We’re still here in Isla Mujeres….

Thursday night we met Charlie and Saundra as planned and walked down the road to the Sunset Grill.    The food was great, the ambience lovely, and the company were on form – fun time had by all!

Night out at Sunset Grill

Friday morning we were up early but bad weather had arrived during the night — William came to tell us that the Port Capitan had put out a severe weather warning for all boats under 40 feet because of the large waves out in the Yucatan channel.   So the only diving option was into the park again – we decided instead to postpone for another day.  As we were up early anyway, we headed into the marina for a fantastic breakfast before walking up the road to the supermarket.

Laden with fresh crusty bread, it is so good we really can’t resist, we arrived back and stowed our purchases.   I had a lazy day on the boat – not feeling too good to be honest – while Richard started to tackle a sewing job.   Our Lifesling currently sits on the rail under dink – which would make it pretty difficult to deploy.  

Bad position

We’ve decided to move it to the port rail but, of course, our new dodgers cover this so will need to be adapted to accommodate it.    The weather cleared up a bit later and I was feeling a bit better so we went to the pool for a swim before heading back to Morphie for an early night, after a spectacular sunset.


Saturday morning and Richard continued with the Lifesling…..while I did some cleaning, stripping beds etc……

Inner view Outer view

We were constantly being thrown around by the wakes of the large number of boat movements – some big motor yachts have arrived and there are the huge tourist catamaran booze cruises regaling us with their taste of music as they go on by….  

Big boys coming in Party boats

Richard finished his project and we installed the Lifesling in its new position – excellent job.  Well done!   We can use it now – although, of course, we hope that we never have to. Finished outer Finished innerWe lazed around in the afternoon reading books and doing some more research on future destinations.    We have to clear out of Mexico but all the ports that can supply this service are quite a long way north – meaning that our original plan of meandering down the coast towards Belize doing small hops as and when the mood takes us is not a (legal) option.   Having to make a run for it – after clearing out – would take us between the mainland and the massive offshore reefs at night – and we know that these reefs are not accurately marked on the charts.  And then there is the added complication of getting to the cut through the reef at the top end of Belize in daylight hours….  So we’re thinking of doing an offshore 300+ mile passage to the Bay Islands instead.  These islands lay off the coast of Honduras – and we particularly want to dive in Roatan.   That would put us in the area at almost the right time (fingers crossed) to get in the water with whale sharks….so the idea really appeals.   And the sail back to the bottom part of Belize would then become a downwind run if the trades come from the east.    We’ve not yet decided – but will keep you posted!

Sunday we were up early and cleaned Morphie thoroughly down below – the humidity is picking up here so we need to keep on our toes to prevent mould appearing….    Later on I prepared some appetizers as Charlie and Saundra were coming on board for sundowners.    Had another great evening……and, of course, I forgot to take any photos!

Monday morning and we had a lazy start, dropped dink down from his davits, and took him for a run up the channel into the lagoon.   We enjoyed the sights of the fishing village and the very small marinas all overflowing with boats – not to mention the broken docks and the big boys marina at the end!   We wanted to go ashore at one of the small local hostelries that line the water front but actually couldn’t find anywhere to get out of the boat – with day tripper boats rafted up to drop off their guests everywhere.   

Tagged pelican Another full marina Dinghy captain Broken down pilings Big boy marina Fishing village with pelican Fishing village Sunken boats

So we came back – a bit disappointed – and spent the rest of the afternoon by the pool before a quiet evening on board.

Tuesday morning we were up very early as we were going diving at 8.30.    The boat was there….we were there….our gear was there….but the other divers weren’t.   We were going to have to share William with another two divers today rather than have the boat to ourselves – but both were experienced so we could still head out to do some ‘adventure’ dives.  We took off finally about 9.15 and headed out across the channel.  During the trip out to the dive site one of the guys was sea sick – good job it wasn’t that bad a day in terms of the waves…..    We all kitted up – jumped in – and William is telling us all to stop.   Well there had been a miscommunication on the boat – William planned to jump in, check the strength and direction of the current, to make sure we dropped in the right spot for the drift dive.   But we were all instructed to jump in!   So we did – and we then all had to get back out again.  Oops……   So William resorted to sticking his head in the water over the side to check our position before we all went in again.   

There is a dive site here somewhere

We descended to the bottom and Richard has a free flowing spare regulator – great, we’ve just had these serviced in Florida!   It wouldn’t stop so he is losing air but it should be OK…….   The visibility is poor and the water is cold with numerous thermoclines changing the temperature quite significantly.     Never mind – we drifted along – and enjoyed the sights, particularly the turtle who was so busy munching he couldn’t even be bothered to look up to check us out!

Dive 1 Dive 2 Dive 7 Dive 9 Dive 8 Dive 5 Dive 4 Dive 6 Dive 3 Dive 10

Back on board and the guy is still being sick – so we scrap the idea of going to the far point of the island for another drift dive – and return to the marine park for a shallow dive where the water is calmer.    Again the visibility wasn’t as good as before and the water was chilly – and this time Richard’s pressure gauge failed!   So he was leaking air through his regulators and now his air drops from half a tank to virtually empty….   Luckily we had almost finished our diving bottom time so we started a slow ascent and Richard and I buddy breathed on my tank just to make sure.     Damn….looking like we’ll have to try and source another gauge on our travels…and he’ll have to rent regulators in the meantime.  Not the best diving experiences today.

Dive A Dive K Dive J Dive H Dive G Dive F Dive E Dive D Dive C Dive B

Back to Morphie and we had a lazy few hours before heading to the bar to meet Hank and Mike – we had planned a pub crawl.   We all met up and hopped into a cab – first stop was the bar where we watched all the locals having fun – before heading into the more tourist area and stopped at El Patio for a bite to eat and to watch the band – obviously fans of Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple – and quite amazing adaptions of their tunes.   Moving on we then listened to an acoustic set before ending up in the salsa bar wearing silly hats and a bit of dancing.   

Live music Gang out on the town Acoustic set Hats 1

Great evening – back to the marina suitably hydrated LOL!

This morning – Wednesday – and Richard is chilling while I’m blogging.  We’re planning on playing boules later – so should be fun.   We think we are going to be diving again on Thursday but watching the weather…..as another front is due to come through. 

Bye for now


Still having fun in Isla Mujeres

Saturday afternoon we went to the bar for sundowners and came back to Morphie for dinner.   As I was down below cooking Mike went by on his dinghy so Richard invited him on board for an impromptu evening…..was good fun!

Evening on board

During the night the winds picked up – as forecast – and we were rolling around even tied to the pilings….    Sunday morning and the winds continued to howl – we did a few boat jobs and checked our lines / fenders and listened to the early morning cruisers net with its reports of boats dragging and going bump in the night.   Glad we are tucked up here in Marina Paraiso.

Later on we went to visit Island Sol – our Island Packet neighbours.   These very generous people are giving us loads of information about diving in Roatan and some detailed waypoints for when we head off.    Well – as we were sitting and chatting – the heavens opened and we had a horrendous thunderstorm.    I got caught out as I’d just popped ashore to phone Mum so while I was soaked through I checked all the lines on both our boats….   We ended up spending the afternoon with Charlie and Saundra and had a lot of fun (and drinks)!

Sunday night we ended up having a quiet one on board……having watched a spectacular stormy sunset.

Goodnight 2

Monday morning we were up early – we planned to go into Cancun – but, when we got online over breakfast we realised that it was a public holiday in Mexico.   So, although the big stores will be open the smaller chandleries will not be……   Hmmmm…..we’re heading off to investigate whether we can buy ablative antifoul as we’ve been told that it is possible to get this in Guatemala but it is very expensive.  We didn’t buy it before we left the States as we thought we were going to be in Panama where this stuff is readily available – but changed plans mean we need to source this if we can before we haul now.  So we decided not to go to Cancun today after all – and, as the weather was so nasty, we just vegged out on board. 


Tuesday morning and we were up early again…..and headed off to the fast ferry terminal.  We got our tickets and enjoyed the views of the island sitting upstairs, where we were surprised to find a guy playing live music for us.  He was quite entertaining and pretty good with his renditions from Guns & Roses and the Eagles.   Was a pretty fast trip and we admired the views of the hotel district along the way.

Waterfront On the ferry to Cancun Ferry coming back Towards the hotel zone On our way Entertaining us on the journey

Arriving into CancunArriving into Cancun we walked away from all the taxis at the ferry terminal as they are very expensive.    It is much cheaper to flag one down on the main road so that’s what we did.    We first went to Walmart and got everything on our list – primarily oil – of the transmission / engine and outboard / generator variety.    Packed everything into our wheelie bag and got a taxi back to the chandleries.    Well, they have no bottom paint apart from Seahawk Island 44 which is not legal down under so scratch that idea for now then!  

We went back to the terminal and were surprised to see the queues – we didn’t actually make the next ferry that came in, having to wait for the second, which was absolutely rammed.   Again we sat upstairs and had another guy playing music – but he wasn’t very good!  

No seats left

Back to Isla Mujeres and we got a taxi back to the marina and back to Morphie to stow all our goodies….not a completely failed trip!    And that is where we stayed for the rest of the day.

Wednesday morning and we were up early and on the dive boat by 8.30.    The first dive was a drift dive – across an interesting bottom with lots of vegetation and huge sponges with the occasional sandy patch and shelf.  And as I’m going across the top of a shelf all of a sudden a large shark comes out from underneath me – not sure who was more surprised him or me LOL!    Another superman dive again and we were going along at about two knots.  Great dive.

Dive 1 Dive 8 Dive 7 Dive 6 Dive 5 Dive 4 Dive 3 Dive 2

Second dive of the day was on the Canyons – fantastic dive and our favourite of them all so far.   Interesting topography and lots to see – including some eagle rays, some large specimens and a school of big barracuda – not to mention the sunfish….and the large groupers and schools off fish out there in the blue……   Totally amazing!Canyons 1 Canyons 2 Canyons 4 Canyons 5 Canyons 6 Canyons 7 Canyons 8 Canyons 9 Canyons 10 Canyons

Back on board we had a rest before going bobbing in the pool for a while before getting cleaned up and heading down into town for the evening. 

Pool bobbing

We went on a mini-pub crawl looking for live music and ended up visiting three venues and had a great time including a simple but tasty supper of fish tacos and chicken fajitas.   We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Live music 1 Live music 2 Dancing in the street Chicken fajitas Fish tacos El Patio Night out Live music 3

This morning – Thursday – and we’re being lazy.  We’re going out for dinner tonight with Charlie and Saundra, so looking forward to that.    Friday we’re off diving again …   In the meantime, we’d like to wish all our family and friends a very Happy Easter!

Happy Easter

Bye for now


Underwater fun in Isla Mujeres

Tuesday afternoon we relaxed by the pool before enjoying an early night on board.

GoodnightWednesday morning we were up ready to go diving just after eight. Sadly the dive boat was late again…..but we did manage to get underway by about nine…and we were pleased that there were only four divers on board too. We headed out towards Cancun’s hotel district and were looking for a buoy which marks one of the many deliberately-sunk wrecks along this coast. The seas were pretty big and the boat was crashing into the waves…..and one of the divers was struggling with seasickness…. Although at the right GPS co-ordinates we couldn’t find the mooring ball, and the conclusion was that it had been stolen overnight – apparently this is a frequent occurrence!

Anyway….moving on….and we came to another marker, quickly got ourselves ready and jumped into a very fast moving current. We submerged to the ocean floor (about 85 feet) and literally had to propel ourselves along the sandy bottom to get to the wreck as it was too hard to kick into the current. But we were rewarded for our efforts by the lovely sight of eagle rays floating along. We also saw a reasonable sized nurse shark and a sting ray lurking under the ship’s bow but they scooted off way too quickly for us to get photos. We thoroughly enjoyed this wreck dive until it was time to surface and back into that horrendous current again – with the safety stop on the fixed line being particularly challenging. Luckily the dive boat captain is pretty skilled and picked us up as we drifted along at speed after we all collectively decided to abandon the line because we couldn’t physically hold on to it!!!

Dive 1 Dive 2 Dive 3 Dive 4 Dive 5 Dive 6 Dive 7 Dive 8 Dive 9 Dive 10
Back on board we headed back into the national park for a shallow reef dive at around 30 feet. Was not a lot to see but we enjoyed it although even in the shallower waters the current was running quite strongly.

Reef dive 1 Reef dive 2 Reef dive 3 Reef dive 4 Reef dive 5 Reef dive 6 Reef dive 7
Wednesday afternoon having got ourselves cleaned up we chilled by the pool and had another early night.
Thursday morning and Happy St Patrick’s Day!

St Patricks Day

We had heard on the cruisers morning radio net that there was going to be a party at one of the bars near us so we wandered down town – principally to go to the bank and get drinking vouchers.

Heading downtown

Strolling around through the back doubles we kept getting encouraged to visit shops to buy things – many of the vendors here have the gift of the gab although we managed to avoid their collective charms.

Downtown 1 Downtown 2

We then came across a local bar playing loud Mexican music – so we took a seat outside and ordered a couple of beers. Well – this place has a cantina licence which requires them to serve food every time they serve a drink – and it’s free!!!

Mixing with the locals Local bar

So we ended up with chicken and nachos / followed by more chicken and nachos / followed by fried pastries filled with cheese….and finally had to ask for no more food!!! The barman didn’t speak English but had a translation package on his phone and I tried my best in Spanish – well it worked, we had a wonderful time, listened to some mariachi music on the juke box and I had to fend off the local old (slightly inebriated) guy who wanted me to dance with him LOL!   It was a really friendly place and a great way to spend a few hours….

Free foodWe then grabbed a cab back – you can pretty much go anywhere on the island for about 50 pesos if you don’t mind sharing – that’s £2.   It was time to join the St Patrick’s Day celebrations. The bar was lovely and had great views out to the anchorage.

View out to the anchorageThe music started and the guitarist was from Middlesborough so his repertoire of Irish songs was pretty limited so it became more of a Beatles / 70s theme. But we had a great time – avoided the green drinks served by a very happy barman – and made friends with one of the local boat dogs. You can always tell island dogs by their long bodies and short legs!

Live music Island boat dog Barman

We bailed out late afternoon as we were diving again the following day so wandered back to the marina and had another early night.

Up early again Friday morning and we realise that we are the only ones on the dive boat – result!  William was going to be our leader and the first dive was a drift dive on the canyons. Well – it was definitely a fast drift dive – but we missed the canyons. He decided it was too tough to combat the current to go searching for the dive site so we just went with the flow….feeling like superman as we sped across the bottom in about 50 feet of water. There were a lot of different species around and we were lucky enough to see a large turtle and lots of trigger fish amongst many of the usual suspects – I just love the huge angelfish.

Drift dive 1 Drift dive 10 Drift dive 9 Drift dive 8 Drift dive 7 Drift dive 6 Drift dive 5 Drift dive 4 Drift dive 3 Drift dive 2

Back on the surface we headed over to the national park again for our second dive – on another man-made installation of a variety of shapes that have been sunk at about 30 feet. The coral was bright and beautiful and the fish were plentiful – with one of my all-time favourites, the giant puffer fish, putting in an appearance. There was also a pretty large barracuda and a huge black grouper that swam away quickly when he spotted us – reckon William’s signal about being hungry was correctly interpreted LOL.

Park dive 1 Park dive 2 Park dive 3 Park dive 4 Park dive 5 Park dive 6 Park dive 7 Park dive 8 Park dive 9 Park dive 10 Park dive 11 Park dive 12 Park dive 13 Park dive 14
All too soon we returned to the marina and had a lazy afternoon on board followed by catching up on the internet over a few beers in the evening.

This morning – Saturday – and we have decided to take the weekend off. So we’ve had a leisurely start to the day and Richard is now snorkelling under Morphie to clean her waterline while I’m blogging. We have definitely decided to haul out this summer in the Rio Dulce, Guatamala, rather than in Panama – although we haven’t yet finalised the arrangements.

So, as a result of that decision, we don’t need to move on so fast. Which is just as well – the wind is strengthening again on Sunday / Monday and there is no suitable passage window open to us for a while yet. So we’re going to make the most of it and enjoy more exploring and more diving. The marina’s dock master has also been very kind to us by allowing us to just top up our marina payment from the original daily rate to the monthly rate which is significantly cheaper – so we’re all set here for a couple more weeks. Definitely not complaining!  We love it here….

Bye for now


Exploring Isla Mujeres

Tuesday morning we strolled down towards the ferry terminals….we wanted to catch the older / slower one as it took us into the right port in Cancun.   We got our tickets – only £5 return each – and drank coffee while we waited.  

Our ferry ride 1

We climbed across a very rickety metal ladder with ‘Mind the Gap’ resounding in my head before we cast off – into a very rough sea – and we occupied ourselves by watching the Mexican news on the ferry’s tv.   We struggled to translate exactly what was going on – but the coverage of Trump had a rolling ‘latest news’ banner calling him a Nazi.   Hmmm….seems like he’s upset the Mexicans pretty badly!

Watching TV on the ferry

We arrived at our destination and walked to the government office clutching all our stamped and signed papers.  The lady was very accommodating but couldn’t issue our temporary import permit as we hadn’t come armed with Morphie’s inboard engine number!   Damn…..   Neither of us had picked up on this “very important” requirement so we’ll have to come back another day.

So we walked back to the ferry terminal feeling a bit dejected – and of course the heavens opened and we got very wet!   We sat – admiring Captain Hook’s pirate ship – and waited for our return trip.  Was another bumpy ride and, this time, the sea was coming in through the window seals as we bashed into the wind and waves.

Captain Hook's pirate ship

Arriving back on Isla Mujeres we were greeted by more torrential rain….   An enterprising chap crossed the road from his shop and was selling ‘pack a macs’ so we bought one each and wandered downtown trying not to get too wet crossing the flooded roads.   

Pack-a-mac selfieFloods

We had a nice time looking at all the little shops, boutiques and restaurants that fill this end of town nestled alongside the fishing village.   There was an eclectic mix of items for sale – not sure of the significance of the wrestling masks!   After a late lunch / early dinner we wandered back to the marina where we had an early night.Making friends Fishing village Wrestling masks

Wednesday morning – armed with the ‘very important’ numbers this time – we went on the ferry with it all feeling a bit like ground hog day LOL.  Yay – this time we got our permit issued which is valid for ten years….    Mission accomplished we headed straight back to Morphie to get on with the rubbing down / varnishing of the eyebrows.   While Richard was applying the varnish I started cleaning the stainless. 

Eventually by late afternoon we were done and we had a quick bob in the pool to cool off before going on board Island Sol – our neighbour – for sundowners.  

Marina pool

We had a good look around their boat and then they came on to Morphie so that they could see the differences between their older Island Packet and our newer one.    We had a lovely evening – with Charlie particularly enjoying the Goslings Dark & Stormy – while Sarah tried out our Cuban beer.    Having been cruising in this area for a few years they were full of useful information for us about Panama / Guatemala etc.   And they told us about the lightning season in Panama – with violent thunderstorms a daily occurrence during the rainy season (April to October).    We are planning to be in the San Blas islands at that time – these islands are notoriously tricky with poor charts and extensive reefs so you need to use eyeball navigation.   Hmmm…..so the rainy / lightning season means we may have to sit out rainstorms and thunderstorms for days on end…..waiting to be struck as we will potentially be the tallest point for miles around.   Gulp….we may need to rethink our plans!

Thursday morning – we rubbed down, varnished and carried on with the stainless cleaning.   In the afternoon we got ourselves cleaned up and headed out – and walked to another marina down the road where we had been told there was a chandlery.   Well we couldn’t find it – anyway, we ended up in the Verde Bar & Restaurant and had a very late lunch, early dinner.   Was absolutely lovely!   Wandering back we stopped in another bar and had a beer sitting on the swings.  

We had final pontoonies in the marina – served by Daniel – and got chatting to other cruisers many of whom had cruised extensively between here and Panama.   And, yes, the lightning season was confirmed and they all declared they wouldn’t frequent that area during this period.  Oh dear….

Marina bar Daniel

Friday morning – and, yes, you guessed it…..repeat….    Richard applied the final coat of varnish to the eyebrows and went around identifying other ‘keepers’ that we needed to do.   I got dink down and went around the hull cleaning the stainless under the rail….   Yay – job done!!!  

We had a lazy afternoon bobbing in the pool – talking through our options – and ended up having another early night after a moody sunset.   The wind seems like it is finally calming down – but still coming from the south which means there is no chance of us moving on just yet – so we decided to stay put for another week.

Marina pool 2 Good night

Saturday morning and we were up early and had breakfast in the marina.  Wow – huge!!!  Amazing value at only £8…..    


We then popped into the dive shop and booked a couple of dives for Monday afternoon.   We meandered into town and hired a golf buggy for 24 hours and took ourselves off on a tour around the island.   Ready for the offOut in the cart

We had a lovely time – including finding a local dressed as a Mayan near the ruins – and stopped and started all over the place to take in the views…..   From little village scenes to fancy cliff-top villas – from zip lining to crashing waves….to iguanas…..  And even some Banksie style wall art.  Stunning place!    

Beach 1 Beach 2 Exploring 1 Exploring 2 Exploring 3 Exploring 5 Exploring 7 Exploring 8 Exploring 9 Exploring 10 Exploring 11 Exploring 12 Exploring 13Exploring 6

Driving back from the far end of the island my hat blew off – so we stopped and I went to pick it up – and I ran back across the road.  Not a good idea in flip flops.   So….of course…..I got my feet tangled and flew through the air landing face down across the road and high curb.  Richard was not impressed – and other people were stopping to check I was OK while I tried to scrape myself up off the floor!   I cleaned myself up – thankful that I didn’t tear my clothes – and was only bleeding from some gravel scrapes on my elbow.    Oh well….no harm done…apart from my brand new RNLI hat which got damaged in the process of being retrieved!

We headed back into town and had a couple of beers in a small roadside bar before heading off to the beach.   This was full of day trippers – and we had a lovely late lunch in a little Mexican restaurant – while people watching.   We had now circumnavigated the whole island and we headed back to Morphie – planning to rest up before heading out again for the evening.   Well we rested up and ended up staying put!

Beach 3Beach 4

Bar on the beach

Sunday morning we were up early – said hello to the pelican that likes to sit on the mooring post -and headed out to the big supermarket – time to stock up on Mexican beer and fresh meat.   


Back to Morphie, we unloaded our provisions, and then went to return the buggy.   We had about an hour to kill so we drove around the town again – watching the tourists streaming off the ferries – before we returned it having topped up with drinking vouchers at the bank.    Back to the marina we got ourselves into our swimmers and headed down the road to the Soggy Peso.   This is a happening place on a Sunday and we enjoyed a plate of ribs while chatting to some people we shared a table with.   Was a nice way to spend a couple of hours.

Soggy Peso

Back to the pool for a little while then we got cleaned up and met Charlie and Sarah.  We got a taxi to a restaurant they wanted to try – and we had a lovely meal – before returning to the marina for final pontoonies.  Was a great evening with new friends.

Monday morning and Richard worked on the keepers while I started blogging.  Just after lunch we headed to the dock to await the dive boat – due to leave at one o’clock.    So we sat waiting…and waiting….and waiting….and finally the boat arrived at two.    We got ourselves quickly geared up and left – with just us and two dive masters on board.  Perfect!   We haven’t dived for a while so today we were going into the national park to do two shallow dives – one on the statue installation and the other on a reef.   We headed out and were amazed by how many boats were out there – but our dive leader William was very skilful working our route to keep us away from the crowds of divers and snorkelers.    We did the maximum time – 45 minutes – and returned to the boat.  Thoroughly enjoyed seeing the statues – interesting place – but didn’t have the same impact as the one in Grenada.   Maybe it was the less serious nature of some of the installation?? 

Statue park 1 Statue park 5 Statue park 6 Statue park 7 Statue park 3 Statue park 9 Statue park 2

Statue park 4Back on board the guys quickly dismantled our equipment and set us up again for the next dive – while we sat back and enjoyed the valet experience LOL.   Moving only a couple of miles away, and still within the national park, we did our backward rolls into the water and quickly descended to a very good looking reef with lots of life – including a little turtle munching on the soft corals.   A lovely dive – with a few more statues – and again we did the maximum 45 minutes before returning to the boat.

Reef dive Reef dive 2 Reef dive 3 Reef dive 4 Reef dive 6 Reef dive 9 Reef dive 5 Reef dive 7 Reef dive 8

Back to the dock and we sped through the cut, admiring the large house on the end, back into the marina where the guys helped us clean all our gear and took it away for storage so that we don’t have to carry it around…..   Great service!   We returned to Morphie, showered and then headed to the bar for a couple before turning in as we were both quite tired.

Heading back on the dive boat Nice house on cut through to marina

This morning – Tuesday – and Richard has dropped off laundry and organised more diving for tomorrow morning while I’m sitting down below blogging…..    We are intending to relax for the rest of the day.

Oh yes….  We are seriously considering hauling out in the Rio Dulce, Guatemala, rather than in Panama this season.    We can then visit the San Blas islands in the dry season (non-lightning season!) in December on our way to the Panama Canal in January 2017.  But lots more research to do yet….  Will keep you posted.

Bye for now


Cuba to Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Monday afternoon we returned to the Hemingway dock master and paid our bill, relieved that he did not ask us for a tip as had happened to other cruisers.   We picked up our laundry, returned to Morphie, watched our final Hemingway sunset and had an early night.

Hemingway sunset

Tuesday morning we were up very early to find hardly a breath of wind.   We recalculated our passage many times with different scenarios but couldn’t work out how we could make it before dark without punishing the engine.  So we decided to do a day passage to Bahia Honda instead – then push on to Cabo San Antonio the following day.   Decision made – and we slipped away from the canal – and round the corner onto the Customs Dock.   After a bit of a wait, we were issued our Despacho and the customs guy came on board to check we had no additional passengers.

We finally left Marina Hemingway behind us going straight out into a beautiful azure blue sea.   Very few boats out and about and we enjoyed watching the scenery – and the industrial landscape – of the coast of Cuba.   

Sailing down the coast

The wind came out to play for a little while, but still very light airs, so we deployed our whisker pole for the first time.    It all went pretty smoothly so we were pleased with our performance.  Mika – the catamaran we had met in Varadero – chased us down and came alongside for a little radio chat….  We waved them goodbye and carried on – pulling into Bahia Honda at around three o’clock having covered 41.8 miles.  It was a lovely downwind sail with the occasional lift from a counter current that runs along the coast.

Very light airs Mika 2

Bahia Honda is a large bay and we radioed the Guarda Frontera to let them know of our imminent arrival.  We found the customs building and anchored off – amazed to find ourselves in the middle of a junkyard….and not little boats either….  

Junkyard 1 Junkyard 2 Junkyard 3

Well after an hour of radioing and with the sky darkening we decided to get some shelter away from the channel and radioed the Guarda (in Spanish!!!) to let him know that we were moving to anchor behind Punta Del Caldero if he wished to see us.   We have always chosen not to be the only boat in the anchorage in isolated places – and, guess what, this is exactly that.  

Anchorage in Bahia Honda

So we enjoyed the sunset and then had an early night having set all our security measures in place.

Bahia Honda sunset

Up early Wednesday morning and by 6.45 am as the sun was coming out to play we picked up and moved slowly out of the bay.  

Bahia Honda sunrise 1 Bahia Honda sunrise 2

Again the winds were very light and variable so the pole was deployed ….then the wind swung ENE and dropped, so the sail got put away….then it came out again….and the scene was set.   Richard decided to try his hand at fishing and caught a lovely female Mahi Mahi – but we decided to let her return to the deep as we didn’t have time to eat it all before arriving in Mexico, where it would probably be confiscated and wasted.  We loved watching the hundreds of flying fish getting out of our way but, despite hours of trying, I couldn’t get a decent photo of one of them skipping across the waves ahead of us.

Downwind sail

And then the ships came out to play with one altering course to give us safe passage….   Thanks!  

Lots of ships

The sun went down and it was the blackest night ever…..with no moon.  Now the wind strengthened, the pole was put away, and we were picking up speed in another current – and we were now going to arrive in the dark!   So we reefed to slow the boat down although we still maintained 6/7 knots and then, suddenly, as quickly as it had started the current switched against us and our ETA was pushing back….and we were now only going at four knots so the sails were unfurled.   Lots of ships around too…..

Heading off to the end of the island

By 8.30 am on Thursday morning having watched another sunrise at sea we were alongside the dock in Los Morros, Cabo San Antonio, having completed another 137.2 mile passage.   We did the paperwork and then wandered up to the marina buildings saying hello to the many cats that were wandering around and ‘talking’ to us!   

Sunrise at sea Morphie alongside the dock Marina buildings Local wildlife

We found out that there was an Eco hotel up the road – about 4 kms – so we cadged a lift from the white van man who drives constantly backwards and forwards between there and the marina.   The exhaust on the van was absolutely wrecked and we could barely hear ourselves think!   We arrived – were amazed to find wild pigs wandering around – and had a couple of beers in the bar.   We chatted to some Canadian woman, and her Cuban boyfriend who seemed to be enjoying himself spending her money on expensive imported Scotch whisky, and then went off to find our van man again.  He had by now removed the exhaust and just left it there on the road as he took us back!  

On the road to the Eco Lodge Wild pigs at EcoLodge Ecolodge Our transport Cabo San Antonio

Back at the marina we chatted with another boat who had just turned up from Mexico – with the guys being quarantined on board as the customs office had no visa forms so they couldn’t be checked in and were being diverted about 150 miles north or south to complete formalities – they were not happy!   Then a coach drove down the dock – as this dock is clearly the only gas station in this part of the island.   Was a strange sight alongside.   We then had an early night in preparation for our passage the following day.

Fuel dock!

Friday morning we got our Zarpe and left the dock by around 8.30 am.   And, of course, there is no wind.  But we have to get going – our tourist visa expires in a few days and there is bad weather coming from the South – so we traded good passage conditions for the lack of wind.    Goodbye Cuba – we had enjoyed revisiting you – but we will not be back again.   With the restrictions put upon boats not being allowed to visit many anchorages unless they either have a marina; are a clearance port; or a tourist resort – the rest remains a myriad of beautiful cayos but you are not allowed ashore anywhere by dinghy, particularly near settlements.   The people of Cuba continue to endure hardships that you can only imagine.  

Actually the wind did pick up enough to get out the main so we motor sailed – into huge amounts of ships.  There were never less than seven ships on the AIS throughout the whole day….with us slowing to let some pass ahead of us and others diverting to pass behind us.   Certainly made the watches interesting!  

Flat calm in the Yucatan Strait Shipping lanes

Not to mention riding the currents…..crossing the Gulf Stream……which pushes north at a rapid pace of knots….so we had to adjust our course to allow for all that….   Check out the movement of the currents below.

Currents between Cuba and Mexico

It was a cloudy grey day and the dark night loomed – and then we were surrounded by lightning storms.   So we reefed down accordingly anticipating them coming at us – but they just kept circling.   The wind switched, the current got us at one point forcing us to change our course by 35 degrees just to keep going in a straight line, and the sea got lumpier.  Oh well….almost there…..  Certainly not much chance of falling asleep on watch with all this activity going on!   And we always get mesmerised by the fairy dust being sprinkled into the dark ocean by that tiny leprechaun who resides on the stern.   Can watch the magic of phosphorescence for hours at a time – absolutely fascinates me for sure.

The sun came up welcoming us to Saturday morning and we were rewarded by a lovely dolphin encounter.   Ahhhhh…..makes us both smile every time!

Sunrise at sea Dolphin encounter Dolphin encounter 2 Dolphine encounter 3

Finally we can see land ahead – although it was difficult to tell apart Isla Mujeres from the coastline of Cancun beyond for quite a way away.    Then it became clear as the rocks at the end of the island became apparent ….  Navigation was definitely aided by the distinctive huge hotel too.

Approaching Isla Mujeres

We rounded the island and pulled into Marina Paraiso by 10 having completed another 115 mile passage.    We engaged Chapo – the Dock Master – to help us with the checking in procedure.   This involves loads of photocopies of loads of documents and visiting lots of different authorities….   He told us to go wait in the bar, have a cold drink, and he’ll let us know when the authorities arrive.   Nice!   The first one to turn up was the agriculture guy who wanted to check out fish / meat / vegetables.  As we didn’t have anything other than processed / canned he was on and off Morphie within five minutes.   Back to the bar……and the next to turn up was the Sanitation man. This was to check we were healthy.   Job done back to the bar….    Then the immigration man came and gave us 180 day visitor cards…and back to the bar…..watching our new best friends the iguanas.

Marina friends

The final guy was customs – but no show – and Chapo then called us over.  He explained to us that the customs guy had just stamped our papers and was not coming to visit us – neither were the drug / gun sniffing dog.   Excellent!    So we are all set – paid Chapo his fee – and we returned to the bar.   Pretty tired we shared fish and chips before heading back to Morphie for a very early night.

Sunday morning and we were on a mission – we went to the marina restaurant (which is part of a hotel) to have breakfast – and then walked 15 minutes down the road to the huge supermarket.   

Marina Paraiso Huge supermarketAmazing!!!   Sells everything and must be the Mexican equivalent of Walmart.   We got some pesos from the ATM and bought some fresh meat, vegetables and crusty bread.  Yay!!!  

Food glorious food

We walked back and then got to work – cleaning all the salt off Morphie and spot cleaned her top sides.   She looks pretty again now.

Cleaned up

Then we took ourselves to the pool for a bobbing afternoon before returning to have an early dinner of steak and fresh vegetables (yum) before turning in after a spectacular Mexican sunset.

Pool bobbing Goodnight from Mexico

This morning – Monday – and we’ve spring cleaned Morphie down below.  Now Richard is masking up the “eyebrows” as they need varnishing badly.   

Masking the eyebrow

I’m down below blogging……   We are finally getting back into our ‘mornings for boat jobs’ and ‘afternoons for fun’ cruising routine.    Not sure what we are going to do later – probably head out to explore a bit as we haven’t been here for at least 15 years.  

Tomorrow – Tuesday – we have to get the ferry to Cancun to secure our Temporary Import Permit (really a cruising permit) to enable Morphie to stay in Mexican waters for longer than five days which we have to do in person.  And that will finalise all our paperwork – incredibly bureaucratic process!!   Oh yes and we have decided to remain in the marina for the time being as bad weather is forecast from Tuesday through to Friday – building to 36 knots – making the anchorage, which has poor holding in grass, not a particularly desirable option.    

Weather forecast

Bye for now