Cruising with Vida Dulce

23 February 2018 | Roberts Grove, Belize
22 February 2018 | Roberts Grove, Belize
20 February 2018 | Roberts Grove, Belize
19 February 2018 | Roberts Grove, Belize
18 February 2018 | Roberts Grove, Belize
17 February 2018 | Roberts Grove, Belize
14 February 2018 | Placencia, Belize
13 February 2018 | Placencia, Belize
10 February 2018 | Placencia, Belize
05 February 2018 | Placencia, Belize
04 February 2018 | Placencia, Belize
03 February 2018 | Placencia, Belize
02 February 2018 | Tres Puntas, Guatemala
01 February 2018 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
31 January 2018 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
25 January 2018 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
24 January 2018 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
18 January 2018 | Rio Dulce, Guatamala
17 January 2018 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
16 January 2018 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala

Tentative Plan For Mon/Tues/Wed

23 February 2018 | Roberts Grove, Belize
Susan / mostly sunny, windy, afternoon showers, 82 degrees F
We’ve been hopeful that our fridge would be available for pickup this week. We have a rental vehicle and could meet up with Giovanni at the Guate / Belize road border. But no….. SAT still has not released it to Transcargo even though the Transcargo lawyer has officially notified the new Customs person (the one who held the shipment has been reassigned or fired) who also admitted that she cannot find any legal reason (or required paperwork) to hold these items. No legal reason for them to have been held at all!! We hear from Rita by email that she has not received a delivery date, perhaps next week. Same story, different week. I could scream… Add to my to-do list to clean the ice chest, we’ll have to use it for our drinks.

Ellie arrives Sunday afternoon. At George’s urging we’ll fly her to Placencia from Belize City rather than drive (7 hr round trip) to pick her up. Tentative plan is to check-out Monday & return the rental car. It appears we have a weather window to Roatan Tuesday / Wednesday so we’ll leave Roberts Grove Tuesday and head out via the Ranguana Cay cut. While Jerry’s doing the check-out / return, I’ll do our pre-passage shopping. Later while I do our pre-passage cook-ahead, Ellie can help Jerry with prep, or just relax in the sun, take a run, swim in one of the Roberts Grove pools, and generally get into vacation mode.


22 February 2018 | Roberts Grove, Belize
Susan / a hot sunny windy day, evening showers, 83 degrees F
After a morning of work capped off with a cold noon beer, we treat ourselves to lunch out with Mike & Kim at a small creole seafood-oriented restaurant in Placencia, named Dawn (guessing it’s the owner’s name). We’ve heard good reviews from other cruisers. The available dishes of the day are written on a black board. Mike, Kim & Jerry have shrimp & conch in garlic sauce, I have the creole stewed chicken. I wanted the grilled red snapper but it’s made with garlic so that left the chicken dish. No worries…. all of our meals were delicious. Mike & Kim especially enjoyed the conch, soft & perfectly cooked. Dawn does a good business with locals, expats, vacationers, and cruisers keeping the 6 inside tables filled.

After lunch we stock up at the green markets and buy pints of Tutti Fruitti ice cream to bring to dinner tonight. We’ve been invited to dinner by cruiser acquaintances, George & Linda, formerly of s/v Chez Nous, who having sold their catamaran a few months ago, are renting an apartment here at Roberts Grove for the season. We met them in Roatan last year and perhaps the year prior, while at Fantasy Island Marina. They’re residents of Belize, having spent time here for many years, so are a wealth of local knowledge and stories. It’s an enjoyable evening.


20 February 2018 | Roberts Grove, Belize
Susan / partly cloudy morning, clear blue afternoon skies, windy, 81 degrees F
Belmopan is the capital of Belize (a good trivia question because many people assume Belize City is the capital). We leave Roberts Grove at 5:30am to be sure to arrive at the US Embassy before our 9am appointment. It’s a 2-1/2 hr drive (each way) per Google however if we need to change a tire like yesterday or have trouble finding the correct building, or delayed due to road construction, etc. it’s good to have a time buffer. We arrive without incident at 8am, so plenty early.

The Embassy is in lock-down. I, and only I, am allowed to enter the locked entrance after my passport and printed appointment is approved by a guard. At 9am, not before. I expected an airport style security scan but this was much more; my purse is not allowed, my cellphone, even my Apple watch is not allowed. Closed, sealed, stamped envelopes, are not allowed (I’d hoped they had a Belize / US mail service for us citizens, but no). All of this must stay with Jerry who must stay outside. I can take my wallet, my passport and the paper that needs to be notarized. I pass thru the metal detector and am directed to a building on the other side of the outdoor courtyard. More security. My appointment paper is verified and I’m directed to window 4. After a short while, someone arrives at that window to take my appointment paper, passport and form to be notarized. I sit back down. Several minutes later I’m summoned to the payment window. US$50 for each notary signature / stamp. I need just one. Paid, I sit back down. 10 minutes or so later, I’m summoned to the interview room. I’m asked what I’m signing and why. Then she allows me to sign the form, she signs the form and gives me back my passport with my receipt. It’ll be a few minutes for the stamp I’m told. Back to reception to sit & wait. A few minutes later, my form is ready. Since they do not offer mail-to-the-US service, our choices are FedEX letter or wait until Ellie can take it back and drop it in the mail. We decide on the latter.

Our Belmopan primary mission complete, it’s time to see what’s available here grocery-wise that is not available in Placencia. We look in 2 highly rated grocery stores. The selection we see in Placencia’s stores & green markets is way better than in Belmopan, so we fill up the gas tank and head back. I should mention the condition of the highways. Some sections are flat with center & side stripes but most are without road markings and a few are in terrible shape with car-sized potholes and single lane bridges that look about ready to collapse under the weight of the citrus-laden semis. There is 1 gas station in Placencia, 1 near the turnoff to Dangriga (approx 45 min from Placencia) and two in Belmopan. That’s it. Around here you start a trip with a full gas tank and tires checked.

Productive Day, Car Rental

19 February 2018 | Roberts Grove, Belize
Susan / mostly cloudy, windy, 81 degrees F
Today is a very productive day. Jerry makes excellent progress on the newest Mintaka branded product. He changes the port engine impeller and gets started on replacing the sugar scoop shower (of course the new one is just enough different than the original to require modifications...). I get 2/3rd thru my interior boat cleaning & disenfecting tasks. At 2pm Jerry calls the rental car place to confirm we have a vehicle, we do. We walk down to do the paperwork and collect it, then drive back to pick up Kim & Mike for Placencia shopping (aka beer run ka'imi-speak) They pick up 4 cases of beer and a few bags of groceries. I only get things for tomorrow's early departure; bread & lettuce for sandwiches, Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino, V8, iced tea, and cranberry juice; well, that plus beer. I forgot the 5 gal water jug but we can exchange this tomorrow.

As we're driving back, we all hear a strange noise. Reminds Jerry & I of our flat tire experience when we rented a car in Roatan. Jerry pull off the road. Yep, back right tire completely flat. We're a mile, maybe two, from the car rental place so Kim & I start walking to alert them to our problem (everyone has forgotten their cellphones..) while Mike & Jerry unload the 5 cases of beer and start the process of replacing it with the spare. We walk about a mile, looking out for a cruiser / vacationer in a golf cart that may give us a lift when a police pickup appears. I wave, he waves as he drives past, I wave a little more urgently, he stops. I quickly walk back and explain the situation and ask if he'd be willing to give us a lift. He is, so Kim & I pile into the backseat.

The rental car guy looks alarmed as Kim & I get out the police vehicle. Did the car catch fire? I'm thinking... why would the car catch fire? No, flat tire. We can fix it right here, he says. In the end, he has his guys pull the spare from another Xterra to ready it for Jerry & Mike's arrival. 15 mi later they pull into the rental car place. Again the cases of beer have to be removed from the trunk to install the spare. The rental car guy knows Mike & Kim pretty well, as they're rented a car and golf cart from him. Mike razzes him, saying hey, we recommended you to our friends here and you give them a flat time vehicle?? Hahaha. The guy's reply is perhaps it was the weight of all of that beer. When Jerry says, we're going to the capital tomorrow morning, will this car make it? He assures us he's given us his best car.


18 February 2018 | Roberts Grove, Belize
Susan / beautiful sunny day, windy, 81 degrees F
We’d previously penciled in Sunday lunch at one of the Roberts Grove restaurants, Habaneros, with Mike & Kim, who’ve raved about the food. We were going to arrive by Dulcita but now that we’re here, we all just walk over. Bonus! I have the Mike recommended chicken chimichanga, Jerry has the carne asada, both are delicious as advertised. After lunch Jerry & I walk down to the car rental place to reserve a vehicle for tomorrow (& a few more days) then walk in the opposite direction to the small village of Seine Bight and back. Just a couple of miles yet it was nice to get in a walk on a sunny Sunday.

Wx Update & Roberts Grove

17 February 2018 | Roberts Grove, Belize
Susan / mostly cloudy, windy, 82 degrees F
It is super windy again early this morning, with a forecast of even stronger winds overnight tonight through Wednesday if not Thursday. For several nights now, someone drags their anchor - charter Moorings / Sunsail -ers especially but experienced cruisers as well - sometimes more than one drifts as the squalls hit. We’ve moved to the front of the pack - into the north-flowing current to keep us from the east-flowing side swell - in a spot where anchoring in front of us is less desirable then off to our starboard where it is more protected however that doesn’t stop others from trying, Moorings / Sunsail -ers especially. This morning I watched one Sunsail charter catamaran attempt to anchor three times in the squall, one time nearly hitting a fellow Moorings catamaran, before finding a spot behind us. Stressful. Stressful, listening to the wind howl hoping our anchor remains secure; stressful worrying about other’s pre-squall anchoring jobs; stressful worrying about people who dragged in a squall who decide to anchor at the front of the pack in the hope of better holding, when the problem is more likely their anchoring technique.

Based on this morning’s weather outlook and forecasts, Jerry’s feeling pessimistic that we’ll see a reasonable weather window to Roatan this Fri / Sat / Sun; Ellie’s flight arrives Roatan mid-day Monday. He calls Expedia and changes her inbound flight to Belize City (keeping her outbound Roatan). A benefit of this change is that she’ll not have to overnight in Houston (saving the cost of a hotel room) and will arrive a day earlier, Sunday. That decision made, that bundle of worry goes away.

I’ve been working on getting Barber Creations LLC / Mintaka Innovations branded electronic barographs available for sale on the government procurement site, GSA Advantage. As you can imagine, lots of hoops to jump, lots of documentation to assemble. We’re doing this at the request of our NOAA NWS customers. I’ve completed all of the required training (online), assembled most documents, etc. To enter our application into eOffer, required as of this year, I need a ACES Biz Rep Certification. Come to find out this is not an online process; part is online but they require original “wet signature” (pen to paper) forms, including Notary affirmation of me being me, to be physically mailed to them to complete the application process. In the age of DigiSign and online Notary services and email…, this is, well…… Our customer is anxious for us to complete the process so that they can place additional orders so I check options for Notary services in Belize. The US Consulate in the capital city Belmopan offers this service. Surprisingly the appointment process is online only. I make the first appointment available, only 2 left, for 9am Tuesday Feb20.

Given weather and anchorage conditions we’re not comfortable leaving Vida Dulce in the anchorage while we do a day-run to Belmopan. Plus a good nights sleep from worry would be welcome, so after a quick produce buy in Placencia we move to Roberts Grove, where our friends Mike & Kim s/v Ka’imi have been for a couple of weeks. We’ll rent a car Monday for the Tuesday morning 2-1/2 hr trip to Belmopan so will also take the opportunity to fill up our diesel jerry jugs, exchange our jug of Belize drinking water, go shopping in the capital where we may (finger’s crossed) find a wider variety of grocery offerings, and take advantage of wheels to complete other errands for ourselves and Mike & Kim.

Roberts Grove is a combo villa / condo / vacation resort / marina well north of Placencia. We arrive via Placencia lagoon and up a mangrove channel. Mike & Kim are there to welcome us and assist with docking. A security guard arrives on a bicycle just as we’re secure and doing a chin-wag as our Aussie friends would say. B10 (US $5) / foot / week. Not terrible given we do not need shore power (the new solar panels are great!) and only enough water to wash down Vida Dulce. Roberts Grove is quiet weather-wise yet a socially active, somewhat noisy community of retirees / expats and vacationers. a No Worries, Be Happy! kind of place.
Vessel Name: Vida Dulce
Vessel Make/Model: Lagoon 440
Hailing Port: Seattle, WA
Crew: Jerry and Susan Barber
About: Jerry and Susan moved aboard Vida Dulce in late October of 2010. We are currently in the Caribbean.
Vida Dulce's Photos - Main
26 Photos
Created 20 October 2017
17 Photos
Created 2 September 2017
4 Photos
Created 15 December 2016
9 Photos
Created 17 October 2016
20 Photos
Created 1 September 2015
North Coast, West section 2015; Havana to Baracoa Bus Trip 2016
100 Photos
Created 15 May 2015
38 Photos
Created 11 March 2015
50 Photos
Created 25 December 2014
The road trip included 7 States: WA, OR, ID, WY, CO, UT, MT
16 Photos
Created 3 August 2014
Hurricane Season 2014
1 Photo | 5 Sub-Albums
Created 14 June 2014
Pictures of our stay in Honduras 2014
1 Photo | 5 Sub-Albums
Created 4 January 2014
10 Photos
Created 18 October 2013
4 Photos
Created 20 September 2013
Our Dec 2012 - Feb 2013 visit
55 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 31 December 2012
Happy Holidays from Isla Providencia, Colombia
11 Photos
Created 31 December 2012
Photos of my on-board garden
16 Photos
Created 28 September 2012
4 Photos
Created 26 December 2011
Pictures of our time in Panama, Sept 2011 - Dec 2012
1 Photo | 5 Sub-Albums
Created 29 September 2011
Pictures of our visit to Columbia, May-Oct 2011
1 Photo | 5 Sub-Albums
Created 15 July 2011
Photos of our series drogue and May 2011 practice deployment and retrieval
24 Photos
Created 13 May 2011
Pictures from our brief visit to Bonaire, Curacao & Aruba in May 2011
35 Photos
Created 11 May 2011
Pictures of our short stay off Isla Pelona in May 2011
17 Photos
Created 11 May 2011
Pictures of our time in Grenada, April 2011
48 Photos
Created 23 April 2011
Pictures of our island stops in the Grenadines, April 2011
36 Photos
Created 4 April 2011
Photos of St Vincent, April 2011
11 Photos
Created 2 April 2011
Photos of St Lucia March 2011
46 Photos
Created 15 March 2011
68 Photos
Created 7 March 2011
Photos of Dominica 2011
3 Photos
Created 7 March 2011
Photos of Iles des Saintes, Feb 2011
12 Photos
Created 17 February 2011
Photos of Guadeloupe, Feb 2011
49 Photos
Created 13 February 2011
Photos of Barbuda, Jan 2011
15 Photos
Created 14 January 2011
20 Photos
Created 30 December 2010
2 Photos
Created 26 December 2010
Photos of Red Hook, St Thomas and Vida Dulce getting a new bank of batteries and the installation of her new custom made arch which will support 4 solar panels.
28 Photos
Created 9 November 2010
Haul out of Vida Dulce in November of 2010.
23 Photos
Created 9 November 2010
Lots of photos of various places not in other albums. Most are included directly in a blog entry.
27 Photos
Created 31 October 2010
15 Photos
Created 11 September 2010
A "Working" Trip with Jim to start outfitting the boat for cruising.
31 Photos
Created 10 September 2010
11 Photos
Created 5 April 2010
34 Photos
Created 5 April 2010