Well, THAT was fun.

Marina Riviera Nayarit,
La Cruz, Mexico

When we left Chamela last Monday morning, we saw the only “hole” in the weather around Cabo Corientes would occur between 6:00 and 10:00 pm, when the winds would theoretically die down to less than 15 knots.  The forecast for the rest of the week was 20-25 knots for days. [Read more…]

Getting to Know Huatulco — And Battling Bureaucracy

Marina Chahue, Huatulco

It’s been an interesting week getting to know the marina, the neighbors, the town of La Crucecita, and the reasons for Mexico’s reputation as the “land of mañana,”

Marina Chahue is fairly new and modern, with limited cruiser amenities, lots of surge, and a staff who, though friendly, have limited facility with English. Patricia in the office has been most helpful, understanding my poor Spanish and responding with her equivalent English. I think we’ll get along fine. Our challenge is in securing Emma Jo in the slip, fendering her against the almost constant surge, and making sure we have enough lines out. Many of the boats here seem to stretch their lines across adjacent slips to dampen the movement, and when our delightful neighbors have gone, we’ll do the same. We’re about a mile or so from town, so weather permitting we can walk to grocery stores, restaurants, and beaches. [Read more…]

Made it to Nicaragua!

Marina Puesta del Sol, Nicaragua

We finally found a window to leave windy Bahia Santa Elena early the morning of March 25, and scooted out of the bay crossing choppy seas to the Nicaraguan coast off of San Juan del Sur. We found it much calmer to stay within a mile or two of the coast, and once we turned north, the wind and sea were behind us all the way to Marina Puesta del Sol, Nicaragua. [Read more…]

The Reason We Have No Pictures from January On…

As we prepared to fly home on February 20, we found ourselves with a total of three suitcases, two briefcases, a chart tube, a back-pack, and a tote bag in addition to my purse. All told, we figured we brought a couple boat-units worth of stuff along, everything from varnish to gaskets to spark plugs and oil filters. Each bag weighed in at 52 lbs., and the tote bag and backpack probably weighed in at 25 lbs. each. We managed to check the three suitcases and carry the backpack, chart tube, briefcases and tote bag successfully aboard the airplane and then to the Hotel Santo Tomas in San Jose for our forced overnight. We aimed at taking the bus into Puntarenas on Sunday, the 21st. [Read more…]

Emma Jo Transits the Panama Canal

Transiting the Panama Canal

The full story of our Canal transit is published separately, and first appeared as an article for the DeFever Cruisers Winter 2010 magazine, and can be found here.

Dale and Linda published their account, and it can be found here.

And John and Kim Pulkabrek published their account, available here.

Three blind men describing an elephant, I’d say.

Oh, Yeah! It’s Easter Week. (I Forgot). That Complicates Things…

San Jose, Costa Rica

Only today did I realize that this was Easter week – a heck of a time to be travelling anywhere in Central America. I left Panama on a Tuesday, thinking I could return Thursday and that would be three days. When I came to my senses, I realized that “72 hours” meant I needed to stay until Friday. That’s when it got more interesting. All of Central America shuts completely down on Good Friday. No buses. No planes. No taxis. No restaurants or movie theaters or nothin’! So I negotiated with the hotel to put me up for another 2 nights (during EASTER WEEK!) and they were wonderful about it. I chose to spend today, Thursday, visiting the Santo Thomas mall in downtown San Jose (MALL!), getting a haircut and some necessary computer components. Most of the downtown museums appeared to be closed in preparation for closing tomorrow. On the upside, the food at the restaurant at the hotel is superb – reasonably priced, beautifully presented and briskly served.

A Boat in Distress…and What to Do About It


So after another wonderful day, we heard on the radio that there was a norther coming on Saturday morning, with expected winds from the northwest at 10-15.  As we sat Friday night over the rum and oj, we remarked to ourselves that heck, 10-15 was nothing, we were on the south side of the cay, and we could handle it.  We snorkeled the anchorage, and found we were set in sand on top of a hill in about 30 feet of water. The anchor chain lay across the top of the hill and gently circled down to the bottom at 50 feet before tracking back up to the boat.  We thought we’d be fine, as we had out 175 feet of chain.

About two miles away, in an area the chart calls Bread and Butter Cays (but the cruising guide calls Stewart Cay), we spotted another trawler, tried to hail them on the radio, but they must have been otherwise occupied.

At 11:00 p.m. on Friday night, Jan was up on the computer and Ole had just gone to bed, when, out of nowhere, the wind started blowing 25 with gusts to 30, out of the northwest.  So much for weather forecasting.

Ole shot out of bed, looked at the plotter, and found we had slipped anchor and our adrenaline kicked in.  [Read more…]

Lesson Learned: Emma Jo Can Take WAY More than We Can

At anchor, Bahia del Espiritu Santo
Quintana Roo, Mexico

It’s clear that every day contains lessons learned.

On Sunday evening, at 9:00, we weighed anchor from San Miguel in Cozumel, headed just about due south for Bahia del Espiritu Santo some 86 nautical miles down the coast. The first three hours we were in the lee of Cozumel, had light winds, and gentle swell from the south southeast, and we said to ourselves, hey – this won’t be too bad. Had some tunes on the I-pod, homemade oatmeal cookies, a pot of French Roast sitting in the thermos in the sink, and everything secured for sea. The swells, though 4 to 6 feet, were long and slow enough for us to actually enjoy them.

Then we discovered that the boat can take way more than either the autopilot or the crew.

About half an hour south of the tip of Cozumel, we were in the deep blue of the ocean, and the winds steadily increased to between 18 and 25 miles per hour, and the size of the swell began to overwhelm the autopilot. By about 2:45 a.m., with Jan on watch and Ole trying to catch some rest down below, the autopilot screamed that it had had enough, what with trying to maintain 6.5 knots while fighting off a steady east wind, a strong north setting current, swells increasing to 8-10 feet, and an annoying wind chop on top. [Read more…]

The First of Many Lessons to be Learned: We’re Homeless!

12:10 pm
San Miguel, Cozumel

(From Jan’s personal journal…)

Left Isla Mujeres about 11:00 am yesterday morning, in partly cloudy skies and fresh east wind of 20-25 knots, making for some rolly conditions as we headed south to Cozumel. The only casualty was a set screw in the port aft corner of the bimini, making Ole go up on the fly bridge to jury-rig a tie down during some pretty decent rolls.

We arrived in Cozumel just as the sun was setting, and anchored in 15 feet of swimming-pool clear water just off my favorite artisan store “Los Cinco Soles,” and sat through the departure announcements of Splendor of the Seas, anchored a couple of hundred yards off our stern. We laughed, realizing that Ole had no standby, no passenger duties, and no pager to go off in the middle of the night.

The anchorage is unprotected, so we gently rocked during the night, and more forcefully during the morning, as the Crown Princess arrived to the accompaniment of excursion boats zooming past us with abandon. [Read more…]