THE WESTERN CARIBBEAN ADVENTURES 2015 OF THE BLOG LAZY, PROCRASTANATING CREW OF EMERALD SEAS.
30 April 2015
Maybe today is the day that I will attempt to play catch up with our cruising blog! Jim is out diving with Fantasy Divers but I chickened out and stayed aboard Emerald Seas. Its quite windy and the seas look too rough for this fair weather diver! The dive boats are excellent and great in rough seas but its a bit scarey entering and exiting the dive when the boat is bouncing up and down in the big seas while the wind blows 20 knots plus. It looks like we will be stuck here at French Cay Harbour for another five days until the winds slacken off.
Our friends, Scott and Heather, of Scott Free, who we have spent a lot of time travelling together with this season, are on their way back to Belize before the winds pick up to the 30 knot plus range. This was a quick decision for them and we hope all goes well for their overnight voyage to Belize. Unfortunately, we just found out about another pirate attack off the coast of Honduras in late March. This is the second attack of the year and both are in the same area. The president of Honduras met with the victims of the second attack and the country paid their flights out of Honduras. Hopefully this meeting will lead to some security forces patrolling the coast of Honduras. When Jim and I head back to the Rio Dulce around about the 2nd week in May, we hope to travel with a couple of buddy boats for added safety. Scott and Heather decided to head north of Honduras and go to Belize before heading back down to Guatemala and be further away from the location of the pirates.
Jim and I both love to dive and we certainly got lots of diving this year. We have seen lots of moray eels, a few seahorses,two frogfish, turtles, groupers, huge snappers and a gigantic Goliath grouper. We have lots of pictures to share with any willing victims who want to see them.
Highlights of this season:
1. SICKER THAN DOGS
When we left Canada in January we were both coming down with what we hoped was a cold. By the time we got to Guatemala we were both sick with a horrid bronchitis. Our beautiful, luxurious hotel room in Guatemala City was nothing more than a hospital bed for the two nights we were there. No romantic dinners or shopping at Walmart for us this time.
By the time we got to the Rio Dulce, we were even sicker! We had a room booked at Tortugal Marina because our interior teak was being sanded and varnished. The room was very basic and made of bamboo walls and a thatched roof. There were screens for windows. It was very damp and dark but did have a nice bathroom.
One of the interesting features of this room were the HUGE cockroaches! My goodness, they looked like monsters. Some of them were 4 inches long. I discovered that they love red wine when I reached over for my wine glass one evening. It was crawling on the goblet and heading for the wine. Fortunately for all the guests at Tortugal, I had laryngitis and could only croak in terror. Jim thought it pretty funny until a few days later when he got to enjoy the same experience.
We put cockroach traps around and got very good at killing them. We left the bathroom light on all night long because they like to come out in the dark and this would hopefully prevent them from visiting Jimâs toiletry bag like the first night. Big surprise as you reach in for your toothbrush.
Our flu/cold/bronchitus was not going away and our friends at the marina were avoiding us like the plague. Who could blame them? We sounded awful, coughing, hacking up gross things. We looked worse, red noses and I got an eye infection. Finally we decided to go to the doctor. Jim volunteered to be the sickest and I went along for company.
The doctor gave Jim a thorough exam and prescribed antibiotics for him and some expectorant cough medicine and another expertorant drink. He looked over at me, took pity and doubled the prescription. The drugs helped and improvement came quickly afterwards. Moving back aboard Emerald Seas helped a lot too! No cockroaches and a beautiful and bright living space to enjoy versus the dark, damp âhotelâ room.
Once back aboard, we got our suitcases unpacked. This we did on the dock so that we could shake out any cockroaches that might have crawled into our luggage. None were found but I put new cockroach traps everywhere I could think of on Emerald Seas just in case!
Jim installed our new refrigeration system and I organized our food supplies and began stocking up on essentials we were low on. Emerald Seas got hauled out of the water for new bottom paint at Ram Marine. Once that was completed, we fueled and watered up before heading back to Tortugal Marina for our last night with cruising friends.
The next morning we headed down the Rio Dulce. We were on our way at last!
2. DONâT PLAY WITH THAT AND SNAKES ARE WORSE THAN SHARKS
Our time in Belize was very short this year but we did visit some of our favourite spots. The Belizean waters are very shallow and there are coral heads and shoals to watch out for. Last year we travelled to some very tricky areas and were able to record GPS tracks through some intricate passages. We were very glad of these tracks because it would make travelling back to some of these beautiful places a lot less stressful than the first time.
However, as many of you know, Jim likes to play with toys. Concerned that our boat speed did not match our GPS boat speed 100%, Jim finds some vague instructions in the manual on how to reset it. I begged him not to do it but when I wasnât watching, he did it anyway. Being in a hurry, because he did not want me to catch him, he did not read all the messages that came up on our GPS screen and consequently he deleted ALL OF OUR TRACKS. Our history was GONE! Desperately, Jim tried to recover them but no luck. And then he had to confess what he had doneâ¦â¦.
Since that awful day, we make certain that our secondary GPS, my iPhone and Jimâs iPad are all making âtracksâ so that if we lose one, we still have another.
Snakes were the subject of many conversations this year!
The first snake event was at Tortugal Marina when a power boat, loaded with a large family came over for lunch. They discovered a Fleur de Lance in their boat when they were leaving. It was large and they are very poisonous. Luckily no one was killed. Unfortunately, they released it at Tortugal and no one knew where it might beâ¦..
The next two events took place in Placencia, Belize. One involved a boat right beside us called the Rendezvous, with Peter and Mary aboard. Mary loves to swim and one day while swimming, Peter noticed a large snake swimming towards her. She got out of the water and the snake tried to come up the anchor line. They knocked it off and it swam to the back of the boat and tried to come up the ladder. Their description matched that of a venomous snake found in the Belizean mangroves.
A few weeks later, cruising friends from Toucan were ashore for dinner. When they returned to their boat that night, their daughter reached over to tie the dinghy line around the cleat. As she was about to loop the rope, she noticed that a snake was curled around the cleat in nice figure of eight pattern, replicating another rope that was on the same cleat. It opened its jaws and was about to strike her but she got out of the way.
I can only imagine the excitement as they boarded their boat and avoided the snake at the same time. Using a boat hook, they managed to fling it into the sea but the snake swam right back to their boat and headed to the anchor chain and tried to climb up. They knocked it away again and kept an eye on it as it swam downwind and towards another boat.
Snakes, snakes, snakes. The thought occupied too much of my mind and too much of the minds of all our cruising friends. When it was time for a swim, I would check all around the boat for snakes. Tying up our dinghy, first I make sure there are no snakes. Poking around dark cupboards in Emerald Seas, get a flashlight and make sure there are no snakes. Keep screens on and snakes and mosquitoes out!
3. BAY ISLANDS, HONDURAS
Scott Free, Eiland and ourselves enjoyed a very nice crossing from Southwater Cay to Utila. Calm seas and lots of sargassum seaweed were the highlight of that trip. At one point during the night, the seaweed was as far as you could see in every direction.
It was great to be back in Utila. This island is very funky and there are hundreds of young people from all over the world, mostly the backpacking type, learning to dive or becoming dive masters or instructors. Being pretty cool ourselves, we fit right in!
We rented a golfcart with Scott Free so that we could explore Utila. The steering seemed a bit loose when we started so we returned to the rental shop to have them check it out. They said there was no problem and off we went. One place we wanted to visit was called Pumpkin Hill. We turned onto the rough, dirt road that leads up to the top of Pumpkin Hill. A few bumps later, there was a loud crack. âMust be a stickâ yells Jim. Next thing the golf cart steering became totally unresponsive and the left front wheel and the steering mechanism fell off. We lurched to a stop.
A few minutes were spent trying to make the wheel stand up and maybe attach it and the steering back to the car. However we had no welding torch. We were only about 500 feet from the paved road so we thought it might look a bit better if we could somehow push the broken golf cart to the pavement. It was tough going but we managed to push it quite a way down the dirt road. Fortunately, a truck turned off the road with the intention of going up Pumpkin Hill. Since we completely blocked the dirt road, they offered to help push us back to the main road. After they helped us, they only managed a few hundred feet further up that dirt road before they broke down too.
Back on the mainroad, we phoned the golfcart company for help. As we waited every car that passed us by stopped to look at the broken front wheel and offer help. One man who stopped owned the Utila Public TV company. This guy got his camera and interviewed us for the night news while we waited for the rental company to arrive with another golfcart. We climbed back in and resumed our island adventure but Pumpkin Hill was no longer on the itinerary. We returned the cart later that day with all wheels intact.
4. HEADING BACK TO GUATEMALA
And so it goes. Lots of diving, lots of great times with cruising friends sharing stories, meals, sundowners and adventures. We did not do all the exploring that we had thought we would do at the beginning of this years cruising season but all that means is we can do it next cruising season or maybe the one after that!
We are anchored back at Utila and hunkered down a bit because of a Northerly with lots of squalls in the forecast. Once that passes we will wait for the seas to diminish and for drier weather before we head back to the Rio Dulce of Guatemala. Tortugal Marina here we come!