Aboard …Chat-Eau

Email us directly aboard Catalyst at: KG4QFO@winlink.org.


To check out photos from our current voyage, please click on the “Catalyst Photo Archive” to the right. 

May 13, 2010

Dear Friends and Family,

We are back in Belize Waters, and in fact, by the time this log is sent, we will be anchored in Cay Caulker at the northern part of Belize, hoping to strike out for Mexico tomorrow if the weather holds .  We left Texan Bay Tuesday morning, checked out of Livingston by 9:30 and headed north.  Of course the whole time we were heading south, the winds were from that direction.  Now that we are heading north, the winds have moved north.  That is the story of a sailors life.  Actually, today, they have moved more East so a better sailing position.

We had hoped to make it all the way back to Placencia our first day but bouncing in to the waves was rough and wet and slowed us down too much to make it by dark so we opted to go in to an anchorage called New Haven.  There was a little settlement here at one time but from what we could see, it has been reclaimed by nature.  It is a very calm anchorage for our 22 plus knots of wind that we anticipated over night.  Finding a good north anchorage in Belize is often a challenge.

That night for dinner, we had grilled marinated flank steak, a corn pudding, cooked beets and broccoli, a Greek salad and red wine with  dark chocolate or cookies for desert.  Nancy and I are both people who like to prepare good meals and entertain.  We have been talking about that.  Shopping on the local economy can often be a challenge to find what we would like to have.  The fun is finding something special.  You can come home and be so excited that you found some brown mustard.  It makes shopping at home way to easy so less exciting.  Nancy was afraid she was out of creamed corn for her recipe for the corn pudding and made an effort to dig in the crowded storage area to find it and was so excited when she found it that she let up a cheer.  I told her, no one else might understand that except me.

While Rob and Steve talked on for the millionth time about engines and mechanical things, Nancy and I spoke food.  We laughed that we were each as obsessive about our respective topics.  It is fun to find someone who speaks the same language, or at least the same topic interest!

I have actually not written much about our meals as in seasons past, I was kidded for always writing what we had to eat.  I guess my point in this section is that we don’t give up good eating when we cruise.  We are lucky to have good refrigeration and lots of storage room so that makes it possible but commitment is also part of the package.

We had a long day yesterday, going from New Haven early and passing Placencia mid morning.  We had thought to stop there but determined that with an early start we could make up the time lost by stopping earlier the day before.  We motor sailed and did some straight sailing as well and arrived at Colson Cays about sunset.  We had stopped here on our way south and had a great snorkel.  Not last night.  Too late and too cloudy.

We are having a brisk sail today, over 7 knots, which will make time go quickly on our way to Cay Caulker.  We are waiting on some weather and will make plans to head out tomorrow morning if possible.  It is likely to be an overnight as there is just no convenient place to stop in Mexico that takes only day light to get to.  We will probably make about 3 stops in Mexico before waiting for a crossing time from Isla Mujeres.

So far, we have not been able to use our computer on Steve’s SSB to do e-mail so we are hoping to access internet in Cay Caulker and download a program that will allow access for us.  If we cannot do that, I may send some logs through Steve but I won’t be able to get any mail through.

As I write this, I realize that I didn’t give you the conclusion to our visit in Texan Bay with Chris and Kelli and their village of friends there.  We came in to the peaceful anchorage by noon and enjoyed a lunch aboard Chat-Eau with them.  Kelli had spent the morning at the school where they were having a mother’s day program with the little children who have school in the morning.  Tuesday was Mother’s Day in Guatemala and many things are closed for the holiday.  Kelli told us that part of the program was the mother’s coming up and competing in a blindfolded baby diapering and dressing contest using dolls.  Another contest was taking a baked potato and peeling it and making it in to a flat tortea shape.  The kids performed and there were other things going on.  They served a chicken lunch that families bought tickets for.

We went in the Seakist Launcha (C&K’s business name) with several of their local friends.  Chris said that it was a full load for him though we had even more on the ride home.  Nancy and I wore dresses and Steve and Rob wore long pants as people dressed for the occasion.  We left about 5 and bought dinner tickets for less than $3 U.S.  The kids’ desk chairs were set out in the outside area for people to sit on and one of the students saw our group standing and gestured us over to where they had put up more desks.  The food that night was a slice of pork (I think) in a light bur tasty sauce.  There were two flour torteas, rice and I got a macaroni salad which was really good and others got mixed vegetables.  It included a can of a soft drink.  Unfortunately, the meat was quite hard to bite through and I was wishing for dental floss the whole night, but aside from the toughness, the flavor was good.

It was entertaining to see the children in their best clothes.  Even without TV or internet, or going often to the major town, the girls all looked stylish.  They wore nice dresses, some in high heels and with jewelry.

The program was similar with acts done by the kids and parents involved in competitions.  It reminded me of my childhood.  My young life was rural and simple in so many wonderful ways.  The kids here were amazingly well behaved, even the little ones in the crowd.  When the event was over, the kids quickly started taking down the decorations, putting the desks back where they were from and generally cleaning up the place.  All pitched in and C&K said the place would be spotless before they left.  I was impressed.  They may lose out on some things educationally, but they have not lost out learning manners, consideration and responsibility.

Thanks to a contribution from Nancy and Steve, Kelli was able to order a printer and a combination printer, copier, scanner, 10 Spanish key boards to go with the donated lap tops and 3 reams of paper.  Kelli worked with a merchant in town who gave them the items at cost and volunteered to install things to hook them all up when they are able to build the new computer room.  They just found out that a gringo in the area is going to cover the cost of doing the electrical rewiring that Chris will help with labor on.  Right now, they would like fans, but the school has no electrical grounding.

The next step for them is to see about finding a way of getting internet but that offers some challenge as well.

What was interesting to see that we don’t see in the U.S. is that there is a type of copy ink for the machines that doesn’t require cartridges.  It has lines to the printer with liquid ink in each line.  It lasts about 10 times longer than the more expensive cartridge and each color of ink can be replaced as needed meaning that if you use a lot of one color, you don’t have to replace all the colors at the same time.  This will make it more economical in the long run.

We and Johnson’s appreciated the chance to be included in the community as much as our brief visit would allow.  Rob and I hope to spend more time there before leaving Guatemala next year.

We found out a little more about methods of dealing with security among the rural locals.  The government really does nothing in these areas to speak of.  The locals have to make their own way of dealing with things.  It seems like one solution is that if one member if the family commits a crime, the whole family is in some way punished, in the case of murder, the murderers whole family was killed.  That was a few years ago and extreme but it sure puts it in your head that you take care of your family members and keep them in line.

People know each other and the neighborhood watch idea is in full force there.  If something happens, it seems like they fan out to find the person responsible and are often very successful.  The villagers form a strong, almost autonomous group that not only works for the benefit of the village but determines how people behave.  You can do this in a small unit and it seems to work pretty well for them.

Guatemala has a lot of political inequity as do many countries.  Poverty is a big issue but we have found that it doesn’t stop the people from being friendly, kind and generous.  Smiles and waves are easily earned.  Like everywhere else, life has it’s challenges and it’s advantages and I can see why C&K enjoy their connection in this beautiful place.

We will try to keep you informed of where we are and our progress but from here, our life is mostly moving the boat which is probably not so interesting to you and frankly not for us either.  It looks like the weather may cooperate.  If it could all be like today so far, it will be a good passage home.  The northward moving current will give us a boost and hopefully improve our progress time wise.  It shouldn’t be long before I send my final thoughts from home.

(Happy Mother's Day!)

Fair Winds,
Sue and Rob
Aboard Chat-Eau

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