Lions, tigers, waterspouts. Oh, my! Other than a couple of day trips down the Yucatan Coast, we had yet to really venture out into the Caribbean Sea, having spent all of our time loving on the Gulf of Mexico (And what's not to love!). Up until this point we were pretty sure that a beam reach was a mariner's myth, the unicorn of the sailing world, but no longer. Now, we are fully indoctrinated into Caribbean sailing which includes beam reaches, beam seas and a schizophrenic mixture of gorgeous and horrendous weather. Highlights of our trip include:
1. The most intense fuel dock we've encountered yet at the marina in Cozumel. No blithely stepping off the boat onto the dock here. Instead, it required maneuvering Bettie next to a massive concrete wall complete with jagged, rusty metal protrusions, throwing lines up ten feet to the dock guys and then scrambling up giant tires wrapped in this rope that was bigger around than Vlad's arms.
|It looks more impressive in person, I swear.|
2. More seasickness from yours truly. I know that's more of a lowlight, but I'm slowly learning how to deal with my mal de mer problem using such methods as drugs, lying on my back with my eyes closed and, well, thats pretty much all I've got. On the bright side, I'm over it in one and a half days.
3. Kite flying at sea. Nuff said.
4. Squally squalls. We ran into a lot of these during our days out on the ocean. Most of them we managed to skirt around the edge of, but we got caught in a couple that generated 30 knot winds and six foot seas. There's just not a lot you can do about these puppies except reef the sails and hope your electronics avoid lightening strike. We always put one reef in the main at night because you can't see them coming very well. One of the squalls even generated a waterspout, which is kind of like a mini water tornado snaking out of the thunderhead. It was kind of cool to look at from a distance, a very long distance. And of course, all I could think about afterward was 'what if we ran into one of those at night.'
5. Dolphins greeting us as we got into Roatan. More than a dozen followed us for 20 minutes. So cool! And hopefully the video works.
For those of you who might be making this trip, it took us about three and a half days to go the 250 miles. (And, yes, we are slow, but a full day of that was trying to get into Roatan, a lovely development that I will discuss further.) We headed south down the coast of Mexico staying close to the shore, and then after passing by the Chinchorro Banks, we headed straight for Honduras. Why not go straight to Roatan from Cozumel? Ahhh, because, as we've discovered, you might be out of the Gulf of Mexico, but the current that feeds into it is still going strong. There is a countercurrent between half a mile and a mile off the shore that we took advantage of during the daylight.
Once you get past the Chinchorro Banks, though, the current curves out to sea which makes it possible to finally go in a straight line. All was well, despite squalls, up until we got to Roatan. Then, the wind picked up and was straight on our nose, and a strong current grabbed us, going in the opposite direction of course. And as luck would also have it, the engine overheated. We spent a frustrating 12 hours Thursday, from 4 a.m. to 4 p.m., trying to get into Roatan all the while looking directly at the lush tropical island. But doesn't that make anchoring all the sweeter?