Sailing aboard Great Adventure

20 March 2017 | Isla Mujeres, Mexico
05 March 2017 | Marina El Cid, Puerto Morelos, Mexico
21 November 2016
08 November 2016 | Key West Man of War Harbor
04 November 2016 | Key West
20 October 2016 | Clearwater Florida
14 October 2016 | Destin Harbor
14 October 2016 | Destin Harbor
09 October 2016 | Bayou Grande Marina, NAS Pensacola, FL
06 October 2016 | Bayou Grande Marina, NAS Pensacola, FL
23 December 2015 | Home Port, Bayou Grande Marina
11 May 2014 | Back at Home
28 February 2014 | Man o War Harbor, Key West
23 February 2014 | Key West
21 February 2014
20 February 2014 | Florida SW coast
18 February 2014 | Between Useppa and Cabbage Key
12 February 2014 | Clearwater Beach Marina
07 February 2014 | Panama City Marina
03 February 2014 | NAS Pensacola

Not a Bad Place to be Stuck

20 March 2017 | Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Bob/ Sunny, low 80
We've been anchored in Isla Mujeres for 8 days now, waiting on a weather window to start our journey home. We thought we had an opening for departure on Tuesday, 21 Mar, but mother nature slammed that one shut in the overnight hours. What was once a nice sail northbound had become fraught with high winds for the 24-36 hours before our projected arrival in Pensacola, so we have decided to do what all good cruisers do...wait. And what better place to wait than here. Tomorrow, we will wish our daughter, Renee and granddaughter Sami a very happy birthday before we pack up and head to the beach. The forecast for here is lovely beach weather. I know, it sucks to be us, blah, blah, blah. But hey, you'd do the same!

Puerto Morelos

05 March 2017 | Marina El Cid, Puerto Morelos, Mexico
Bob/Passing rain showers, very windy, 82 degrees
Wow, we have been having so much fun that I didn't realize how long it's been since I've posted to the blog. We had a great stay in Isla Mujeres. We visited with Renee, Tom and Sami along with several families that joined them over the Thanksgiving holidays. We put Great Adventure in a slip at Marina Paraiso the middle of December and went home for the holidays. When we returned everything was fine, we began to stock up and get ready to move on southward. One night while at the bar we started talking to another sailor who was also heading south. We talked about Belize and the Rio Dulce, Guatemala and Roatan, Honduras. I told him that I'd never been to the Rio on my boat but have been twice to help a friend of mine named Art. He said, "You're not talking about Art and Joan Schuck, are you?" A friendship began that evening that I hope lasts a long time. Sterling Huff and his wife Nicol are a fun couple. We decided to leave Isla together and head to Marina El Cid in Puerto Morelos. We couldn't believe how nice this marina is, once we arrived. Floating docks, extremely well protected by a huge rock wall that blocks the swell in the Caribbean sea from reaching us. As a bonus, the marina is also part of the El Cid all-inclusive resort and we get to use the resort amenities although we have to pay for our drinks and food but there are two pools and a huge Jacuzzi as well as nightly entertainment which is all free!
We are docked on the charter fishing fleet dock and have met most of the captains and mates, practicing our Spanish while they practice their English. It has been very nice to meet the local people and see just how warm and sharing they are. We get fresh ceviche a couple times a week and even have several mahi mahi fillets, all for free. One mate, Candlerio, or Candle for short, took us to Puerto Morelos Colonia, the town where all the locals live where we experienced the Carnaval, fun times, lots of dancing and people watching. I think we were the only 'gringos' there.
While here we've been to Chichen Itza, the Botanical Garden and Crococun Zoo. Chichen Itza was fun although we'd rather have skipped the 'Mayan Village' where we were supposed to see the artisans at work making things. That turned out to be just an hour stop at a tourist trap sort of place where they were selling overpriced goods, nobody was making anything. We would rather have had that hour at the ruins where we had a guided tour that seemed to be rushed. Sharon went to The Little Mexican Cooking School while Sterling and I went diving. The diving was spectacular and Sharon's school was fantastic. She spent over six hours making dishes and eating. She even got a copy of all the recipes they did, so when y'all come to visit, prepare for Mexican food like you've never had before. Puerto Morelos is the oldest port on the Mexican east coast and since it is a fishing village, the food is centered mostly on seafood.
We have also discovered that shopping where the locals shop is a real plus. We found a vegetable market that is not much more than a hole in a wall where we bought six avocados, six limes, cilantro, broccoli all for about $3.50 US, and you just can't get bananas that taste like this at home. Everything tastes better here, but hey, it's as fresh as it can get, right out of the garden today!
All good things have to come to an end though. We are currently looking for a weather window, an opportunity to start heading back north. We hope to be back in the Keys sometime later this month and back home by they end of April. Today the winds are howling out of the northeast at 25 to 30 knots, big waves outside the marina but just wind in here. The forcast is for passing rain showers through the next two days along with the winds so we may head back to Isla Mujeres around Wednesday.

Isla Mujeres

21 November 2016
We ran into a time crunch with paperwork for going to Cuba, decided to go there on our way back so that we could spend more time there instead of rushing through. The weather forecast dictated that we leave as soon as possible for Isla Mujeres. As soon as the Superboat races were over and they opened the harbor we got underway at 1530. The forecast was for east winds at 10-15 knots, and again the weatherman failed, we ended up motoring most of the way toward Cuba. When the sun came up we could see Havana, waved to the city as we passed by heading westward along the coast. Saturday and Sunday found us with sporadic winds and we made slow but steady progress toward Cabo San Antonio. The winds were such that we opted to set out across the Yucatan Channel earlier than Cabo San Antonio. About half way across the channel the winds decided to go on vacation again and the iron jenny was re-engaged. Now bucking the 2.5 knot current at an angle we were making only 2 knots toward Isla. As the sun set on Monday night we still had 60 miles to go...argh! We needed to be in port before the forecast northwest winds at 20-25 kicked in late Tuesday night. Progress was slow but steady and around 2030 we picked up some wind that allowed us to make 4 knots and finally 5. We had the lights of Isla and Cancun in sight around 2300 and finally dropped anchor at 0230 on Tuesday morning. We cleared ourselves in during the day on Tuesday and have been enjoying the island, winds and all. The weatherman got that one right, the wind picked up Tuesday night and have been blowing 15-20 knots ever since.

Waiting on weather and CG approval

08 November 2016 | Key West Man of War Harbor
We got to Key West last Friday morning and have had pretty strong winds almost every day. Luckily for us, the winds have been from the East Northeast and we are being protected somewhat by the land and trees. Last night we saw 22 knots and it is supposed to start dying down. I sure wish those politicians would quit talking, it is screwing up the winds down here something fierce.
On Sunday I was able to get my CG Form 3300 sent in to the Coast Guard for approval to head to Havana. I talked with MST1 Wilson on the phone and he said he would expedite it since the weather looks great for a Friday crossing of the Gulf Stream to Cuba. Keeping our fingers crossed.
Just one more repair to make, my makeshift windlass remote that I made for about $10 fell into the anchor locker and filled with water so I have to make a new one. Shouldn't be too difficult, I am not changing the design.

Key West

04 November 2016 | Key West
Last night we had our first Key West sunset in two years. You sometimes forget how beautiful they are. After a full day of work on some repairs, Sharon and I had a couple Cuba Libres and watched all the tourist boats go by loaded with people who pay big bucks to enjoy the sunset while on the water. Life is good. Today we are headed to town, post office, do a little shopping, have some dinner and head to Mallory Square to enjoy the sunset from shore and watch the entertainment from the locals.

Clearwater, Fl

20 October 2016 | Clearwater Florida
Bob/ Sunny, low 80
Tuesday, 18 October, between Sharon and I, we tried to sustain the economy of Apalachicola. Shopping complete so we decided it was time to move on, especially with a cold front expected to cross the Gulf of Mexico on Friday. We woke early on Wednesday morning and made preparation for our departure, the only issue was the starter battery didn't want to go. I re-rigged the starter circuit to the house battery bank and the motor fired right up, underway at 0815, a little later than anticipated but still not bad. The trip through Government Cut was an adventure with the tide ripping out of the channel and the wind coming in the channel, huge waves or swells, whatever you want to call it, they made the 2 mile journey miserable. I had decided to leave the galley hatches cracked open for ventilation but we buried the bow a couple times and water flowed along the upper deck all the way to the cockpit. Things below were soaked, but everything was salvageable.
After clearing the channel we made course for the Clearwater Inlet on Florida's west coast, just north of Tampa. The winds were as predicted, East at 10-15 knots for the first half of the day, seas were a bit confused but as the day wore on, the winds died down and by sunset had almost quit completely. So light were the winds that we decided to motor. Unfortunately the autopilot decided to not participate and we'd have to hand steer all night. Sharon turned in for a nap and I drove. Around 10 p.m. the winds had started to fill in, again as forecast, from the northeast at 10-15 knots. Our second stroke of misfortune occurred around midnight when the forecast winds became 'unforecast'. We had had fairly smooth seas since the wind had died down but all was about to change as the unforecast winds became East at 20 knots then increased to 25. The seas lumped up and it became a very long night fighting strong winds and increasing seas. Finally the sun showed it's face and all was good again, winds returning to the expected northeast direction at 15 knots and seas slowly diminishing over about 3 hours. We arrived in Clearwater around 10:30 am and refueled and got a slip for the evening. We needed to have fresh water to wash the copious amounts of salt all over Great Adventure and to affect repairs on the autopilot and battery.
We took the panels off the steering pedestal, inspected the autopilot and found that the lower sprocket was missing. Sharon was able to stick her hand down the channel where the steering cables are and located the sprocket and a washer, I found the screw that holds it all in place on a ledge beneath the autopilot. All in all, it was an easy repair, much easier than I had expected. The battery is simply a remove and replace item. Tomorrow, Sharon's brother, Jimmy and his wife are visiting us at the marina. They have said we can use their car to make a battery store run, so repairs should be complete.
We talked with a couple who arrived this afternoon and they said there is a crab festival this weekend, this perked up Sharon's ears, I seen crab in our future.
City Marina at Clearwater is a nice facility, clean showers and a break on the price of fuel for Boat US members. It is also in a great location for shopping, a grocery store and Walgreens nearby as well as an opportunity to go to the Clearwater Marine rescue facility where the famous 'Winter' from the movie Dolphin's Tale lives along with her buddy, Hope, the sequel movie and many other rescued sea animals. We've always enjoyed the marina at Clearwater and recommend it highly.
Vessel Name: Great Adventure
Vessel Make/Model: Beneteau 461
Hailing Port: Pace, FL
Crew: Bob and Sharon Wolfe
We have been sailing for all of our married life, which will be 35 years this year, 2013. Sharon grew up in Virginia and I in Texas and neither of us knew anything about sailing when we bought our first boat. Learning by trial and error, mostly error at first, has been fun. [...]
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