To check out photos from our current voyage, please click on the “Catalyst Photo Archive” to the right.
March 12, 2011
Dear Friends and Family,
It is about 7:30 a.m as I write this. Rob and I rose at 5 this morning to get the boat ready to go. We had to retie the lines holding us in to the dock so that we could release them from the boat rather than have to be on shore and jump back on the boat.
You will see in one of the pictures I sent the effort it took to get on and off the boat. It would have been impossible to relapse a line and still jump on board afterward. We got the sails ready to raise, the electrical unhooked and the garbage ashore. We rose our crew from their comfortable birth about 5:45 and very close to 6, we cast off lines. Paul and Bernice were on either side of the boat pulling lines ashore while I pulled in the line that had been around the mooring in the front. It was nice to have extra crew on board but we could have done it with just two of us.
We are sailing in company with Chat-Eau and Sunshine. Margaret and Phil on Sunshine are the couple we had over for dinner a few nights ago. It was the first real company meal I have done since we started this trip. That is unusual for me. I took a tip from Nancy who sets such beautiful tables and used a cover up cloth for a table cloth and had candles and everything. We have mutual friends in Punta Gorda who put us in touch with each other. They have a PDQ (a 36 foot Catamaran) and while they have sailed for some time, this is their first big trip away from home. They are doing the same thing we are so it is likely we will stay in company with them to Belize and may run in to them in Guatemala in the future. This kind of things happens a lot with boats and boaters.
We have a really good window, at least for the next several days with moderate winds and lower seas. That is good because it will be 4 days before we reach Belize if we follow our present plan. We are sailing without the engine for now. When we started there was not a lot of wind and then as the lad started to heat up, the wind shifted and increased so now we are without the sound of the motor with just the rush of the water and the creaking of the boat. BEAUTIFUL. Just what sailing is supposed to be. In fact we are making over 8 knots of speed. Our goal was to make 6 knots in order to be at the anchorage in enough day light to see the reef that we have to go through. If this holds for most of the day, it should be no problem. (before this was sent, we hit 12 knots but not sustained)
For you non boaters, a knot of speed is 1.1 miles an hour so if we are going 8 knots we are going 8.8 miles an hour. Now you know why sailing a 60 mile day is a long day of sailing! Today we will go about 46 miles. We are heading to Bahia de la Ascencion. There is a very small town there. We had been there when we last made this trip. Many people have small weekend or winter homes there. There is very little and the dock is hard to manage with the dinghy. We will probably try to go ashore if we have time and it doesn’t seem rough.
On Wednesday, we rented a car and Nancy and I went in to Playa de Carmen to meet with Sabine and go shopping. Not sure we couldn’t have done the same at the local supermarket but did get some household things as well as food and drink. It was a nice visit with Sabine but over a leisurely lunch we realized we were running late and didn’t get to SAMS as planned. We rushed back to put our things away and then Steve and I left for the airport to get Paul and Bernice and Steve’s water maker membrane which Paul and Bernice were delivering. We went to the airport in case there was a problem in getting the part through. We made it in time but because the plane was early, we had only about 15 minutes before we saw Paul and Bernice come through the gate. There was no problem with the part and all was well. Then the next big step was getting everything on the boat including our passengers as the ladder getting on and off was a bit of a challenge. It was fine though and luckily P and B are pretty agile and game for anything.
On Thursday, all but Steve, who opted to stay aboard and work on his water maker, took the bus to Talum and the Mayan Ruins there. We opted to pay for a personal tour and we all thought it was worth it. It is in a beautiful location right on the water. Life for the Mayan people is a lot like life in most places. There were the privileged who lived the life of God’s and Goddesses and then those who served them. The royal’s get the palace and the others live away from the water in the swamp lands outside the palace gates. At least today, you can change your station through your own initiative but then, you were born in to it. Of course you could always be conquered and that would certainly lower your status. The elite were very well educated but there was no option of that for the poor. It was a very well developed culture. We were told that the area where we were and further north in Mexico failed mostly because the land was so poor for planting and the populations got bigger and there was no way to sustain them. They are right along the coast and there is a beautiful beach down from a cliff right along the ruins. What a breeze and view they had.
We also asked about the Mayan Calendar ending in 2012. If you have not heard, there is a new dooms day theory that because the calendar ends in February of that year, that means something. I asked the guide about it and he said, there are no records of a Mayan calendar because they used paper and those papers have all deteriorated to dust. Here, they don’t know what we are talking about. Maybe someone got the Mayans confused with the Aztec culture who carved on stone. We have a documentary about it on board so we will have to watch it and find out. Made me feel like I can make plans beyond next February though!
Speaking of plans, we are sure learning on this trip that making any is rather an exercise in futility. The only reason to make plans is to know that they don’t happen! I had seen a wonderful place to get a massage. It is like a little touch of Bali. You walk through a beautifully carved wooden wall with double doors in to a garden paradise where you have bamboo walls, wooden or stone floors. Everything is pure white linens or dark wood and there is no real structure as it is all open air though lots of trees so the leaves are your roof. It is cool and natural. There were lots of places for massage and dressing rooms with robes and the shower water comes out of a bamboo tube. It was like a movie and just the environment was worth the cost, which was high for around here at about $79. There are a lot of places for Massage on the beach or along the tourist streets for $25 to $30 but you don’t have the privacy and sense of getting away that this place did. I arranged for a massage for Nancy and Bernice and me after a hot walking day at Talum but when the time came, it was raining and overcast and cool and in a place with no roof, a massage was out of the question. If you know me, you know how much I love a massage so I was a bit disappointed but I told Rob I would give him a hundred dollars to massage my feet. He did and so all is right with the world. It ended up we all 4 took naps that afternoon and that is probably what we all really needed!
Yesterday was also not a plan that went off as predicted. The folks on Sunshine and Steve from Chat-Eau and the 4 of us took the bus in to Playa de Carmen to check out. We had no idea how complicated and time consuming it would be so we didn’t worry about starting out too early. We got there about 11 and after 30 minutes were told that the next step was to have copies of documents made, then walk about 5 blocks to the port captains office. There after a wait, they had to work with a person on a type writer using one finger from each hand. They tried to translate questions using google but it didn’t come out right. Luckily, with Rob’s limited Spanish they were able to work through things. I don’t think they are used to people like us checking out there as they had to figure out what we needed. Once Rob was done, it was easier and faster for the others. Then they had to go pay at a bank, another long walk and wait at the bank. That way the immigration offices don’t deal with money. Then back to the immigration office which was closed. Well they called through the door and luckily Rob knew the name of the person he had been working with so they got it done. They didn’t finish until about 2:30. I had gone off with Paul and Bernice about 11:30 thinking I would meet them about 12:30. When they had not been there by 1:00 we went with Wes and Sabine, who we had agreed to meet at noon and looked for them. We were told that they were not back from the Dock masters off yet and so Wes volunteered to find them and take them to meet us at 2 for lunch at a specific place. Sabine, Paul and Bernice and I headed slowly along the shops and then waited at the restaurant. Wes finally showed up about 3 and told us the others were heading back to the boat and they were grabbing a McDonalds. We three found out way home alone and got back just as Rob was helping Chat-Eau get away from their dock and head to the fuel dock.
It was already late by the time Rob started to get our boat ready for departure today but so far, today has been even better than we had planned!
We had 8 nights at the marina and we have officially used more nights in a marina than we do in a 6 month cruise. It was a nice place though. We loved watching the dolphin acts right there by the docks. We watched kids and adults being propelled by the dolphins and even when not performing, it was fun to see the frolic in the water. They also had manatees and you could see them very clearly. They were feeding a baby and getting it to do certain behaviors with the trainer. It was fun to have that opportunity every time we walked by.
We had taken Paul and Bernice to the beach area the night they arrived but it turned out that weather and time didn’t allow us to even see it in day light. I was able to go with Nancy for a little while and the views from beach chair were wonderful and the sound of the waves soothing. When we are on the boat, we really don’t do much beach time so we will see if P and B get their chance in the future. We will be mostly moving the boat for the next many days!
Sue and Rob
On the “road” again!