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Rio Dulce, Guatemala to Isla Mujeras Mexico 2011

Jan. 2011:  Rio Dulce back to Isla de Mujeres

            We brought in the new year with a pizza and movie night at Tortugal Marina.  What a nice time spent with our Dan, Lorraine, Gisela  and Frank.  The whole night transportation to the  marina, roast beef dinner, glass of champagne, the new King Kong movie, and transportation back cost us 70 Quezales each  (less than $10). My husband, the big spender for a festive night out!   For the first time in many years we even made it to midnight.  We went out on the pier by the boat and enjoyed the fireworks, with the closest being shot off from a small boat about 20 years from ours.  After about 20 minutes of fireworks we were ready to call it a night and happily slept through the rest of the celebrations that went on into the wee hours of the morning.  Scott woke up with the first signs of  “whatever was going around the cruising community” cold and congested crude in the chest.  He was down for over a week and didn’t do much more than get out of bed.  Not a good first week of 2011 for him.   
            Once we were back to the boat in Nov., one of the first things we noticed was that our sunshade was turning a little green and we were not able to clean it because the  material was rotting away.  So on Dec. 5 we ordered a new one from one of the local canvas shops.  Luis had also made a sunshade for Jerry and we liked the quality of his work, the price he quoted us in his very good English, and that he said it would take 7-10 days to make another with ours as the pattern.  So off we went on the road trip.  A couple of days after we got back, he showed up with the sunshade ready to be put back up.   There only needed to be a few alterations and to complete the front extension.  At that point we also ordered some gerry can covers for our diesel and water cans.  At this point we were thinking that he would get it finished by Christmas.  About double the 7-10 days but that is what we had expected.  We did see him again before Christmas, with the excuse for the delay of having trouble getting material from G City.  He did ask us for the favour of paying him the rest so he could pay his workers for Christmas.  Yes, being the kind hearted souls that we are, we paid him.
            With the full moon on Dec. 20 four boats from Tijax left to go over the bar:  Java Moon (heading for Mexico), Miss Goodnight, Micitre, and Kodo (Headed for Roatan).  
Scott’s latest project had been to install our new Single Side Band (SSB) radio.  The biggest part of the project was installing new copper grounding strap.  Our neighbor Dan, from Zephurus, was a god send by being our local West Marine Store.

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 Here we are Sharing a Christmas Dinner with Dan and Lorraine.

He had copper strapping to sell us as well as a Xantrax Battery Charger.  Yes, the new one we bought in Florida less than a year ago, POOF!  Another puff of smoke and it was fried too.  Come to find out that he had one that he had been holding on to that wouldn’t do an equalizing charge on his batteries required, which was what he needed charge AGM stlye batteries , which was what we needed. So we were able to work out a few swaps.  Scott worked on his dinghy motor  a couple of days.  It had been running badly since he had it worked on by a local mechanic.  It turns out that it had been re-assembled incorrectly.

Once we had the radio working, Scott was able to be heard on the NW Caribbean Net in Roatan.  As the net controller said, it is rarely that they hear from anyone in the Rio.  We must have a good radio.  Much to our delight we also heard from Big Fun, a fellow F Dock boat at Marina del Sol back in League City.   It was the first that we had heard that they had thrown off the lines and were out cruising and had made it to Roatan. 
            Every morning starting Jan. 2, Cindy would get up at and go walking with Lorraine from Zephyrus at 6:45.  What a great way to start the day exercising and chatting with a new friend. It reminded me of the mornings back in June when I would do the same with Linda off Rainbow Rider.  Both women were true blessings in my life on the Rio.   We ended up with a couple of routes: one to past the tower in the rubber plantation which gave us a couple of good hills to climb and the other into town where we would walk the bridge.  On the bridge days we would stop by the canvas shop to see what progress was being made. 

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One of our walks with Gisela and Lorraine with the beautiful poinsettia plant and the cute little bread truck.  Another morning we saw these vehicles parked in the Tijax parking lot with Texas license plates.  The company is NoLimitX.com out of Colorado.  The perfect way to travel to remote loacations.

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            On Friday, Jan. 14 we got a call about the job in Bahrain.  The rig had arrived and the chair was about to be shipped from Houston.  That meant that we needed to start thinking about leaving.  At noon, Scott decided that we would try to leave Sunday to be able to go over the bar on Monday.  That is, if the Luis finished the canvas project.  Right at dusk he showed up to finish everything.   Alleluia!   One last movie night at Tortugal, Saturday spent provisioning the boat, and a Sunday morning breakfast send off from Tijax and we were on our way. 
            Sunday we had a nice three hour motor sail to Texan Bay.  Everything worked great except for our anemometer.  Scott went up the mast and could not figure out why it was not working.  As we were sitting there at anchor we heard Eyrie call to the marina for a slip for the night.  We had met Doug back at Isla de Mujeres.  Monday morning Scott and Doug went to Livingston and checked us out of the country and as luck would have it he is heading back to Isla too. Yeah, a buddy boat.   Mid afternoon we motored back through the gorge for Livingston.  The forward scanning sonar gave us some pretty wonderful pictures of 50 foot dropoffs around each bend!  Again we were blessed to be going over the bar with another boat that had 7 foot draft compared to our 6 foot draft.  Doug had paid the $50 for a boat to guide him across and to tip him (pull him over with a line to get over the sandbar) if it was necessary.  The plan was that we would follow behind and go across right at high tide around dusk at 6:15 and two nights before the full moon.  Eyrie did get stuck on the bar and ended up getting stuck two more times.

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  By the time we realized he was aground we were just about beside him.  Instead of turning around we just headed on.  We followed our path that had brought us across in June and we made it over again without seeing anything less that 1.1 foot below our keel. 


                                                           The Crossing 


            Approximately 61 hours to go 367 miles.  The first night we were able to sail about an hour before we had to turn more easterly and after that it was a motor sail throughout the night. Once we were out in open water the anemometer started working all on its own.  Alleluia!  We did see a few ships and the Regatta cruise ship heading to Roatan during the night on AIS. At 6:26 in the morning we did see and talk to Homeward Bound, a net controller we have heard on the Net, as they were on their way to Placencia from Roatan.  With no wind we continued to motor the rest of Tuesday.  Finally at dusk the wind filled in and we were able to turn off the engine and sail toward our destination and that was the last we saw or heard from Eyrie as they sailed out of sight.  We then had a comfortable 36 hours of sailing, getting into the rhythm of being on watch and sleeping when you weren’t on watch. The nights were just glorious, with the full moon to brighten our way each night.   Wednesday at 2:30 am we saw the Regatta cruise ship heading back to Belize.  Wednesday at about 2:30 in the afternoon we finally got into the Gulf Stream.  This year it has almost completely disappeared.  No one really knows why, some say it is La Nina others blame it on BP, could be global warming. After fighting it all the way down to the river, we were happy to finally have it going with us so we could hit 7 and 8 knots per hour. Then it was just one more night at sail going around Cozumel.  Cindy did hear the a US Coast Guard Cutter calling for the Cozumel Port Control but never did hear them communicate and heard a couple of the cruise ships heading in and getting dock assignments in Cozumel.  We have since heard that there are usually 4 cruise ships docked in Cozumel at any given time.  Thursday morning, right after sunrise, Cindy started the engine and woke Scott up to enter EL Cid Marina.  At 7:30 we were tied up to the fuel dock taking on 89 liters or 23 gallons of diesel, not quite half of our 50 gallon tank.  By noon we were in our slip and completely checked into Mexico.
            We ended up staying at El Cid for five days.  Longer than we planned but a norther blew in and kept us from going north.  This time we gave them about 2 hours of our time as they presented their vacation club/points plan to us. They weren’t able to convince us to buy anything (since we are already living a vacation ;)   but we did get a free breakfast buffet, two day passes to the all inclusive resort, and a spa experience.  This was a real bonus for Cindy as she spent three hours enjoying the sauna, steam room, jacuzzi, and a 100 minute massage. 
            Tuesday morning, Jan. 25, the wind turned to the E/SE and off we went north to Isla de Mujeres.  Six hours later we were at anchor in the harbor in just about the exact same spot as were 8 months ago.  It felt kind of like coming home.  We enjoyed two days, with the second day bringing another norther and cool, cloudy weather before the e-mail came saying that they would like Scott in Bahrain in four days. 
So Thursday in we went to the Puerto Isla Mujeres (PIM) Resort and Yacht Club.  Once again Cindy and the boat are in pretty nice digs for Scott to leave and go to Bahrain. There is a very nice pool, restaurant (which already has a Super Bowl Party planned), and Villa Vera Hotel.  The marina is located inside the lagoon and has floating docks and best of all cable. I have already been spoiled with watching the morning news programs and a few movies on HBO.   The marina really targets to sport fishermen, so it is filled with many boats for hire for the daily offshore fishing experience.  We have also learned that there is a tournament planned for Feb. 15-19.  Won’t that just be fun! 

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  Here we are at PIM with our stowaway, an at least 4 inch spider who came along from Guatemala. 

Here is a picture Scott took of the Rig in Bahrain

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As usual there were unexpected delays in shipping and social unrest in Bahrain so Scott has been in Bahrain for 3 weeks waiting for the new drillers chairs

that were supposed to get to Bahrain about the same time he did. Hurry up and Wait.

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