Wind what wind
29 May 2018
We left the island 🌴 of Cozumel with a sense of disappointment because we had seen what the next 12 hours was going to bring, the weather/ wind speed was forecast at 4 to 5 knots per hour, which is much too low for us, it meant we would have to use the motor (iron wind 💨) for the trip across to Cancun. When we set off the wind was not too bad with just enough to use the sails, so up they went, we were sailing without the motor, yeeeehhhhhh, then over about 40 minutes the change in wind speed and also the boat speed happened, to our surprise it increased from a tiny puff to blowing to a steady 28 and gusting to over 35 knots, our boat 'Scorch' 🐲 loved it almost as much as I did, we were keeled over and flying along with a maximum speed of 10.7 knots (which is pretty much as fast as Scorch 🐲will go). We were slipping between the rain storms fairly well there was one that seemed a good distance away and looked like it was going to pass behind us, we reduced some of our sails just before it hit us then we turned into a washing machine, we were running up the side of some biggish waves 🌊 then flying down the back side of them, the rain came at us horizontally stinging our faces and my body (I'm only wearing shorts) the squall only lasted about 20 minutes, but it was so intense, at no time did I feel we were in danger, we were all doing what was needed. We came out the other side of the squall to lovely blue sky's with scattered clouds and great wind speeds, our planned trip of 12 hours turned out to be 7.5 hours, we sailed around the bay of Cancun, I didn't realise just how big it is, but it's huge.
We dropped our anchor about 2 miles away from our final destination of V&V Marina Cancun. The water was rather rough. Which gave us a bumpy and uncomfortable night, we were outside the ferry ⛴ lanes but they were sooo dam noisy I could hear them from over a mile away both coming and going (it must play havoc with any marine life for many miles around.
Today was one of the best days sailing ⛵️ for a good while.
We were invited to the restaurant of Carlos, a friend who we met while we were in Cayo Largo, he is the chef on a very expensive motor cruiser🚤 who we met in Cayo Largo. The evening went very well, the food 🥘 was very good and we finished the evening off with a few tequilas.
We met another chap who is the captain of a very posh 800 ton cruiser called 'Step One' he took us out to the the nature reserve and almost to the end of the Yucatan peninsula it is no more than 100 metres across, on one side the sea is quite rough with a dangerous rip tide and a steep beach, on the other it is very calm and not deep at all (knee deep) people were 200 metres out and sat on chairs with a parasol above. Whilst driving back along the sand track we got a puncture, it took me less than 5 minutes in 30 c degrees to change it over, for my work I was rewarded with an ice cold Corona beer 🍺. Juan Carlos then took us for an authentic Mexican meal 🥘 which was 7 courses of excellent food with 2 different drinks, the total cost was £20.35 for four of us we also had a rum cocktail 🍸 for free after I paid the bill. The food was so good here that we decided to go back the following evening for a different menu and it was just as good, the service was also outstanding (maybe due to the rather large tip we left previously)
I am now packed up and ready to fly back to the UK 🇬🇧 for a few weeks to catch up on friends and family. This trip has been one of my highlights, thanks for reading and your comments. P. X
Temple temple all around
29 May 2018
We have arrived at Cozumel island 🌴 just a few short miles from the main land of Mexico 🇲🇽 .The water is 6 metres deep here but it so clear it is just like looking into a swimming pool 🏊♂️, it is not an ideal place for snorkelling because it is mainly a sandy bottom, with very few fish around. The town gets 4 or 5 cruise ships a day, that's up to ten thousand people which creates its own problems with the locals mobbing every person who looks like a tourist, we think they don't really want small boats ⛵️like ours here, so they seem to make everything so difficult, from things like, no dinghy dock (which makes it easy to get ashore from anchor) no dinghy landing areas, so it's very rough and slightly risky getting out when we get to shore (there is very little beach area) very few people speak anything other than Spanish (Mexican) they just smile 😊 and look dumbly at us, which frustrates me an awful lot.
We caught the water taxi 🚕 across to Playa Del Carmen where we then took a communal taxi to another Maya settlement, the buildings were all very near to the cliff edge and the sea, there were 168 steps down to the beach, which I walked down and spent about 30 minutes walking around. There were many iguanas 🦎 running everywhere, some were over 1 metre long and very impressive, one even stood guard over one of the many buildings. I had to almost fight my way around due to all the tourists (I know that I'm also a tourist) which spoilt the experience a little, the buildings were not as big or impressive as the ones i went to in Belize 🇧🇿 but for their age it's amazing how they were built.
Grounding and chicken drop
17 May 2018
This morning we motored the 10 short miles to Cayo Ambergris, another beautiful island 🌴 belonging to Belize, we were helped by (as Judy calls him) Captain Pugwash, a nice Belizean, who advised us to follow him along the inside of the reef, because it is so very shallow, about half way along he turned off towards the reef with his paying passengers. For the last mile or so our depth sounder was reading 0 metres 0 centimetres, below our keel, so I was on the bow keeping lookout for any obvious hazards, as we passed the town of San Pedro, we touched the sand and came to a gentle stop, luckily for us it was low tide so the skipper said we would lift off soon. We decided to stay here so I dropped the anchor. The main transportation on the island 🌴 is by golf buggy, there are hundreds of them, they even have a rush hour complete with traffic jams. We went into the town and were invited to join a rather silly game that involves a board about 3 metres square and divided into 100 squares, when all squares have been purchased they place a chicken 🐓 on the board then wait till it has a dump, whoever has the number that the chicken drops ☔️ on wins $50 but they have to clean the board before getting their hands on the cash. I didn't win because I didn't buy any tickets. Gotta be in it to win it 😂. We rented a golf buggy and went the 12km to the (not so) secret beach 🏖, it was a lovely place but full of people. The water was only waist deep for over a kilometre out to sea 🌊.
We upped anchor at 07:15 and sailed for Cozumel island 🌴 Mexico🇲🇽.
17 May 2018
I enrolled on a PADI open water diving course, it has been something I have wanted to do for many years. They gave me two books to study, which I had 2 days to wade my way through 260 pages, along with lots of self marked quizzes. I was told to turn up at 09:00 🕘 on Tuesday, I arrived at my time then filled in my enrolment and medical questionnaire, I then sat down to over 6 hours of videos. At the end of my death by video, I started to don my wet suit and get ready for my first dive, only to be told that I could not go any further because I am a diabetic. Now to say I am peed off is an understatement, My wallet is light by 100 dollars, but more importantly for me, is I will miss out on one of my bucket list which is to dive the blue hole, it is rated by other divers as the number 1 dive site if not in the world 🌍 then definitely in the Caribbean, I missed it this time so I'll just have to come back this way in the future.
I went to the gents in the sports bar, straight in front of me written on the wall was "Matt & Lee working hard DST Leconfield" the walls in the whole bar have writings on, so I wonder why they used the gents. (For those who don't know I once worked at DST) as they say it's is a small world.
What sort of a day
10 May 2018
The day started off with a rather large rain storm ⛈, I was a little worried 😦 that it was going to make the visibility in the water not so good. Judy and myself were booked on to a snorkelling trip for the morning, the little boat speed 🚤 came out to us on Scorch to pick us up, we were joined by 4 others. We had a brief on how the trip was hopefully going to pan out, what we should do and what we should hopefully see. Our first stop was only 10 minutes away, here we were hoping to see the elusive manatee, it is a mammal and a protected species, the law says it is illegal to swim with them in their breeding grounds, but occasionally they swim over to the reefs for food 🥘 (sea grass), we were lucky enough to be the first boat 🚤 on site. We saw two manatees coming up to breath at the surface, we quickly got kitted up and climbed in as gently as we could so we didn't scare them off, I managed to get within 2 metres of both mother and calf because they swam to me. They are also known as sea cows and are about the same size only without the legs, we stayed with them for around 15 minutes then left them in peace. Our next stop was for a shallow reef dive here we saw a beautiful lion 🦁 fish, which is invading the Caribbean and is classed as a pest, it has poison in its spines and is very dangerous to other fish and humans, but very nice to eat, the corals here were the best I have seen, from the brain corals to the huge elk horn corals, there were other fish around, there were many nurse sharks, sting rays, rainbow 🌈 parrot fish, yellow fin tuna (in their 100s) barracuda and a few lobsters. My next decent down into the big blue, was in the channel that is about 20 metres across and about the same deep, it is a gap in the reef, on the outside the fish were larger but slightly more difficult to see and get close to, Next we went to a drop off wall, it had corals and anemones all the way down, along with some large Scholes of fish, which I managed to swim down too and through them getting within inches of them. The next stop was to an area where the fishermen clean their catch of conch shells 🐚, the whole sea bed was just like it was carpeted with them, as far as I could see, with hundreds of thousands of these shells 🐚 ( I'm not sure how deep they went ) from many years of catching them. As they remove the mollusc from the shell 🐚 the fish 🐠 feed on the scraps, there was also a massive loggerhead turtle 🐢 it was almost 2 metre long, it's head was as large as a rugby ball 🏈 this one actually bumped into my camera as it came to investigate, we stayed here for about 15 minutes just watching this huge majestic creature swimming around, it didn't seem to mind us being in the water. Our guide asked if we had any questions. Judy asked if we could go back to the manatees again. So 15 minutes later we were back in the water, but this time there was only one of them, after a few minutes we headed back to the island 🌴. In the evening we went out for dinner, I had 4 bottles of the local beer and a 16 inch, ham, pineapple and bacon pizza 🍕. We met up with a few Americans who we have made friends with over the past few days, we had live music sung by one of them called Mike with his guitar 🎸. Today was a great day, temperatures in the low 30s degrees c.
A beautiful island
05 May 2018 | Caye Calker (Belize)
We stopped off at turneffe cay reef for a spot of snorkelling, we spent around an hour in the water. It was a bit of a mistake because it then took us the rest of the day to navigate through the hundreds of small cays and reefs to get to Belize City 🇧🇿 in order to check in, unfortunately we were too late by 15 minutes so we will have to stay anchored offshore for the night, so close and so near. In the morning we were awoken by the radio with customs wanting to come aboard, but the sea was so rough that they refused to get into our dinghy, but it was ok for us to do 3 return journeys, they also charged us over US$ 280 for our entry into Belize. We moved 2 miles down the coast to Kukumber marina but the water was too shallow for us to get in, so we anchored outside and used the dinghy.
We took a trip out to one of the many ancient Maya settlements that are dated back to around 280bc, we paid for a guide who lives on site, his knowledge was very good, I feel that it was US$ 10 well spent. Their history is very fascinating they had a class structure where the royalty and most powerful people lived at the top of the building and the poorest at the bottom within the foundations. Here I was shown a cashew nut freshly picked from the tree, it along with a strawberry are the only fruit 🍇 that grows the seeds on the outside, the fleshy part is yellow and is about as big as a sweet pepper and tasted very nice 👍, the nut is roasted and removed from the shell. We also had a bit of a tour around Belize city 🇧🇿 which is not very big at all, the cathedral is small also, it had some beautiful carvings.
We sailed early in the morning to Caye Calker, again it took most of the day to go 30 miles, we stopped off for a snorkel on the reef, the coral was big but I could see the destruction left from the last hurricane that came through a few years ago, the new growth was also showing. There was plenty of colourful little fish 🐟 but I only saw 2 large ones which were barracuda, they came right up to me and seemed huge, in reality they were probably a little over 1 metre long. Afterwards we motored up to our new anchor position, the depth of the water under our boat was less than 30cm, so we crept along with me up on the bow as lookout for any coral that was lurking just below the surface of the water 💦 this time (about 40 minutes) was quite nerve wracking for me, because I didn’t want to miss something that could have easily ripped a hole in the bottom of the boat ⛵️. We arrived safely 😅