05/08/2009, Rio Dulce
It's had to say goodbye to good friends. We know this from first hand experience departing Seattle. Leaving family and friends behind was tough, but we knew we would see them all within a year or so.
Cruising friends are a bit different. You may only have known them for a few months or more, but it is an intensive few months or more. You can see your neighbors at home, your church and school friends, a few times a week or so, and most of that time it is just waves of hello or good-bye or idle chatter. It may take a year or so before you really get to know your neighbors and develop a close relationship. Cruising can bring you into close contact immediately and you can see your new friends every day for hours at a time. If you hit it off, you can know the ins and outs of your 'neighbors' within a day or two. Warts and all!
We have been travelling with Migo for almost 4 months now, and that is not including the month or so last year in the Eastern Caribbean. It is now time to say goodbye to some very dear friends. We will miss Patrick, Sofia, Joana, and Jonatan as we move on and they stay here in the Rio Ducle for the next 4-5 months. It may be a year, or possibly many years, before we are able to hang out and enjoy each others company again. However long it is we look forward to the day.
Similar goodbyes were said to High 5, Independence, Wandering Dolphin, Solange, Fruko, Alegria, Saniti, Meander, Uliad, Sonrisa ... The list goes on and on. We have been truly blessed to meet and come close with some truly amazing people on our travels. Each one has contributed to our family in more ways than we can describe. Whether it is learning about a new country, culture or language with them, or sharing the trials and tribulations of living, growing, repairing, and learning in a confined space, the friends we have made have helped to make this adventure truly great.
location: 15 39.75N 89 00.14W
04/30/2009, Rio Dulce
Well the skies have turned gloomy, with high cloud layers moving one way and the lower strata moving another and building into a series of black-grey walls of squalls. The forecast is finally showing a trend away from the dry, sunny weeks of 20-25+ knots that seem to have ushered us out of Panama and all the way here to Guatemala, where we await a 6:30 am high tide to get across the Rio Dulce bar. I say 'finally' because it does start to wear on the nerves with day after day after day of anchoring in 25 knots behind a shallow reef. Having the water be crystal clear and the coral incredible sure does help, but it is a refreshing change of pace to have a calm anchorage rather than a constant 1-2' wind chop. Yep, I know, cry me a river.
Speaking of rivers, we have left the bay islands of Honduras behind and await a VERY early (4:30 am departure), 9 mile trip to the Rio Dulce of Guatemala. It is supposed to be a magical jungle river with loads of primitive Mayan villages. We have read that the original Tarzan series was filmed here so we'll be keeping an ear out for the classic Tarzan yell. It will be Salt & Light's first trip into fresh water, assuming of course we don't get stuck on the river bar. Salt & Light draws 6' 4" when loaded and the mean low tide provides about 5' 3" of depth across the bar. By waiting for the enormous high tide of +1.5' we figure to have a couple of inches to spare. Unless of course the river bar has changed...
We made it into the river. Barely. After following Migo in for our first try they began reporting depths that would leave us high and dry so we burned a u-ee and headed out to deeper water to try again. Choosing a different path, and with Rennie calling out the ever-shallowing depths with great enthusiasm, we kept the keel off the bottom, until we didn't. The boat started bumping along the bar and the tension level rose, but with a bit more horsepower applied we hopped, skipped, and bumped our way into the river. The relief was palpable and the wish for a celebratory beer was strong, but as it was only 7:30am, we opted to wait.
A boat load of officials from Customs, Immigration, Dept of Agriculture, an MD, and an agent to handle all the paperwork and interpretation, came out to welcome us into Guatemala. With all that handled we and Migo went into the town of Livingston to stretch the legs and explore. Several hours and the cold beer later we headed up river and through the Rio Dulce Gorge.
Being surrounded by high cliffs thoroughly draped in dense green jungle was a big change from the tropical islands and beaches of the last 18 months. It's a dramatic and beautiful canyon that leads into several large fresh water lakes. The intersection of the two lakes, Golfete and Izabel, is home to a bunch of small marinas that cater to cruisers and provide safe harbour for hurricane season. Migo will be staying here for the summer and we'll use it as a base to go explore the Mayan ruins of Tikal. It is quite different to be in a lake. No wind until around noon, and evening rain, makes for a very hot and muggy environment. However, it is lovely and the jungle starts right out the 'back door'.
I should report on the rest of our time in Honduras prior to Guatemala. Of course my finger healed just fine and we enjoyed Roatan and Utila. Utila is one of the very few places in the world where you can see whale sharks (look 'em up!). These massive sharks, the largest fish in the ocean, are very slow and docile and if spotted, you can swim with them. Utila is home to a whale shark research institute and they organize trips to try and find them. The crews of Salt & Light, Migo, and The Last Resort chose to go out on their Sunday Funday that combines the adventure of 'whale shark hunting' with scuba diving as well as a catered lunch on a private beach. It was also a great way to celebrate Liam's 12th B-day, which explains the above photo! Alas, no giants of the deep were seen but the diving and lunch were a blast! Ethan made fast friends with Steve, a 24? Year old from Albany NY (I think he reminded Ethan of Sean). He has been enjoying his gap year volunteering at different environmental and biological research facilities, as well as orphanages, around Central America. He came out to the boat with us to enjoy a fine dinner of toasted cheese sandwiches and a movie. He's a great guy and we wish him well on the rest of his studies!
The trip from Utila to Guatemala was broken out into 3 day trips rather than an overnighter. The sailing was non-existent as was the wind. The fishing was expensive, but successful. Otis, you'll be pleased to know the tuna-killer was productive right up to its very end. Its end was a plump Blackfin Tuna of about 36". We're confident of the size because the gaff was inches from his gills when the line failed right where it wraps around the eye of the hook. Gone was the fish as well as the $25 lure!!!!! Our losses were not yet complete as we lost our new Stubby-Bubbler to a huge something that struck the handline. The 60lb test line broke and it was gone. While that lure was disappearing the pole had another big strike as well. Whatever it was was big and heavy as I worked him in. He was able to break the hook and was gone. So far two lures and a hook gone and no fish. The Good Lord provides in His own way and by the end of the trip we had three small Little Tunny's (small Tuna's around 15-18"), in the freezer. Not what we were after but what do we know anyway?! Now we have to find somewhere to replace a couple of good lures!
Tomorrow morning we are heading inland for a few days to see the Mayan ruins of Tikal, hopefully we won't lose any more lures.
04/15/2009, Roatan, Honduras
Have you ever done something stupid? Something on hind site that you know is stupid? And you know you aren't supposed to do something as stupid as the thing that you just did, because you know that God gave you a great brain and your parents gave you such a great education that you know better than to do the inane thing you just did??? No, No, I'm not referring to quitting a good job and selling it all to sail away with your family for a few years. That may be insane but certainly not stupid! I'm referring of course to NOT sticking your finger into a dark hole while snorkeling in tropical waters. I knew that you knew what I knew that I forgot I knew.
I quote from A Comprehensive Guide to Marine Medicine, "Sharp-toothed moray eels can inflict deep puncture wounds. If a bite victim pulls away abruptly, underlying structures (nerves, blood vessels, tendons and ligaments), can be cut. If bitten, try to let the eel open its mouth by itself (which it will usually do), to prevent deep laceration."
Riiiiiiiight. When bitten, hold still and don't pull away while waiting for the eel to let go. Like that's going to happen.
To paraphrase, when bitten in the *** by a pit bull, be sure to hold still while you wait for him to let go, as running screaming to mama will surely result in bits of your 'you know what' being ripped out for said Fido to savor later for desert.
Surely I'll remember such sage advise for next time. ASSuming of course that I could possibly be dumb enough to stick a digit where it don't belong, again! It's a darn good thing it was a bitty 'lil eel rather than one the size you might see in a Discovery Channel special on 'Digit Consuming Carnivores of The Deep'. And no, I won't be their next guest celebrity as I am already booked on Letterman's next episode of Stupid Human tricks.
I did not loose a finger tip, and nor did Rennie get to dig into the Major Laceration section of the immense first aid kit in order to perform minor surgery. She hid her disappointment well and did a fine job of band-aid application. As it was an infantile thing I did we topped it off with a Sesame Street band-aid.
Needless to say I learned my lesson. I think.
PS: The aforementioned attacked occurred at 16 21.28N 086 26.58W in French Harbour, Roatan, Honduras
We are now in Utila Bay, Utila, Honduras at 16 05.53N 086 53.75W