Sea Life’s Web TV Debut!!

Sea Life has debuted on the web! Our crusing buddy, Kevin, sent us a link to Cruiser TV, a new web tv show.  The first episode features Isla Mjueres, and guess who’s in the opening scenes (with the Aluminum Princess floating proudly behind her)?? Sea Life also appears clearly in the background during a later segment as well…howdya like that?!!

We’d heard that they were filming for the show when we were in Isla Mujeres, but had no idea that Sea Life would be in the footage!

The video is 26 minutes, and although it’s not the best produced show on the net, it was neat for us to see Sea Life! She appears at about 35 seconds in, and again at about 2:05. Check it out!!

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

Groceries In Mexico

In keeping with the grocery theme, and starting with Mexico..

Isla Mujeres provided several grocery options for us. Chedraui was a large store, with many food options. It was the furthest from a dock, but the selection was worth the walk.

There are have nifty escalators inside that firmly hold your cart, both coming in empty and leaving fully loaded. It amused me every time!

They have an “American/import” aisle, where we can get things like curry paste, pickles, olive oil and imported meats and cheeses. The selection of beer, wine and liquor is also decent. You can also buy clothes, dishes, a stroller, souvenirs and a stove if you like.

When purchasing baked goods, you take a tray and choose your own items (everything is out on open shelves). An attendant then weighs, bags and tags it. Much like the baggers at check out, they like to try an fit as many items as they can into one bag.

Some of our favorites items:

I love this “Mexican Chex Mix.” Scott, not so much, but that means less sharing for me!

Scott has found a favorite ham, for sandwiches, and I did a taste test for the best bacon (FUD, pronounced “food,” but I still say fud).

The Super Express, located in town, is just a few blocks from a dock where cruisers can leave their dinghies, making it a quick and easy go-to for food.

Although much smaller, it still offers an ample selection of our day-to-day needs.

We also made several trips to the Walmart in Cancun, which obviously offers a much greater selection. The seafood department is large, and operates like the bakery in Isa. You choose your fish (gloves are provided), and then it’s weighed, bagged and tagged.

Near the end of our stay, we finally ran out of paper towels that were purchased in Florida. What we bought in Mexico are “crappity-crap-crap.” They practically dissolve when any amount of liquid hits them…maybe a stand-in for toilet paper!

Once we’d stocked up in preparation for Honduras, I emptied out the storage area under our couch, to clean the floor and do a fresh inventory. After purchasing a sleeper sofa, Scott removed the sleeper part, and installed wooden braces so we have support for the cushions. We can now pack a ton of food and toiletries in this space!

All in all, we can’t complain about our shopping experiences in Mexico. Selection, a choice of stores…and cheap! Here are some more Mexican grocery photos.

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

Our Passage To Honduras

As the sun rose on Thursday, we left the anchorage in Isla Mujeres to begin our passage to Honduras. We were headed to the bay islands, and Guanaja (gwa na ha) would be our first stop. As we rounded the corner out of the harbor, we said a quiet, and somewhat sad goodbye to our friends in the fleet.

We estimated the trip to take between 60 and 70 hours, allowing for slower speeds in the current off of Mexico’s coast. The current did not disappoint. Even though the winds were light and variable, we rolled through large swells and confused seas.

Our first day was rough in other ways as well. I was getting over a cough, and battling allergy symptoms from something that found it’s way up my nose at dinner the night before. As I was trying to squash my itchy, watery nose and eyes, Scott was fighting some stomach discomfort. On Friday, Howard joined the fun, and threw up several times, before finally using his litter box for the first time in two days. We were a sad bunch.

Late Thursday afternoon, a Mexican navy ship appeared on the horizon, and proceeded to make a distant, but complete circle around us. Scott was sure that they were going to come closer, or make radio contact (God forbid, want to board us). I guess they deemed us uninteresting, because eventually they headed away from us and to the north.

Scott threw his fishing lines in, hoping to catch something. He didn’t have to wait long before something LARGE pulled on his line. The pole bowed from the weight, and the line flew out like it wasn’t attached at all. Whatever it was grabbed the lure, began to dive aggressively, and then let go.

After getting over the surprise of how large the mystery catch was, Scott wondered  what it could have caused it to come off the lure. He worried that his hooks aren’t as sharp as they should be; one is beginning to rust.

As he went on about how large and  heavy the mystery catch must have been, I realized that we had nowhere to put it! With our compressor issue, we are working with less freezer and refrigerator space. So sadly, fishing was shut down.

Things calmed a bit by Friday afternoon, with both the sea state and the crew. As we neared the south end of Mexico, and the Belize border, the current weakened and we were finally into more settled waters.

As I came on for my evening watch, we were still traveling slower than we’d have liked, but our ride was great. It was a quiet night for me. We were traveling approximately 80 miles off of the coast, so something showing up on radar was extremely rare. I only saw two large boats in 8  hours, both passing us at a great distance away.

When the sun came up, I went down to catch some sleep, and left Scott on watch. Of course, that’s when a large pod of dolphins decided to visit! There were many more than in this photo, but Scott couldn’t get them all in one shot.

They are “blurry” looking due to the fact that they were ten feet under the surface (some deeper)….clear water!

Because things had gotten so much calmer, I actually slept in our bed. During a passage, I have gotten in the habit of sleeping on the couch in the saloon, where things are usually more stable than up toward the bow. When I woke up, I couldn’t hear the motor from up in our stateroom (ear plugs also a factor). Things were so smooth and quiet that I thought Scott had anchored while I was asleep.

I came up to find that the seas were now glassy-calm. So much so that we could see the birds hanging down from our paravanes. They were clearly visible, fifteen feet down.

By this time, Howard was done with traveling, and just wanted food. I’m guessing he thought that lying in the galley would get his point across.

When lunch wasn’t served in a timely fashion he gave up and retreated to the guest stateroom for a nap, nestled among beer and laundry detergent.

The glassy waters made a beautiful setting, as Guanaja appeared on the horizon. It’s the first mountainous island that we’ve visited on this adventure, and the views were exciting to see.

We anchored between mainland Guanaja and the town of Bonacca, where we’ll go to clear into the country. Bonacca is built entirely over water. More on this later, as we explore the town.

We’ll head to a more protected anchorage, but that isn’t allowed until we after we clear in (not really sure why).

For now, we’re happy that our journey took less time than expected…only 52 hours! We’re also very grateful that most of it was smooth, which meant less stress and more rest! It was certainly a welcome change from our trip to Isla Mujeres from the Dry Tortugas. Maybe passages can be enjoyable!

Here are some more photos from our passage….we’re in Honduras!

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

 

Memories of Isla Mujeres

I snapped this photo of a postcard that gives a good bird’s eye view of the island. The black X marks our anchorage in the harbor area. Just below it is the lagoon, and to the right are the inland lakes. The busy, tourist -filled downtown area is at the very top of the photo, just above the air strip, which looks like a solid line.

This island really grew on us, as we sought out quiet spots among the touristy north end, and discovered local places along both the east and west sides of the south.

People we met here are now cherished friends. Our first cruisers friends here were so welcoming to us. They’ve been at this for many years, and shared knowledge of Isla Mujeres and a wealth of information about future places that we will be visiting.

As they left, we felt a bit lonely, but quickly realized how wonderful the cruising community is. We met more great people at pizza and taco nights, as well as those who were now anchored near us in the spots where our first friends had been. Hours were spent fishing, shopping, learning the official cruisers’ game of Mexican train dominoes and talking over food and drink. We gained more useful cruising knowledge with each new friend.

Our time on land revealed new friends as well. We connected with people visiting on vacation and those who have called the island their winter home for more than twenty years! And, we cannot forget our favorite bartender…Louis (lou eese) who’s friendly manner and terrific margaritas has us at Hola! Everyone who served us was so pleasant, adding to our love of the island.

We only planned to stay a month, but this crazy La Nina weather, with it’s constant cold fronts and winds, had other plans. The good friends made, information learned and fun times had were well worth the extra weeks! As we pull up roots and leave Isla Mujeres, there are many cherished memories that will go with us. Please take a look at some of our favorite people and places we’ve enjoyed here.

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

Adios Mexico!!!!

After ten weeks and two days, we are saying goodbye to Isla Mujeres. The wind forecast looks really good for us to make a run for Honduras, so the last few days have been frenzied.

We hopped the ferry to Cancun, and loaded up on things at Walmart that we may not get as easily as we travel south. We’ve learned to take our luggage with us, for easy transport back to the boat. As we prepared to go, Howard decided to try and stow away to Walmart.

We filled both bags and our backpack, and headed back to the island.

The next day, we shared a golf cart with Kevin and Marina, our friends on Lucky Seven. They were taking advantage of the weather window to make a run for Cuba, so we all headed to Chedraui for a big grocery run. We each stuffed our carts full of food and beer. I didn’t think that everything would fit on the golf cart, but we made it work.

Next, it was time to load everything into Kevin’s dinghy. I was sure that we’d have to make two trips, but the guys were determined to make it all fit. There was even room left for the four of us, around the tower of beer. With all that weight, it was a wet ride back to the boat!

After unloading our things, and a quick trip to the dentist for Marina, we stopped for lunch and then rode around the island a bit, before returning the cart. Kevin convinced Scott to take the cart “off road.” As you may imagine, it didn’t take much convincing. I was sure that we’d break an axle on the poor thing.

We also enjoyed one more look at the beautiful eastern coast of the island.

Then it was on to Villa Bella, for margaritas and mojitos. Marina turned 50 on Wednesday, so we took time to celebrate.

On our way back to town, we stopped in at the Soggy Peso, for a quick goodbye to our friends Ron and Delores, who have been so welcoming to us. Their help and advice on all things Isla Mujeres and Cancun were invaluable!

After returning the golf cart, we decided to stop in at the Drunken Mermaid, for 2 for 1 mojitos. Marina spotted a bottle filled with clear liquid and insects. We were told that it was tequila…with scorpions. With the 50th celebration underway, two shots were ordered, complete with icky insects. Before being served up, the stingers are cut off.

An intimidating presentation..

Needless to say, they weren’t the most tasty things. Marina put hers in her mouth, and promptly spit it out. Kevin managed to chew a few times, before doing the same.

On a recommendation from our Drunken Mermaid bartenders, we then went to Olivia’s, and had a great dinner. Dessert came with a sparkler, in honor of Marina’s celebration. Afterward, we stopped to pick up their laundry. There are no self serve laundromats here. You drop off one day, and pick up the next. For a few extra pesos, you can get same day service.

With a big bag of laundry in tow, we headed back to the Drunken Mermaid for one more cocktail, before calling it a night. We were glad to have a chance to celebrate with Marina and Kevin, who we’ve grown quickly attached to.

The next morning, the four of us went back to town to clear out of the country. It took three hours, and went as follows:

We started with some paperwork at the port captain’s office, and then a trip to the local stationary store for a copy of said paperwork. Back to the port captain’s office, and then to the bank, where we paid roughly 24.00. We needed two copies of the receipt for the port captain, so it was back to the stationary store. That receipt goes back to the port captain, then we waited for our paperwork to be filled out. From there, we went to immigration. Thankfully, they made their required copies on site for us..whew. After a few stamps, we were officially cleared out, and ready to leave what has become our temporary home.

We went out for a final dinner nearby, at the Sunset Grill, enjoying time with fellow cruisers who we have come to know and love!

As I type this, we are preparing to raise anchor, head out of the anchorage and break away from the fleet. I am torn, as we have come to love it here. It’s hard to leave friends that we’ve made, especially ones who are continuing north, and away from our path. There are several that we will cross paths with again, in both Honduras and later in Panama. The thought of familiar faces along the way is comforting.

Our passage to Guanaja (gwa na ha), Honduras will take between 60 and 70 hours, our longest yet. We’re both a bit nervous about the journey. After sitting still for so long, it’s going to be an adjustment as we hit the open ocean again. We’re hoping that the forecast treats us well, and that most of it will be somewhat smooth.

Look for my next post from Honduras, and remember that you can always see where we are through the link on our Where Are We Now page. Adios Mexico, you’ve been good to us!

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

 

 

A Week In Review

Just catching up on the last week….

Scott went to the port captain’s office with Igor, our neighbor who’s boat was hit during the strong front a few weeks ago. Igor is trying to get some kind of restitution, but I’m not sure if it will pan out. The owners of the boat in question have flown to Cuba, and have yet to return.

Scott went to help tell the story, and relay what the port captain said. He speaks little Spanish and no Russian, but everything seemed to get conveyed in the end. Igor has been very grateful for Scott’s help, and has invited him come and visit in Russia…”in summer,” adding…”my country cheap!” I’m not sure if that’s enough to make us buy a ticket, but it was a nice gesture. Igor is a good guy, and I hope the issue works out for him.

After helping Igor, Scott and I wandered to the north end of town, and had lunch outside the Mercado, where locals sell their fresh produce and goods. The four small stalls are crammed with people during the lunchtime hours, where the food is good and cheap!

We played more Mexican train dominoes, and are honing our skills. Everyone’s rules are just a bit different, which keeps it interesting. We are looking forward to getting a set for ourselves, although I’ll never play one on one with Scott!

Before the latest front arrived, we re-anchored the boat. Each time the wind shifts 180 degrees, the anchor changes direction, caving out a ball of gunk. If we don’t re-anchor, it eventually scoops such a big clump that it no longer holds. Here is what came up on our anchor as we raised it.

The stuff is soft, but thick and tenacious. Scott has to shove it off of the anchor.

Friday night meant a trip down to Oscars, for pizza. We squeezed the Aluminum Princess between two boats, and then did an acrobatic act getting up to one of them and onto the pier.

Keeping with the food theme, we visited El Varadero again, this time with our friends on Lucky Seven. The food was just a great, and this time I remembered to snap a photo of our dinner platter, before it was ravenged.

We finally enjoyed some calmer winds and water. I haven’t seen an anchorage this glassy since we were in the Bahamas last November.

Rain soon followed, and Scott decided to take advantage of the free water. After setting up our rain catchment, to fill the water tanks, he decided to wash the boat. Every inch of it was covered in salt, and it was good to rinse it off.

When the rain ended, the boat was rinsed and our tanks were full. We collected 250 gallons in just an hour of rain! Scott then went over to Lucky Seven, to help hoist Kevin up his mast and change out a part.

That’s the last week in a nutshell. Here are some more photos.

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

 

 

 

Our Fight With Customs

The compressor in our refrigerator went up a few weeks ago, and it’s been a hard go ever since, trying to get a replacement. We’d heard from several sources that having things sent into Mexico can be a nightmare. Still, we need the parts, and so the process began. We started with the “West Marine” in Cancun, Servimar. The man there said that he thought it was possible to get it through his rep. Delivery would be ten business days, and he’d get back to us to confirm…we’re still waiting.

With little faith in that avenue, we were told to order through Defender, (a company that we used extensively throughout our refit, and offer fantastic customer service), mark it for a “yacht in transit” and have the parts shipped directly to the Fed Ex office in Cancun. The package arrived in Merida, Mexico (three hours from Cancun) three days later! Unfortunately, it’s been there for the last two weeks.

We received an email from both Defender and Fed Ex that the shipment was being held in customs, and awaiting further information. Several phone numbers were provided, but no information needed for shipment. We went to an internet cafe in town to make the call. Thankfully, the owner phoned on our behalf. After some arguing, he was told that there would be an email sent, with the required information. Scott returned in the afternoon, and Adrian phoned again. After more arguing, and some hang-ups on the customs end, it was determined that they would only proceed through email. O-KAAY.

After several emails, Scott was told that he needed an agent to proceed, but there was no information provided. Scott replied, asking for some help, and was provided with a list of agents. He emailed all of them. Only one replied, asking for details and information that Scott had already included in his original email to all of the agents.

Things went quiet on Thursday and Friday, as everything here shut down for the Easter holiday. On Monday, Scott sent an email asking for an update. He got a reply that without a commercial invoice, they could not proceed, and that they could not help him.  ???????  We ordered the parts from a commercial company, and are willing to do or provide whatever they need to get these things shipped! Scott then asked what he needed to do to proceed, what more information did they want? We’ve had no reply.

We have now contacted Defender. Scott explained that unless they have a way to help us, we’ll need to have the items returned for a refund. We’ll start again fresh in Honduras, with an agent. Defender has contacted Fed Ex and Mexican Fed Ex, but we are still waiting for a response. The winds don’t look good for us to head for Honduras for another week to ten days, so we are willing to give it that long.

In the meantime, we are fortunate that our refrigerator and freezer also have a 120 volt powered holding plate system as well. However, that means we have to run the generator every day for a few hours, as opposed to every two to three days. Generators like to run with a full “load” of things drawing power, so we’ve been making water like crazy, and using the ice machine as well. We end up with extra power, as the solar panels put out a ton during the day, so I am also washing clothes, towels and sheets like mad. Silver lining??

Scott can’t stand this process, so we’ve shifted things a bit. We defrosted the freezer, and that will act as our refrigerator until we get this settled. Howard was very intrigued with the process.

I purchased an Engel eight years ago, for our winter cruise to Florida, and it has been acting as our beverage fridge. For those who don’t know, the Engel can act as a cooler, fridge or freezer. It has a compressor, and works on either 12 volts or 120. Things stay incredibly crazy cold, and it freezes things into a hard block; it’s worth it’s weight in gold.

It’s now loaded with almost all of the contents from our freezer.

The contents of our refrigerator went into a cooler out in the cockpit, until we got the freezer defrosted and dried out a bit. I have one less shelf in there, so things are a bit piled up, but it’s doing the job.

So that’s our customs saga. We continue to wait, but aren’t holding our breath.

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

 

Mexican Train!!

Since Scott and I arrived here, there has been much talk about Mexican train dominoes. I’m not too familiar with dominoes, Mexican or otherwise, but it intrigued us. It is said that you’re not an “official cruiser” until you’ve learned how to play.  A group gathers to play every Sunday, but I felt that it wasn’t the best way for us to learn.

For those of you who know Scott, it won’t surprise you to know that he’s very competitive when it comes to games. I like to “dilute” the effects of his competitiveness by playing games with others (I won’t play a game with him one on one). However, as we don’t know the Sunday domino group well, I feared that us playing with them would make the atmosphere “prickly” at best, so we had yet to jump “aboard” the game.

That is, until last night. Our friends Ed and Elizabeth, on Skylark, offered to teach us the game and we accepted. Elizabeth is also a “strong” competitor, so there was someone to balance Scott’s “passion” for winning. We offered to host the lesson aboard Sea Life, and Eric and Eulalie, on Elizabeth Jean joined us as well (the more the “diluting” the better!).  The group gathered with food, drink and dominoes, and the lesson began.

In a nutshell…An “engine” tile, or  double domino is placed in the center. Everyone draws 12 or so dominoes (depending on number of players), leaving a “bone” pile to draw from when needed. The object is to be the first to play all of your dominoes, or at least as many high-point dominoes as possible, in each round. The lowest total score at the end of all rounds wins the game. Each player works their own “train” of dominoes coming out from the engine, by matching the numbers. There is also a “public” train, that all can work on as well.

There are many other details, but overall the game isn’t difficult. However, there are several strategies that can be made, in hopes of benefiting your outcome in the game. I was chastised twice, for taking Elizabeth’s advice (or as Scott called it, “puppeteering” for her advantage), but overall, Scott was busy taking the game in to be overly “passionate.” He came in second, so I think that sufficed until next time, when all bets will be off!

We took a break at 8pm, to watch the International Space Station go overhead. The sunset behind our cockpit was also something worth seeing.

 

 

It was a fun night, and after learning the game, we consider ourselves official!

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

 

Evenings In Isla

It was Friday, and that means only one things here in the anchorage…Pizza Night!! The Aluminum Princess is challenged when trying to get to Oscars Marina, where we meet for happy hour and pizza. The pilot house is not made for squeezing between the closely tied boats, and under the spider web of lines. So we left the Princess at home, hitched a ride with our friends on Angel Eyes and headed to the lagoon.

The weather was great for enjoying drinks and conversation on the pier.

While we waited for our pizzas, and awesome garlic knots that come with each order, there was time for a quick photo with some of our anchorage neighbors. Kevin and Marina, on Lucky Seven and Rick and Nancy, on Angel Eyes. We’re going to miss them, when we all head off in different directions soon!

Scott and I have been talking about spending an evening downtown. We have heard that it “comes alive” at night, with music and dancing in the square, and restaurants filled with people sitting down for dinner at 9pm.

On Saturday, we went to shore and walked into town. As we came past the car ferry terminal, there were many people waiting to board as well, which is unusual. Further down the road, we passed the two passenger ferry terminals in town. They were bursting at the seams with people in line to board,  with crowds spilling out into the street. It must have taken some of them hours to get on, as there were far, far too many crammed in line to fit onto one ferry.

There was also an incredibly long line of people waiting their turn for a taxi. The crowd wound down the sidewalk, and blended into the mobs waiting for ferries. We wondered…was there a big event in Cancun that we were unaware of?? Or, had the restaurants in Isla Mujeres run out of food??

We crossed the street, and headed for the square, expecting at any second to hear music, and meet up with a crowd of people. As we approached, things were much quieter than expected. A service for Holy Saturday was being held, so the music had stopped. We decided to go for drinks and food, and come back later for music.

Our first stop was El Patio. We’d heard that they have live music every evening, and had enjoyed drinks at their other location, The Joint. There was no room on the upstairs level, so we had drinks at the main bar, and listened to the music that traveled down from above us.

We then walked to the north end of the busy pedestrian street (which wasn’t nearly as busy as we’d expected). At the last cross street, we eyed a cart selling bacon wrapped hot dogs. We’d heard about this popular Mexican evening snack from a cruiser here, and they intrigued us. Some had cheese oozing out of them, and there were fried onions nearby. As yummy as they looked, we decided to hold off for tacos, and save the bacon dogs for another night.

Continuing on, we wandered back down the street, past the many stores filled with colorful goods for sale.

We stopped at a taqueria for some food, and nearby performers provided dinner entertainment for us.

We chose pastor for the meat in some of our tacos. This interesting looking pork is marinated, vertically spit-roasted and then sliced thin for tacos. It was brought to Mexico from Lebanese immigrants, and despite it’s looks is pretty tasty!

With our bellies full of tacos, we went back to the square, ready enjoy some music and dance. The area had cleared out, and there were just a few people milling around the booths that were still selling crafts. It was disappointing, as we’d been told that things really get going here after 10pm.

We decided to seek out our own music and dancing, and followed our ears to La Terraza, where music was spilling down from the second floor. We’d eaten here on our first day in town, and decided to head up the steps for a drink. The band was great, and we were mesmerized by the people dancing. I swear that their hips must have been on a swivel! We enjoyed some mojitos, and watched couples whirl around the dance floor.

Even though we missed the throngs of people in town, it was still fun to walk the streets and find some new places to eat and drink. Here are a few more photos.

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

 

 

 

Tour Boat Mayhem

When we arrived in Isla Mujures, I was amazed at the number of tourists. In addition to those staying on the island, it seems that just as many travel over from Cancun on the ferry. I’ve mentioned that we are anchored near what I call the I-95 for tour boats. It’s a day-long, constant parade of all types and sizes.

The catamarans are loaded so full, that they appear to be sinking.

Passengers are swung out on parachute sails, and then drop in the water…oh what fun!

Unfortunately, all of these boats converge on the same areas for snorkeling. We are amused by the daily “mosh pit” of panga boats, that gather in the water behind us.

I’m not kidding, they are on top of each other.  We’ve heard that boats feed the fish, keeping them in the area, but I can’t imagine that these poor snorkelers see anything but each others masks!

On the other side of the mangroves, we can see masts of the catamarans, gathered with their herds of passengers.

They too, eventually make it around to the waters behind us.

Anchored within spitting distance of each other, the snorkelers trail in the water like breadcrumbs.

Our favorite images are ones like this. A refugee boat on steroids.

We are thankful to be on our own boat, with the ability to snorkel in areas that aren’t so inundated with life jackets and fins. However, if there is a snorkel trip in our future, Scott is prepared with a list of questions. Before signing up, he’ll want to know how many boats, how far apart and how many aboard!

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