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Showing posts from March, 2011

Back in the USA

I have arrived safely back in Key West, FL.  I expect to spend some time making boat repairs and then may make a short trip either up the Florida coast or to the Bahamas before going to Madison, WI in May for Spencer's graduation

Off to Honduras

It is time to start my trek back to the United States to get out of the hurricane belt and also spend some time with my sons.  I am cycling up to travel to Utila, Honduras and the rest of the Bay Islands.  There are two reasons:  first I would like to see them, as they are a big cruiser destination.  Second, this will get Reboot further east.  That will make the passage up thru the Yucatan Channel more of a reach and less close hauled.

Unlike some of the places I have visited Honduras does not charge much for checking in and checking out.  The fees for Mexico, Belize and Guatemala may not seem like much, a couple of hundred US each, but if you are spending two or three days in each country as you pass through it is a lot of  money.  So I will bypass them all and head direct back to Key West, a distance of about 800 nm.  Of course if the weather turns bad I will duck in and take refuge.

This is a particularly good time to leave.  I am in the eastern trade winds.  This means that almost…

Riding Shotgun

One thing that I am still getting used to in Guatemala is the number of armed guards.  Go to the bank, go to the grocery store, go to a hotel and there are guys armed with shotguns standing out in front or inside the stores.  It gives the concept of  "riding shotgun" new meaning.

Tikal

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I just returned from a land trip to Flores Guatemala and Tikal National Park.  Flores is the nearest town to Tikal hence the place everyone spends the night before visiting the park.  Tikal is a major Mayan city dating from about 700 BC (so far, that is the oldest structure they have dug up.)  It covers a very large area with temples and sub-cities spread throughout the jungle.  You can get a small sense of the size of the city from the photo on the left.  I will be uploading a lot more of my personal photographs once I get a high speed internet connection.

Alan and I took the launcha up to Rio Dulce where we boarded the "chicken bus" for the four hour trip to Flores.  We started out standing which was somewhat of a concern, particularly when two very stout Guatemalan women got on board to sell food and drinks.  But it turns out this is the "local" and over time enough people got off and we were able to get seats.  We arrived in Flores in the early afternoon and we…

Cops as organized crime?

I don't normally post political items on this blog, but the following commentary from James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal really hit a nerve - do I have to add that I totally agree the cops are out of line?

The Leiter Side of Union Thuggery

"Collective bargaining" corrupts policemen and philosophers alike.

By JAMES TARANTO


Last week, as the Wisconsin stalemate was coming to an end, we worried about the potential threat that unionized policemen, in "solidarity" with other unionized government employees, might  tolerate or even participate in lawless behavior in order to undermine the workings of republican governance and preserve union privileges. Milwaukee radio host Charlie Sykes reports that Wisconsin businessmen are now receiving letters importuning them to oppose Gov. Scott Walker's efforts on behalf of Wisconsin's taxpayers:


***** QUOTE *****
The undersigned groups would like your company to publicly oppose Governor Walker's effort…

More rain

This morning the rain has stopped after about 24 inches in the last 24 hours.  I know this because the cleaning bucket on my stern has filled and been emptied twice.  Hopefully today the sun will come out and I can get some work on the deck done.  I have been told that this much rain for this long a period of time is unusual but not all that unusual.

I have taken advantage of the down time to start researching land tours.  My primary reason for coming to the Rio Dulce was to go inland and explore the Mayan ruins.  I have now discovered that Guatemala is quite an interesting place.  I am in the lowlands.  However there are a lot of high mountain areas and some desert.  In particular I was fasicnated by the term "cloud jungle."  This is a jungle area at 10,000 feet.  I have added it to my list of must sees.

It is unfortunate that there is no high speed internet at Texan Bay marina.  I would love to be able to upload some pictures, but that will have to wait. Actually, since th…

And the rains came

Yesterday I hopped on board the Texan Bay launch for a ride back down to Livingston.  I had no real reason to go but thought it might be a fun trip.  After the people who actually needed to go to Livingston had completed their business we headed back up the river.  On the way back Sherrie - the owner of Texan Bay showed us where the locals got fresh spring water.  Along the limestone wall of the gorge were a couple of tires tied to ropes and in the center a hose bringing fresh water down to the Rio.

We then stopped at a local hot spring.  It was really quite warm except when the wake from the passing boats would slop cool river water into the small lagoon.  At the same stop was a limestone cave.  Armed with flashlights we headed down into the side of the cliff.  It got quite hot quite quickly.  After about a 20 minute walk we asked our guide how much further the cave went and he said we could easily walk another three hours.  We passed on that and returned to the cool surface and a co…

Texan Bay Marina

After a very quiet night off the coast of Guatemala in the company of AIRBORNE - a sailboat from Topeka Kansas where I once did Navy Reserve duty - I passed over the famous sand bar at the mouth of the Rio Dulce and anchored off Livingston, Guatemala.   With the "Q" flag flying I was visited by the customs and immigration people.  We were both offered the services of Raul, a local agent who comes highly recommended by the sailing community.  Major and I decided we would do the walk around in Livingston without the services of an agent.  Since AIRBORNE had already launched its dinghy I hooked a ride and we headed into town to get Quetzals and pay our clearing in fees.  Livingston is built on the side of a hill so we climbed up to the top and started the process of checking in.  As is typical of these evolutions one has to visit each office, sometimes more than once, to get the proper stamps and papers.  In between one visits the local bank to pay the required fees.

Livingston…

Rio Dulce Gutamala

Yes I am here.  Yes it is beautiful.  Yvonne - eat your heart out.
Photos of Lighthouse Reef and the Rio Dulce gorge to follow when I get a high speed connection.

The strange cruising life

Today I checked out of Belize. There is a big controversy here about new charges from the Port Captains. When I was in Cucumber the Port Captain insisted on collecting a "clearing out fee." I said, but I am not clearing out. When I got to Punta Gorda to clear out the Port Captain said: "Oh, I see you already have the clearing out document." I said "Yes but I have overpaid since I did not stay in Belize as long as the Port Captain at Cucumber made me pay. The local guy said "I can't give you a refund." What a clear rip-off. I think this is a case of bureaucratic stupidity. The documents all seem appropriate and reflect the actual monies collected. Its just that the moneys collected have nothing in common with the appropriate fees. You might think this is no big thing but lots of people are skipping Belize this year rather than feeling like they have been ripped off. The radio nets are full of angry cruisers. Hopefully someone in the B…

Lazy Day

I left Half Moon Cay early this morning. Going back out is always a little bit easier as one has the track line on the chart plotter to mark your course in. It is difficult to be precise but it is some comfort, particularly if one has marked the hazards found on the way in. Early morning saw REBOOT heading south direct (or as direct as one can go without hitting anything) for Punta Gorda and checking out of Belize. WAYWARD SUN and CARIBBEAN SOUL II left a bit after me on their way back to Cucumber Beach to pick up mail and parts. I expect we will end up together again either in the Rio Dulce or the Bay Islands of Honduras. Which brings to mind that I have not seen HOBO II on the AIS for several days so I am not sure where Jim and Darlene are at the moment.Today has been a lazy day. The winds are in the 10 knot range and a little further forward than I would prefer. (As Jack Aubrey would say, "Two points free" would be better. Since the winds are light the wave and c…

A good day in Belize

Of course cruisers will tell you that the worst day afloat is better than the best day on land. Not quite true...
But... Today was one of those great cruising days. After a brief rainstorm in the middle of the night the dawn was clear and cool. REBOOT, in the company of CARIBBEAN SOUL II and WAYWARD SUN left Long Cay at Lighthouse Reef and headed to the National Preserve at Half Moon Cay, a journey of about 5 NM. It is a tough 5 miles as one is navigating around the reef the entire time. Even the channel has a few coral heads sticking up above the water. The lack of someone on the bow of REBOOT makes it all the more nerve racking.After a couple of hours we all settled down off Half Moon Cay. This is a Belize National Monument. It has palm trees instead of mangroves and this means NO MOSQUITOES. I dressed in long pants and shirt expecting to be eaten alive when I went on shore to see the bird colony (Boobies and Frigates) so I was a bit overdressed when I discovered NO MOSQUITO…

The "Old Corps"

In the United States Marine Corp, your Gunny will tell you, life is divided into two distinct segments: the "Old Corps" and the "New Corps." Everything was better during the time period of the "Old Corps" which ended, interesting enough, the day you enlisted!I relate this piece of trivia as I think that the cruising life can be divided into the "Good Old Days" and "Now." Of course the "Good Old Days" ended the day you set sail. You are asking yourself "why does he bring this up now?" In the good old days it cost $7.95 US to check into and out of Belize. Now, depending upon how long you stay it costs between $100 US and $300 US per month. This lets you stay in the country. If you have read anything about Belize you know that one of its most famous attractions is the Blue Hole on Lighthouse Reef. Cruisers in the "Old Days" would go out and anchor, snorkel, perhaps SCUBA at the Blue Hole. Now it is …

SCUBA!

Every time I hear that word I am reminded of the scene in the movie where the guy and girl are on their honeymoon in the Caribbean and this naked French guy comes up and says SCUBA? The girl ends up in his bed and that ends the very brief marriage. But the movie is actually quite funny. You can tell what an impression it made, can't tell you the name, the actor, the actress, but I do remember SCUBA?
That said, today in the company of Dave and Margi of WAYWARD SUN I did SCUBA off Long Cay at Lighthouse Reef. We had a great dive. It was about 30 feet under the dingy dropping down to about 75 feet. Actually it dropped of further but we turned around and worked our way back up the reef line.
The afternoons have become hot with a very strong sun so I find that I nap or just paddle around REBOOT in the water. About the best time to accomplish anything is early in the morning.
I had dinner on WAYWARD SUN, last night on CARIBBEAN SOUL II, what great evenings. I have become better at …

Turneffe to Lighthouse Reef

I spent an interesting couple of days at Turneffe Atoll. There is a beautiful private resort on Big Cay Bokel. They were very gracious to me but were not really set up to provide services to passing boats. Turneffe Island Lodge is apparently a very small (36 guests) resort for diving and fishing. When I left this morning they had about 6 fishing boats out on the west side - each with a single fisherman. So you get the idea. They were kind enough to let me use the bar for a sundowner when I came in but as an all inclusive resort just paying for my drinks required me to go check with the management. It is a very beautiful place.I had come into Turneffe via the Blue Creek pass. This takes one over a very shallow reef. I was in the general company of CARIBBEAN SOUL II and WAYWARD SUN. They both drew too much to attempt the passage. A good thing, as I only had 3 inches of water under REBOOT. Once over the reef it got quite comfortably deep again until at the end of the creek I…