We left Isla Mujeres on Monday, to travel a day south for a stay in Puerto Morelos. It’s a much smaller, quiet fishing town. We’d waited for good winds, choosing a day with light winds from the northeast, and waves predicted for 3-4 feet. Our trip down went smoothly, except for a slight hiccup at the point off of Cancun, where we encountered 12 foot swells.
We’re learning that there are always decent sized swells in the open ocean, aside from whatever waves are predicted. When a point of land juts out, it seems to create a “pinch point”of sorts. The swells, waves and current here can make for a confused mess (which is what happened to us as we approached Mexico).
We’d been fighting the current that was traveling north, causing our speed to slow to 4.5 knots (we like to travel at 6). I convinced Scott to put the paravanes down, even though that slows our speed even more. He’d been fighting it, worried that an even slower speed meant we wouldn’t arrive before dark. Once around the point, we moved closer to shore. This took us out of the current and brought our speed up…back on schedule again!
There is a reef that sits off of Puerot Morelos, so we had to go south and then come back up on the other side to get to where we planned to anchor. When we arrived, there was a sizable group of buoys, marking a swim area, and several closely placed mooring balls. Scott chose a spot between the mooring balls and the swim area to drop anchor. We had no sooner finished anchoring and turning off the motor, when a boat came over to inform us that the we were in a national park. We weren’t allowed to anchor, due to the baby coral that they were encouraging to grow on the sea floor.
We were directed to take a mooring ball..”but not that one, it’s weak.” Ok, check, not that one, so we headed to the next ball. They came along side, waving and saying, “go to that one, this one might be weak.” Really? There were only five balls, and one was designated for catamarans that bring snorkelers daily, so that left two possible choices. We headed to the next ball that they pointed us to.
Now, mooring balls usually consist of a large floating buoy on top of the water, that is firmly (hopefully, firmly) anchored to something on the ground below. Coming off of the buoy is a line with a metal loop, or pendant. You grab the line with your boat hook, bringing the pendant up toward your bow so that you can thread your line through it, and tie off to your bow. Like this:
The two mooring balls that were left had no line, jut a metal loop on top. Like this:
Our bow sits nine feet off of the waterline, so there was no way we could grab and thread the thing from that distance. Scott gave it a shot, grabbing the pendant with a boat hook, but the ball started to move away. Both the boat hook and Scott’s arm were fully extended, so when the ball moved away, he had to let go. Unfortunately, the boat hook stayed hooked to the stupid pendant….before slipping off and bobbing along in the water.
Plan B was for Scott to use the boat hook we had left (thank goodness we travel with two of practically everything) to grab the ball from our swim platform, thread it from there and then walk it up toward our bow.
While we were at whits end with this ball, the park ranger boat was fiddling with the remaining ball. They waved us to that ball, where they had tied a line with a loop at the end so that we could grab and thread it. Mercifully, they brought the loop end over to our bow, so we could just lean down and get it. They also retrieved our boat hook! As we were tying off, they told Scott that if the winds picked up he could put his anchor out in the sand, to help hold us. Really?? Because that sounds like anchoring, which you’ve told us is not allowed! These balls are obviously not used much, and must be really iffy.
So we’re here in Puerto Morelos, tied to our trusty mooring ball! Just a few photos.
“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”