Posted by: catamarantwooceans | November 25, 2015

Mexico–November 2015

19.11.15 – Thursday – Mexico is a notoriously difficult country when it comes to yachts entry formalities. Today we experienced it to the fullest. During the early hours of the morning I tried calling the port control on V.H.F and although from time to time I heard radio traffic in Spanish nobody answered my calls. I took the dinghy ashore and visited the Capitania – harbor master. I was told I could put my boat in a marina and then go ahead with the entry procedure. So off we went to Abrigo marina, just one mile from our anchorage but they had no space available. “What about Caleta Bay?” I asked and was told that there was a new marina over there. With both engines we motored against the 2 knot current, passing the Cruise Ship fleet to reach the Caleta entrance. Taking care not to run over the multitude of snorkelers over the reef near it, we turned into the the newly constructed marina, known as Cozumel or Fonatur marina.

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                                Cozumel marina looking out

The marina is home mostly to dive and sport fishing boats and is quite shallow, 2.2 meters at our dock. The marina people led us to believe that the authorities would come to the marina to do the check in. After an hours wait, two young ladies came over, one representing Customs and the other the Sanitation department. The Sanitation lady took away all our fruit and veg, except what was already in the salad we were going to  eat. The customs lady instructed me to go to immigrations in the airport and then back to the harbor master. Before we left we had two more visits- one by the Army and the other by the Navy. We took a taxi to the airport where the immigrations people told us to go to immigrations in town. We went there by  a collectivo van to find the place closed with a sign on the door stating that the visiting hours were only until 1300.

Agents were inside the office and one of them, an energetic lady who spoke excellent English, took pity on us and let us in, mobilizing other agents to finish that part of the odyssey. By then the time was 1545 and we took a taxi to the harbor master’s office although being sure that they would be closed too. That office resides in two buildings, one of which was still open. A smiling man said that theirs belongs to the operations and they do not deal with paperwork. “Come tomorrow at 0900 and by the way, you know you have to go to the hospital and have their stamp confirming you all are healthy”. To be continued!

20.11.15 – Friday – Before embarking again on the bureaucracy rollercoaster we gave the boat a good clean-up and then went out to anchor near town. This time it was close to a cruise ship dock where the dinghy landing was much better, sandy beach, no rocks. Two oceans, as seen from the beach, looked tiny.

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We took a taxi to the hospital, wandering between different offices, looking for the special doctor who deals with people coming by air, land and sea. A doctor lead us, explaining that the specific doctor was not at the hospital at the moment and that it was needed to check our temperature. He brought us to a room where a lady was in attendance; she looked at the form and with aplomb stamped it and handed it to me. Are the ladies in Mexico more decisive than the men?

Back at the harbor master’s office, our papers were passed from one clerk to the other; the one who was smiling yesterday appeared now with a stern face. Where is the Zarpe from the last port? Where indeed? It was taken either by the harbor master official or the custom officer. A solution was found by which I had to write a declaration explaining why I did not have the document. I was given a paper which I had to take to a certain bank to pay the equivalent of 15$ U.S. Rushing back to the HM office, thinking the ordeal was over, I had a new surprise coming.“You have to come tomorrow and the port captain will sign your form. He is not here at the moment”. Without meaning to, I heard myself shouting:”NO! this must be today!” Somehow my outburst made an impression and one of the officers mumbled something like:”It’s only a stamp”, did the right thing and set me free.

Mexican officialdom is a well placed contender in the race for the most exasperating bureaucracy in the world, neck and neck with India.

In the evening we went ashore for dinner; Cozumel has a lot of tourist trap restaurants. We were lucky to find one, Casa Denis, which was really good.

20.11.15 – Saturday – Cozumel is famous for its beautiful dive sites and clear water. We arranged with a dive operator to take us diving (Danny and Miki) and snorkeling Gili). After the first session, which was exquisite, Gili, who is a certified diver but did not dive for quite a few years, said she wanted to dive too. Equipment was available and all of us enjoyed it so much, we decided to go again tomorrow.


                                       refresher dive for Gili

22.11.15 – Sunday – Today we went diving with a company called “Deep Blue”; they took us to the famous Palancar dive site and we had two marvelous dives. I took some GoPro videos and you can see them on YouTube at

The following is an example of what we saw.


                                                 A nurse shark

Our plans to go to town inn the evening were shelved when the wind changed direction and made waves that would have made landing on shore precarious; it rained too, so we decided to do it in the morning.

23.11.15 – Monday – Morning brought more wind and I had a feeling that we should leave for Puerto Morelos, about 20 miles away; we could do our shopping there. The place has a marina called El Cid and we decided to go in there for a night. It turned out too be a good decision. In the evening rain started and big clouds came with winds up to 30 knots. El Cid is a big marina connected to a hotel and maybe other businesses. It’s not cheap – 1.16$ a foot per day; there was only one other cruising yacht with nobody on board, probably went home for a while. Armando Gutierez, the marina’s  harbor master, greeted us, adding a new complication to the Mexican bureaucracy maze. He said we needed to go to Cancun and get a “Temporary Import Permit”, TIP, for our yacht. Other sources say you only need it for stays over tow weeks. 

24.11.15 – Tuesday – The weather did not contribute to my mood, nor did the fact that I caught a cold and did not sleep well. During the morning we went over a few weather internet sites and understood that we’ll be stuck here for a day or two. The forecast also indicated that it was unlikely to leave for Florida before December 1st. Danny’s flight home from Miami is scheduled for the 4th – too tight! We agreed that he would postpone it by four days. To use the non sailing days in a good way we arranged a trip to the Mayan city of Chichen Itza for Gili and Danny; I was there eight years ago and decided to stay home and recuperate.

25.11.15 – Wednesday – Still very windy, we’re stuck. This is cruising under sail. 

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                            seen on the way to the office

Posted by: catamarantwooceans | November 19, 2015

Guanaja to Cozumel Mexico

15.11.15 – Sunday – We were anchored in Sandy Bay, north of the impressive private resort built on Dumbar Rock, in the company of ‘My Love’, Fay and Mike’s catamaran, ‘Jade’, a cat from Australia and a monohull.

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Fay showed us Manati, a bar restaurant on the beach; she said it was run by a German couple and that they had free internet there. They also took laundry. Hallelujah!

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                                  Manati bar restaurant          pic by Danny

We went there, surfed the web, published the long due posts to the blog and then dinghied to town. Bonacca island is home to about three thousand people living in houses built mostly on stilts; it used to be two islands but now the dividing canal, in which you can see fish passing, is called Canal Street and is part of the united island.

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                                       Canal street – Guanaja

In the evening we went to Manati for dinner. Annette and Klaus were the perfect hosts. They lived in Honduras for the past twenty years, the last six in Guanaja. One can have German food, like Bratwurst with Spetsle and Sauerkraut (probably misspelled).Their son, Roland, has an Eco-Lodge nearby.(

16.11.15 – Monday – Heavy rain in the morning. When it stopped, we motored a small cay to the west of Bonacca, on which there was a fuel station. We filled up both diesel and water and then tied up at the municipal dock to do the formalities, in and out of immigrations and a Zarpe – the sailing permit to Mexico – at the harbor master office. When we came on Saturday there were two officials in the office; the senior instructing the junior regarding what he had to do. Now only the junior was in attendance and it quickly became obvious that the man was not up to the job. He was lacking basic computer skills and failed to produce the document. I had to intervene in a polite and friendly way and finally we made it. Junior happily gave me a high five and I had the Zarpe in hand.

In the afternoon I went over to Manati to pick up our laundry and download the latest forecast. It’ll be good to go tomorrow.

In the evening we had Fay and Mike for happy hour; they are from Vancouver Canada, bought their 40 foot catamaran two years ago and are now cruising around the Caribbean.

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17.11.15 – Tuesday -  It is about 260 miles to Cozumel so there is no point going out early if you want to get there in daylight. We took our time, visited Manati for the internet and then motored to Southwest Cay; we were told that a nice reef could be found there and Gili insisted on doing some snorkeling before we go out. We anchored on a sandy patch at 16 24.542 N 085 53.089 W and jumped in. The reef was really good, coral undamaged and quite a lot of life around and in it.

We left at 1230, rounded the western corner of Guanaja and took up a course to a point southwest of Cozumel. Wind from the east at around 18 knots, perhaps a bit of a current, and we were doing 7-8 knots over ground. It’s too early to say but we might get there before sunrise on Thursday! It was quite a bumpy ride and Gili was not feeling well, even to the point of not cooking or eating dinner.

As night fell Danny took the first watch; we had the first reef to deal with possible squalls and still sailed fast. I was washing the dishes when Danny called for second reef, the apparent wind came up to 28 knots with some rain. Once the squall passed we left the main in second reef to make the ride easier on the crew (especially Gili).

18.11.15 – Wednesday – It turned out to be a beautiful night; a half size moon lighted the scene and the skies were clear, showing millions of stars. Gili took the last watch, 0230 – 0530, bravely, trying unsuccessfully to have some of the chicken breast with Chinese noodles that the Su- Chef (moi) prepared. When morning came we opened full sail; arriving at night shouldn’t be a problem in the anchorage near the illuminated port of San Miguel, Cozumel. Fast ride continued through the day; at 2200 we passed the southern tip of the island and continued along the shore to San Miguel, the main town on the island and the place to do the check in formalities.

When the anchorage area was 2 miles ahead, we rolled the jib, turned into the wind and lowered the main. The moment it was down I happened to look aft and was surprised to see a big ferry passing quite close behind; we had no clue about its presence. A few minutes after midnight we dropped the anchor. Had a drink and got seduced by free WiFi but very quickly fatigue set in and we all went to bed.

Posted by: catamarantwooceans | November 15, 2015

Providencia to Guanaja

Finally we reached “Internet Planet” and can update the blog. Note that there are two more new posts below.

11.11.15 – Wednesday – Since we reached Providencia on Sunday, the days became a blur of activity. First day was dedicated to rest plus another repair of the mainsail’s upper cars; the second to shopping, snorkeling the reef near Morgan’s head and a walk along the Santa Catalina shore. We heard about a place called Crab Cay, to which one could take the dinghy but not the yacht and on Tuesday walked along the shore opposite it to take a look. A traditional looking motor-yacht, “Fairweather” had its dinghy release itself and swept away by 15 knots wind, the skipper trying to overtake it swimming as fast as he could but not fast enough; I rushed to the rescue with our dinghy and brought the runaway back to its owner. 

Evening brought heavy rain; we had the water-catcher ready and collected about 20 gallons of rainwater into our port tank. During the night the wind blew strongly but yours truly was sound asleep, totally unaware of it. Luckily the anchor held. Next day, in a meeting with Mr. Bush, I asked him about staying in Cayos Vivorillos on the way to Guanaja, the eastern island in the Honduras Bay of Islands group and his recommendation was: “Stay there only during daytime, not at night”. I stayed there in 2008 with no problem but decided to make a round of the yachts in the bay to gather information. A nice Panamanian couple on an Amel ketch called Babushka said they met people who spent time there with no problems. “Stay near the fishermen and get friendly with them” was their advice. Another couple on a boat from Florida had similar views. We’ll get there and see how it goes.

The rain was incessant, accompanied by moderate winds. At some point a squall hit the bay and the wind shrieked up to 32 knots. a Manta 42 catamaran, “Summer Wind”, whose crew went ashore, dragged anchor quite fast in the direction of the shoaling reef close to the southern tip of Santa Catalina island. The guy from Babushka was first to rush over, I did too and so did Scott off the the Lagoon 44, Yollata.


I motored ashore to look for the crew in town while the other guys succeeded in starting the cat’s engines and went on to re-anchor her safely. The boat’s crew came back later and it took them awhile to discover that their boat had made an unplanned voyage.

Next job – getting water; according to Mr. Bush you couldn’t get water on the town’s pier due to some contamination. The other option – being your jerry-cans ashore. Trouble is we only have two 20 liters ones. Bernardo Bush gave us five 5 gallons containers which we filled from a rainwater tank he has at home. A truck belonging to the local Electricity department was enlisted to carry all of those to the dinghy dock and we had enough water for our trip to Guanaja.

12.11.15 – Thursday – We woke up just before six a.m to a heavy rain and overcast skies. Not feeling happy with the forecast I took the day before, I called a friend in Israel and asked him to check that there was no major weather system that would influence our passage. Even before his text message arrived there was a lull in the wind and rain. “Let’s go!” I said and we went out with one reef in both sails.

Most of the day was miserably wet; I had a feeling as if Poseidon is making fun of me. An example: the wind went down a bit and I wanted to open more sail area. In seconds it shrieked up to 32 knots, necessitating the second reef. It rained on and on, big clouds issued lightning and thunder, my old oilskins were not up to the job and I was soaking wet all the time. Slowly, as the day progressed, conditions became better. We passed the Media Luna group of reefs at night and had the wind stabilize at around 15 knots from the northeast.

13.11.15 – Friday – Past midnight it became drier; no so much inside the boat but one could stay in the cockpit without being lashed by showers. We passed Pigeon cays and nine miles to Vivorillos we could see specks of land on the horizon. As we got closer I used the binoculars to look for vessels, fishing boats or yachts, anchoring there. What I saw was an armada of fishing boats! When we came into the anchorage I counted more than twenty.

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We anchored behind Grand Vivorillos, also known as Boga cay and took the dinghy ashore. A cloud of frigate birds was hovering over the island and many of them were perching on trees. Danny took the following close-up of a couple and an envious male at there side.

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Last time I was here I walked around the island easily; now, as we walked from the derelict Boga house counterclockwise around the island, it became clear that in the last eight years the local jungle conquered every available piece of land. I showed Gili and Danny the inland lake and we continued walking on rocks in the surf and through thick, bug infested vegetation.

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                                               Survival     pic by Danny

Back at the boat, wet from salt spray and tired Gili said:” I’m not sure I want to stay the night here”. We all shared the same sentiment; the strong wind made the anchorage unpleasant, we had seen what there was to see in that place. “Let’s continue to Guanaja”.

I envisioned a fast ride with the wind at our stern, reaching Guanaja in 20-22 hours; I did not expect the skies to darken, to have heavy rain all night and squalls of up to 40 knots of wind.

14.11.15 – Saturday – Yes, this was a bad night, during which we worked like slaves, reefing and un-reefing, putting the pole for the jib, jibing left and right and bailing the dinghy which was quickly filled with rain water adding weight to our boat. Around 0200 the wind died down. When I came on watch at 0500, we had an engine running; I saw we still had 71 miles to go. We were making 5 knots, having been deserted by the favorable current. Simple arithmetic – we are not going to get there during daylight unless conditions change drastically! Immediately I started the other engine, giving us better speed and an ETA of 1600.

As lunchtime three things happened simultaneously: yet another big cloud was overtaking us producing wind of 32 knots with a deluge of biblical proportions. Danny and I were busy with the sails when we noticed that a fish was caught and at the same time Gili announced that the pizza was ready. That last item had to wait a while until the fight with the Mahi Mahi was concluded. Those fish lose their luminescent blue-green color to become a sort of colorless grey. The one we now took became silver with light blue dots – amazing!

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Even more amazing was the fact that after a few minutes it reverted to original colors.

All this took part some 17 miles to Guanaja. After having our pizzas and dealing with the fish I called Guanaja port and got their instructions to come up to the western side of Bonnaca, or Sheen Cay, as it appears on C-Maps. Very quickly two port agents came over, checked our papers, filled a form and invited me to join them to their nearby office where they prepared the cruising permit. As I was leaving the boat, a woman, seemingly also Yatista, approached and told me she and her husband were following my blog for the last two years. That was a nice surprise. They were Fay and Mike from Canada on a 40 foot Lavezzi catamaran called “My Love”.

We’ll stay here probably until Wednesday and then leave for Cozumel, Mexico.

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