Thursday, 14 March 2013

Bye to Belize, Moving on to Mexico ….. Feb 2013

19 – 27 February 2013:  Isla Mujeres, Caribbean MexicoLocal trading boat, Belize  21 14N 86 44W

Time to Move On
After our bumpy sleepless night at Turneffe Reef, followed by strong easterly winds when we wanted to sail to Lighthouse Reef we decided it was time to reassess our options – again.  We listen daily to the in depth morning weather reports available via our SSB radio.  With a forecast of moderate winds out of the east for a couple of days then strengthening and clocking southeast we decided maybe it was time to give up on Lighthouse Reef and move on to Mexico.   We stayed a another night anchored off Turneffe Reef but moved further up the coast, slowly nudging our way north. 
best burritos in Belize at Placencia
What Happened to our Weather Window?
Time to finally move on – still in company with Bandit who had also given up on reaching Lighthouse Reef, we started making our way up inside the outer reef in relatively flat waters but the wind was from the north east, yep, right on the nose.  Having to tack at the beginning of a 250 mile journey did not get me in positive state of mind!!  We had planned to anchor off the top of Turneffe Reef for the first night but somehow we just kept going – heavens only knows why. soft corals at North Long Cocoa Cay, Belize

Once outside the shelter of the reef the sea state worsened dramatically but we were able to lay our course – just.  We were hard on the wind, bashing into it with plenty of salt water cleaning the decks, not much fun at all.   On the bright side it was just 50 miles until we got into the shelter of the next outer reef system so things eventually calmed down during the night and we got lulled back into a false sense of a comfortable sea state.
Most of the time we were trying to slow Balvenie down, she loves going to windward and would romp along at full speed ahead if we didn’t pull the reins in.  The wind just never did get around to the east, so with the north east wind over a couple of knots current from the south we were flying along, but oh the seas were messy and sometimes the flying resulted in a few crash landings!  P3080069

We Can Nearly Taste the Tequila
Around 9pm on night two we reached the lee of Cozumel.   We sailed up between the island and Mexican mainland once again in flat seas.   Finally at 1am on night two we headed towards land and anchored in flat water, it felt so good – just a shame about the all night disco ashore that we didn’t hear until after we finished anchoring!  Oh well, lights out and ear plugs in.   It was a short sleep however, by 7am we had a steady stream of local dive and sightseeing boats passing us at speed about 50 metres away kicking up an irritable wake.  There were 3 cruise ships in port and the local boats were enroute to collect passengers for their prebooked excursions – there would be no more rest or flat water for us!

P3060001Made it to Mexico
We had one more day before strong southeasterly winds were due, and even though we had had enough bashing to windward we were only 55 miles from our ultimate destination of Isla Mujeres so we went for broke and got it over with.  Just north of Cozumel we had some of the most uncomfortable seas ever, the current flowed like a raging  river and we were running the churned up rapids.   At times we galloped along at over 10 knots under double reefed main and a sliver of headsail, certainly not comfortable but at least we got there fast.  By 2pm we were entering the anchorage, there were day boats, kayakers, windsurfers, tour boats overflowing with scantily clad spring break holidaymakers, deep sea fishing boats, passenger ferries and a car ferry – all vying for space in this compact harbour behind the reef, good grief what a change to sleepy Belize!
Welcome Back to Civilisation

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