Polite Compromise

Vessel Name: Compromise
Vessel Make/Model: Beneteau/Oceanis 41
Hailing Port: Houston Texas
Crew: Karen and Ron Anderson
About: Married for 44 years. Kids grown and gone. Decided we wanted another adventure (like raising kids wasn't enough) and brag about it. The commodore and I are off on another one of our adventures.
Extra: I was once told that the secret to a successful marriage is polite compromise. I'm still not sure what is so polite about it.
Home Page: Facebook
05 April 2019 | Shelter Bay Marina, Panama
26 January 2019 | Providencia, Colombia
17 October 2018 | Rio Dulce, MAR Marina
29 August 2018 | MAR Marina, Izabel, Guatemala
22 March 2018 | Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL
13 December 2017 | Titusville, FL
28 November 2017 | Anchored just south of Brunswick, GA
08 August 2017 | Portsmouth, VA
19 July 2017 | Oriental, NC
20 April 2017 | Marathon City Marina - Boot Key Harbor
03 March 2017
09 June 2016 | Galveston, TX
01 June 2016 | Pensacola, FL
23 May 2016 | Moving from Key West to Dry Tortugas
16 May 2016 | Marathon City Marina, Boot Key - Marathon, FL
06 May 2016 | Hope Town Harbour, Elbow Cay, Bahamas
16 April 2016 | Hope Town, Elbow Cay, Abacos, Bahamas
09 April 2016 | Cherokee Point, Abacos, Bahamas
Recent Blog Posts
05 April 2019 | Shelter Bay Marina, Panama

Hello Panama

26 January 2019 | Providencia, Colombia

Another new stamp in my passport

It's time to move!! We left the Rio in late October, traveling for a while with Kemah friends, Tracie and Steve on "Saga Sea". Once we reached open water, they turned north to Belize and we went south to Honduras. The main areas of the Bay Islands of Honduras are Utilla, Roatan, Guanaja, and Cayos [...]

17 October 2018 | Rio Dulce, MAR Marina

Stuff Happens

There is really only one word to describe the Rio Dulce in August/September… HOT! It is the rainy season so you get wet at least once a day, but overall it is just miserably hot! No breeze to cool off with but you open the hatches anyway. Bugs are out and mosquitos are everywhere.

29 August 2018 | MAR Marina, Izabel, Guatemala

View from the Bow

Summer is racing past! It’s the end of August already and we are starting to make tentative plans for whatever comes next.

12 May 2018

Bienvenido a Rio Dulce Guatemala

We left Key West and motor sailed for three days, arriving in Isla Mujeres Mexico on April 14th. Trying to stay out of the Gulf Stream, we went south to get close to Cuba (about 10-20 miles offshore) and take advantage of a small counter-current. Once we passed Cuba and entered the Yucatan Straits, [...]

22 March 2018 | Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL

Good bye Bahamas

It has been a busy past few months! We left Titusville in early January and moved south, arriving in Fort Lauderdale on the 14th. We stayed just long enough to pick up mail, resupply the galley, take Ron to the dentist, and wait for that all important Weather Window. We pared up with another boat, [...]

Hello Panama

05 April 2019 | Shelter Bay Marina, Panama
Karen Anderson | Sunny and Bright

In February, we left the Colombian islands of Providencia and San Andreas behind and sailed on to Panama. We had a nice, calm, overnight sail to Bocas del Toro. The water got pretty rolly as we neared land, but we had no problems as we entered Dragos Channel and motored towards Bocas Town. Bocas del Toro is an archipelago consisting of 9 main islands and 52 cays. And the big waves we saw are part of what makes this area a premier surfing spot! We arranged to stay at Bocas Marina for a couple of weeks so we could call in for a mail drop and refill propane, fuel, water, etc. We met up with the boats we had sailed with from Guanaja - s/v Dreamtime and s/v Halcyon. We spent time swimming and snorkeling around Krawl, Popa, and Bastimento Cays. We also spent a couple of days around Blue Field at Valiente Peninsula. The area was experiencing a drought, so water was in short supply. The marina would only open the taps and sell water for one hour a day. Getting clean laundry was becoming an issue…. Going into town was always fun. No road from the marina to town, so you could either take a water taxi, or drive your own dinghy over and try to find a safe place to tie up. Ron quickly worked out that if you tied up at a waterfront restaurant - and then gave them business (i.e. bought beer and hamburgers) that they would let you leave your dinghy there whenever you wanted! The man has his priorities…

No Mardi Gras here, but there is a Carnival festival marking the beginning of Lent. And while Bocas doesn’t have big parades and floats, they do celebrate big! There is a Queen and her court, a small parade to present her, and lots of music and great street food.  But that’s where the similarities to New Orleans or Galveston ends.  Bocas celebrations include masked Diablos! The idea is deep in tradition of the Afro-Caribbean culture and was brought to Bocas del Toro from other areas of Panama.

The legend begins with a group called the “Congos” who won their independence from slavery of the Spanish colonialists. It’s said that they come to the streets each year to fight the “Diablos” which to some people represent the slave masters with their whips.  The “Devils” are seen marching and dancing through the streets early each evening during carnival in their outlandish masks and costumes.  The men and boys who portray these Diablos are chosen by others to become part of this long tradition.

The masks and costumes are something they are very proud of and the colors of the costumes can tell a lot about where the person ranks and how long they have been participating. Boys as young as 7 start by wearing an all red costume with a red mask.  As each year goes by the boys who turn into young men add a piece of black to the mask and costume until finally, they are dressed in all black.  The masks are amazing, adorned with paint, feathers, fangs, and glowing eyes. They have a special dance and march up and down the streets daring anyone to cross the line into their territory, cracking their whips in warning.  Other towns people, Congos, will try to challenge the Diablos using a stick or fancy footwork. But on Ash Wednesday when Lent is over, the Diablos will come to the center of the town park with their masks in their hands so they can be “saved”.  All the devils have godmothers who walk with them to the church to repent. (Until next year!) We were only there for the first few days of the festival so we didn’t get to see the Diablos get saved… But we did enjoy the music, food, and fun - and I even got a couple of photos of the Diablos!

While the Diablos roamed the streets, we took a quick 4 day trip to Costa Rica. To get there involves taking the water shuttle to the town of Almirante and then riding a bus to the border where you walk across from Panama into Costa Rica. The cottage we reserved was in the coastal town of Puerto Viejo. Costa Rica is part of the “ring of fire”. This part of the country has spectacular black sand beaches due to the volcanic activity in the area. Our little cottage was only a block from the beach so we spent our mornings walking in the sand, afternoons exploring the area, and in the evenings we ate at different restaurants. We took a guided walk through a jungle reserve, tried our hand at making chocolate at an indigenous village, and rode up into the mountains to take a white water rafting tour (with a few class 4 runs!). Ron is generally a good sport when I drag him along on my adventures (Come on, it will be FUN!) - but he did raise his eyebrows when they made him strap on a helmet and PFD before giving him his paddle. Since there is a drought in the whole area, the river is low - making the water fast with lots of exposed boulders. It was so much fun! BUT - I will now file that adventure along with the motor scooter ride, and be thankful that we survived and will NEVER do it again…)

After we returned to Bocas we took advantage of the next good weather window and moved over to Shelter Bay Marina, near Colon, about 130 miles away. Colon is the Caribbean opening to the Panama Canal which goes through the isthmus to Panama City and the Pacific Ocean. Ron and I had read a book by David McCullough “Path Between the Seas” several years ago (it’s an excellent read but quite long), which documented the construction of the Panama Canal. So visiting here and seeing it has been on his Bucket List. The US officially handed the canal over to Panama December 31st 1999. Since then, a second “new” canal has been built.

The canal transits 47 large vessels per day on average. The old canal is 51 miles long and can handle ships up to Panamax size and the new canal is good for much larger vessels called Neomax. Private boats/sailboats can transit for a cost of around USD1500. All vessels must be “measured” and assigned a spot (date/time) to transit. Each boat must hire large fenders, and thick lines (ropes). Must have a Canal Advisor. Must have four line handlers. Boat must be capable of making at least 5 knots of under power. The boat next to us at the marina, s/v Sea Hawk (Marianthe and Sam) were arranging to transit and needed extra line handlers. We were excited to volunteer! Small boats can opt to be “nested” with other boats and transit as a unit. This helps since the prop wash from the larger boats, plus the current created by the movement through the locks can be hard to manage.

We met our advisor (Lawrence) at 3:15pm on March 29th and picked up an extra line handler (Santiago) and proceeded to the canal. We rafted up with a big catamaran (Kiwa) and another monohull. With the catamaran in the center, their larger engines would control our forward movement through the canal. First up was Gatun Lock, three chambers inside the lock. The locks raised the boat 80 feet and we moved into Gatun Lake and tied off to a buoy for the night. Next morning we were assigned a different advisor (Harold) who guided us through lock #2, Pedro Miguel, and lock #3, Miraflores. These locks lowered us back down to sea level for our entrance into the Pacific. At Miraflores there is a large multistory building overlooking the lock. It was packed with people watching the boats transit. We all started waiving at the crowds and they waved back… next thing you know the crew on the New Zealand catamaran pulled out their ukuleles and started serenading the crowd with “Over the Rainbow.” Everyone on the sailboats had their arms up swaying and singing along. Guess you kinda had to be there…

Since we were tied up against the center catamaran, only one side of our boat needed to work the lock lines. The lines are attached to the cleats fore and aft on the sailboat - you have to tie a bowline in the other end. A canal guy up on the top of the lock throws a small line to you - it has a monkey fist knot on the end of it and I think there is a weight in it that helps them throw it (they throw really hard!!). You catch the monkey fist and tie it to your line with another bowline. Guy on the top of the lock then hauls the larger rope up and attaches it to the bollard. The boat line handler (otherwise known as a slackard!) pulls in or lets out the slack in the rope as the boat rises or lowers in the locks. The small boats need 4 handlers, but the big ships use 16. There are also little locomotive engines (mules) on tracks running beside the canal that tow them through the locks. A tug boat is tied to back of the big boats - they pull back to keep the boat from moving too far forward. I’ll be honest here, I didn’t actually touch a line. I did my best to stay out of everyone’s way and take as many photos as possible. So much to see. I had a great time!

Once we got to the Pacific side, a service boat came to retrieve the rented lines, fenders, and handlers and took us to the dock. Ron wanted to take the Panama Canal Train back to Colon, but it didn’t run on Sundays so we settled into a hotel and spent the rest of the weekend sightseeing.

Now we are back on Compromise and getting ready to leave. We plan to head to Portobello and then go see the San Blas Islands. Afterwards, we will be turning north and go to the Cayman Islands. But first things first - after 6 years, our ropes have decided to show their age and break! So we have to replace the jib and spinnaker halyards. Also had to replace the jib furling line and the main furling in-haul. (Thank you for all your help Steve, s/v Aztec Dream) Plus, our engine had a leak in the raw water line on the exhaust side. But as of today - we are all done!!! We are watching for our next weather opportunity and will be leaving soon.

Bye for now! Karen

Another new stamp in my passport

26 January 2019 | Providencia, Colombia
Karen - Sunny and Windy
It's time to move!! We left the Rio in late October, traveling for a while with Kemah friends, Tracie and Steve on "Saga Sea". Once we reached open water, they turned north to Belize and we went south to Honduras. The main areas of the Bay Islands of Honduras are Utilla, Roatan, Guanaja, and Cayos Cochinos. We arrived in Utilla on October 26th and met up with Texas friends Ron and Karen on "Kokopelli". We joined them and another boat "Zeppelin" (Ellie and Wayne) to sail to Cayos Cochinos. Wayne and Ellie run a dive charter business, http://www.zeppelindiveandsail.com, and are extremely knowledgable about the area.

Cayos Cochinos is a small cluster of islands and is pretty remote. No wifi, no facilities for water or fuel, and no restaurants or places to buy food. What makes this place so special from the other islands here is that the National Geographic Foundation manages this area. They secured a 100 year lease with the Honduran government and are committed to protect the islands from development or exploitation. There are several species of coral on these reefs that are not found anywhere else. The island is also home to their rare Pink Boa Constrictor. No fishing allowed - except by locals that live here and even then they only use hand lines. No new buildings or development. Water in the anchorage is deep and there are only three mooring balls so even sailing here is limited. We enjoyed several days of snorkeling, hiking and exploring. The water is clear the coral was really beautiful. I hope it always stays this way...

All three boats moved on to Roatan, the largest of the Bay Islands. Kokopelli and Zeppelin have slips at the Parrot Tree Resort and Marina, http://parrottree.com. Ron had arranged for us to stay at the marina on Fantasy Island http://www.fantasyislandresort.com. Ron and I had visited Roatan about 12 years ago when we flew in for a scuba trip. We were anxious to see what changes had taken place since then. The cruise terminal was just being built when we were here before and population at that was about 10,000 people. The island is still beautiful - and most importantly the reefs are healthy and gorgeous. But now, the population has grown to 50,000-60,000 people, more roads have been paved, and development has begun. I was told that one big danger to the reefs is that whenever jungle is cleared for development there are large runoffs of dirt put into the water whenever it rains.

Fantasy Island is actually a large resort with a dive center. It has a nice stretch of beach that we spent quite a few evenings walking along. It's connected to the main island by a little one-way wooden bridge. Loads of animals around as well! peacocks, agouti (looks kinda like a rabbit), iguanas, and monkeys!! The marina is managed by Rudi and Hildi and they will treat you like family. He even arranges for a small bus to come to the marina once a week to take you to the local grocery store (Eldon's). And now there is even a laundry service that offers pick up and delivery service! If you can't get where you need to go by dinghy, it's also fairly easy to get around town by taxi.

In addition to the boating community, there is a large expat group that lives on Roatan. I can see why quite a few boaters get this far... and then just decide to stay. But if this is going to be our last year as cruisers, we need to keep moving!

We teamed up with several other boats and made plans to move to our next big destination - Providencia, Colombia. We had to check out of Honduras and get our zarpe, so we moved the boats to Guanaja to rest/restock and wait for that all important weather window. Guanaja is another little gem of an island - except for the bugs!! Tiny little no-see-ums that come right through your screens and make you itch all night. We had been here before so we knew to anchor as far from shore as you could. Enjoyed several days here hiking to waterfalls and snorkeling around Michael's rock. Most of the population lives on a tiny little island called Bonacca just off from Guanaja. It is so small and packed with buildings that there are no roads! Only alleys. So you dinghy over, tie off at the fuel dock and wander off through the maze of alleys to find whatever you need. There are a couple of little grocery stores, variety stores, and restaurants. We enjoyed fresh seafood and lobster for about $5.00US a plate! On our last night there we took the stairs to the top of the hill and enjoyed dinner at Mi Casa Too, owners Shawnee and Lisa. http://www.micasatooguanaja.com What a perfect place to watch the sunset.

From Guanaja to Providencia would be a three day sail. Weather predictions showed there was a front/trough coming and according to weather guru, Chris Parker, this would be the strongest front so far this year. And then after a few days of relative calm, there would be another front coming right after. We decided to leave ahead of the first front, letting the winds help move us so that we could get around the corner of Honduras and to Providencia before the next front arrived.

We left early Sunday morning and had a really good day on the water. Come evening, we reefed the main (it's much easier to do that in the daylight in decent water) and kept the jib out. The shorter sails slow us down, but that's how we like to run at night. And this night was going to be a full moon and a total lunar eclipse! After about 18 hours on the water the wind finally began to increase. The front was coming through and we started to pick up speed. Even though the front brought clouds, we were able to watch the eclipse whenever there was a break. It was a pretty rough ride, with wind gusts reaching 25-30kts. We were heeled over pretty far so everything not tied down inside the boat slid around. I tried to sleep now and then, but the v-berth felt like sleeping on a trampoline. Ron, however, has no problem with catching zzz's! We did our usual three hour watches and tried to stay in touch with the other two boats by radio. This part of the sea has been troubled by piracy in the past - mostly fishermen who see an opportunity - but it was still troubling. We stayed about 100 miles offshore to avoid the banks and any potential trouble. The good thing about having weather this rough is that we had no worries about pirates. We had our hands full just sailing the boat! I will tell you that during the early hours when Ron was sleeping and the weather was being particularly rough, that I would talk to Jesus. Just checking in to make sure we were still on good terms. Asking him to keep me company...

We had about half a day of decent wind/waves so we tried to reconnect with the other boats. The lead boat was a catamaran "Halcyon" (Brit and Sandy), and they were fairly flying along. However, we had lost sight of the third boat "Fly" (Jean Paul and Gilvan) and were not able to raise them on the radio. At that point we had to start worrying about the waves. The front had been blowing from the north and now we were in an area that has wind from the east. So the wind was stacking up the waves. I said they were 10 feet tall and Ron said they were only 8 feet - we found out later from Chris Parker that they were actually 12 footers. The waves didn't actually break over the boat, although we did get really wet and water running down the gunnels. The waves would lift you up, and then the boat would slide down into the trench and kind of wiggle through a couple big waves and then do it all over again - all while the wind was pushing you. We weren't sailing directly into the wind, but it was close enough that the sails were difficult to keep balanced. I gave up trying to keep the inside of the boat tidy, and we couldn't cook even if we wanted to. Ron (bless him) let me sleep for 5 hours between 3am and 8am. On my last watch I found a squall - lots of rain, but it actually helped beat the water down. Then once we passed over the large banks, the water started to settle down and we could see Providencia in the distance. Later, when Ron looked at our track on the computer he could see that our top speed had been 11kts, and our average was 7kts.

Providencia was once a favorite hangout for the pirate, Captain Morgan. There is a rock formation at the entrance to the channel that is called Morgan's head. According to the sailing guide, once you see that rock you line it up with the natural cleft in the top of the hill and sail towards it - leading you to the channel and into the protected bay. It sounds kinda silly, but it's true, it works, and we're here!!

(FYI - We arrived at 1:00pm, an hour behind s/v Halcyon - and were happy to see our "lost" friends, s/v Fly, drop anchor near us at around 7:00pm.)

Stuff Happens

17 October 2018 | Rio Dulce, MAR Marina
Karen - Sunny and HOT
There is really only one word to describe the Rio Dulce in August/September… HOT! It is the rainy season so you get wet at least once a day, but overall it is just miserably hot! No breeze to cool off with but you open the hatches anyway. Bugs are out and mosquitos are everywhere.

We got into a routine where we listen to the daily cruiser’s net radio call first thing in the morning while we have coffee, do a little boat clean up, a little laundry, maybe go to the tienda (store) for a few supplies, and then spend the afternoon in the pool trying to stay comfortable. I paddle my kayak around to visit with folks in other marinas - and sometimes I’ll paddle out Monkey Bay to listen to the monkeys. In the evenings we close up the boat and turn on the air conditioning and watch movies.

At night, we go to the marina bar so we can watch CNN on their big TV and try to see what’s going on at home. We are hiding out here in the Rio to stay safe during hurricane season - but our hearts break for everyone impacted by this season’s storms. So many of the little marinas or anchorages we were fortunate enough to visit have been damaged. We look forward to hearing from the friends we’ve made in the past few years who have boats on the east coast or in Florida.

We were able to take a trip to Flores and visit the pyramids at Tikal and Yaxha. Flores is actually a small island in Lago Peten Itza. Lots of cobbled stone streets that are too tiny for regular traffic so scooters and tuk-tuks are everywhere. We spent the night at Hotel Isla Flores and then met the tour bus that took us to the National Park at Tikal. Tikal is part of the UNESCO and is a World Heritage Site. The park is huge - covering 23 square miles. There are seven major temples and thousands of other structures - only a fraction have been uncovered. The major temples have been excavated and there are scaffolding stairways on some of them so that you can get to the top without damaging the site. Most of the structures have been left as they are and will not be uncovered so as to protect them. The pyramids are stunning - built between the first century AD and 900AD. I cannot imagine how they were constructed without tools. So little is known about the culture since the sites were abandoned around 900AD. (One of our guides even suggested that space aliens were responsible for the technology.)

We took the “archeological tour” during the afternoon. Ron had been sick the week before so when I planned the trip, so I was worried about whether he would be up for all the walking and pyramid climbing involved. He did pretty well and only climbed the one temple with me. It was Temple 4 and he only did it because it had been used as background for a StarWars movie. Yavin IV - the rebel moon base. He has his priorities! That evening we stayed at the Jungle Lodge within the park. Gorgeous property. It’s an eco lodge - and all the electricity gets turned off in the evenings. Without AC, the cabins are open and the beds are covered with netting to keep out the bugs. You can hear all the animals while you are falling asleep. Monkeys, toucans, coata mundi (looks like a relative to the raccoon) - maybe a jaguar or two…

I left Ron to sleep a couple of extra hours and took the dawn tour so I could see the sunrise from the top of the tallest temple. It was so tall I was actually above the tree tops - you could see the monkeys moving in groups through the branches and then watch the mist move around the pyramids. My poor photos can’t show you how beautiful it was.

A few days after we returned, I woke up with a bad fever and body aches. Two days of that and I knew I needed to see the doctor. Ron took me to the local clinic and the tests showed that I had caught Dengue fever. It has a 4 to 7 day incubation period so most likely, the mosquito that got me was at the pyramids. Dengue is called “break bone fever” and it is an accurate description. Everything hurts. There’s no real treatment for it - paracetamol (tylenol) to help with the fever and discomfort, fluids and rest. The worst of the symptoms last about a week and then it takes several more weeks to recover. I’m still resting and sleeping a lot, but feeling much better! When I described to the doctor what Ron’s symptoms had been a few weeks ago, he said he thought Ron had also had dengue.

After two weeks I was starting to feel well enough that I was getting restless and didn’t want to stay inside the boat - so I talked Ron into taking me to Antigua to do some sight seeing and visit with friends. It’s a 7 hour bus ride, but we were the only passengers so we had the bus all to ourselves! We stayed at a little B&B and just wandered around the city. We would explore in the mornings, and nap in the afternoons and then find someplace nice for dinner. Much nicer way to convalesce that staying in the boat!!

We returned to the Rio and the boat yesterday. I think everything we own needs to be washed - and it’s raining again! But the Casa Guatemala boat came this morning so we have fresh food and everything is good. We have a couple of things to fix yet on the boat and then we plan to leave here by the end of the month. We want to get to the Bay Islands of Honduras - Roatan, Guanaja, and Utilla. After that, who knows. I will say this - after both of us getting sick and seeing how it easily could have been very bad - we’ve decided that this will be our last year cruising on Compromise. We will sail for this next season and then plan to be back in Texas by summer next year. I was always worried that once we stopped sailing that all my “adventures” would end, but I think now that I just have to change my definition of adventure and plan other trips. I’ll let you know…

View from the Bow

29 August 2018 | MAR Marina, Izabel, Guatemala
Karen - Evening, mild
Summer is racing past! It’s the end of August already and we are starting to make tentative plans for whatever comes next.

Summer started with a quick trip to Texas to visit family and friends for a Memorial Day weekend. For a brief time all four of us (my brother, two sisters, and I) got to hang out at the beach and just relax. Unfortunately, the visit was cut short when my brother experienced a medical emergency. We are very thankful that he is now recovering. I am thankful also that we were all together, even if it was only for a little while. I loved seeing everyone and I especially enjoyed getting to squeeze on my little great-nieces!

Ron and I had been planning a special adventure for quite some time, so in June we joined up with Western River Expeditions and took a week long rafting trip through the Grand Canyon. 7 days and 6 nights. If you are up for setting up/braking down your campsite every day, hanging onto rafts going through rough rapids, hiking up to hidden waterfalls and box canyons, sleeping under the desert stars every night, and bathing in frigid river water - you might want to give this a try. Plus the helicopter ride out of the canyon was pretty cool, too! There were 28 of us plus 4 guides on two rafts. I can’t begin to describe how beautiful it was! The number of people allowed on the river at any time is controlled, so we had to wait over a year to get this scheduled. Everything is packed in and out so nothing is left behind but the amazing scenery. By the end of the week we had made a whole bunch of new friends and lifetime of memories. Google Western River Expeditions to see what I’m talking about. You can email me or look at them at http://www.westernriver.com/grand-canyon-vacation

After spending a few short weeks in San Diego visiting with kids and grandkids - we headed back to Guatemala and Compromise. We hadn’t been in Relleno (Frontera) very long before our trip home, so we are still learning our way around. The boating community here is pretty large, around 700 boats and a dozen marinas. A lot of the boaters have parked their boats and returned to their home countries for hurricane season, so it’s fairly quiet just now. Most folks get around on the river using their dinghies or hiring launchas, or by hiring Tuk-tuks (tiny little 3-wheeled cabs powered by motorcycles) to drive them to town. There is a morning VHF radio call at 0730hrs that gives information and news to all the boats in the area. As I’ve come to learn about most boating communities, everyone is very friendly and helpful. The longer we sail, the more often we meet up with folks we’ve met somewhere earlier along the way. So part of the fun of getting anywhere is catching up with old friends and meeting new cruisers. This Rio Dulce community is very organized with something happening almost every day - there are movie nights, domino sessions, yoga classes, trivia nights, jungle tours and zip lining trips, pot-luck get togethers, and more. There are volunteer opportunities with Casa Guatemala http://www.casa-guatemala.org (a local orphanage) and with Pass It On http://passitonguatemala.org (an outreach group that helps provide safe drinking water and electricity in the more remote villages). I can see why some cruisers come here and never leave. A new friend of mine calls it “disfunction junction” - which kind of fits.

We left our slip at MAR Marine for a few weeks this month to sail north for a quick trip to Belize. Our daughter, Jennifer, and her family arranged to meet us at Ambergris Cay for a weeks’ vacation. It was our 5 yr old grand-daughter’s (Audrey) first trip on the boat! It’s hard to sail on a time schedule since weather, tides, all sorts of things tend to slow you down. We headed out of Livingston (back over the dreaded Bar) and managed to get tangled in a fishing net. Cash changed hands and a couple of the fishermen dove around the boat to cut us free. Not an auspicious beginning… Next up were the “scattered squalls and isolated thunderstorms” that had been predicted. One particularly nasty squall had me rethinking this whole plan… We had given ourselves a week to get back to Ambergris Cay (150 NM away) but the trip took so long that we arrived just in time to meet their plane. Then suddenly, everything began to go smoothly. The weather was great, and we sailed, snorkeled, kayaked, swam, and spent time at half a dozen different islands. Audrey swam in the ocean, collected sea shells, and visited the light house on English Cay - making friends with the light house keeper’s grandson. Our last stop was at Cucumber Beach Marina, next to Belize City. We spent a couple of nights there before they had to go back to San Diego. We were sorry to see them go. It had been a great visit.

The return trip back to Guatemala went much smoother and was a lot quicker. We actually had to slow down in order to time our arrival with the next daylight high tide back into Livingston. We spent a couple of extra days at Placencia. It’s on the mainland of Belize, has a couple of good grocery stores so it is a good place to restock and rest up. There were several other boats in the anchorage and we were introduced to another Texas couple anchored next to us, Ron and Karen on Kokopelli. They were kind enough to invite us along on a road trip inland and a visit to waterfalls they knew about. It was a wonderful afternoon plus a nice potluck/BBQ that evening with several other boats from the anchorage.

The weather was a little unsettled for the next couple of days before we finally caught a good window and left for Punta Gorda, Belize. Punta Gorda is actually a great place to clear customs. The anchorage isn’t perfect (no protection in iffy weather) but the government docks are organized and everything went smoothly. There is even a duty free shop! For dinner, we took the dinghy over to a restaurant I had seen earlier, Asha’s Culture Kitchen. Their curried fish was excellent (so was the rum punch) and we really enjoyed ourselves. Nice way to end this leg of the trip.

Only 18 NM to go. In order to cross the bar at Livingston, we had to arrive by 0700hrs to catch the falling tide which meant leaving Punta Gorda in the dark at 0400hrs. After our earlier experience with getting tangled in a fishing net, I was determined to keep this from happening again so I put myself on the bow with a huge mug of coffee in one hand and a big spotlight in the other. Headsets were on so I could talk to Ron and tell him if I saw anything in the water. It had been raining, so I had on a big yellow rain jacket and my life vest. Thankfully, there are no photos because it was not my best look! We motored in fairly smoothly and anchored near the docks in Livingston. I stayed on the boat while Ron went ashore to get us checked back into Guatemala. Since we had crossed on a falling tide, the water was getting shallower. The very next boat entering after us was unable to make it through and had to be canted over. A motor vessel attaches a line to the halyard of the sailboat and pulls hard enough to tilt the sailboat over sideways - which raises the keel off the bottom far enough to get across. Pretty interesting to watch. Glad it wasn’t us!

So now we’re back in a slip at the marina, getting settled in and making lists. I’ve been cleaning the boat and Ron has been fixing a few things. The Casa Guatemala supply boat should be here later this afternoon so I’ll be able to buy some fresh fruit and veggies. Plus, it’s movie night tonight! Our Guatemala courtesy flag is up and we put away our Belize flag. I’m hoping for a mild end to hurricane season. After a short trip to see the Mayan pyramids at Tikal sometime next month - we are planning to head to the Bay Islands of Honduras in October! (I’ll be posting some photos on Facebook)

Bye for now, Karen.

Bienvenido a Rio Dulce Guatemala

12 May 2018
Karen - Sunny and HOT
We left Key West and motor sailed for three days, arriving in Isla Mujeres Mexico on April 14th. Trying to stay out of the Gulf Stream, we went south to get close to Cuba (about 10-20 miles offshore) and take advantage of a small counter-current. Once we passed Cuba and entered the Yucatan Straits, that current was much stronger and the weather started to change. Even with our sails up (winds 15 to 25 kts) and the engine on, we could only make a forward movement of 3.5 knots! The waves were 4 to 6 ft with the occasional 8 footer. We had originally thought to take our time getting across, but we were advised that our weather window was closing fast (thank you Brian!) so we had to hurry up.

As we were rounding the marker into Isla Mujeres we listened into their local cruisers network. They were advising local sailors to move into the lagoon between Isla and Cancun to avoid the weather front that was following us. So we just sailed on in like we knew what we were doing and checked into the first marina that looked like it had dock space for us. Turned out to be a really nice place. We had our yellow “quarantine” flag up and Ron worked with customs officials to clear us in. Once we settled in, we were surprised to find out that the boat next to us had also come out of Kemah! Additionally, Tracy and Steve Boyd on “Saga Sea” were in the harbor so the Texas sailors were well represented. We stayed a week or so and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and all the hospitality.

We moved on from Isla and did an overnight sail to Belize, arriving in Ambergris Cay on the 27th. It was another motor-sail since the current and wind were very light. We had a few mechanical problems which made this trip pretty miserable. First, our depth meter quit. Just decided it didn’t want to work. Next, Auto-helm decided to act up. Additionally, we were’t really happy with the information in the Navionics chart plotter. We had an excellent guidebook, plus Saga-Sea was kind enough to share their way-points, so using that info we had no problems getting where we wanted to go. But somewhere during the sail our radar unit broke off of the mast mount and fell to the deck. I’m pretty sure the unit is destroyed - and we have some new notches in our fiberglass decking. It looked like some sort of metal fatigue… it just snapped off. The only good news from this is that the next day, our depth meter decided it had rested long enough and turned itself back on. And then the Auto-helm control unit blinked back to life as well! (boat gremlins at work?)

I’m sorry to say that Ambergris Cay was a disappointment. We had visited the island about 25 years ago when we took our kids on their first scuba trip. Back then it was quiet and charming, and very laid back. Now it’s noisy, crowded, and all built up. The barrier reef Ambergris Cay is famous and (the second largest in the world) is still as beautiful I remembered it. We didn’t scuba this time, but we did go snorkeling. We spent a few days anchored inside of the reef, off of the beach. The channel getting through the reef and into the anchorage is very narrow and pretty challenging. I stayed on the bow with a headset on to try and spot coral heads for Ron and watch for the buoy markers. Once you line up the markers, you have to steer a hard right 90 degree turn in from offshore, and just as you get to the big yellow buoy that marks the entrance of the channel - turn right again to avoid a coral head. Miss either of those two spots and you can wreck your boat. So you enter only in daylight and in calm weather because you don’t want the waves to push you, or possibly cause a broach. As you all know, I am the worrier of this duo… it’s my job and I’m good at it!

From Ambergris Cay we stayed in the calm waters inside the reef and sailed south to Cay Caulker. What a nice surprise! It is just like what we remembered Ambergris Cay used to be. No paved roads, only golf carts or bicycles, very laid back, and so very friendly. Lots of small stores that had whatever supplies we needed, good restaurants, and beautiful water! You can’t get in a hurry, because at mid-day all the shops close up and everyone takes it easy. We signed up for a snorkel tour with one of local places, EZ Boyz Tours. No one else had signed up that morning so we had the boat all to ourselves. Our guide, Romero, did a great job - we saw beautiful coral, rays, sharks, moray eel, sea horses, loads of fish. And when we got back into the boat, there was fresh fruit waiting for us! We will definitely be coming back.

Ron was still anxious to get to Guatemala so we had to keep moving. From there we stopped for a night to anchor at Middle Bogue in Drowned Cay. It was still daylight when we anchored so we put the dinghy in the water and chased around the mangroves looking for manatees. Spent the next night in Sappodillo Lagoon, and then on to Placencia where we stayed for a few days and rested up. Placencia is more of a tourist hub - with a catamaran charter base, and lots of dive tours. It’s a beautiful place and the local restaurants were really good, but the weather had caused the water in our anchorage to become very rolling and bouncy and there wasn’t enough wind to keep the boat cool. Our last stop in Belize was Punta Gorda - not a whole lot to see here, but we did clear out customs and immigration and stop for dinner.

Arrived in Livingston Guatemala on May 9th to head up the Rio Dulce. Here’s what you need to know about entering the Rio Dulce (Sweet River). The river empties into Caribbean and creates a huuuge sandbar across the mouth. People we met along the way down here kept talking about “crossing the bar” at the Rio and this is what they meant. On the charts, water depth at MLW (mean low water) indicates 6 feet - but it is a shifting sandbar. Compromise draws 5.5 feet. It was going to be skinny water so we needed to wait for a rising tide before we even tried it cross. Some deeper draft boats actually wait for a new or full moon to see water deep enough for them to get across. We had our guidebook and waypoints and timed our arrival for halfway into the rising tide. We got stuck a couple of times and Ron had to reverse us out but on the third try (and using our guides and waypoints) we were able to shimmy across. Ron reckons that we had maybe 3 inches of water under our keel. Local entrepreneurs hang around in their power boats and offer to “cant” you over for a fee. What they will do is tie onto your mast halyard and pull to the side to “tilt” your boat over - raising your keel up enough from the bottom to get over the bar. We didn’t need their services (thankfully) but I kinda wanted to see it done to someone else so I could take photos! Once you’re over the bar, the water deepens and you have good water all the way up the Rio. We stopped in Livingston long enough to check in with customs and then we headed up the river. Frontera is approximately 20 miles upstream and that’s where we needed to go.

We are now safely anchored at MarMarine just next to the bridge at Frontera. Compromise will be moved into her slip this afternoon. We have shore showers, electricity, and wifi! Life is good. We will start exploring the town and getting to know the place as soon as we get settled. I’ll try to start posting a few photos. Stay tuned…

Good bye Bahamas

22 March 2018 | Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL
Karen/Evening and calm
It has been a busy past few months! We left Titusville in early January and moved south, arriving in Fort Lauderdale on the 14th. We stayed just long enough to pick up mail, resupply the galley, take Ron to the dentist, and wait for that all important Weather Window. We pared up with another boat, "Our Log" (Hi, Bill and Tina!), and arranged to cross the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas together. Tuesday the 23rd, the winds were 10-15 kts. out of the southeast, with waves 2 to 4 feet with 6 second intervals (the best opportunity we had seen). The crossing was fairly easygoing and once we made it to the shallow Bahama Bank area, we anchored out to catch a few hours of sleep before moving to Green Turtle Cay in the Abacos to check in with Customs and Immigration.

The weather caught up with us there and we had to stay for a week before it was calm enough to pass through the Whale Cut. GTC is not a bad place to be "stuck"! We were anchored with other boats, "Isla" (Hi, Wayne and Brenda!), and spent the time exploring the island. Our 44th wedding anniversary was on Friday the 26th, which coincided with the weekly Sailors Pub Crawl Night so we celebrated in style! Please note that Green Turtle is a very small island with only 3 bars (and we actually skipped one) ending the evening dancing at Pineapples Bar and Grill. Our small three boat flotilla finally left on Feb 1st. Wind was 10-15 kts, 4 to 6 foot seas, with the occasional 10 ft "surprise" wave. Ron plowed our bow into a couple of 10 ft breakers. You know it's bad when he says, "Karen, you did close all the hatches? Right?" Good thing I was too busy taking photos to be nervous!

We split off from the other two boats and headed to Treasure Island to spend a few days with friends (Melissa and Carl on "Bay Breezin") we met last year while motoring through the Great Dismal Swamp in NC/VA. Treasure is a gorgeous little cay and has one of the prettiest beaches I've seen anywhere. We moved from there to Man O' War Cay for a couple of days and then on to Hopetown and Marsh Harbor.

This trip to the Bahamas might be our last for awhile so we wanted to stop at our favorite places and try to visit cays that we hadn't had the opportunity to see before. We moved to Lynyard Cay, through Little Harbor Cut with no problems - seas were up to 7 ft, but not steep. Anchored off of Egg Island - small anchorage with only room for a couple of boats, had a nice little beach but the water was very rolly so it was hard to sleep. From there we moved on to Highbourne Cay and found that we had problem with our mainsail - we have an in mast roller furling system (meaning the sail rolls into the mast instead of dropping down onto the boom). Our sail jammed about half way up the mast as it was coming out and we couldn't get it to release, so we rolled it back up and sailed on using only our jib. This wasn't much of a problem - slowed us down a bit, but that's all. Our sail plan was to go to Georgetown on Great Exuma Island to enjoy the Cruisers Festival and we figured we could get help there to fix the sail. However, we did get a little flak and trash talk on the radio from other boats along the way... "Hey Compromise! Is your sail compromised??"

By now it was the middle of February. We stopped at Normans Cay, Shroud Cay, Hawksbill Cay (took the dinghy through the mangroves, chased sea turtles and hiked up to Camp Driftwood to take photos), and finally on to Warderick Wells which is one of my very favorite places. We hiked, put our painted boat sign up on top of BooBoo Hill, snorkeled on coral heads near our anchorage, watched turtles and humongous eagle rays swim under our boat, and enjoyed a sunset happy hour on the beach.

Next stop was Compass Cay so that I could see Rachael's Bubble Bath - a local tourist spot where the water in this little lagoon foams like a bubble bath. It happens on a high tide when water breaks over the coral barrier with an east wind. You have to walk about half a mile to get there, but it was worth the visit. Afterwards, we took the dinghy over to Rocky Dundas. It is a natural cavern that is only accessible to snorkelers on a low tide. Ron tried to get in, but there was too much surge and I was worried about getting slammed around against the rocks. So instead, we decided to snorkel on a coral reef in a more protected area. Saw some gorgeous fish and Ron took photos with his go-pro camera.

The next morning we visited Compass Cay Marina - I wanted to swim with the nurse sharks that I was told gathered there. Ron decided to take photos instead of getting the water with me (feel free to draw your own conclusions). There is a guy on the dock that tells you not to put your fingers in the water because the sharks might confuse them with food and try to take a bite. Then he starts throwing bits of food in the water (basically he's throwing chum at me) and the sharks come for a visit. About 30 of them, and some were 6 to 8 feet long. It was obvious that they are only interested in the food (and not me) so I was able to touch them and feel around on them. Nurse sharks don't have sharp teeth like other species - they have molar plates for grinding their food. But still... it was pretty exciting!

We moved on past Staniel Cay, Big Majors, and Little Farmer's Cay - down to Rudder Cay to anchor for a few days and wait for good weather so that we could go offshore. Rudder is owned by illusionist David Copperfield and out in the lagoon, he has added an underwater sculpture of a mermaid at the piano. She's in about 15 feet of water so it is an easy snorkel. We visited with other boats ("Tao Pao", "Caribbean Dream", "Moon Glow", and "Another Adventure") and waited for calm enough water to pass through Rudder Cay Cut and move onto Georgetown.

Finally! We went through the cut with 4 other boats. Wind was 10-15 kts., 4-6 foot seas with a slight rage to 7 feet. A little scary at first, but it was a fun sail (even if we could only use our jib). We anchored that evening in Georgetown off of Volleyball Beach on Stocking Island next to the boats we had been sailing with - and near old Kemah friends, Debbie and Moray on "Sol Purpose". Moray was kind enough to come over and help haul Ron up the mast so that he could fix the jammed main. Yay! Our sail was no longer "compromised"...

The Cruisers Regatta is an annual event that attracts hundreds of boats for a week of sporting events, activities, and fun. Think of it like adult summer camp and you won't be wrong. I signed us up for five different things - including the dinghy poker run, volleyball tournament, in the harbor racing, coconut challenge - and we lost all of them! Well, technically we did win a 3rd place flag in the harbor race. But Ron will be quick to tell you that prizes were awarded for each division (I think there were six divisions) and ours only had 3 contestants in it. So even though we won 3rd place, we were the LAST boat to cross the finish line! We might be slow, but we had a great time!

Friends, Jim and Linda, from Houston flew to Georgetown and spent the week with us. I hope they enjoyed themselves at least half as much as we did. We rented a car and drove on "The Queen's Highway" from one end of the island to the other. Stopping at the Tropic of Cancer Beach was one of the highlights of the week. It was gorgeous!

So now it's time to move again. It's taken a couple of weeks, but we have returned to Florida and at the moment we are in Boot Key Harbor in Marathon. The next part of this grand adventure is for us to move over to the Western Caribbean. We will sail to Key West and with the first weather opportunity, cross the Gulf to Isla Mujeres, Mexico. We have ordered charts and guides, and I've been doing some online research - current plan is to get Compromise settled into a marina in Rio Dulce, Guatemala no later than mid May. Rio Dulce is an accepted "hurricane hole" for our insurance coverage so we plan to spend the summer in that area. We will keep our satellite tracker on so that you can watch our progress if you wish. I'll send out a link later. Thanks so much for keeping up with us.
Bye for now - Karen.
Compromise's Photos - Main
7 Photos
Created 4 March 2016
Deadline run from Sanibel to Marathon via the Florida Bay. Crab pots and all.
11 Photos
Created 21 December 2015
some pic of offshore sunsets and sunrises.
5 Photos
Created 3 December 2015
Sights as we travel along the ditch (GIWW)
19 Photos
Created 17 November 2015
8 Photos
Created 17 November 2015
Photos, Nov 8-11.
11 Photos
Created 11 November 2015
TRip from Galveston to Marathon
5 Photos
Created 9 November 2015
Pictures of sailing in and around the Texas Coast and ICW. Just havin' fun.
14 Photos
Created 6 October 2015

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