Cruising with Vida Dulce

12 December 2019 | Placencia, BZ
12 December 2019 | Placencia, BZ
11 December 2019 | Placencia, BZ
10 December 2019 | Placencia, BZ
09 December 2019 | Tres Puntas, Guatemala
06 December 2019 | Cayo Quemado, Guatamala
05 December 2019 | Cayo Quemado, Guatemala
04 December 2019 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
02 December 2019 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
26 November 2019 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
22 November 2019 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
18 November 2019 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
17 November 2019 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
04 March 2019 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
25 February 2019 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
25 February 2019 | Rio Dulce, Guatemala
24 February 2019 | Placencia, Belize
19 February 2019 | Placencia, Belize
10 February 2019 | Placencia, Belize

Another Thing To Fix

12 December 2019 | Placencia, BZ
Susan | scattered thunderstorms, breezy, 85 degrees F
This morning Jerry Investigates why power from one of the solar panel pairs isn’t sending current to the charge controller. He discovers one of the plastic sheathed connectors is melted. Between squalls we head to town to see of any of the hardware stores has a replacement. Nope. He even takes a taxi to the Thunderbird Marina to see if they have it. Nope. We do learn that there are two solar panel / system installers in the capital, Belmopan. He calls to see if they have the needed parts and if they’ll sell them to him. While waiting to hear back, he works on the to-fix list. After return calls it is established that they do, and they will. We’ll rent a car for a day tomorrow to make the purchase.

Weather-wise: There’s a nicely calm weather window for travel starting tomorrow and through the weekend, before the next low / cold front moves into the NW Caribbean. Unfortunately Vida Dulce is not ready to go. The next cold front is a stronger one so we can expect even stormier weather for a longer duration starting Wednesday. We’ll move around into the shallower more sheltered lagoon before then. And hope for a calm window of several days to move north after it passes.

A Serious Amount Of Rain

12 December 2019 | Placencia, BZ
Susan | overcast, scattered thunderstorms, breezy, 83 degrees F
Can you see the cruise ship? And this is after a wall of rain has passed us, then them. It’s been wet - but a warm wet 😂 - and breezy these past couple of days as this thunderstormy cold front moves through. We’re quite glad we’d made the trip here on Tuesday.

Speaking of that, two boats we know (well… the people who own the boats) were checking out of Guate at the same time as us. Headed to Placencia like us. Jerry asked them if they’d heard about the new Belize check-in procedure there and they responded they did. Yet discounted it…. “We’ve been going to Belize for years and always check-in from Placencia!”. They arrived in Placencia harbor a bit prior to us on Tuesday evening. Both went Wednesday morning to Big Creek / Independence to check-in as per usual (actually one of them prefers to check-in at Dangriga, town even farther away from this anchorage). Both were able to complete part of the check-in process however Customs insisted on onboard inspections for an additional fee in spite of the weather. We heard these couples grousing about it after the officials were dropped back at the city dock, although neither said how much extra they were required to pay. Got to say…. circumstances and risks change regularly; if you’re fortunate enough to hear the latest information, whether it’s check-in / -out procedures / requirements or piracy incidents and choose not heed it, it’s at your own inconvenience / cost / peril.

Placencia Harbor

11 December 2019 | Placencia, BZ
Susan | overcast, scattered thunderstorms, breezy, 83 degrees F
Belize is a "wait for good weather window(s) to move north to Isla Mujeres MX" stop, yet our friends Tom & Marlee are in Belize for vacation so we'll try to hook up with them for a visit as well. This coming weekend may be an opportunity after this passing a cold front. In the meanwhile, we’ll re-provision, get a local SIM card, and enjoy what we like best about Placencia (looking at you TuttiFruitti gelato, Sat Finger Lickin’ BBQ, …) And fix what’s not working. The first trips of a new season shows what isn’t working well. This time it’s the autopilots; we have two but neither is working reliably. Also the anchor windlass is showing it’s age, protesting and often quitting while getting the anchor unstuck from the anchorage floor. The food fridge isn’t cycling even with an infusion of gas, however it’s unlikely there’s much that can be done; it just needs to hang in there until we reach Florida.

Belize Check-In

10 December 2019 | Placencia, BZ
Susan | mostly sunny, 85 degrees F
We learned info last week about a change in the Belize check-in process that will modify our plans this year. A boat we know went to Placencia to check in at Big Creek / Independence as they always do (just as we & most everyone else has done several years running). This time they were told that all officials would come to their boat in Placencia harbor; they had to stay onboard until they arrive and pay an additional US$150 for this service, no choice. Belize is particular about people bringing in fresh fruits, veggies, eggs and meats from another country; they will confiscate them if they are found during inspection. An on-board inspection has been more likely if you check in at Punta Gorda but since we've traveled to Big Creek / Independence on our second and subsequent check-ins, no such inspections have occurred. Rumor is that most boats will be subjected to this new procedure and cost. Gotta love Belize, always looking for a new way to get into your wallet. 😏

We decide to check-in at Punta Gorda. One advantage of a Punta Gorda check-in is that all officials are in the same building, no traipsing from building to building in the heat. The trick to a (relatively) quick check-in and no on-board inspection there is to arrive before lunch with just enough time to get the paperwork completed. It also helps if you have a small dinghy and/or the seas are a bit rough. But we want to make Placencia harbor by nightfall so take our chances with an early arrival check-in. Food inspection-wise we have just 1 apple, 1/2 carrot, 1 sm rib of celery and 1/4 of an onion, no fresh meat, less than a dozen eggs; if we get inspected and they want to confiscate that, it's not much of a loss.

We planned to get underway at 6:30am from Tres Puntas but it's closer to 7am when we do. We arrive a bit after 9am, anchor and dinghy to the Immigration / Customs / Port Authority dock. The Belize process is slow and paper intensive; no one has incentive to do things efficiently or quickly. We have to fill out 6 forms including one requesting a ridiculous detailed accounting of ships stores, another on personal stashes of tobacco, alcohol and such, one for details on the boat and dinghy, plus 2 others, and of course the tourist cards. The Belize officials fill out their own 4 or 5 forms and ask questions while they do. Since we don't have any oranges or bananas or fresh meats or plants or pets, the Health / Quarantine inspector says he doesn't need to inspect the boat stores personally. Still today's process takes us nearly to 11am, cost B$145 (US$77.50) for a 7 day stay. We'll extend the stay if needed in Placencia or Big Creek / Independence.

It's about 6 hours to Placencia Harbor. We'd like to put up the new sails but we have wind on the nose and if we're going to arrive before sunset, we don't have time to mess around. The decision pays off... we're anchor-secure in Placencia a bit after 5pm, before sunset.

Guatemala Check-Out

09 December 2019 | Tres Puntas, Guatemala
Susan | overcast & showers, then sunny, 84 degrees F
We get underway at 8am, arrive Livingston an hour & half later under clouds and rain but by the time we’re checked out the skies have cleared and are a sunny blue.

We gave Raul the heads-up on our check-out several days ago so he has the paperwork ready for the officials. A quick check-out; done by 10:30am. The usual Q 610, about US$ 82.

We head to Tres Puntas for the night, our usual staging anchorages going in & out. With that, we’ve officially started this year’s cruising season.

New Mainsail

06 December 2019 | Cayo Quemado, Guatamala
Susan | AM sun then overcast with PM showers
New mainsail day! As anticipated the batons are slightly too long for the new mainsail, yet no problem, Tom trims them for a perfect fit. Between Tom & his assistant and Jerry, the needed hardware is installed on the new main in a few hours. With the new sail onboard and rigging checked & adjusted, we move away from Tom's dock so that his next customer (another new mast & rigging!) can have the space.

We're blessed with a calm morning under mostly blue skies, making the tough job of getting the mainsail reinstalled no harder than it is already. It's easily a half-day job for the two of us. When it's done we celebrate with a coldie! 🍻

We could check-out tomorrow however with the new info on Belize check-ins (explained in the forthcoming BZ check-in post) we don't want to arrive there over the weekend, plus the weather forecast for the trip north is better on Monday after this weekend's storms have passed. In addition, Chris, the refrigeration expert here, may have the / one of the component(s) to fix our main cabin AC; although he & his wife live here in Cayo Quemado he works mostly in the marina area so the best time to reach him here is when he's home for the weekend. So we'll wait here thru the rainy weekend and get underway Monday early morning to Livingston to check-out. Not ideal given the lack of internet or cellphone access yet the best decision overall.
Vessel Name: Vida Dulce
Vessel Make/Model: Lagoon 440
Hailing Port: Seattle, WA
Crew: Jerry and Susan Barber
About: Jerry and Susan moved aboard Vida Dulce in late October of 2010. We are currently in the Caribbean.
Vida Dulce's Photos - Main
26 Photos
Created 20 October 2017
17 Photos
Created 2 September 2017
4 Photos
Created 15 December 2016
9 Photos
Created 17 October 2016
20 Photos
Created 1 September 2015
North Coast, West section 2015; Havana to Baracoa Bus Trip 2016
100 Photos
Created 15 May 2015
38 Photos
Created 11 March 2015
50 Photos
Created 25 December 2014
The road trip included 7 States: WA, OR, ID, WY, CO, UT, MT
16 Photos
Created 3 August 2014
Hurricane Season 2014
1 Photo | 5 Sub-Albums
Created 14 June 2014
Pictures of our stay in Honduras 2014
1 Photo | 5 Sub-Albums
Created 4 January 2014
10 Photos
Created 18 October 2013
4 Photos
Created 20 September 2013
Our Dec 2012 - Feb 2013 visit
55 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 31 December 2012
Happy Holidays from Isla Providencia, Colombia
11 Photos
Created 31 December 2012
Photos of my on-board garden
16 Photos
Created 28 September 2012
4 Photos
Created 26 December 2011
Pictures of our time in Panama, Sept 2011 - Dec 2012
1 Photo | 5 Sub-Albums
Created 29 September 2011
Pictures of our visit to Columbia, May-Oct 2011
1 Photo | 5 Sub-Albums
Created 15 July 2011
Photos of our series drogue and May 2011 practice deployment and retrieval
24 Photos
Created 13 May 2011
Pictures from our brief visit to Bonaire, Curacao & Aruba in May 2011
35 Photos
Created 11 May 2011
Pictures of our short stay off Isla Pelona in May 2011
17 Photos
Created 11 May 2011
Pictures of our time in Grenada, April 2011
48 Photos
Created 23 April 2011
Pictures of our island stops in the Grenadines, April 2011
36 Photos
Created 4 April 2011
Photos of St Vincent, April 2011
11 Photos
Created 2 April 2011
Photos of St Lucia March 2011
46 Photos
Created 15 March 2011
68 Photos
Created 7 March 2011
Photos of Dominica 2011
3 Photos
Created 7 March 2011
Photos of Iles des Saintes, Feb 2011
12 Photos
Created 17 February 2011
Photos of Guadeloupe, Feb 2011
49 Photos
Created 13 February 2011
Photos of Barbuda, Jan 2011
15 Photos
Created 14 January 2011
20 Photos
Created 30 December 2010
2 Photos
Created 26 December 2010
Photos of Red Hook, St Thomas and Vida Dulce getting a new bank of batteries and the installation of her new custom made arch which will support 4 solar panels.
28 Photos
Created 9 November 2010
Haul out of Vida Dulce in November of 2010.
23 Photos
Created 9 November 2010
Lots of photos of various places not in other albums. Most are included directly in a blog entry.
27 Photos
Created 31 October 2010
15 Photos
Created 11 September 2010
A "Working" Trip with Jim to start outfitting the boat for cruising.
31 Photos
Created 10 September 2010
11 Photos
Created 5 April 2010
34 Photos
Created 5 April 2010