Cruising with Vida Dulce

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
15 January 2018 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
12 January 2018 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
11 January 2018 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
10 January 2018 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
08 January 2018 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala

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.

Yet Another Broken Critical Item

14 February 2018 | Placencia, Belize
Susan / mostly sunny, showers, 81 degrees F
We continue to prepare for a last minute weather window opening to Roatan. If on a morning this week ChrisP says today / tomorrow looks reasonable, we want to be ready to check-out & go. Jerry replaced the impeller on the starboard engine yesterday and did his usual maintenance checks on both of them. Today Jerry empties the 20 gallons of diesel from the jerry jugs into the gas tanks; port side is 100% full, starboard side is close. When pulling the jerry jugs out from the forward lazaret, he notices the middle water tank brace is broken. The hook & crossbar shown in the picture secures the tank to the boat structure. It’s broken in the middle, in a place protected from the elements, yet it looks corroded and stress fatigued. How & why it broke is a mystery. It has been windy and squally and a bit rough yet not like the motion we get on passage. In any case, this isn’t good…- well good it’s discovered while not on passage.. - nonetheless we can’t have 80 gallon water tank(s) moving around in the front of the boat. Another critical item to fix before we can depart. (Jerry visually inspects the other two and they look fine.)

While I go to the grocery stores & produce markets, Jerry goes to the hardware store where he locates a straight length of threaded stainless steel rod. A machine shop could easily bend one end into a hook but there’s no machine shops in the Placencia area. The following morning we get a few names & numbers of machine shops from other cruisers however all are quite a distance away by taxi. Jerry thinks he can rig up an alternative with a stainless steel u-bolt (in our supplies), part of a stainless steel plate (in our supplies), and this rod to get us to Roatan. There we’ll have 3 new ones made (one for each tank).

Enjoy Where You Are…

13 February 2018 | Placencia, Belize
Susan / mostly sunny in between squalls, breezy, 81 degrees F
"Enjoy where you are" is one mantra of a successful cruising lifestyle. "Do not be tied to a schedule, wait for your weather window" is another important one. These can be a mindset challenge when you'd rather be somewhere else.

Windy, windy, windy. It's windy all around the Caribbean; unusually windy and has been for the entire cruising season so far. Last time it was this persistently windy was 2014 per ChrisP. We need an overnight, not-too-terrible window to go east to Roatan. Our early Feb window got blown out by unexpectedly strong winds, and ChrisP hasn't seen a window eastbound since, and doesn't see one in the near future (7-day outlook).

Ellie has a flight into Roatan arriving Monday26. Given the wx outlook, we're uncertain we can get there ahead of her. We look at flying her to Belize City from Roatan, and rerouting her from Houston. Tropic Air has one flight between Roatan & Belize City each day; their schedule doesn't match up all that well however if there is a seat available, it is one possibility. Jerry cannot help but notice the new-looking Cessna 207 Turbo in their parking area. Perhaps he can rent it and fly to Roatan to pick her up? This is, of course his preferred option; he sooo misses flying. Unfortunately that is unlikely so back so commercial options: rerouting her leg Houston->Roatan to Houston ->Belize City is a possibility per an Expedia phone rep. Next question is whether to keep her return from Roatan, hoping we can get there during the week she's with us, in order to be there when Mona & Paul fly into Roatan March4. Part of that answer is whether Mo & Paul can reroute to Belize City. If they can, we may all just enjoy Belize rather than Roatan. Not our first choice, but that's where we are...

Jerry spends nearly an hour on the phone with Expedia getting options for Ellie before getting completely frustrated. Bottom line it appears doable to reroute her flights in / out of Belize City. Jerry calls Ellie to let he know what he's thinking; she's fine with either destination. Next call is to Mona to see if they can change their flights. They can, but they really don't want to, and since there is general availability to Belize City at a lower cost, they prefer to keep their Roatan tickets (which are difficult to get) and take a wait & see approach.

Ok, everyone is informed. Availability to Belize City is good. We may wait a day or so before making the call to to reroute Ellie's in-bound to Belize City (leaving her out-bound from Roatan). Perhaps the weather deities will smile upon us...

Maya Beach Bistro

10 February 2018 | Placencia, Belize
Susan / mostly sunny, 81 degrees F
We’ve been getting a lot of east-component wind 15 kts or so, especially at night, with periodic squalls bringing 10 kt higher blows. East-component winds means we can’t easily go east to Roatan. They also make this anchorage very rolly. It’s a double-whammy.

We enjoy lunch at Maya Beach Bistro and then a Tutti Fruitti ice cream with Mike & Kim, s/v Ka’imi. Maya Beach Bistro is waaaayy out of Placencia; a car or golf cart is necessary transportation. Worth the effort as it serves, arguably, the best food made from locally sourced ingredients in the area, along with a lovely beach & ocean view. The everything made to order format means several beers are enjoyed while we wait for our late lunch to be served. It’s a warm, sunny, relaxing afternoon spent with longtime cruiser friends (on land). Nice!!

At sunset, back on Vida Dulce, we’re treated to a green “flash” aka “wink”.

Belize Check-In

05 February 2018 | Placencia, Belize
Susan / mostly sunny becoming mostly cloudy, 84 degrees F
We take the Hokey Pokey water taxi to Big Creek to check into Belize. The water taxi is B6 (US $3) per person each way. It's a fast ride in a 20 passenger lancha thru a mangrove lined channel between these two small towns. There is a posted schedule, however it leaves when it's full so best to be there early. We want to take the 10am boat; we're there at 9:15 and there are already several others waiting. All seats for that trip are sold by 9:30am so we all get in & go.

Van taxis meet the taxi for collectivo-style service. For people checking-in or getting their passport time extended, the cost is B10 (US$5) per person out and the same back. Our taxi driver collected when he delivered us back to the water taxi dock.

The check-in process was surprisingly efficient & professional compared with past interactions with Belizean officials. At Immigration, one person at the counter handled check-ins / outs, another handled passport extensions. There was just one other boat checking-in ahead of us. The passport extension line was long and kept growing, all expats. Immigration is B90 (US$45) for 1 month. Next stop, Customs where there were forms to sign but no charge. Port Authority is next. The cost here is by day. We were hoping for a wx window this weekend but it now looks unlikely, hopefully early next week, so we chose Feb 15, or 12 days. Cost B150 (US$ 75); there will be an additional cost of B5 per day if we stay longer. Last stop, Quarantine where we asked about the foods we have onboard. We list pretty much nothing and they don't argue. Cost B50 (UD$ 25)

The noon water taxi is sold-out by a quarter-to so we're back in Placencia just after 12 noon. We pick up a SIM card & data plan for Jerry's phone. All-rightly, we're in!

A Lovely Day

04 February 2018 | Placencia, Belize
Susan / sunny, warm & calm, 84 degrees F
We wake to a calm, mostly sunny morning. Nice! 32 boats are anchored here, including us. It's a large anchorage, everyone has more than adequate space. We anchored facing North last evening, shifted to West overnight, and then slowly worked back North as the light winds shift; our choice of spots is excellent. That said, with this calm morning a least half of the boats are taking the opportunity to move elsewhere so if we wanted to, we could re-anchor closer in.

Mike drops by. Their rescue cat Zoe has been sick, went to the vet a week ago, has been taking antibiotics and is, if anything, is worse today. They need to go back to the vet Monday so are taking Ka'imi into the lagoon this morning for a day or two. Dani & Jens then drop by for a chat and to pick up their items. They tell us about the Yoli Sunday BBQ; we join them there for lunch, and an ice cream at Tutti Fruitti. A nice re-introduction to Placencia.
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