WHERE DID THE TIME GO? 2017 SEASON IS OVER!
27 May 2017 | Rio dulce, Guatemala
END OF SEASON ALREADY?
Jim and I are back at Tortugal Marina and we are busy getting Emerald Seas ready for her time alone while we head back home for some Canadian adventures. It will be nice to see our family and friends. We will be bragging about all the sunshine and hot weather we enjoyed while they suffered through an unusually snowy winter and a very wet spring. Everyone is hoping we bring some of the Caribbean sunshine home with us in our suitcases.
This year we had planned to spend lots of time in the Bay Islands diving. Unfortunately, the best laid plans of mice and men don't always work out the way we would wish. Following our grounding at Bluefield Range, we were underway in some steep following seas and we heard some strange knocking sounds coming from under the steering seat around the rudder post. Because we had done a lot of rocking back and forth using a halyard while trying to unstick Emerald Seas, we were concerned that we might have damaged the rudder post.
I contacted Alan Pressman. our boat broker, and he was very concerned. The advice he gave us after consulting with other IP owners was that we should make certain that all was well before we ventured out into more challenging ocean conditions. Steering failure in rough seas or near treacherous reefs can have some awful consequences.
Jim did some investigating and found a few loose bolts. He tightened them up and we continued with our Belizean sailing. All seemed well for a couple of weeks and we had no problems. A weather window was opening up for a good trip to Roatan so we headed to Placencia to check out of Belize. While doing so, Jim was able to connect with another cruiser who was also heading to the Bay Islands. Its nice to have a buddy boat when travelling in Honduran waters. Pirates are out there and there had already been three pirate incidents this year.
The plan was to meet at Hatchet Cay and head out the next day through Gladden Pass. On our way to Hatchet Cay all was well until the winds started to pick up and we adjusted our course towards the anchorage. This put the seas on our stern quarter. The noise started up again. Not good. After much discussion and some tears, we had to make the grown up decision to cancel our Bay Island plans and head back to Guatemala so that the rudder can be checked out at Ram Marine. Belize is not known for its shipyard capabilities.
We crossed the bar to Livingston and on March 25th, Ram hauled us out of the water and checked everything. The rudder post was good but there were some bolts in an obscure area that were loose. These were adjusted and we were put back in the water. We visited with our friends, Arnie and Leonie from De Capo and stocked up on some more wine and beer before heading back to Belize. We were glad that all was well with Emerald Seas but it was sad that it caused such stress and conflict between the crew.
The rest of the season was spent with trips to Turneffe, where we enjoyed some diving and some good times with other cruisers. One day there were so many friends anchored at Douglas Cay that I organized a Chick Party. It went really well with lots of laughs and good food. Dick on Indian Summer organized a Cock Party so the men were able to have a good time as well. I even made a Rum Cake, which was very well received.
Other highlights of the year were Jim being the hero at Hideaway Caye by succeeding at finding all the the moorings which had disappeared after four catamarans had tied up to one mooring, broke it loose, and then did the same on another mooring. Dustin, Kim and their daughter, Ama were very grateful and treated Jim and I to a few dinners.
We enjoyed several trips to Sapidilla Lagoon. Some were to avoid weather systems and others were just for the convenience of being able to do some laundry. Jim and I, along with Lizzie from Indian Summer, ventured up Cabbage Haul Creek in our dinghy. We got to an area where the creek was very skinny and shallow. Visibility was poor. All of a sudden, our dinghy lifted up in the air and there was a big swirl and something big took off. We are certain that it was a large crocodile that we had disturbed. No more swimming in this area for us!
Our last two weeks in Belize were spent at Pelican Cayes, Tobacco Caye, Southwater Caye. Rick from She Wolf, Jens from Arwin and ourselves did a few dives at Pelican. The vis was poor and the areas were very silty, but we did see some interesting stuff.
We did two dives at Tobacco and enjoyed great vis. On the first dive we saw a very large nurse shark and 2.5 foot remora stayed with us for the entire dive. It was cool diving with the remora and we got some good pictures. The remora was very interested in each of us but it never tried to attache itself to us. There was lots of coral but not many fish.
Southwater Caye was the best of the three locations because there was more variety in the corals. At Southwater Caye we celebrated Jim's 67nd birthday with another Rum cake. Marsha and Rick and Kim and Mike of Kiymi celebrated with us.
Leaving Southwater Cay, we stopped one more time at Pelican Cays to say good bye to Dustin, Kim and Ama. After a couple of days there we enjoyed a slow sail back to Placencia. We checked out of Placencia and headed South to New Haven for the night. Next day we met up with Moondance at Tres Puntas. Its safer to be anchored with another boat due to pirates and thieves.
Earlier this year, our friends, Woody and Judy, from Lapis were robbed while at Bahia Graciosa, which is only about five miles from Tres Puntas. At the beginning of our cruising season, we stayed one night there in the company of Magic, with Doris and Dennis. It was a protected but large anchorage. At the time we felt that it was a bit isolated and we felt vulnerable because it was a hidden anchorage. Tres Puntas is not as protected but it is very visible.
Following is a copy of Woody and Judy's letter to the Rio Dulce Chisme.
Subject: The Bad part of the news
Monday night we were anchored in a quiet bay, alone, ready to enter Guatemala Tuesday morning early. The bay was about 14 miles from Livingston and we had been there lots of times in other years. A park area with no houses, monkeys, birds, mountains.
About 10pm some bump woke us. Woody got up to check, got to the companionway, saw a guy midway into lifting our outboard off the back deck and into his boat which was tied alongside. Woody's adrenalin kicked in, he yelled and charged the guy.
The guy was standing on our boat on the outside of our lifelines. The guy and our outboard ended up in his boat and Woody ended up in the water hanging off the side of his boat. The guy had his hands around Woodys neck to choke him and pushed him underwater. Woody grabbed his wrists and freed himself, realizing the outboard was gone. And at the same time seeing a gun in the guys waistband and the guy reaching for it. He never did pull it out.
He untied his boat, had trouble starting the engine but did, circled slowly (looked like he might return), then slowly took off. I came out when Woody charged the guy and found Woody in the water. I yelled at the guy that I wanted my engine back ??? And then checked to make sure Woody wasn't injured. He had scrapes and was in pain. Then it was a matter of getting Woody back onto our boat because the ladder was up and our dinghy, hung off the davits, prevented me from lowering it. And it was dark.
So Woody walked me through untieing it and getting the ladder down. He was bleeding a bit so we cleaned him up and put some antiseptic on. We got the engine going and tried to call another boat we knew was about 5 miles away. No response, all radios off. We motored the 5 mile and anchored next to the other boats.
We were pretty shaken and there was no sleep that night. Morning coffee at 4am, watched the sun start to come up, and at 5:30 am, with the 5 other boats we upped anchor and headed for Livingston to check in to Guatemala. The officials boarded the boat and we were able to report the incident but there wasn't much to be done, especially since it meant appearing in front of a magistrate, and we are hoping to be leaving Guatemala soon. We did leave a written report with the Port Captain who didn't speak English. Our customs agent had done all the translating.
So we are at the dock of friends here in Guatemala and they are pampering us. They made us a nice chicken dinner last night. We'll stay here til Friday and then head to our marina. It's Easter chaos here with lots of crazy people in boats.
We're looking forward to our trip to the highlands just before we catch our plane home. Now just still trying to recover from our confrontation and it will take a few days. We'll be ok. A few lessons to be learned though! Judy and Woody"
A terrifying experience for two of the nicest folks we know. They have been cruising this area for over 10 years. What an awful way to finish the season. I hope they will be able to mentally recover and enjoy next season. They, like almost all of the other cruisers, will be doing their upmost to anchor and travel with a buddy boat.
Back safely at Tortugal Marina on the Rio Dulce, we have been very busy getting Emerald Seas ship shape for hurricane season. Byron is going to redo all the wood floors inside and all the brightwork outside while we are back in Canada.
Emerald Seas will be looking very pretty when we return.
Our mechanic, Jamie, contacted Jim when we were at Ram checking out our rudder. He told Jim that he had charged too much money for doing the work on Yanni. Jim was happy to hear that as we felt it was a bit expensive by Guatemalan standards. Jamie met up with us at Tortugal this week and refunded us over $400 US dollars. He was very embarrassed at his accounting error. At the time he was working on our engine, he was also working on Jerry's engine (Czech n Mate). I think he charged us for their parts too. We are glad that he was honest and refunded us.
There are very few cruisers left here at Rio Dulce. Our social life has taken a nose dive and we have no excuses for putting off boat chores. Jim had an awful job of changing the bilge pump hose. What looked like a simple task turned out to be an ordeal. We could not find the right size hose or fittings. Jim's swearing was the worst I have ever heard- usually I enjoy his swearing as he does it with a bit of humour and originality. Not this time.
We leave Tortugal Marina tomorrow morning for the 6 hour bus trip to Guatemala City.The next morning we fly back to Canada. Once we get to Vancouver we will stay a night at the Accent Inn and in the morning of May 31st we fly to Victoria. Jim's brother, Gerry, will be picking us up. We will spend the night with Mark and in the morning we head home to Nanoose Bay.
Our first weekend at home will be busy. Jim is participating in the Lasqueti Sailboat held by the Schooner Cove Yacht Club
. Big barbecue on the 2nd and the race is on the 3rd. Great way to start off the summer at home!