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Sailing from Florida to Cenral America
bobandglennda's Travel Blog
bobandglennda's Travel Blog
bobandglennda's Travel Blog
Sailing 2010

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Bob and Glennda are sailing their Irwin 37' Sloop from Charlotte Harbor,Florida to the Rio Dolce,Guatemala looking for adventure and a way to help others as they travel.

Fronteras, Rio Dolce to Utila

Utila, Honduras

On a dull and overcast day that threatened rain, we left Captain John's Marina on January 3rd to travel to Texan Bay Marina which is a safe stop much closer to Livingston (at the mouth of the RIO DOLCE RIVER). We were travelling with two other boats: Honah Lee II and Sea Tryst. As we toured down the river the sky brightened and some of the clouds lifted, allowing us the awesome view of the cliffs where the very first Tarzan movie was filmed!

The next morning at daylight we headed out again for LIvingston where Raul said that all our paperwork was ready! Great news! The captains went ashore leaving the first mates with a little time to rest, but only a short time!

Captains once again aboard we headed for Tres Puntas thinking to anchor for the night and leave in the morning. However, we reached there early afternoon and the anchorage was very rolly and the seas were calm with a light wind from the west. Decision made. WE would do an overnight passage to Utila with the expectation that we would likely need to motor most of the way there.

As night fell the wind picked up, and up and UP! then changed to North; the very wind that you don't want on this passage! When we hit 7.5 knots of speed we took in sail trying to slow down to be more comfortable. Then the torrential rain hit! I finally sat on the floor of the cockpit in order not to be bounced around too much! However, the boat was handling the conditions well. The Auto Pilot worked and the chart plotter kept us informed of where we were at all times! Some of our friends were having equipment problems on top of the weather situation.

At daybreak the waves were much larger than we wanted to see! But we knew that now we had only an hour or two until we would cross over the reef and be in calmer conditions.

Before noon, we were anchored in the harbour at Utila and able to go to bed! This lovely harbour was calm and we were very thankful to be in a safe place with the anchor well dug into the bottom. WE really needed the rest! Check in could wait!
The next day we couldn't wait to get ashore to explore and of course see the Port Captain, Immigration, etc. So, off we went and promptly found the oldest house in town which is a lovely eatery. Then walked on down to the main town dock and stood in line to check in. Lter we walked much of the harbour finding many interesting sites.

permalink written by  bobandglennda on January 26, 2010 from Utila, Honduras
from the travel blog: Sailing 2010
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Walking the Plank in the Rio Dulce

Fronteras, Guatemala

Happy New Year, Everyone! We have been back on the boat in the Rio Dulce, Guatemala since December 13, 2009. The boat was in great shape when we arrived, with 12 coats of new varnish on the outside of the boat and much of the interior revarnished. The marina had also cleaned the decks as wellas they were able given all the stuff stored on board and the inside of the boat had also been wiped down. However, we still had lots to do to put the boat back to sailing condition and most days you just can't work in the afternoon heat! Time has flown by as we readied the boat and provisioned to head on for further adventures.

On the bus ride from Guatemala City to the Rio Dulce we saw the evidence of the draught we had been hearing about. The hills in some places were grey and brown and many mountain streams were empaty, which is very unusual for lush, green Guatemala. Even along the RIO DOLCE there were complaints about the lack of rain for the new corn crops that had recently been planted. However, it has rained alot since we arrived and the crisis seems to be easing. The hillsides are once again green and the streams from the mountains are flowing again.

Here at Captain John's Marina we are med moored ( an anchor out the front then backed to the dock) and this requires us to walk across a board to get onto the boat. Negotiating this arrangement several times a day will definitely improve your balance! I am proud to say that I have not lost my balance ever!

At Christmas we went to Casa Gutemala, an orphange school, to help with preparations for their big dinner and the Santa Claus Parade. Now this is not like most Santa parades because Santa travels by launcha over the water and the kids actually get their gifts when he arrives at the Casa. We helped with food preparation, costumes and decorations and of course sang and played with the kids! And dinner for the kids and staff was turkey, potatoes, gravy, cranberries and special cake with fruit for dessert with Tomales as the before dinner treat!

We attended a Christmas dinner with other cruisers that was really excellent! Everyone had a great time! Then for New Year's we went to a party at yet another Marina! You have never seen the likes of the fireworks! Everyplace here has fireworks so there were fireworks all up and down the river both Christmas eve and New Year's Eve! What a sight!
This was definitely the noisiest Christmas and New Year we have ever experienced!

On Monday, we plan to be in Livingston which is 26 miles down the river to the ocean where we will check out of Guatemala. Our plan is to sail to the Bay Islands of Honduras (Utila, Roatan, and Guanaja). The route could change depending on the weather, but we will either sail from Livingston headed for Roatan or do some hops along the northern coast of Honduras, day sailing our way to our destination.

permalink written by  bobandglennda on January 2, 2010 from Fronteras, Guatemala
from the travel blog: bobandglennda's Travel Blog
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Lots to do in the Rio Dulce

Fronteras, Guatemala

Those of you who know us well, know that we usually don't sit still for too long. Well, nothing has changed in that regard! Soon after our arrival, we took off on a Sunday afternoon for the hot pools at El Paraiso.

This meant getting into a collectivo for the half hour or so ride up into the hills. After much negotiation, we were on our way. The large van was very full, but still it stopped and more people got on, then more and more people, until there were two men on the roof and the ticket taker was hanging onto the roof ladder. I counted twenty-seven people (some children) in total.

Our mistake was to travel to a popular place on a Sunday when most llocal people are off work and travel to visit family. But would we really not want to have had the experience!!

Once at our destination, we walked into the park. The falls were a wonderful sight, with water cascading over the bathers already in the water.

Warm, no, HOT water flowed over us, relaxing us, as we swam up to the falls: pounding our heads and shoulders when we stood, and splashing our faces as we dove for the shelter of the overhanging cliff. Small fish nibbled on the toes of anyone who stayed put for any length of time. One even tried to eat a little of my knee cap! OUCH!! However, once you are moving again, they quickly move away.

Once again the beauty around us is astounding!

Dinner in the Jungle was Next!

Casa Perico is a restaurant up a tributary of the Rio Dulce River. It is a large two story palapa, with a number of outbuildings: dorms and cabins. Many backpackers stay at Casa Perico while they explore this part of Guatemala.

On Saturday evenings, the staff prepare a very special smorgasbord meal! Meat is often scarce in the Guatemalan diet, but at this meal there will be at least 5 kinds of meat!

While at Casa Perico, we met Captain John, his wife Elvira and all of the boaters who are planning to leave their boats at his marina for the summer. A retired boat captain (commercial) we feel the care of our boats will be superior! We have also seen the great care he takes of his won boat.

Elvira is known as the best varnisher on the Rio, so we are going to have her work on Island Girl II. We look forward to returning to a boat that looks much improved. The sun and salt water over the last 3 years has really done a number on the rub rails and toe rails.

permalink written by  bobandglennda on March 22, 2009 from Fronteras, Guatemala
from the travel blog: Sailing from Florida to Cenral America
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A Walk in the Jungle Canapy

Fronteras, Guatemala

Yup! Despite all of my fears, Bob convinced me to go on a Jungle walk! I loved it!

There were flowers and interesting plants everywhere, but we were disappointed not to see more birds. We also expected to get to a bathing pool, but did not see it.

On our way back to the resort from which we began our journey, an older couple walking with us heard gunshots and took off very frightened. However, the shots were to frighten away the water birds because they kill the trees in which they roost.

permalink written by  bobandglennda on March 22, 2009 from Fronteras, Guatemala
from the travel blog: Sailing from Florida to Cenral America
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Motor Sailing Up Largo Izabal onboard Sea Angel

Fronteras, Guatemala

Ed and Benia on Sea Angel invited us to go with them on their boat to explore Largo Izubal. Since arriving I have been very curious about what lies beyond the bridge at Fronteras. Of course, we wanted to go! The crew from Ruby Slippers was also invited to come along!

We were not disappointed! Great company, great food, wonderful views and the chance to try out a Nauticat 44'. The weather also blessed us with a sunny, Bright day and some breeze. What a beautiful boat! Thank you, again, Ed and Benia!

Largo Izubal is 30 Miles long, and varies in width. Most of the time you can see the other side of the lake, but often you cannot see the other end of the lake.

permalink written by  bobandglennda on March 22, 2009 from Fronteras, Guatemala
from the travel blog: Sailing from Florida to Cenral America
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A Motor Sail Up Largo Izabal

Fronteras, Guatemala

Ed and Benia, onboard Sea Angel the crew from Ruby slippers and ourselves to come for a motor sail and explore Largo Izubal on board their Nauticat 44'. YES, YES!

Ever since arriving in Fronteras we have been curious to find out what is on the other side of the bridge. The weather presented us with an absolutely beautiful day! There was much laughter, great food, and a perfect breeze, right on the nose! Oh, well!

The views were once again awesome in the true sense of that word!
Usually, we were able to see the other side of the lake, but with the end of the lake 30 Miles away, water stretched ahead of us without Shoreline for a couple of hours.

permalink written by  bobandglennda on March 22, 2009 from Fronteras, Guatemala
from the travel blog: Sailing from Florida to Cenral America
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One Misty Monday Morning we Found Guatemala

Livingston, Guatemala

Expecting a big crossing from Punta Gorda, Belize to Livingston, Guatemala, I was surprised to see land again within an hour and a half of raising anchor. However, it took several hours before we were within radio range and could call Raul in Livingston. On the recommendation of friends, we hired Raul to handle our entry to Guatemala.

Raul, answered promptly and within 5 minutes of anchoring in front of the town, all of the appropriate officals were on board, welcoming us to Guatemala. Once the boat was inspected, we went ashore with Raul and the officials in a launcha. The launcha driver promised to be available to take us back to our boat in about 1 to 1.5 hours. We went for lunch and Raul assured us that he would have our visa's prepared for us before Siesta.

The port captain walked us to the bank and we used our debit card to get Quertzals, the local money. There are 6.4 Q's to the Canadian dollar and over 8 Q to the US dollar. Fun!

We were really surprised to see all the cars in this town: there is no road into this place just the roads in town and for a few Miles out of town. Here you must come by boat or plane. Also, many goods and services are available. It really is a busy, busy spot, where people, golf carts, tuk tuk taxi's, dogs, people and bicycles all share the roadway!

Raul was good to his word and by 1:30 p.m. we were on our way up the Rio. This was a record for the shortest clear in procedure ever! Thank You, Raul!

permalink written by  bobandglennda on March 20, 2009 from Livingston, Guatemala
from the travel blog: Sailing from Florida to Cenral America
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Up the Rio Dulce River to Fronteras

Fronteras, Guatemala

For weeks, we have been emailing friends in the Rio Dulce, letting them know that we were getting closer to our goal of entering the river! But today, we talked with them on the VHF radio! It was so good to hear you Peter and Francine!

And surprise, Ed and Benia on Sea Angel, also replied! We have only seen them once since Isla Mujeres, despite being in some of the same anchorages. Although, we have never sailed in really bad conditions this whole trip, the weather in harbour has not been condusive to putting the dingy in the water and going for a visit! But the sun has come out and we will be able to roam at will!

Almost everyone who has been to the Rio Dulce encouraged us to go see it for ourselves. They all stressed what a great lifestyle there is in the Rio for boaters and talked about how much cheaper it is to live than in the US or Canada. They did not prepare us for the majesty of the trip through the cannons to Fronteras. The following pictures speak for themselves.

permalink written by  bobandglennda on March 20, 2009 from Fronteras, Guatemala
from the travel blog: Sailing from Florida to Cenral America
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Placentia to Punta Gorda

Punta Gorda, Belize

We left Placentia on the 21st of Februaray to continue on down the coast to Punta Gorda, where we would check out of Belize and position ourselves to cross to Livingston and check into Guatemala.

It was good that we planned to do short hops on this section of the coast, as the sea was on the beam causing the boat to roll and be uncomfortable even in light air.

Our first stop was Little Monkey Cay where we saw very little. No villages were apparent from our vantage point and the only lights we saw at night were from the next bay south:the village of Monkey River Town. The anchorage was very quiet after the roll of the sailing day and we had a great night's sleep.

On Sunday, we headed for New Haven where we thought we would encounter some civilization. But we were wrong! Hard Luck Charlie died about ten years ago and no one has taken over his farm/marina/restaraunt. His place is fast becoming part of the jungle again, but you can still clearly see the frame of his old house and the marine railway which in the past lifted boats up to 40' out of the water for repairs and storage.

On Monday morning we were up and on our way be 7:00 a.m. Arriving in Punta Gorda at 12:30, we ate lunch and then went ashore to clear out at customs and immigration. Of course, it was another "Experience" of a 3rd world system! The solution to any problem seems to come with a price tag, but again, I guess its much the same the world over and the fine for not having been given a medical certificate when we checked into Belize was not unreasonable. We are after all is said and done, visitors to this country.

The most disappointing thing about Punta Gorda was that the power was off for 5 or 6 hours, so we couldn't get onto the internet! No contact with the outside world!

Normally, a boat cannot risk anchoring over night at Punta Gorda and must go back up the coast a few miles to anchor behind an island. However, we were able to stay due to a low pressure system that was hanging over the area. There was literally no wind!
It rained sohard in the night that the port over the bed leaked causing me to be rudely wakened. After being wakened a second time, I moved to a drier bed!

Bob has since repaired/adjusted that port and I no longer open it, EVER!!!!!

permalink written by  bobandglennda on March 15, 2009 from Punta Gorda, Belize
from the travel blog: Sailing from Florida to Cenral America
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Colson Cayes To Placentia

Placentia Village, Belize

Today, we have found the jewel of Belize. Lots of diving and snorkling, as well as, a really picturesque village on a point of land with surrounding islands to protect it in the windy season.

Here you can find most items you might wish to buy, and laundry service and internet are readily available. But the Anchorage is quite rough if you are not close to the point.

While exploring the island, I found the local school, and before you know it, I was volunteering a week of my time to help. It was a very rewarding experience! However, I was not looking forward to my daily dingy ride to the mainland because, I kept getting soaking wet! Not a nice feelig to stay wet for most of the day!

Fortunately for me, when Bob was out exploring with Donna and Steve, they came into the back harbour, where some new townhomes are being built. They toured one of the new townhomes and got acquainted with the builder, who offered to allow us to tie up at his dock. The townhomes and their setting is absolutely gorgeous, with very upgraded finsihes and the shared facilities include a pool and hot tub, as well as, a large palapa where you can BBQ or sit and read.What a beautiful spot! THANK YOU ED!

We also found several good restaraunts and coffee bars in Placencia. I think my favourite restaraunt was the Secret Garden, which is run by a young couple from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The food was excellent and they are also a lot of fun!

We also really enjoyed the Paradise Resort for its great food, good morning coffee and wonderful fresh squeezed juices. Donna and Steve stayed at the resort before leaving us to fly home to Toronto.
We are already missing them!

permalink written by  bobandglennda on March 14, 2009 from Placentia Village, Belize
from the travel blog: Sailing from Florida to Cenral America
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