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From Isla Mujeres to Utila Honduras

            What a great time we had in Isla and one last thing before we leave, Cindy got her hair braided into corn-rows.  It ended up being one of the most expensive things on the island.  I can get it done cheaper and tighter in Houston.  Ugh! 
            Anchors up…which reminds me of another story.  During the really strong storms for four days with winds over 25, we decided to deploy our storm anchor. We have never taken it out of the bag so we decided this was as good a time as any for a practice run. 

anchor

The anchor is an aluminium fortress FX-55 and it held us during the winds but even better was that we were able to sleep during the night without the electronic anchor alarm waking us up.    We were glad we went the storm anchor instead of just putting out more anchors.  Eurisko, a boat anchored just in front of us during the winds (who also had a little bigger and newer Fatty Knees Dinghy than ours and they do not have engine propulsion, only oars!), put out four anchors.  What fun it would be bringing in all those anchors. Luckily it was much easier then we had expected imagined to bring our storm anchor back up.  A Successful Deployment!  As we brought up the anchor I checked the trip odometer.  Can you believe it, we logged 278 miles while we were here at anchor just from wandering back and forth on the anchor chain.  Truly Amazing …. and off we go to Puerto Morelos.    We still can’t believe that Michelle, a crewmate from the  06 Veracruz race, will be returning with the owners of Czech and Mate and be meeting up with us there at El Cid Marina. We had a beautiful sail down the coast in front of Cancun’s famed Hotel Zone.  Life is good!
            Oh what a grand place we pulled into at the El Cid (All Inclusive) Resort and Marina. 

I to U 3-4 With our luck it was check in time for the first day of the fishing tournament as we pulled into the m arina.  No room anywhere in a slip.   So we tied off on a mooring ball.   After a close call with a dead in the water fishing boat getting help from another fishing boat, we listened to them party the night a way.  The next day we went into town to see the winners and don’t forget the fishing tournament queen.  . How many people can you get on a fishing pier?  A Caught on Video Moment in the making.   

  By Monday morning all the fishing boats had cleared out so in we went two slips down from Czech and Mate. It was the first we had been in a marina in two months. Water out of a Tap…Alleluia!   It was great to wash all the salt away.  Michelle, Jerry and Debbie are Here!   Let the fun begin.  One of the perks of staying in the marina is you got a white wristband that allowed us all to go and use all the facilities at the resort.  Pool, hot tub, and exercise room,.  What a deal…we easily were able to drink our $25 slip fee at the swim up bar. 

  True to the weather forecast, the wind picked up and stayed up for the rest of the week.  So we took the time to rent a car and play tourists on the Mayan Riveria.  Off we went to the Mayan Ruins in Tulum, one of the most important coastal seaports that was active from 1200-1450 A.D.  Researchers have learned that if you line up the light beams in the windows in the third floor of the El Castillo, that when viewed from offshore, the overlapping light beams or range lights mark a natural opening in the reef.  Also, the building were built to follow the lunar calendar, so that when light came in certain windows it would mark planting season and harvest season.  What a view, even the Mayans knew about prime real estate. 

Yes, that is our camera shy Michelle and notice the boat in the natural cut in the last picture.  The water was too rough to swim so off we went to a cenote to cool off and yes those are bats hanging from the ceiling. 

We also did some shopping, Wal-Mart, hunting for boat parts, and eating at exclusive restaurants, Burger King in Playa del Carmen. 
            Back before we left, Scott checked many ways to share our current position for the website, family, and friends.  We decided to go with the AIS system we bought that transmits our position to other boats and to use our track from the GPS.  After a year of cruising, we finally came to the realization that the AIS, which updates itself with radio transmissions, and that just wasn’t enough.  One of the alternatives he had researched was The Spot GPS Tracker.  Once we were at Isla, Bob and Nancy off of Mariposa were singing praise for their Spot which uses GPS Satelites.  This device is used by back- packers, boaters, mountain climbers, hunters, and who knows maybe even astronauts ;)  So we contacted Michelle and had her buy one, and she even got it at clearance at West Marine.  So now we are learning about it.  So far we have learned that we can send three kinds of messages that include our Lat and Long Coordinates:  OK, Help, or 911 (SPOT calls the Emergency Contact). We can send this original e-mail message to 10 people and to the website.   When you click on the message it will also take you to a map.  The e-mail message looks like this: 

> Amazing Grace
> Latitude:19.78887
> Longitude:-87.44793
> GPS location Date/Time:05/16/2010 14:08:58 CDT

> Click the link below to see where I am located.
> http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=19.78887,-87.44793&ll=19.78887,-87.44793&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1
> Message:This is Scott and Cindy on Amazing Grace.  Everything is fine and
> Here is where we are.



> Raising the safety factor for millions who step into the outdoors each
> year, SPOT notifies friends and family or an international emergency
> rescue coordination center with status messages based on situation and
> need. Ask for Help (or SPOT Assist), Alert S.O.S., Check-In/OK and Track
> Progress-all with the simple push of a button.
> http://www.findmespot.com

> Looking for a great way to share SPOT tracks and waypoints, stories and
> photos? Head to http://www.spotadventures.com and see how users are
> creating their adventures and sharing them!


So far the 10 contacts are mostly family. So far we are sending an OK message every time we go by or get to a new place.   If you would like to get a forwarded e-mail, please contact us at cindy@svamazinggrace.com   If not you can always check the website that will update and keep the location for 7 days. 

On Friday we checked out of  Mexico and got our first zarpe, it is the document that gets you into the next country.  Once you check out of a country you can continue to sail and anchor in the country but you are not supposed to go to shore.  Now we wait for the wind to quit blowing so hard so we can move on.  Saturday the wind died some, but we decided to head on out.  Partly enticed by the departure of Filiat, the sailboat that was between us and Czech and Mate in the marina, if they can do it, so can we.  We planned an overnight sail by Playa del Carmen and Cozumel since the water was too rough to try and get in the narrow Channel at Puerto Adventuras.  It was a lumpy ride all night long.  Not our favorite night of sailing.  The next morning we pulled in to Punto Allen behind C and M.  We were surprised to see Filiat anchor too since they were planning to head further south.  We heard them check in on the NW Caribbean Net on the single side band radio and heard them tell that their upper forestay toggle had broken and their roller furler and jib had fallen in the water at three am that morning.  They were able to get enough secured to drag it into the anchorage.  We offered to help Filiat but they had a plan and declined our offer.  Instead we were off to try and fix C and M’s auto pilot, again.  They had left their boat at El Cid to go back to the US and get parts.  Scott had helped Jerry get it back up and running at El Cid.  It lasted the day but broke again during the night.   This time, no luck, it was dead for good.  Robert and Irene off Filiat radioed us and said that they were unable to get the sail and furler back on the boat and could we come and help.  So off we went.  On about plan D we were finally able to use anchors and snatchblocks to straighten the furler enough to winch the sail off.  Then we lifted the sail back on deck.  Robert and Irene were able to get the furler back aboard and on deck by themselves.  We had three wonderful nights with our new friends.  We had happy hour on Filiat, a wonderful brisket meal on C and M, and our night was rained out. 

 The next morning, after we had to retrieve Cindy’s glasses from Filiat that fell out of Scott’s pocket in their dinghy and Scott’s favorite pirate hat from C and M,

we were off with C and M for a short day sail to the next bay.  We got off shore and had a picture up with all our sails up.

It was the first time we entered an anchorage and had to have a visual watch on the bow for coral heads.  In such beautiful water, we couldn’t resist the post anchor dive in the water, cool off,  and snorkel.  We had Czech and Mate and Michelle over for tacos.  What a night in the cockpit telling stories…and who is that pirate with long curly hair?

Off we went for another day sail to the last anchorage in Mexico.  What a surprise to find out when we were listening to the morning Net and heard that Filiat had sailed all night in the squalls and were now a head of us heading into Belize.  The day brought squall after squall and Scott and I got pretty good at bringing in the jib and then furling it again with the lighter winds.   That is until we figured out it was easier to head downwind with the winds and leave the sails up.  Since it was squally, we decided not to attempt going in at San Pedro to check into Belize.  Instead we met up with Filiat @ Rendevous Point on North Turneffe Island.  It was kind of sad the next morning when we got up and watched C and M and Michelle head off on their way to the Rio, but they needed to leave to make their full moon high tide on May 27.  We enjoyed another day of snorkeling and Scott dug out his buried spear and sling shots to try and spear us dinner.  He wasn’t successful on his first attempt but we were still blessed with fresh fish that Robert had just speared with his spear gun.
            The sail to South Turneffe Island was the best we have had so far in the Caribbean. Beam winds, no waves (since they were blocked by the island), sun, and clear blue water we were almost sad that it was just a four hours to our next anchorage.   The day had finally arrived, we had run out of bread!  Scott took up the challenge and dug out all the supplies from our lockers.  What a successful and tasty first attempt.  That afternoon Scott went off with Irene and Robert in search of lobster and conch.  The hunters were successful …. what an epicurean delightfully day.

Bread lobster

We still can’t believe that we are living this vacation life.  You too can come and stay at the private Turneffe Island Lodge and Cabanas by calling a number in Houston and arrange your fly in!   It just got better as we again, sadly left Filiat and headed for Light House Reef, just a short half day motor east.  This is the place that all the cruising guide books use pictures of for their covers.  This is also the place for a live aboard diving vacation on 120 foot dive boats, that were anchored in the same place as we were.  As the guide book says, Wow!  Lighthouse Reef should not be missed.  It is without question a very special place.  Its’ exceptionally clear waters of aquamarine blue are adorned with numerous beads of jewel-like reefs.  This enchanted anchorage has everything you could want:  beautiful beaches, a red-footed booby bird sanctuary, a great blue hole, (Jacque Cousteau and the Calypso explored this strange geological phenomenon in 1972), and miles of virgin coral reef that provide unsurpassed snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities.

diveboat

 

Scott climbed the mast to install some pointy wires to keep the birds from landing on the top of the mast,  deterents made of welding rods. 

  We met up with three other boats:  Holligan, Mystic Moon, and Idyll Island, Tim, Paula, and boat Dog Nygil are Net Controllers and we had been listening to them and knew we would meet them and we ended up going to shore for lunch at the picnic tables on Half Moon Cay.  According to them, (and everyone else) the diving is the best around and they had been diving everyday and even finished with a two dive day.  We enjoyed the snorkeling and couldn’t imagine a dive being that much better but we did dug out the Sea Breathe and used it one day. It was like swimming in an aquarium, but bigger than the one in the Kemah restaurant.  ;)  As the books claimed, there are zillions of fish, rays, eels, we even got to watch a sea turtle lolly gaggin one afternoon.  Since there was no wind, the bugs were pretty bad and June 1st brought really hot weather for our day on shore at the sanctuary.    It was the most glorious 5 days of our “vacatirement “ so far.  We know that from now on this will be the standard that all other places will be compared to. 
The weather is calling for strong winds by the week-end, so it is time to move further south.  In the long run, it ended up being a blessing that we never checked in to Belize because we didn’t have to go back west to check out. We had just an 80 mile run almost due south the get to Utila, Honduras.  As we started, the direction we needed to head was clearly pointed out by anemometer as the direction of the wind too, right on our nose.  After about six hours of motoring, we were finally able to turn off the engine and sail all during Scott’s watch.  His luck held true and within a half hour of his time in the bunk, the wind died and we just started rocking.  So Cindy had to start the engine and motor on to morning.  Right before sunrise, right after Cindy had noticed the ship on radar and AIS confirmed it,  that there was a ship 2.3 nautical miles off the stern and 23 minutes later 1.7 nm off our bow headed for Barranquilla, Colombia.  No rest for the weary, as the sun came up, you could begin seeing debris in the water.  We had heard stories about debris from other cruisers on the Net.  The debris had come out from the river from the pacific storm.  Luckily we didn’t encounter any trees, just lots of reeds and trash.  Then fifteen minutes later, with the sun not quite up yet, there was something dark  flying out of the water and heading towards us from the east.  To my delight it was over 50 dolphins.  I had never seen a school so big and so playful.  They were excited to see the Amazing Grace.  These dolphins were greyer with black and white markings around the snout, which our books called the Bridled Dolphin (Cindy’s Guess) or maybe the Atlantic Spotted Dolphin (Scott’s Guess).  I had not been back in the cockpit for more than 5 minutes when they were coming back for us from the west.  I will always have the picture in my mind of them coming for us in such a playing manner. 
By 11 we were anchored in the harbor and by 2 we were legally checked into Honduras for 90 days.  Here we are in the Bay Islands…YaHoo! 
We did hear from Czech and Mate and Michelle.  They made it in the river and have flights back to the states on June 8.  It makes us wonder where we will next see them, since it is not a question of if, but when. 

 

 
 
       
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