A Waterfall Hike On Guajana

We have arrived in Providencia, so there will be a rapid-fire of posts from the end of our time in the bay islands and the passage here:

On our second visit to Guanaja, we planned to hike up to a waterfall located on the north side of the island. We had to dinghy through a canal that cuts through the island, then travel down the north coast to a spot near the start of our hike.

As usual, the winds were blowing more than we’d have liked. They pick up in the afternoon in this area, and blow until early morning. Having stronger winds than normal to start with, we set out early, wanting to be back to the boat before they picked up even more in the afternoon (the Aluminum Princess is definitely up for that kind of ride, the passengers (especially this one), not so much).

We made our way through the wide canal, and around to the north side of the island.

We’d been told that boats can tie up to the pier at Bo Bush’s Green Flash Bar while hiking to the falls. Once I saw this cool-looking place, I decided it was also going to be a spot for my post hike reward beer!

We walked the beach, until higher water sent us into the trees. A wide path had been cut in the palms, mostly likely for horses.

We made our way farther into the woods and started our ascent. The path became more and more tricky for me. My legs and reach are shorter than Scott’s, so I had to find different ways to follow it. We stopped several times, as the air was thick with humidity. The farther along the trail we got, and the higher we went, the less breeze we could find. It was a suffocating, sweaty go, and we planned to cool off in the falls.

Eventually, I had to raise the white flag and surrender. Climbing in the heat and humidity had made me nauseous and light-headed, so I plopped down on a rock, managing to find a bit of a breeze. I could make out the falls through the trees, and that would have to be good enough.

Scott continued on, and came back soaked, so I assumed he’d taken time to swim in the falls. He’d wet his shirt in the water, but it had dried and was re-soaked with sweat by the time he got back to where I waited. Viewing the falls through photos he took was good enough for me.

We made our way back to the beach, climbing down the rocks and making our way through the trail. Soon, Bo’s Green Flash Bar was in sight, and I could taste my reward beer (reward for not passing out!).

Since green flashes aren’t common at 11:30am, we had the place to ourselves. Stephanie, the bartender, served us with a smile and told us about her family and the north side of Guanaja. We enjoyed a beer and great views through every window.

The winds were already increasing, so we resisted the urge to linger, and climbed back into the Aluminum Princess. Once through the canal, we bounced our way back to Sea Life. Luckily, the ride wasn’t as bad as expected, but we were still glad to have made an early exit from the north side of the island. We jumped in the water to rinse off our sweat, and then sat up on the bow in the swift breeze…poor man’s air conditioning! Here are some more photos of our waterfall hike.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

Guanaja…It’s SOO Pretty Here!

The waters surrounding our anchorage off of Graham’s Cay were beautifully clear.

Scott enjoyed many hours of exploring and snorkeling. By the way, the Aluminum Princess has recently been equipped with an oscillating fan (thank the Lord) and a rod holder…ain’t she fancy!

In the evenings, Scott would drop his fish light off of the swim platform, providing hours of entertainment for Howard. The fish were so intriguing, that he eventually ended up hanging down and swatting the water…I couldn’t watch.

We also took the Aluminum Princess over to Savannah Bight for a “drive by.” Sitting opposite Graham’s Cay, on mainland Guanaja, Savannah Bight is the larger of two main settlements on the island.

We all enjoyed the anchorage here, especially Howard. He spent much more time outside.

Unfortunately, due to stronger winds in the wrong direction, we were unable to anchor here this time around. A weather window appears to be opening early next week, for us to start our journey toward Panama, so this morning we raised anchor, said a second goodbye to El Bight and headed for Roatan.

Scott wants to repair the fridge while we are plugged in, as cooling the unit back down will take a decent amount of power. We’ll also do a final grocery run, to stock up on cold and frozen foods, since we’ll be back at 100%. Hopefully, there will be time to squeeze in an outing before we shove off.

In the meantime, here are some photos from our anchorage off of Graham’s Cay. If you like pretty water, click here.

And here are some Guanaja grocery photos that I forgot to include with Shopping Day, for those who are interested.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

Birthday Celebrations

The weather on Scott’s birthday wasn’t the best, and since we’d had such a great time at Mi Casa Too on our first visit (great food and free champagne for the owner’s birthday), we planned a return trip. It’s just so darned inviting!

Before heading up the hill, we stopped in at Manati for a quick drink and a hello. When we arrived, a birthday party was in full swing for Paisley, who made the permanent move to Guanaja two months ago. We were welcomed in, and soon realized that making it up the hill probably wasn’t going to happen. When Shawn arrived, (the owner of Mi Casa Too, and the place wouldn’t be the same without him there) the decision to delay a night, and stay at Manati was made.

We spent time chatting with the expats in attendance, as well as Klaus and Annette, who own Manati. Gus, a cruiser from South Africa, received my vote for best dressed. He and Sally have decided to stay here and buy property.

The canine guests enjoyed the party as well. Simba even came in a party dress, although I don’t think it was her idea.

Eventually we said good night, thanking Paisley for sharing her evening with us (she’s the brunette with long hair in the photo below). When I woke for a bathroom run at 3am, the music was still going strong!

We left Sea Life the next night to head up the hill, this time with no stops along the way. Once again, we climbed the million steps up to the house, and once again it was worth the climb.

Shawn was there to welcome us. We opted for seats at the bar this time, and he played the role of dj. While Shawn chose songs ranging from salsa, to reggae, to classic rock, to rap and country, the large tv behind the bar showed music videos for each one. It was more than entertaining, especially when the locals sang along to their favorites!

After great food and fun, we said goodnight and made our way back down the hill. It was a nice way to “extend” Scott’s birthday a bit!

Here are more photos of our birthday celebrations.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

 

Shopping Day

Once a week, supply boats arrive from mainland Honduras, delivering food and supplies of all kinds to Bonacca, the main settlement on Guanaja. If you remember, Bonacca (or the cay (key) as the locals call it) is a small cay off of Guanaja that is home to roughly 6,000 people. Here’s a neat before and after photo of Bonacca, that shows how much the cay has changed over the years.

“Shopping Day,” as it is referred to here, is a big deal, and we have been told by many local expats here about going to the cay for the day. Since we haven’t yet visited Bonacca on actual shopping day, it was on our list during this visit to the island. However, strong winds were going to make for a very “spirited” ride, as Scott likes to call it. As we hemmed and hawed about making the trip, we were invited to go with Hans, and some others on his sailboat…… shopping day here we come!

On Thursday morning, our ride approached. Hans towed a skiff behind him, that would be used to drop off trash and get fuel while in town.

We prepared for a quick “touch and go,” as Hans pulled alongside for us to get on board. Unfortunately, I didn’t scurry fast enough, and as the boat pulled away I didn’t have a firm footing. My choices were to either slip into the water, or do a back bend over  Sea Life’s side rail. I chose the latter, channeling my inner yogi.

There wasn’t a way for me to get a firm footing, and slide back onto the side deck, and I couldn’t reach anything with my hands either. So there I was, bent backward over the side rail, hanging on while Hans made a second pass (of course, Scott was upset that I had the camera with me during all of this!). It felt like 15 minutes, but eventually the boat came back alongside, and Scott grabbed me into a upward position so that I could get on. The day was off to an eventful start.

There were seven of us on Hans’ 23′ sailboat, so we were a friendly bunch, sitting in the cockpit and on the bow. We had a smooth sail, and arrived at the cay in under 30 minutes.

Hans has a dock that he uses in town, but it was full when we arrived, as was the second place he tried. We headed for the main city pier, and tied up in front of one of the supply boats that had just arrived.

It was quite a site on the pier, as the two large supply boats began to unload. Many locals work the pier for the day, helping to off load the boats, and deliver the supplies to stores in town. Since there are no cars, golf carts, scooters or bikes on the cay, all of the supplies are loaded onto flat beds, and rolled through the streets, to their destinations in town. The scene was like ants attacking food, and then scurrying away with the crumbs.

As we headed into town, Hans arranged for some “shopping cart” help (a man with a wheel barrow).  We turned and made our way down the main street, dodging carts loaded with produce.

I expected everyone to head to the stores, but realized that it would be hours before things on the pier would be delivered. Instead, we followed Hans and the others to an open air bar on the main street. Before long, the tables were full of expats, drinking and chatting.

Some had lunch at the bar, which is sold from a cart on site, and others headed off for a restaurant. We bought a really cheap, and really good lunch from the cart. You choose either fish or chicken, to go with side dishes (beans, rice, slaw, etc.). Scott managed to talk his way into getting both!

Ok, so we’ve eaten, chatted and had drinks. It was time to shop…right? I got up to head for the stores, and was told that they were closed for lunch until 2pm. Huh?? Then why did we get here at 11:00?? And where was the “shopping cart” guy during all of this?? I realized that this was just as much a social event as a shopping trip. Most people only go to town once or twice a week, so shopping day is a chance for them to see each other, spend time together and talk. This was all fine and good, but by 2pm, it’s stinkin’ hot!

I needed very little in the store (we had already stocked up on canned goods and other things in Roatan), and had come mostly for fresh bread and produce. However, we had come with Hans, who needed to stock up, so it seemed we’d be in town for most of the day. Good thing the beer was cold and cheap…we ordered two more.

To kill some time, Scott and I decided to walk and see if the man who bakes bread had any ready to buy. This is where we go to buy bread…welcome to cruising.

Unfortunately,  it would be another hour or so before the loaves were ready. We asked the man to hold two loaves for us, and made our way to one of the produce stalls. They were still unloading things, but we were able to buy what we needed.

After more socializing, and much, much sweating (the breeze that we enjoyed in the morning had shifted directions, away from the bar), we went to get our bread. It was still hot from the oven, and we left with open bags of both wheat and white.

It was now suffocatingly hot in the bar (where many people still gathered, did they even need groceries?), so we waited for Hans back at the main pier. There was a great breeze on the upper deck, where we watched the ants still hard at it at 4pm.

There were just four of us on Hans’ boat for the sail back, as the rest of our group rode in the skiff. The winds were blowing in the 30s, and as we rounded the far side of the cay, the boat was heeled far over. My short legs had trouble reaching the port side cockpit bench, which we had to stand on for balance, so I was keeping grip with my toes. I am by no means a sailor…give me my roll-ly pilot house anytime!

As we crossed the channel, waves began to break over the bow. We weren’t heeled over anymore, but it was now a wet ride. I took this photo just before I put the camera away, notice Scott  hanging on. We got that spirited ride after all!

As we approached Sea Life, Hans lowered the sail, making it much more easy to climb aboard! He then headed off toward his pier.

We’d done shopping day with the locals and survived. I think in future, I’d go for morning socializing, and stick to the quick in and out of Friday morning shopping! Here are more photos of shopping day.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

 

 

 

Graham’s Cay, Guanaja

Graham’s Cay sits just off of mainland Guanaja. The small private cay is owned by Graham Thompson, who purchased the property shortly after Hurricane Mitch devastated the island in 1998.

On a quick side note, Mitch stayed over the island for three days, with sustained winds of 100 mph. The high waves eroded northern coastlines and damaged lagoons. It also destroyed nearly all of the plants and trees on Guanaja, also uprooting or knocking down almost the entire mangrove forest. I’ve also read that Mitch produced waves of 44 feet in height! Here’s a photo that I took when we first arrived.

And here’s one taken after Mitch came through. Amazing.

Ok, back to Graham. Originally from the Cayman Islands, Graham developed the cay into  Graham’s Place resort. The original hotel was made into five private rooms, and then four villas and a 16 room hotel were added.

The property is immaculately kept, with many areas for seeking both sun and shade, and the entire island is filled with colorful buildings, tables, chairs and plants.

The views from Graham’s property are beautiful, with clear shallow water leading into a mosaic of green, before meeting the darker blue of deeper depths.

Graham has also enclosed an area among his decks, and made it into and aquarium. There are a conch, some huge groupers, a variety of fish, and many turtles. Looking down on the fish didn’t provide the best photo opportunities, so I focused on the turtles. They are sizeable, and some of the large shells are really beautiful. There is also an area where the turtles can nest and lay eggs. Once hatched, the small turtles are released into the wild.

With low season approaching for tourist travel, we have had the place to ourselves each time we visit. We’ve enjoyed good food, refreshing caipirinhas and exclusive attention from the very friendly staff. The cay provides a large area to walk and stretch your legs, and many places to sit, lounge or swing.

The staff here at Graham’s Place was incredibly helpful in getting our refrigerator parts delivered. Alex, the manager here, promptly replied to our call for help and provided detailed information on how to proceed. He also paid the customs and delivery fees, allowing us to reimburse him when we picked up our parts.

Flying through Honduras is not dangerous, and Guanaja is completely safe. If you’re looking for a beautiful,remote and low-key island get away, consider Graham’s Place! Here are more photos, including many turtles.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

 

Returning To Guanaja

On Sunday we made our way back to Guanaja. We’re going to pick up our refrigerator parts, that have been delivered to Graham’s Place, and spend some more time on the island. The plan is to then return to Fantasy Island Marina, where Scott can fix the refrigerator and cool it back down while we’re plugged in. We’ve paid for a month’s slip rental there, and Steve was nice enough to let us split the time.

With head seas forecasted, I was not looking forward to the six hour trip. We only had a three hour ride from West End around to French Harbour, but the head seas made it a nasty go; a repeat made me cringe. Thankfully, the winds were much calmer this time, and aside from having to cool Howard down we had a good run back to beautiful Guanaja.

The forecast calls for strong winds this week (surprise), so we tucked back into El Bight. It offers more protection for us, than if we anchor off of Graham’s Cay. We’re surrounded by the familiar sights of Manati bar and Han’s place.

Monday morning brought pouring rain (not called for), a beautiful rainbow and then more stormy clouds. It was neat to watch them settle down onto the mountains around us.

By mid morning, there was a break in the weather, so we jumped into the Aluminum Princess and headed for Graham’s Cay to pick up our parts and grab some lunch. It was just a quick 20 minute ride, and the sun came out to greet us as we arrived at Graham’s Place.

However, not two hours later, as we were finishing our yummy fish sandwiches (mine blackened and Scott’s fried), I noticed the sky darkening again. We paid our bill, jumped back into the boat with our boxes and set off for El Bight. Within minutes, the seas went from calm and clear blue to threatening grey. We made our way through an angry chop back to the boat, amidst building white caps. As usual at times like this, we were glad to be tucked into the Aluminum Princess.

Once aboard Sea Life, we unpacked our boxes in the cockpit. Corrugated cardboard is a favorite place for cockroaches to lay their eggs, so we bagged it up (unbeknownst to Howard, as he can’t resist a box) and set it out into the Aluminum Princess. Our parts now wait in the saloon, until they are installed.

The process was costly (2,000.00 in total: cost of parts, shipping to Miami, shipping to mainland Honduras, customs fees, and shipping to Guanaja..plus a tip for Alex, the manager at Graham’s, who was such a great help to us), but took just under two weeks. All in all, we can’t complain, especially since Defender was great enough to refund Scott the cost of his first order to Mexico (minus the shipping). It seems that they are having such a problem with Mexican Fed Ex customs that the parts will just be written off as a loss. Their customer service is fantastic!

In the meantime, our windlass decided to give us attitude as we came in to anchor on Sunday. Scott spent yesterday taking it apart and repairing it. Thankfully, no part ordering necessary! He promises to do a short Captain’s Corner post on the repair soon. Once the windlass was back together, he fixed a problem with the valving in our shower fixture in the guest head. Because why be bored?

The heat and humidity are in full force (86 degress, with 70% humidity by 8:30am), so we do our best to move as little as possible. Howard doesn’t quite understand the heat. He’ll get a wild hair and have a crazy session in his latest play area, an Ace Hardware bag. The thing has been torn almost to bits.

Exhausted and hot, Howard will splay out for a nap in his Africa basket taco. If his breathing gets consistently fast,  we’ve started placing a cold, wet towel on him. It seems to work well at cooling him down (with great success on our trip here from Roatan). I’m shocked though, at how much he’s starting to tolerate it.

Once cooled down, it’s into a good, deep sleep.

Last night we visited Hans’ place, catching up with the regulars and enjoying some pizza. We’ll stay in Guanaja for a week or so, before returning to Roatan. Here are some photos of our trip back, and the last few days.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

 

 

 

 

Our Private Island Dinner

Yesterday morning, two men in a panga boat stopped by to say hello. They were intrigued by Sea Life, and the Aluminum Princess. After chatting for a bit, we learned that Jeff and Terry have been visiting Guanaja during the winter months for the past ten years, and were staying at a friend’s house nearby…on a private island.

Just a few hours later, as Scott was off snorkeling, fishing and having general “pretty water” play, they returned with and invitation for dinner. A meal on land, that I don’t have to cook?? Absolutely we’ll come!

At 6pm, we boarded the Aluminum Princess, and  headed to our private island dinner!

Jeff and Cindy, and Terry and Paula helped us tie up to the dock, and then gave us a quick tour before we headed up to the boathouse deck for drinks and snacks.

The island was originally built for a group with Doctors Without Borders. In addition to the boathouse, there is a large, main house, with a kitchen, eating and lounge area, and then several small houses throughout the island.

After drinks and snacks, we enjoyed our meal on the porch of the main house, prepared for us by two lovely local women. They should open a restaurant, their food was fantastic!

We answered questions about our cruise, how we started, where we’d been so far and where we planned to go from here. Jeff shared some local Guanaja contacts with us, for various needs. They’ll come in handy when we return in a few weeks.

It was a wonderful evening, and a great way to end our brief stay in Guanaja, before heading off for Roatan.

Thank you so much, to our gracious hosts! My camera isn’t the best in the evening, but I snapped a few photos before it got dark.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

Movin’ Down Island

With the forecast calling for winds below 20 knots, we planned to move out of El Bight and farther down the coast yesterday morning. However, on our trip into Bonacca for some food and an ATM run, the winds appeared to have picked up instead.

The Aluminum Princess slogged through white caps and sizeable waves in the open waters between our anchorage and town. With Scott wanting to tow her behind us when we moved, and concern for a comfortable stay at anchor, we decided to wait until this morning to change our location.

However, as I worked in the cockpit late yesterday afternoon, I noticed that the towels drying on the line weren’t whipping quite so violently (after getting slapped pretty good in the head by one earlier, I should know). Realizing that the winds had died down, I woke Scott from a nap, and we scurried to ready and go. It was only an hour ride to our next anchorage, but we liked the idea of waking up the next morning already settled.

We raised anchor and headed out of El Bight, around the corner and further down the coast of Guanaja. As always, the views did not disappoint along the way.

As planned, the Aluminum Princess tagged along behind for the ride. After a short and easy hour, we arrived at our next anchorage, off of Graham’s Cay.

Graham Thompson runs a small resort on his island, appropriately called Graham’s Place.

We’d already planned to visit, having heard great things from fellow cruisers. Most hotels and resorts, and some islands in general, aren’t always welcoming to cruisers. Sometimes this is for good reason, but for the most part it’s frustrating and unnecessary. In addition to him being friendly toward cruisers, we now have another reason to like and meet Graham.

Unfortunately, we had no luck with Mexican Fed Ex, and getting the compressor for our refrigerator through customs. At whits end, Scott got Defender involved, the company we ordered the parts from. After more back and forth with no clear instructions or reasoning on the issue, Scott told Fed Ex Mexico to send the stuff back.

He then received an email asking for his credit card number, to pay for “fees and storage.” There was no cost given for said “fees and storage,” and Scott replied that he did not intend to pay. He was through with the matter, having done what little they’d asked of him, with no result or explanation as to why.

Defender has been just as frustrated with the issue. They have someone who deals just with Fed Ex, and with international shipping, and can’t get a resolution. Fed Ex Mexico wants Defender to pay 500.00 for return shipping. Defender has decided to just let the parts go, write it off and refund Scott his money (less original shipping). The company has been terrific to us the last few years, during our refit, and this is a true testament to their exceptional customer service, going above and beyond for Scott.

Ok, so we now turn to Honduras, and getting the stuff shipped there. I again reach out to our friend Louis, who is proving an invaluable resource. He suggested that I contact Graham Thompson, to ask how to proceed. A great idea; a local man, who could point me in the right direction.

It turns out that Graham didn’t point at all. He quickly replied to my email, giving me the information for a shipping company based in Miami, that he and his son use for things that they cannot get locally. Once our parts are in Miami, we can choose to have them shipped via boat or plane, with his name on the package. When they arrive in Guanaja, Graham will be notified. He will pick up the items, pay the fees and we can reimburse him…hoo-RAY!

However, this stupid saga continues. When Scott called Defender to re-order his parts, he feared the sale price originally offered had ended. It indeed had, but they honored the sale price for him…of course. However, the parts are now on back order until the end of the month! This was disappointing to hear, as we know that there are perfectly good parts sitting in Merida, Mexico!

We plan to go ashore and say a big hello and thank you to Graham, as well as get final details before the parts come in to Defender and the order goes through. Since it will take weeks for that to happen, and for the stuff to arrive here, we plan to stay here a few days and then head on to Roatan. We’ll stay there for a few weeks, and then return here to wait for our shipment. Neither location is a bad place to be stuck!

Here are a few photos from our short trip “down island.”

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

Pizza Night In El Bight

As you know, Scott and I loved pizza night when we were in Isla Mujeres. We looked forward to chatting with fellow cruisers, and then the yummy pizza and garlic knots at Oscars. As we left to head for Honduras, and Guanaja, we wondered when we’d get really good pizza again. Well, our wait was short!

As we checked online for reviews of local places to eat, only three showed up. Mi Casa Too, our place on the hill. Manati, run by Klaus and Annette, who helped us with our propeller. They moved here from Germany over 20 yeas ago, and run a beautifully casual bar, specializing in German food and beer. The third listing was for Hans’ Pizza. The reviews raved about his pizza, and stated that Monday was pizza night..”If you see smoke, he’s making pizza.”

There were no photos with the reviews, and we could see no visible evidence of a third restaurant in the bight. After scanning the shoreline with our binoculars, we caught sight of the top of a thatched roof, just down from Manati. We learned that it was indeed Hans’ place, when Klaus sent us there to talk with him about our propeller.

Hans is originally from Germany, but has called Guanaja his home for more than 40 years now. He owns a large piece of land here in El Bight, that sits on the water’s edge. There is a small bar, large outdoor kitchen, and several spots for enjoying shade, all built by Hans.

After meeting Hans, and talking about our propeller, we ended up staying for a few hours, enjoying cold beer and meeting the others who were gathered there.

He seems to have a group of regulars who come every morning and spend the day. Some are cruisers, who linger longer than planned at anchor before continuing on, and others call Guanaja home permanently. They pitch in with food preparation, tending bar and other things to help Hans around the property.

As we talked that first evening, enjoying his homemade red wine and bread, Hans offered to make pizza for us that Friday (and a loaf of bread for me!). We considered ourselves quite special, not having to wait for the usual Monday treat!

When Friday came, I arrived with dessert in tow, as a thank you for Hans’ extra effort. There were several of us gathered, and we chatted while he got to work. Hans makes his own dough, and the only ingredient that isn’t raw or fresh made, is the Hunt’s tomato sauce from a can, used for the red pizzas. We’ll forgive that. His oven is a large barrel, fueled by a roaring wood fire underneath.

Most chose to have half of their pizza with tomato sauce and half with white. The white sauce is a fresh made crema, that is sold in town. It’s similar in consistency to sour cream, but not taste. We followed suite with a half and half,  and our pizza was delicious! We left with full, happy bellies, and looked forward to returning on Monday!

When we returned for dinner on Monday, there were many more people. There was a large group of local residents seated at one of the long wooden tables, who were there to celebrate a 13th birthday. Inside the bar, and throughout the property,  other locals and “regulars” chatted and drank.

After the birthday group was fed, it was our turn. We were told that some evenings, the wait is quite long. John, a cruiser who’s spent a month of Mondays here, didn’t get his pizza until 10pm one night! Hans tries to accommodate tourists and larger groups first. Fair enough, we were content to watch and wait.

We chose to go with an all white pizza this time. Hans’ traditional way is topped with caraway seeds, onion and bacon…delish!!

He even whipped up some key lime pie in the oven, but we were too tired and stuffed to wait for it to cool. We will leave soon, to visit Roatan, and return here for a few more weeks. Hans has promised to smoke some fish and make us our first breadfruit, which will be in season when we return. Cheers to our chef and new friend!

Please check out more photos from pizza night, and of Hans’ property!

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

Boats Big And Small…And Many Friendly People

We are surprised at the amount of large, commercial boats that come and go from this area. In addition to the many commercial fishing boats that work the local waters, there are often larger ships loading and unloading goods. One ran aground recently, just behind where we’re anchored. Two fishing boats helped to free it, before it headed south.

Since there are very few cars on the island, and the main town is only accessible by water, most locals seem to motor, or row where they need to go by boat.

Water taxis are also popular, ferrying both locals and the few tourists that visit back and forth.

Scott got the chance to use one recently, when the Aluminum Princess had a set back. We also discovered how great the locals, and our cruising friends are.

We were on our way to town for “shopping day,” when the supply boat brings the weekly load of fresh fruits, vegetables and supplies. Scott went to increase our speed, and instead the motor revved up, but our speed remained the same.

Not wanting to get stuck in the choppy waters, we turned back and putted our way toward Sea Life. Whenever Scott tried to increase speed, the motor would again rev up, but not accelerate. He was almost certain that the bushing between the hub and the propeller had worn, allowing the motor to rev without engaging the prop. So it seems we needed a new propeller…the search began.

I started with emailing our friend, Louis. He was one of the first cruising friends we’d met in Isla Mujeres, and has spent much time here. I got a quick reply, telling us to find a local couple, Jim and Cathy. He described where there house was, and also told us to just ask anyone about where to find them. He also told us to see Hans, a German man who lives here on the beach (he also makes a mean pizza, more on that later).

We headed to shore, and stopped in to see Klaus and Annette, a friendly German couple who have been here for over 20 years, and run Manati bar. They also told us to go talk to Hans, so we walked the grass path, and over the bridge to see him.

Hans told us that he could “rig” the prop, but if we wanted a replacement, it should be available in town. Scott had already researched this, and had put in an email to the business he thought may have what we needed.

We stayed and enjoyed beer and conversation with Hans and others at his small bar, and then headed back to Manati. Annette and Klaus told us to stop by the next day, when they would help us call the store, just in case we got no email reply.

The next day, after our sweaty hike, we stopped into Manati, but found no one downstairs. Scott decided to give the email some more time, as we were still able to use the Aluminum Princess at a slow speed. A day later, we received an email reply. The place in town had what we needed…hurray! We were so happy not to have to order it!

That afternoon, a local panga boat made it’s way to our swim platform. It was Louis’ friends, Jim and Cathy! With all else going on, we’d forgotten to ask about them. It seems that Louis had emailed the couple about our situation, so they stopped by to see if we needed help. I think Scott wants to stay here permanently.

We stopped into Manati after our second hike, and found Klaus and Anntte sitting down to lunch. They had seen our boat tied to the pier the day before (we’d left it there to go and hike) , and went looking for us at Hans’. It seems that they’d called the store in town on their own, and were trying to let us know that the part was in stock. It’s so nice to have so many people here look out for us.

I convinced Scott to take a water taxi to get the prop, instead of putting back and forth to town in the choppy water. He dropped me at the boat, and then went back to shore. Annette phoned a water taxi for him, and soon he was off to town in style.

With part in hand, Scott now wondered how he’d work on the motor while we were at anchor. When the Aluminum Princess is up on the flybridge, the motor hangs off the back. He thought of taking it to the pier at Manati, and backing it up into shallow water. Eventually, he came up with this “MacGyver” idea that worked great!

The prop went on in no time at all, and after a brief test drive (with turns that I will not allow when I’m onboard) the Aluminum Princess is back in business!

A few more boat photos.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”