Marathon, Florida, to Isla Mujeres, Mexico

This passage turned out to be our best so far. Everything went according to plan and we had no problems or any equipment failures.

First some background on the trip. When we first got to Marathon we were stopping for a month or two, and then on to the Bahamas. As you all know that did not work out, as ten months later we were still in Marathon. Great place, and great folks. While we were there, a good friend of ours convinced us that instead of going to the Bahamas for the upcoming winter, we should join him and go to the Rio Dulce. We talked it over and decided, why not? So we made the plan and the preparation.

We did have a couple of problems in the preparations. A couple of ladies dropped in and caused a few delays, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. The bad part is that Wilma caused quite a lot of damage to our friend Paul's boat. In fact, it was so bad he was not able to make the trip, but it looks like he will get his boat fixed and join us in the Rio Dulce in late January.

We left Marathon, Florida, on the 3rd of November and headed west. We anchored for the night in New Found Harbor. It was a pretty uneventful motor sail down the coast, inside the reef. The only real problem was that the engine overheating problem was still there. The temperature was just fine when the engine was running at 1300 RPM. However, if we cranked the engine up 1500 RPM, the temperature started to climb. I let it get up to 210 degrees on the gauge, and then I backed down on the RPM to 1300, and the temperature dropped back down to 180 degrees on the gauge. I decided that this was not a show stopper. The weather prediction showed favorable winds for the passage, so we would not have to depend on the engine that much.

The night of November 3rd, we had a great dinner, and during the cocktail hour in the cockpit, we saw the "green flash" as the sun was going down. Of course, we saw this as a major good luck omen. The next morning, on the 4th, we upped the anchor after a rain squall passed us by, and headed out for Key West. I wanted to get into the anchorage area near Wisteria Island as early as possible. The wind was blowing at the predicted 15 to 20 knots so we made great time motor sailing. We had heard that there were a lot of damaged and sunken boats in the harbor, remnants of hurricane Wilma. We got anchored and settled in, and did our preparation for the beautiful sunset watching in Key West.

On the 5th of November our two crew showed up, one by plane, the other by bus. On the 6th we topped off the fuel tanks from my jerry jugs and then went into the fuel dock to fill the three jerry jugs. We got some last minute groceries, fresh fruit and vegatables. We got all finished up and upped the anchor around 1400. We headed out the southwest channel heading for Havana. Naturally the wind that was supposed to be blowing 10 to 15 knots was down to 5 to 7 knots!! Somewhat of a slow start. The sail plan was to sail across the Gulf Stream as quickly as possible, and then to hug the Cuban coast until we rounded the western tip of Cuba at Cabo San Antonio. If you hug the Cuban coast, there is a counter current that helps a west bound vessel.

The first night was a great sail as the wind slowly picked up, though it was only about 30 degrees off of our stern. Also, there was a lot of commercial ship traffic, so the crew on watch had to keep a good look out. We stuck to the sail plan and rounded Cabo San Antonio around 1700 on the 8th of November.

From our location off of Cabo San Antonio, it was only about 100 nautical miles (nm) to Isla Mujeres ... really great news except for the detail of the Yucatan current. It averages any where from 1.5 knots to 3.5 knots. The strategy that I used was this: from our location 13.5 nm off of Cabo San Antonio, we headed on a course of 190 degrees to a point at 20 degrees 30 minutes north, a leg of approximately 95 nm. At this point, we headed back northwest towards Isla Mujeres, a trip of approximately 80 nm. On this leg, we sailed a broad reach, and had the current with us. Most of the leg south and then back northwest we were able to sail the boat with no motor, otherwise we were motor sailing.

The strategy worked great except that we arrived off of Isla Mujeres on the 9th of November, just as the sun was going down. (The entire trip took just about 80 hours.) We got as close in as we dared, just into the lee of Isla Mujeres, and dropped anchor. The anchor coordinates were 21 degrees 12.157 minutes North, 86 degrees 45.116 minutes West. We kept anchor watches over night, but the off watch crew was able to get some gooood sleep. The next morning, the 10th of November, (United States Marine Corps Birthday), we had a good breakfast and then got under way to Isla Mujeres and to Marina Paraiso. The car ferries were operating, so as we got close to the harbor entrance and we were able to verify that we would leave the red markers to our starboard side. We were into the harbor and tied up at Marina Paraiso by 1030.

Let me say that the area is pretty well devastated, but there is constant work to get the damage repaired and the situation back to normal. The Isla Mujeres harbor entrance buoys are there, but at this time they are not lighted, the lights being blown away. The Baja Pepito light/buoy is gone. The light/buoy at La Roca Bandera is also gone. The Punta Sur light house is still there but the light was not operating. I do not know what the schedule is for repairs, so, if you are sailing this way, please be careful. The good news is that in the daylight it is very easy to get into Isla Mujeres. We had done the prudent thing by getting into the lee of the island and then anchoring until daylight.

We are now happily ensconced in Marina Paraiso. The docks are in pretty rough shape, but we are told that the will be repaired tomorrow. The water pressure is very low, so there is still a leak in the system, but they will be addressing that immediately, too. We do have electricity, so all the amenities are easily available on board. The big disappointment is that this once lush tropical island is now far from it. Many trees were blown down, or away, and most of the foliage left standing is denuded, or brown from Wilma’s salt spray. People here are happy and upbeat , and are working hard to get things back together. It is still a delightful place, and the Caribbean waters and the gorgeous weather are simply exceptional.

Following are pictures taken during the passage. Of course there are probably to many sunset and dolphin pictures, but you will have to deal with it. The sunsets and sunrises say it all so there is no need for any more words on that. Watching many dolphins play in you bow wave is just incredible. We had two groups join us. On the first day there was a group of six or eight that stayed with us for approxiamtely 30 minutes. On the second day we had a group of about 25 that also stayed for about 30 minutes. Please enjoy the photos.

Admiral Making Last Phone Call!

CSY44 Soggy Paws Anchored in Key West

Dream Away Heading out of Key West

Captain and Admiral Heading out of Key West

Crewman Dennis Heading out of Key West

Crewman Rick Heading out of Key West

Dennis Drivin' Out of Key West

Wind on the stern, motor sailing

Day one Sunset #1

Day One sunset #2

Second Day Sunrise

Captain Underway With Sun Protection Gear

Now comes all of the promised Dolphin Pictures. Believe it or not this is less than half of the total!! There are also a couple of underway photos

Dolphin Picture 1

Dolphin Picture 2

Dolphin Picture 3

Dolphin Picture 4

Dolphin Picture 5

Dolphin Picture 6

Dolphin Picture 7

Dolphin Picture 8

Dolphin Picture 9

Dolphin Picture 10

Dolphin Picture 11

Dolphin Picture 12

Dolphin Picture 13

Dolphin Picture 14

Dolphin Picture 15

Dolphin Picture 16, swimming upside down

Dolphin Picture 17

Dolphin Picture 18

Admiral Watching the Dolphins

Rick and Dennis post Dolphin Filming

The Stern of Dream Away

Cruise Ship Passing at Cabo San Antonio 1

Cruise Ship Passing at Cabo San Antonio 2

Cruise Ship Passing at Cabo San Antonio 3

Now we have the promised sunset and sunrise photos taken during the passage. Also we have a couple of photos of the Rat Catcher. One while he is incredably bored with all of the dolphins and the other where he is upset about the engine running. We also took some photos of an un-invited guest. It stayed for about 15 minutes and then left. Dennis drivin' the boat.....again.

Sunrise During Passage

Sunset Second Night 1

Sunset Second Night 2

Sunset Third Night 1

Sunset Third Night 2

I Don't See Any Dolphins

What Engine, A Treat, Thats More Like It

Guest on Mercury Outboard

Guest on Foredeck

Guest by Forward Deck Box

Guest on Yamaha Outboard

Dennis Drivin' Again, Or Still?

The remainder of the Pictures are the morning after we anchored in the lee of Isla Mujeres, just off of Cancun. Notice the HUGE Mexican flag in the first photo, as it was the first thing we noticed when we came topside. The flag is over four miles away! There are also photos of our entrance into Isla Mujeres, and the first day at Marina Paraiso. A note about the picture of the shrimp boat that is on the harbor beach in Isla Mujeres. A few days later it was floated off of the beach, and is probably catching shrimp right now!!

Cancun From Dream Away #1

Cancun From Dream Away #2

Cancun From Dream Away #3

Captain in the Cockpit Morning at Anchor

Rick and Mtn Dew at anchor

Dennis in the Cockpit Morning at Anchor

Isla Mujeres Entrance Buoy #1, Light missing

Isla Mujeres Entrance Buoy #2 Light Not Working

Mexican Navy Patrol Boat Leaving Harbor

Lighthouse at North end of Isla Mujeres, Not Working

Beached Shrimp Boat

Statue in Isla Mujeres

Captain Preparing First Sundowner Wookie

Admiral Enjoying First Sundowner

Company During First Sundowner

First Sundown From Marina Paraiso

Sunset From Isla Mujeres Town #1

Sunset From Isla Mujeres Town #2