Happy New Year from Panama!

Marina Carenero
Bocas del Toro, Panama 

Whoever thought the Pedersens and cats would spend a New Year’s Eve in west of nowhere, Panama!

We arrived here on schedule on the morning of December 20, after a good passage down from Albuquerque Cay. The toughest part of the trip was getting OUT of Albuquerque Cay, given it’s a reef system about 7 miles long and about 3 miles wide, full of coral heads and water so clear you can tell the sex of the crabs on the bottom. It was quite the diaper changer getting out, due to a good breeze and wind chop that distorted our ability to read the water – Jan on the foredeck, Ole at the depth sounder in the pilothouse, with walkie-talkies – it took us nearly an hour to zigzag out with a few narrow misses of coral pillars that arose out of nowhere.  [Read more…]

In the Middle of Nowhere, Officially

Vivorillos Cays, Honduras

Cayos Vivorillos

It’s official. We’re now out in the middle of nowhere in the Vivorillos Cays, a mere freckle on the kneecap of Central America, right where the Honduran/Nicaraguan peninsula turns 90 degrees south.

The cays are actually three islands running more or less north-to-south, two connected by an exposed reef, and the third to the south of the other two, with a fairly deep passage between them. The northernmost cay is a rookery with thousands of magnificent frigate birds and masked and brown boobies. The southern cay has a bit of a beach, and is home to a group of fishermen who come out here for months at a time, diving for conch and lobster, and selling their catch to “mother ships” that come by periodically. [Read more…]

Return to the Best of Cruising Life

Water Cays, Utila
Bay Islands, Honduras

Happy Birthday to Ole!!!

Today was a whole lot more like what cruising is supposed to be! Sunshine! Light to no wind! Snorkeling! So how the heck did we get here?

Well – we stayed at Tobacco Range until Friday, November 16 – deciding that when we finally got a weather window to get out to the atolls, we’d have to wait there for a window to get back – and as of the 16th, we calculated only five more weeks until our reservation in Panama.

The boats with us in Tobacco Range all swear by the Caribbean weather guru, Chris Parker, who broadcasts three times a day and does weather routing for his subscribers. If some of his subscribers happen to be heading the same direction as we are, so much the better for us! So based on Chris Parker’s advice (to other boaters who are less tight than we are) we opted to make the first jump east on Friday at about noon, making about a 90-mile crossing. [Read more…]

Anchoring Adventures-“Poor Holding in Sand over Coral”

Tobacco Range, Belize

So there we were …

On Monday morning over the Northwest Caribbean Radio Net, we heard our friends from s/v Litbe check in. We met them last March during the great rescue-the-other-trawler-off-the-reef incident at Spruce Cay, and they also opted to spend hurricane season on the Rio Dulce, departing in October.

They told us they were on their way out to the atolls – Lighthouse and Glovers Reefs – and we thought it might be a good idea to have some company for the trip. We agreed to meet up at the south side of a teeny tiny little place called Rendezvous Cay, where we would meet the folks from Sea Biscuit and Come Monday. The day was stern and grey, with northerly winds from 15-20 knots that we had to head into. The fur princess was unhappy again, but only for a few short hours. [Read more…]

Happy Birthday to Me!

At Anchor
New Haven, Belize

We left Texan Bay Marina yesterday morning at 9:45, aiming for New Haven in southern Belize. The weather wasn’t all that great, overcast with some showers, but it matched our mood at saying goodbye to the Rio Dulce.

[Read more…]

A Pause in Texan Bay

Texan Bay
Rio Dulce, Guatemala

After a busy morning cleaning the dinghy, stowing provisions, washing down the boat, and otherwise organizing ourselves, we said our goodbyes and left Tijax for the Shell dock to fill our nearly empty tanks. Nestor, the security consultant at Tijax, had called ahead to the Shell station to ensure we could get our 700 gallons, but when we arrived, the proprietor told us the most we could have was 400. Luckily the Esso Station near Chiqui’s (Tienda Reed) was able to provide the last 300, so by 11:30, we set off down river for Texan Bay Marina, about seven miles from Livingston and the entrance to Rio Dulce. Emma Jo sure likes a full belly – she rides much lower and I swear, I can feel the difference her full tummy makes as we make our way over the lancha wakes. [Read more…]

Are We Having Fun Yet?

Radisson Fort George Marina
Belize City, Belize

It is good to be sitting here at a dock where the only movement is from the unprotected passage of the trade winds and dive boat traffic with its resulting 2-foot chop and occasional bonk into the dock.

Why?

Because getting here was such a challenge, both physically and emotionally. And after the conditions we endured getting here, there is now no such thing as a bad anchorage or sloppy dock.

We left Bahia del Espiritu Santo at about 9:00 pm as planned, looking forward (?) to a 90-mile trip south toward a little hole-in-the-reef called Xcalac (pronounced shkah-LAK) to clear out of Mexico.

Ignorance is bliss.

Unfortunately, due to a loose nut on the chartplotter dial, our entry track from the previous day had somehow vanished, so we had to negotiate our way out of a very shallow lagoon in the dark. Not recommended, though Ole did a fabulous job. Once we got out into the briny blue, the wind picked up and the sea conditions deteriorated over the night, starting at 10 to 15 knots with 4-to-6 foot seas, and escalating to the point where the autopilot again went on strike. [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…]

Cruising at Last

Marina El Milagro
Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo

MÉXICO!

Links of Interest:

Here’s a great interactive map of Quintana Roo, showing where we are and where we’re going through Mexico. And here’s a great little site with information about Isla Mujeres.

We are now officially cruising!

Alter waiting for a comma between cold fronts, we scooted across the Straits of Florida, hung a right 20 miles off the northern coast of Cuba, held our breath, and ran across the Yucatán Channel. Total travel time: about 50 hours. Casualties: one Rubbermaid bucket; one pair of Ole’s reading glasses, and a broken arm on Jan’s beloved Maui Jim sunglasses. Poseidon has rarely been satisfied with less. [Read more…]