05/04/2013/5:51 pm, Madcap in Rio Dulce / crew in Nova Scotia
Jim arrived back in Canada last week after getting Madcap emptied, cleaned and partially covered in her berth at Casey's dock. My dad came home from the hospital two weeks ago, and now, four weeks after fracturing his pelvis, is walking quite comfortably around the house with the aid of a walker. He's hoping to trade that for a cane in a week or so.
Jim and I drove out to the cottage on the Northumberland Strait this afternoon to see how close we are to cottage time, and we're getting there. No snow on the lawn, but there's a drift of it along the breakwater and a big chunk sitting on the sandbar out front. Sigh - a few weeks yet before we can take off the shutters and get back to waterside living.
In the meantime, we are all well and still holding warm memories of the season, along with gratitude that we weren't facing the 50 kt winds that some of our friends experienced in the Bahamas over the last few days. We're glad to know that although there were some close calls, they have fared well.
Our best to all our friends and readers both on and off the water.
20/03/2013/12:41 pm, Beth in Nova Scotia, Jim in Rio Dulce
How time flies - here are three long overdue updates.
I've had a good week visiting my dad in the hospital where he is astounding everyone with his determination and his progress. He is almost 88 and two weeks after breaking his pelvis and being unable to move, he came home this morning! It is the first day of spring, and after a couple of weeks of above 0 Celsius weather, we had 15 cm of snow this morning, wouldn't you know? No worries though - a little shoveling and the path was clear. He can walk up and down the hall with his walker, do all his own washing up and personal care, and now he will be able to sit in his chair in his own kitchen, eat some good meals, read his mail and the papers in comfort, and tell me what to do! I sure hope I can manage to be as fit and able when I am his age.
In the meantime, Jim is combining the end of season boat chores with visiting friends in the Rio Dulce. He's been cleaning lockers, checking on another problem with the holding tank (a bucket that you simply empty overboard is looking good right now!) and delivering bags of left over items from the larder to friends and neighbours. He emailed last night from the dinghy out in El Gofete because the connection ashore was impossible. Today he is running down to Livingston in a lancha to deliver paperwork to Raul for a boat that Casey is taking to Cancun, and then he can watch as a 7 ft draft boat goes over the bar. I love that image - a guy in a dinghy in the middle of the water, smoky mountains all around him, dug out canoes and men with fishing nets passing by, emailing me - thousands of miles away - on his Blackberry. Thank goodness for technology!
And thank goodness for good health. And for friends and family. And for (ahem) Canadian medical care. And for co-captains who say, "Go, I will take care of things here." And for beauty and dophins. And for love and kindness. And for the sailing life with all its vagaries and joys. It has been another good season.
10/03/2013/12:35 pm, Buenavista Bay, Rio Dulce, Guatemala
We had a lovely motor sailing trip to Roatan - no full moon and some cloud cover this time so the night skies were much darker, but the upside of that was that we could watch the sparkles of bioluminescence as Madcap sliced through the water. Those specks of light never fail to delight me. When Liam was with us, he swished the end of his fishing pole through the water to make the sparkles swirl around - just the way the children used to do with sticks from bonfires - swirling them through the air and watching the sparks. A great pod of dolphins accompanied us for nearly half an hour just before sunset - there must have been at least a dozen of them - and they put on a fabulous show, leaping and flipping into the air in front of us, splashing down into the water and then rolling on their sides as they swam by again, one eye looking up as if to say, "Did you see me?" Their sense of timing is a beautiful thing because we are moving along at about 6 knots and they crisscross right in front of the bow. Any mistakes and they get bumped - and with so many of them playing this time, we were amazed that we heard no thumps. At dawn I saw another couple of them gracefully surfacing and diving off the bow and I wondered how many we missed during the night. I know it wasn't the same group, but it somehow felt as if they were accompanying us.
We arrived off Tres Puntas about 1PM and changed our original plan of staying there till the next morning. We discovered that Raul, the agent who handles our immigration does not work on Sunday, and the only chance for us to get all the paperwork handled as efficiently as he does it was to see him before 4 o'clock. Until now, we have always thought we were limited by tide to go over the bar, and it was somewhere between low and mid tide about then. We had heard from several people, however, that it is possible to just rev up high and plow through the muddy bottom so we waited till 2 o'clock and decided to go ahead and try. Raul said if we got stuck, he'd send a friend to give us a pull.
The happy news is We Did It! With Jim on the bow looking for the 2 small black flag markers, I gunned 'er up to 3500 rpms and we plowed through a half nautical mile of mud at about 2 knots. The depth sounder read 0 and we could feel the difference between mud and water, but we never slowed more than that and when it was over we were SO excited! Now we know that a 6 ft draft with an intrepid crew can plow through there most anytime. I bet the bottom of our keel is squeaky clean now!
We lowered the dinghy, took our papers to Raul's office in Livingston and after telling us we were able to enter on our existing permit, he hopped on his motor bike, took our passports to immigration and was back in 10 minutes with everything stamped and official. Within an hour after dropping the anchor, we lifted it again and were on our way up the gorge. Talk about efficiency! Thirty hours after leaving Roatan, we arrived at our favourite Rio Dulce anchorage - Buenavista Bay (aka Gringo Bay) and had the anchor down and Nova Scotian Crystal glasses of chilled white wine in hand as the sun disappeared behind the hills.
This gave us an extra day before I had to go up to town and board a bus, so we chatted with Bea and Wolfgang (Genesis) and Jennifer and Virgil (as they passed by on their way to hike the finca) and the folks on a Baby Bayfield (25 or 27 ft?) they sailed all the way down from Quebec, and even with Martin as he stroked by on his usual morning swim across the bay. Then it was time for us to have a last swim and move around the corner to Casey's dock. To our delight, Cabot and Heidi (Chewink) were right behind us, and Jennifer, Jessica and Virgil came in their lancha shortly afterward. So here we all were, having a party on Casey's porch and he wasn't there. Jennifer finally managed to reach him down at the Round House and it wasn't long before he and Keith the plumber came roaring across the bay. What a homecoming! Thank goodness I had that extra day!
We set off in one of Casey's lanchas the next morning in time to meet Steve and Sandi (Yonder) at Tortugal before my 12 noon bus. Last time we saw them was in Placencia so it was a fine reunion. Luckily, Daphne (one of the owners) had returned to Tortugal too so we had a hug and a catch up.
The bus trip was uneventful, my bed was comfy that night, the flights were all on time and my luggage made it too. You can't beat that!
(Couldn't resist putting up another one of Jim's great pics)