Rio Dulce, Guatemala, We made It
22 February 2018 | The Happy Fish restaurant, Livingston, Guastemala
Yup, Lucky Bird is in Guatemala, anchored off Livingston going through a very slow and unsophisticated check in process.
We cross the Rio Dulce sand bar yesterday around high tide, 11:30 locally, but LB touched bottom several times and I had to encourage her to plow through the soft mud. We anchored off the town and called the Port Captain, we were told to stand by on channel 16 VHF. We waited three hours!! By then the N NE winds had filled in and with wind against the out flowing river current it was very rollie, very rough. We received a call that the officials would visits us shortly, now picture LB broad side to the waves with winds 15+ and waves three feet or a little more so yes we were rock-in and roll-in. Half an hour later they showed up but it was so rough they couldn't board. A quick check of our papers and we were told we could try again the next morning. They took off. What a waste of time.
Here we are, in a foreign country, on a river with no safe anchorage for overnight except up the river. So being slightly anxious about the chances of finding a safe place to park before dark we headed up river. The guide book suggested a couple of places, but having checked them out as plan A, plan B, plan C we kept going. Around 17:30, an hour before dusk we found a spot that looked promising. 18 feet of water, along the side of the river, very reminiscent of our river trip on the Mississippi, we dropped the hook.
For readers unfamiliar with the Rio Dulce, for the first six miles you power through a beautiful canyon with steep lime stone cliffs covered with lush greenery. All along the way we saw locals paddling very small canoes and lots of powered pangos filled with children returning from school, tourists and fishermen. It was a busy highway, no gas stations, restaurants or stores, just lots of boat traffic going up and down the river.
We were told to lock up everything, so once safely anchored out of the traffic we decided to pull our dinghy and motor up onto the fore-deck. That worked really well; with the dinghy taken care-of we removed everything else that wasn't permanently fixed to the boat. We turned on the anchor light, fixed the dinghy light to the stern rail and retired for the evening. We also decided to leave lights on in the saloon; so with the anchor light, a stern light and cabin lights we figured we were sufficiently visible.
Next, lets congratulate ourselves, Vodka and orange juice with Alice's boat made bread.
It was a peaceful night, no events other than the typical very brief shower, just long enough to force us to close our ports and then it would stop.
We were up early, pulled the hook and headed back to Livingston to start the check-in once again. To make a very long story shorter, it's now 12:00 and we've successfully completed Immigration and the Port Captain after three visits to his office, but, the power is out at the Customs office so we must wait until 1400, hopefully. I used the word unsophisticated, that's a little generous, third world might be to harsh but closer to reality, but that's why we are doing this adventure, to explore, to experience not to judge or complain, (too much).
Hopefully by 1500 we will be officially checked in and on our way back up the river. This time we can avoid the stress of finding an anchorage, knowing of at least one along the way with several others further along.
We have a reservation a RAM marina in Fronteras. We will most likely spend March and April there. We are considering several projects, changing the engine mounts, chaps for the dinghy, a cover for the out board engine and gas tank, new cushion covers for the cockpit, and the biggie, painting LB. Our LB has treated us so well she needs some tender loving care. We also want to tour Guatemala, Honduras and surrounding areas.
It's 1245 still waiting for 1400.