Thursday, April 30, 2015

Isla Mujeres to USA

We had a great sail from Puerto Morales to Isla Mujeres. It’s only 30 miles and we got to sail all the way.  Yea.  By now we have given up trying to get to Cuba.  It’s not worth it at this point and someday when it is truly open we will take a ferry there.  Isla is fantastic with a ton of cruisers there all waiting to head to the states.  The north end of the island is “Miami at spring break”.  Thousands of young people on the beautiful white beaches and crystal clear water.  Restaurants and bars galore with tourist shops in between.  Everyone drives gulf carts which I just love so we rented one with another couple and went island exploring for the day.  The island is huge.  The south end has all the outdoor entertainment with zip lines, kayaking, boat tours for snorkeling, diving, fishing etc.  It really is quite a lovely island made for tourist.  There were a lot of cruisers on sailboats our age and a very tourists our age, mostly much younger.  If you want fun in the sun, this is your place.

I wanted you to see the beautiful blue water of Isla Mujeres

Sort of far away but the beach scene at Isla M

Cruiser's gathering for Sundowners and pizza

We rented a golf cart with Christie and John on Indian Summer so we could tour the island

Very strange statue.  I wonder if she always walked around with a bird on her head

Me conversing with a very large iguana

George and Becky on C-Level.  They are good friends from Bradenton, Fl that had just arrived after a very long and not so much fun passage.  As you can see they are very happy to be there.  Luckily we were able to spend a few days with them before leaving for the states.  They are headed south.
On April 9 we got the perfect weather wind from our weatherman so 6 boats all took off the 3 day passage to the states.  We did indeed have great weather but never really found the big current that would move us fast up the Yucatan channel but we sailed all the way, using our motor from time to time.  We arrived in Marathon on April 12 with Indian Summer –our buddy boat.  Christie and John are from Alaska and sailed the Pacific side for many years and then came through the canal and up the western Caribbean.  We met them last summer in the Rio Dulce, Guatemala.  So now we are showing them the east side. After showing them Marathon and us meeting up with cruising friends we haven’t seen in 3 years, Jay and Nancy, we sailed up on the Keys.  We spent 3 days in Miami touring the Art Deco areas and doing groceries, laundry etc.  

Our hitchhiker while sailing through the Florida straits.  He would not leave and didn't care that I took a picture close up.  Harry thinks he was dying that's way he would not leave

South Beach in the Art Deco area of Miami.  Not a real good picture of the art deco

Typical old cars we saw parted along the street

A couple of the art deco buildings seen at night.  You really can't appreciate all the art deco unless you are there walking the streets
Then we motor sailed up to Ft. Lauderdale.  No wind, Yuk.  Harry and I spent a day with my brother and his wife and their family.  That was great fun.  Then we spent a day with some old cruising buddies, Frank and Joanne Finney.  That was great fun as well. 
So we get back to the boat after visiting with Frank and Joanne, ready to leave in the morning with Indian Summer and our engine wouldn’t stay on.  After 4 hours of  labor with John and Harry no luck. By midnight they were exhausted.  So as any sailor knows, flexibility is the key to staying calm about issues as they arise.  The next day was Plan B.  We got towed about 4 miles down to Dania to Harbortown Marina.  It is much cheaper then any marina in Ft. L.  A mechanic came and we ended up changing out all the fuel hoses.  This is something we have talked about doing for many years but just never got up to our priority list.  So about $1000 later we are all fixed.
We left for Lake Worth, Palm Beach, where, once again we went into a Rybovich Boatyard to get our alternator fixed.  It’s always something.  I am glad all this is happening back in the states where we know we can get good help easily.

We met up with some people we met in Mexico, Charlotte and James on Pegasus.  They were also in this marina.  Small world.  It has been fun with them.  They have a rental car so we went shopping and then out to dinner on my birthday.  They are great people.  So here we sit, waiting for out alternator to return so we can finally start moving north.  Last night for dinner we went to the other Rybovich which houses the super mega yachts.  Never saw so many huge yachts in my life.  They start at 150 ft and up to 260 ft.  Amazing.  I added a couple of pictures.

A 200 ft yacht in a travel lift.  Amazing

Check out the size of those tires

Check out the fender for this yacht

JFK's yacht called "Honey Fitz".  He had a lot of famous people aboard this boat back in the 60's.  Boars have really changed.  It was named after his grandfather.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Puerto Morales, Mexico

Well,   I thought I was done talking about Belize when I wrote the last blog but we had one more adventure I have to write about.  We had sailed up to Cay Caulker, an island in the north end of Belize.  It has the cutest little village, very much like a miniature Myrtle Beach.  We decided to splurge and take an excursion on a very small sail boat to 3 famous snorkeling sites.  It was Harry and me and a young couple from New Zealand.  They turned out to be as interesting and fun as the adventure itself.  They took a year off of work which is actually encouraged in NZ.  They bought a world travel ticket and have been flying, all over the world.    Our tour guide was lots of fun and provided us with lunch, lots of fruit and on the way back while sailing he served us a gallon of rum punch.  You can’t beat that.

Had to put this in.  A phone on a very remote island among the trees.  It really struck us as funny

Harry swinging at the bar

Typical day fishing for the locals with 10 people on this small boat and all those cayucas

Anyway, the snorkel sites were fantastic.  The first one was coral gardens with tons of fish and live coral and the second one was swimming with sharks.  I couldn’t believe the number of sharks surrounding us.  Our guide was feeding them so they couldn’t care less about us.  There were many excursion boats out there with probably 50 of us in the water swimming with the sharks and rays.  It was an amazing experience.  Then the last one, we swam with very large sea turtles, huge grouper, moray eels and many sting rays.  It was our last snorkel in the Caribbean Sea but a really memorable one. 
Our excursion boat with Brandine, the New Zealand and our captain , Mata

The sharks in a frenzy over the food. Check out how clear the water is

Another one of the sharks

Harry snorkeling with the sharks.  They couldn't care less.  He doesn't look like food I guess

We checked out of San Pedro, Belize and left with 3 other boats for a one overnighter to Puerto Morales, Mexico.  This is a terrific harbor to anchor in but since we decided to do land travel, we took a slip in a 5 star resort with a marina.  Wow, what an experience.  We have never had the privilege to stay in an all-inclusive resort.  Since we were in the marina we have had full privileges of all the pools and activities.  The pools are amazing and the waiters come by asking what you want to drink.  They don’t take money and it’s all included so we have been getting free drinks every day at the pool.  Although we are the stepchildren wearing white bracelets instead of blue but they don’t seem to care.  A couple of our friends have had vouchers for the restaurants but no one ever  takes the vouchers so they have had free meals.  What a setup. There are a bunch of us who go to yoga class, Zumba, and water aerobics every day.  What a life.  We could get use to this.

One of the many pools at this resort

Another pool.  This place was great

The Local security guard, Harry called Fred.  He is always there on the dock

Sand sculpture on the beach in Puerto Morales.  This was magnificent.  They use something to keep the sand from blowing or melting away

We couldn't decide whether this was Moses or Poseiden. We decided on Moses because all of the sculptures were religious

The Pieta.  Check out the detail this guy did.  We watched him working on this.

We had planned to fly to Cuba but after much research on flights, hotels etc we decided not to go.  It is extremely busy in Cuba right now and we simply could not get a flight or a hotel or B and B.  Once it opens and I am sure it will in the next couple of years, we will fly down.
So we rented a car for a week and decided to drive around the Yucatan Peninsula.  We drove to a really nice typical Mexican town called Valladolid for 2 nights and went to the famous Mayan ruins called Chichen itsa.  Quite an experience.  We had a great guide who gave us so much history and information.  He is Mayan and very proud of his heritage.  It was fun listening to him tell some fascinating stories.

Wall where the Mayans came for competition games.  Look at the big ring at the top of the wall.  They had to get a 6 pd rubber ball through the ring with a rubber club.

The biggest temple at Chichen Itza

The picture is what they image the ruin behind it to once look like.  Amazing

Another picture of what the ruin must have once looked like

I had to throw this in.  As we were driving through the Yucatan we saw hundreds of these carts that all the local people in the small settlements use for transportation.  One Mom had a baby carriage in the front and 3 kids standing in the cart.

One of the cenotes we saw in Valladolid.  Kids were swimming.

Then we went swimming in a Cenote which is a big sink hole.  There are 10,000 of these in the Yucatan Peninsula.  They are amazing.  We were there with 100 tourists so it was crowded but fun.

This is the famous one where all the tourist go.  We swam in this one.  Lots of fun

Just us at the cenote
Harry next to a termite nest.  Do you believe the size of that

We stopped for lunch along the road and had a wonderful lunch here for $3.85 for both and included 2 bottles of water.

We drove north to Rio Lagartos, which is a sleepy little fishing village that is famous for their wildlife, flamingos, crocodiles, and hundreds of different birds.  We stayed 2 nights in a real cute B & B with a pool right outside our door.  It was sunny and hot and basically nothing to do.  In order to see the flamingoes we had to hire a tour guide for $60 which we did for the next day but then a front came in, it got cold, and windy on the river and we cancelled.  We drove to 2 famous swamp areas to see all this wildlife and didn’t see a thing.  So we swam and read and ate (only 1 restaurant in town).  Next stop was Playa del Carmen on the Caribbean Sea. It is pretty much like a miniature Cancun with resort after resort, tons of restaurants on the boardwalk and almost everyone was under 5 years old.  Lots of beach stuff going on including a crazy number of the beach beds.

This was at Playa del Carmen.  It really is interesting to see all these people and all those beds.  It was just resort after resort.

 We stayed at another B& B owned by a young Italian couple.  They were great and it was lovely.  So we had a great 2 days there wondering around, doing a lot of walking etc.  Much better then staying at a big resort.

I just want to expand on Mexico.  First off, we love it.  The people are wonderful and amazing how many speak some English, which is nice.  It is very clean and we consider what we see so far as a first world country.  We have been in some really dumping central Am countries with trash everywhere but Mexico keeps their streets very clean and buildings are painted and kept up.  We have been amazed over the difference from other countries.  Their roads are equivalent to US roads, well kept and no potholes.  Of course we have only been in the Yucatan Peninsula but we have heard other areas are the same.  We have liked it so much we might someday drive through other parts of Mexico for a vacation.

Tomorrow we sail to Isla Mujeres which is the island at the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula.  It is a great jumping off spot for sailing to Key West.  Hopefully, that will happen next week.  It will be good to be back in the USA