Rio Dulce: Coming Home
24 March 2015 | Cayo Quemado, Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Beth / high 20's/swimsuits
After a glorious week of sandy beaches, clear blue-green water, multi-coloured fishes, birds and sunsets, we said good-bye to Belize.
We timed everything exactly right - a 10 am high tide at Hunting Cay meant we left our mooring ball with a foot of water under us. The morning sun high behind us meant we could easily see shadings in the water as we crossed the shallows to the west and made it out to deep water with no problem at all. And we now have good waypoints saved.
The only disappointing thing was lack of wind so we had to motor for 23 miles down to Cabo Tres Puntas where we spent the night before catching the morning high tide in Livingston. As we arrived at the long shoreline of Tres Puntas, we passed 3 anchored boats and headed for our favourite little spot just around the first corner. Unfortunately, smoke was billowing out from shore so we had to backtrack a bit before dropping the anchor in the sandy bottom. We shook our heads when, just after dark, Jim heard the rattle of chain and looked out the companionway to see a boat anchoring right beside us. It is amusing really, the way some boaters see someone anchored, figure it must be a good spot and try to get as close as they can. There was no wind at all so it was a non-issue safety wise - merely amusing.
It's a 2 hour trip across Bahia de Amatique to Livingston, and we were timing our arrival just before the 0915 high tide. So was everyone else, so at 7am, anchors came up and a trail of boats headed over. We made our 7th crossing of the bar with no problem - throttle up, follow Freya Rauscher's waypoints and ignore little fishing markers and wherever anyone else is going! It is a proven formula for us.
The Livingston harbour was full of boats - the six of us who came in and seven more who left on the same tide, plus some there just to do business. Jim called Raul who told us to sit tight and wait for the officials, and sure enough, the lancha arrived very shortly after. Four officers climbed into the cockpit, we all exchanged pleasantries, they looked at our documents and cleared us in, informing us clearly that we did not need to see any other person - we could just go to the immigration, customs, port authority offices ourselves - which we interpreted as a recommendation to bypass Raul - the agent we have always used. Jim handed out cans of icy coca cola and I passed around a plate of homemade Nova Scotia gingerbread (which the boat driver declared to be the best he'd ever eaten!) and they went on their way.
Because we like to have one person who knows this boat and can handle all the permits, extensions, and "fixes" that may or may not be necessary here, we went to see Raul anyway. In short order he got our passports stamped, affirmed our plan to stay at a licenced marina this year, collected his fee (we think it is a little higher this year) and informed us that the 12 month extension needed will cost us 2100 Q, and that we need to be out of the country for 3 months next season. (We went out on a temporary permit this year.)
With the formalities over, we headed up the gorge. Although we have been up and down here a dozen times, the lushness of the greenery, the egrets, pelicans, cormorants rising from the water to soar around us, the men women and children paddling dugout canoes, and the sheer height of the gorge walls never fail to thrill us.
A couple of hours later, we were passing the Round House when we spotted wild waves from shore where the sail was being raised on a hobie cat. Yay! It was Martin and Karen! The current was strong against us so we floated backward as we idled long enough to say hello before continuing on our way. What fun to see familiar faces so soon. And then we rounded the corner into lovely little Cayo Quemado and spied the red roofs of Casey Brooks home and workshop. As we pulled into "our" slip in front of the workshop, Bilo and Portefilio came running to catch our lines. Casey and Becky came down the dock with big smiles and hugs and we were back in the neighbourhood!