jacksonville is our next stop and then the place we have always wanted to go to - St Augustine. What a beautiful place, good anchorage and wounderful people. We decide to leave the boat here as we travel to St Petersburg to spend Christmas with Gary's dad.
December 28, 2005 we are on the move again to meet up with good friends Alan and Anne in Fort Pierce. We had not seen them for some time and shared many exciting stories.
After New Year's, we are off down the coast of Florida, Lake Worth Inlet ( West Palm Beach and Peanut Island), Boca Raton and Gary's birthday, Fort Lauderdale, No Name Harbour ( Key Biscayne), Indian Cay, Marathon, and onto Key West. From Key West we take a short trip over to the Dry Tortugas and Fort Jefferson. Beautiful group of small islands and a very historical place. Dr. Mudd, who had treated John Wilks Boothe, was imprisoned. John Wilks Boothe shot President Lincoln.
April 29, 2006 it is time to say good-bye to the United States and we are off to Cuba.
We are greeted by the friendliest group of officials and after about tow hours, we are checked in and given a mooring slip in Hemmingway Marina. This is a good base to work from, close to Havana and by renting a car, we were able to see some of the inland sites. There are many Europeans and several Canadians moored here. We spend about three weeks at this spot and now it is time to head towards Yucatan.
We have a wonderful time going along the north coast, stopping at several little bays and cays along the reef. The perfect island for us was Cayo Del Palo. Not a soul lives here, no other boats to be seen and the water is gin clear, and there are shells for Kaija to investigate and collect.
Other stops were Bahia Honda, Cayo Levisa, Cayo Buena Vista and then last but not least Los Morres at the western most tip.
May 01, 2006 we have spent 24 hours crossing the Yucatan Channel to get to Isla Mujeres, Mexico. The distance was only about a 120 miles but the current is so strong, at times we were going bakcwards, or at least standing still. An island off the coast of the Yucatan peninsula close to Cancun. We arrive on a public holiday and there are many boats anchored here. The race from St. Petersburg is to arrive in the next few days and the party will continue.
Here we meet up with Don and Yvonne s/v Usquaebach. We have been in touch with them by email for some time. Also, new friends are added to our growing list. Special mention to Phil and Liz s/v Fine Tolerance who are from Australia. They came to Mexico the old fashioned way - via the Northwest Passage. That's right and did they have stories to tell - polar bears and ice.
They also had many good things to say about the Canadian Coast Guard who had "dropped" them a new life raft just south of Greenland after their boat did a 180 into the water (that's upside down talk for all you land lubbers....guess they missed being 'down under')
It is that time of the year and Kaija is going to Vancouver and then to Finland so we move the boat to Puerto Morales to get her to the airport. A very nice Marina, El Cid is home for a few days to get provisions for Gary and Doc.
May 20, 2006 Kaija is off by air and Gary and Doc are bachelors for 6 weeks and will cruise down towards Belize before Kaija is back.
Gary had a bit better weather than last years solo time, but the navigation and anchoring were tougher. But he met many other boaters, and officials. He did get to fly the spinniker by himself and enjoyed every minute of it. Gary visited Hut Point, Cozumel, Puerto Ventura, Tulum, Cayo Culibbre, Cayo Norte,Bahia Del Esperito Santo and Xcalak.
Xcalak was the check out point for Mexico and was a good experience with Jorge. (in fact the best check in check out experience had anywhere to date...and highly recommended)
June 21, Gary arrives in San Pedro, Belize. After spending a week anchored in a very busy anchorage where every sailboat seems to be used for target practice by the locals and there is no protection from the very brisk easterlies, he is off to Cay Caulker, Chappel Cay and then to Belize City where he will pick Kaija up fromt the airport. The boat is moored in Cucumber marina and is safe and the dock master, Paul is terrific. He even spends one of his days off and takes us on a tour of Belize and some Mayan ruins.
We spend the next few weeks in Cucumber Marina and then we are off again. All ships stores have been replenished and the islands await us. Usquaebach travels with us for the first couple of days and then they are off to Roatan and their new home.
There are many wonderful islands to visit and the reefs are great for snorkeling and Doc is in the water all the time. He really likes the fish along the shore and spends many hours chasing after them or anything that moves in the sand.
Water Cay, Goff's Cay, Rendezvous Cay, Alligator Cay ( we traded for lobster here from the local fishermen), Tabacco Cay, Placencia, Tom Owen's Cay (where the remarkable Gayle Scafe is building a retreat here out of only local materials and no power tools - more on this later) are just some of the places we stopped and enjoyed. Weather overall has been perfect and only a squall or two cleaned the boat. The time has gone by quickly and now we are into August and no real threat of hurricanes. We are wanting to get into the Rio Dulce soon - now.
August 9, 2006 we check into Livingston, Guatemala. this is the small town at the mouth of the Rio Dulce River. An exciting day was spent here. Gary will give a short summary separately. Then it is off down the river. What a gorgeous daya coming up the river in between the cliffs and lush forest. You would think you had turned back the hands of time. The folks here are still fishing in cayucas, and all traffic into town and to neighbours is by boat. We travel for a few hours through these pleasant surroundings. The end is near and the river opens up to El Golfete Lake. We are now in fresh water and the RIO DULCE.
August 11, we are finally moored in Mario's Marina for the balance of the hurricane season. From here we will travel to see Tikal, Guatemala City, and Antigua. There are many folks here and some are here for a long time, others like us for just the season. The local village of Esmerelda is where we walk to and the children are out to greet us each day.
October 31, 2006 it is time to leave the Rio Dulce and head back up towards Belize - Season Three is starting.