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Hurricane Season 2011 Part 1

            On April 8, off Scott went again back to Bahrain.  We were blessed with a little over a month of time together to recharge the love batteries for the next passage of work time.  Well, that is Scott works, as Cindy “vacations” in Isla de Mujeres IdM. 
            I quickly fell back into a nice routine of working out in the cool right around sunrise, b’fast, complete at least one boat project, watch some USA TV, finishing it off with Oprah the Last Season.  Best of all it had finally warmed up enough to go swimming and enjoy the pool for the rest of the afternoon. 

Meanwhile Scott was in Bahrain working straight 12 hour days in 100+ Deg. heat, when all the public protests and demonstrations started. Some right outside his hotel. He was never in any danger though, since all the anger was directed at the Gov't and not at foreign nationals. He had fun learning about new cultures since the shipyard employs people from every part of the globe and there is no common language except broken english.

            Cindy's time was the usual cruiser’s life of seeing old friends and meeting new.  First I spent about a week with Czech and Mate, Jerry, Deborah, and Michelle, right here with me at Puerto Isla Mujeres.  Michelle was good enough to bring down another suitcase of boat supplies on Scott’s Wish List. The first week of April, I felt like the Belle of the Ball, when the sailors pulled in from the St. Petersburg to Isla Regatta del Sol al Sol Boat Race.  My new neighbors, on “Anthie” were sweet enough to offer me a bracelet to attend all the Regatta activities.

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   It was a great change of pace and many new friends were made from Herman, the neighbor with the golf cart, to crew members from American Spirit II and Miguelito, and I almost forgot the cheerleaders from the BB Game!  Also around this time the Bills (a father and son duo) who are just beginning a round the world trip.  Pa Bill would call me the social director for the marina until he thought I was having too much fun so he took the title from me.  We enjoyed our Sunday BBQ dinners at Soggy Pesos and dancing/singing with Javier and the band with no name at Chuuk Kay Restaurant. 

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 If you would like to learn more about young Bill’s previous adventure, check out: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/22573279/ns/today-good_news/t/stranded-trans-atlantic-sailor-recalls-ordeal/
 I know that God had a reason for me meeting him and what I need to learn from his story.  As the racers were leaving in pulled into the marina, Zab-a-Cat, owned by a South African Family.  That night I had heard of a music festival that had been going on all over the island for three nights, with the tonight being the last night at JAX.  So off Chad, Tracey, Luis, and I went to see what it was all about.  To my surprise, one of the participants was Kelly McGuire.

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  For years we have been attending his free concerts out at Redfish Island on the Sunday before Labor Day.  Here, (on Isla at Jax) at last I got to meet him, thank him for all the concerts on the water, and he even dedicated a song to the Amazing Grace for living our dream.  Truly Small World!
            May passed very quickly once I started attending a yoga class MWF at 8 am.  I would ride my bike to the southern part of the island for the class.  It was the first time I had ever done yoga.  This is my yoga friend who introduced me to the instructor Mary Ann.

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  I also enjoyed getting to know Storme, Lauren, and their son Sailor, who are just starting a sunset cruise catamaran business on the island.  I got to babysit “my favorite Sailor on the island” one night while Storme played softball. James, also a live aboard at PIM,  took me to a local restaurant to have Huitlacoche or another name for it is the Mexican truffle, which is the corn smut that grows between the kernels and husk.  It was good and I am glad I was given the opportunity to try it with a new friend.      Another wonderful surprise was when Joel and Brian from American Spirit II were passing back through after a quick trip to Belize, told us that they had met Doug and Lisa from Highland Light and that they were in Isla. It was great to take them to Mango Café, my favorite breakfast place on the island, but sad to hear that they were heading back to the states to sell their boat after 8 years of cruising the Caribbean. 
            Right when I was beginning to resound myself to the fact that the job in Bahrain was going to run way past June 15 and I would have to get the boat ready to stay in Isla for hurricane season.  Then I got a call from Scott that he had tickets for home on June 1 and they were giving us the month of June to move the boat back to Guatemala for hurricane season.  It had been hard sitting on the dock and watching all the sailboats, sports fishers, and friends leave….but now, on June 7 it was going to be our turn as we pulled away and waved Good By to Isla and to Doug and Lisa.  
            After checking the high tide table for Livingston, Guatemala…we had just enough time to hop our way down and make the June 15 high tide.  First night…back to El Cid, my second favorite marina in Mexico, they don’t have cable  ;)  Second day out or it might have happened the first day, the auto pilot quit working.  The actuator had extended all the way out, bent itself, and wouldn’t pull back in.  I met at least 4 boats that had to sit at Isla waiting weeks for auto pilot parts, but I am blessed with the most wonderful trouble-shooting, fix things husband.  He had an extra actuator on board.  So third day we spent at anchor installing it.  First we had to take everything out from under the Captain’s chair to take out the old part.  Next we took everything out of the port side state room to get the new actuator.  Then we had to take everything out of the starboard state room to get the new installation base.  With all that done and put back away, we were ready to start the job.  By 4 we had a new auto pilot installed and working…boy did we deserve that afternoon swim with the turtles.  We continued motor sailing to make each next bay or leeward side of an island for protection each night.  One night we stopped at Banco Chinchurro to try and find Czech and Mate’s anchor.  The next day we did try all day but were unsuccessful.  I guess we aren’t as good of treasure hunters as we thought!  Maybe if we had more time and information.  Hopping our way to GUA reminded us of why we do this, to be out on the water.  It was so peaceful and it was exactly what we each needed after being apart for two months. 
            On June 15, right at high tide or at least we thought it was high tide, we crossed the bar with 8 other boats, three being from Texas and three having to be leaned.  Yeah, we crossed the bar again never seeing less than 1.2 ft below the keel.  As the officials left the boat and said that our paperwork would be ready at 11, did we realize it was already 11:30.  We gained an hour, so we really didn’t cross at high tide, but that is okay it just would have gotten a little deeper with that hour. We decided, since we had been out of touch with the world for a week, or that the satellite phone hadn’t rung, that we would go ahead and head straight for our new Rio Dulce home for the 2011 Hurricane Season, Tortugal. 
We had planned to return to Tijax and had even paid for the month of June, but we had heard from friends that we had met last year at Tijax, Frank and Gisela on Shared Dreams, who have been the dock masters for Tortugal since last Dec. and Dan and Lorena from Zephurus that there had just been a side tie cancellation and would we be interested in joining “the gang” at Tortugal.  We had visited Tortugal many times last year for movie nights and this is where Czech and Mate have a slip, So here we are! 

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Within days of our arrival in the Rio we got an e-mail that yes they wanted Scott on the rig when it went to drill its first hole.  That meant he would need a Saudi Arabian (SA) visa.  First a letter of invitation had to originate from ARAMCO in SA and be sent to the SA Embassy in Houston.  Once we heard the letter was in Houston, then Cindy could book her flights home to MI for the wedding.  So on Saturday, June 25 off we went to buy tickets for the 3 am bus to GUA City Sunday morning.  We were very surprised to hear that there was not a bus on Sun.  That gave us 1.5 hours to dinghy back to the boat, print all the paperwork for the visa, pack, and dinghy back to the bus station for the 3:15 bus.   At 2:46, I asked Scott if we were going to make it or was I going to hire a private car.  He said he was printing the last page and we would make it and we did.  I walked up to the waiting bus at 3:11 and gave Scott a kiss good bye at 3:14 and boarded the bus for my 6 hour bus ride to Guatemala City.  When I arrived I called Scott to see where he had booked me a room and off to the Hotel Biltmore Express (and they didn’t want a grand for all my musical theatre buds).  What a great place to stay, American like continental breakfast and a free shuttle to the airport, with time to buy souvenirs for the family. 
            No problems leaving the country and 2.5 hours later, I was landing in Houston, and a half hour later I was through customs, with my bags (two inside of one other) ,  and calling to meet up with Karen.  We found each other and sat to chat at the Starbucks outside International Arrivals.  We are so lucky to have such a dear friend!  I transferred the package, Scott’s passport with all the paperwork, and the two empty suitcases to her.  She would deliver the package first thing Monday morning, which allowed me to catch my, later that day, flight to MI.  At just about midnight, I was standing outside Detroit Metro, suitcase in hand, looking for my ride.  I walked the entire length of cars, which were quite a few for midnight, not finding anyone I knew.  Right when I had Rick’s phone ringing, they pulled up.  What a relief to get that first sister hug. 
            The next two weeks flew by with lots of time spent with Ginger and getting ready for the wedding.  On Friday, of Fourth of July Week-end, a fun afternoon was spent meeting a new shirt tail cousin on my Grandma Stemaly side and getting a hug from an old KCC theatre friend, Dennis, at Turkeyville. 

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 Ray and Marlene Crenshaw, the couple standing by me.  Fourth of July Saturday was spent in South Haven for the bachelorette party and a great time was had by all!  Fourth of July Sunday evening was spent at Ed and MaryEtta’s (ME) “Campominium” (camper condo)  with their neighbors and a very nice fireworks show over the lake *069 Tommy, Connor and ME.  Fourth of July evening sister in law Sue and her hitch-hikers (Ginger and I) went to the newly married couple, as of April 1, Judson, Idy, and Micah’s house for a great meal and the third best firework display in Western Michigan, according to the local news channel. 
Tuesday we took Rick to work, yes, that is him next to his Wally World Truck

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, so I could have a vehicle. 
            Now with wheels, I was off to visit nephew Jason and family.  Great time at Cascarelli’s Pizza and at Jaycee’s softball game. 

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* 070 and 072 – 075  What a great surprise to see one of my best HS friends at the game watching his granddaughter’s game.  Next off to spend a couple nights with my BFF, Jana Banana * Jana Picture Great time shopping, eating our favorite foods, and just plain old’ catching up. 
            Back to mid-Michigan for the reason for the whole trip….Curtis (my sister’s third son) and Katie’s Wedding.  Here is the proof the beautiful day in pictures.

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            Once everything was wrapped up at the hotel/reception hall, off we went to spend the rest of the day with Deren and his new girlfriend, Jenna

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in Monroe, eating some campfire, jumbo marshmallow smores…Ummm Good for the tummy…close to the airport for the Monday, 6:30 am flight back to Houston.   Made it back to Houston to meet Karen (Have I told you how great a friend she is for doing all this for us ? J)  for the transfer of the package,  (SA Visa which was just ready on Friday after a few days delay due to a broken halogram machine,)   and the two suitcases with boat supplies that Scott had been shopping for, from GUA,  the two weeks I had been in MI.  Found the gate with plenty of time to spare or make that about 8 hours, but had some great people watching time and made a few phone calls to friends in Houston.  On my way home….and the rest of the story continues…..  
            Note to self….. next time you are planning to go to a foreign airport…check out airport reviews….if they say “Customs has recently gone into overdrive looking for anything to tax.”  It might not be a good time to bring two big bags filled with boat parts.
Yes, they had everyone going through the x-ray machine to get through aduana.  Well, Miss you have more than $500 worth of goods and will need to pay tax.  Even when I asked if there was anything I could do to walk out of the airport that night with my bags, wink, wink, bribe (mordida, I think is the word in Spanish )  they told me no, and took my bags hostage and put them in the closet.  Scott had been watching the whole thing outside and said that he had watched them do the same thing to another single lady on the flight before me.  So off we went to our first night in GUA City.  The next morning off to find an Aduana Agent and go back to the airport to do the first step, get a NIT Card and to get all packing slips from inside the suitcases.  After an hour and a half, I was told I could not get the  NIT Card, what I need to be able to pay import taxes in GUA, and had to go to another office down in Zone 10.  The next three days were spent organizing and having Scott translate all the shipping information documents to Spanish, visit the airport again and get them to allow, shipping invoices, packing slips, and computer print outs as receipts.  Now all the information had to be put in the correct places on the forms for about 50 pages of paperwork.  Next a quick trip to the bank and pay 27% tax on all the goods.  Back to the office to make 4 copies of all the paperwork and finally back to the airport to try and get the bags.  Luckily, they found everything in order and out walk the Aduana Agent with our bags about 3:00 on Thursday afternoon.  We figure, the GUA Government needed our money to help them make it through the week….while we are just glad that they hadn’t caught us back in Nov. when we had 4 bags with much more expensive stuff. 

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            Finally, Friday, we got the bus back to the river.  Once on the boat, I had the best surprise anniversary present….a newly painted Captain’s pedestal. 

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As you can see from the before and after pictures, Scott had worked very hard during my time away.

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As you can see from the picture, there in the back is the shop he had spent so much time in and has been so blessed by having it so close to our boat.   Sunday was wonderful waking up, on the boat, next to my husband for our 19 anniversary. 
            Now that Scott had his SA Visa, we were on hold waiting for word for him to leave.  First date was July 14, then 21, and finally the 28.  So the next 9 days were then spent working on little projects on the boat and the major project of getting the brightwork, word re-varnished.  Lupe is the river specialist and has been working for over 14 years and we are very happy with the work she has completed so far and look forward to seeing our boat, as close to new, as we can afford to make it. 

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  Also it was great spending more time with our friends, old and new, here at Tortugal. 
            So Tuesday, July 26, off we went back to GUA City on the noon bus, from there to our favorite hotel, The Biltmore, where I have spent 6 nights in the last month, and pizza to go from the Pizza Hut around the corner.  I have just called and requested our 4 am wake up call…as both Scott and I are “Leaving on a jet plane”:  Scott to SA and Cindy back to Houston…who knows when we’ll be back again….       

 

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