Well after a very long period of motoring, Isla Mujeras appeared on the horizon. There hadn’t been much wind during the trip and wasn’t enough to keep the sails full and stop them flapping from side to side and the result was that when we dropped them the pendulum effect of the mast made for a less than comfortable ride. All up though it was a good trip over and coming out of the deeper water and into the crystal clear blue as we headed up the channel was definitely the highlight. I had been navigating to compensate for the strong current that flows northward through the Yucatan channel, but to be honest it hadn’t been that bad and we were able to enter through the southern entrance. It’s a busy little place with ferries and dive boats running back and forth and a definite touristy feel.
We entered the channel and headed towards the anchorage and found a pretty cool surprise there. Sitting at anchor was the “Fishers Hornpipe” a yacht that I had met in Marathon with some other young crew sailing her. Was hoping to catch up with these lads along the way, “Suricat”, a French family I met in Cuba was also there and wasn’t long before we had caught up with everyone and got settled into the scene. It was too late to check in that afternoon so after getting things squared away we headed over to see Andy and the boys on “Fishers Hornpipe” and headed into town for a bite to eat. That turned out to be a very long lunch and was well after midnight by the time I found my way back to Kuhela. So good to be hanging out with some good crew again.
The next day I organized with the agent at the marina to do my paperwork and as we sat down to go through it a good squall hit, the wind went from nothing through to 35 knots in about ten minutes and before you knew it boats started dragging anchor everywhere, including a large steel schooner heading straight for Kuhela, and missing her by meters in the end, and very nearly taking out Suricat as well. I jumped in the dingy and raced out there and let out some more chain out to prevent us dragging as well and once finished turned around to see Suricat start to drag and head for the rocks. Eric and Alice, the owners, were on shore doing their paperwork and so I raced over there and jumped on board to try to get some more chain out and stop her before she hot anything or ran aground. It was pretty hectic as the wind continued to gust and the anchor continued to drag as I fought to undo the knots from the rope that held the anchor chain. I had left my knife behind and with the weight of the boat struggled to make any progress. With a bit of luck, some inventive knot work, and some colorful language I was able to slow her down a bit and was pretty relived when Eric and the family tuned up and we were able to get her started and motor back up to re-anchor. Was a pretty close call and I'm stoked that it all turned out well. Earned myself a free dinner for my efforts too. Watching the rocks get closer and struggling to stop her all I could think about was that this was their dream, the same as mine, and to see a dream in danger of being dashed there was no way i could let that happen. Sure it would be the same for anyone else.
Katy left that afternoon and though it had been good to have someone else along I really enjoyed having the boat back to myself. She had been pretty good about all the delays and hurried schedule but really wanted to go get some surf, can’t say I blame her, I'm hanging for surf myself. With more weather reported to be one the way though, I decided to put in at the marina and be able to relax and enjoy some time here, the first time I've been able to do that in a while. Isla Mujeras is a beautiful little island, surrounded by crystal blue water, and the marina itself is pretty cool. Being able to wash the boat down and have use of out door showers, a large kitchen and all the other facilities, as well as to hang out with the crew from the Hornpipe, who pulled in here as well, was just what I needed. I've spent a week chilling out, hanging with friends, eating amazing street food, and checking out the island. Finally I feel like I am out and traveling.
I orgainsed to go do some spearing with some of the local commercial fishermen on the island and headed out to see what the water here had on offer. There is no doubt that there is some amazing spots and great spearing to be had, just not where we went. The local guys were shooting small parrotfish and taking baby lobster and kept on dropping me down current of every spot. I'd jump in swim against the current to finally find some good ground and as soon as I'd get there the boat would pull up and say we had to move over to another spot and would throw me a rope and tow me back out into desert with not a fish in sight. I did manage to get a couple small snapper and a barracuda, which I was able to trade with them later for some lobster though, as barracuda can be prone to ciguatera, a build up of toxins in fish that is something you definitely want to avoid.
I have decided to buddy boat down the coast with the boys as we are all heading in the same direction, and will probably catch up with Suricat along the way too. I have not been able to get hold of any crew, but as the next few trips will be shorter hops down the coast I will do them solo. It is something that I did want to do at some point and I guess this is my chance. I am, on some level, a bit nervous about it but also strangely calm inside as well. Now that I have had some time to sail Kuhela and get to know her a bit it seems a bit less daunting and I must admit I am enjoying a bit of time to myself. Once thing I am coming to realize though is that this is not really my dream, I did in the past enjoy the romantic notion of the solo sailor making his way around the globe, but I am realizing that to have someone with you that you can share things with is pretty cool, that someone is not just anyone though. Whether a girlfriend or just a good friend, the ability to share the same place and be on the same wavelength is something very crucial.
Had a bit of a celebration for Dom, the other owner of Fishers Hornpipe for his birthday last night and, as you can probably imagine of any night that involves a piñata, a Mexican wrestling mask, good food and a couple drinks, it was great laugh all around. Glad I'm only tired and not fighting the same hangovers as some of the boys.
So with the weather looking good and some time off had to relax we will look to head down the coast on Monday to Cozumel for a couple days and then onto to Bahia de la Ascension and then Belize. This is another part of the journey and, with its own challenges and adventures, is something I am looking forward to. Most of the passages from here on out will be shorter, maybe 50 – 90NM, So able to be done in a day and hopefully I will be able to get into the swing of things out here and Kuhela and I can continue to get to know each other and continue our journey south.
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