On Our Way North: Isla Mujares, Mexico

Friday, April 21, 2006
Underway

021-14.520 N
086-44.400 W
Marine forecast for this location

Ahoy from Isla Mujares, Mexico!

We're in Isla Mujares which is a delightful island just north of Cancun. We just got here a few days ago and are settling in at a marina until we get another weather window in which we can head to Key West, FL. We had a great sail from Belize to here just a few days ago. We completed the 227 mile trip in 29 hours and averaged 9.2 knots/hr during the first 24 hours. That's flying!

We left Cay Caulker, Belize at 6 AM and headed to San Pedro to go out the pass in the reef located there. Sue hates this pass, and I'm not wild about it. It's a dog-leg with a large patch of reef located just inside of the reef. It's much narrower than other passes and the waves can get pretty steep. I thought that the seas had been relatively quiet so it should no problem to get out. Well, I was partially right. While the seas had been quiet, we still have 6-8' steep breaking seas rolling through the pass. It was quite the roller coaster ride going through the pass with lots of waves breaking over the bow and the boat slamming down into the trough of the next wave. You literally just crawl out of the pass with waves breaking over the reef on either side. It certainly gets your heart pumping! Sue hung on to her favorite winch as we clawed our way through and she was quite happy when we made it through unscathed.

We were supposed to have had SE winds for the trip up the Mexican coast, but instead we had E winds which turned ENE. Instead of a nice beam reach (winds at 90 degrees to the boat) with the boat nice and flat we were close hauled (winds coming at you from 35+ degrees off your bow) and the boat heeled over 20 degrees. You tend to crash through the oncoming waves, making for a wet, uncomfortable ride. We were making great time and by the time that we were half way to Isla the winds moved back to the E and eventually went SE which gave us a much nicer ride.

We closely along the hotel zone beach of Cancun to try to see how much damage had been done by hurricane Wilma. The first thing that we noticed that there wasn't any green. All of the vegetation had been stripped clean and hadn't come back. Then we noted that there weren't many people on the beach. You could easily see the hotels that had just been abandoned as they just looked like they had been sand blasted and were missing their windows. The hotels that were monolithic blocks facing the water fared the worst. The hotels that had curves or angles which deflected the wind seemed to have survived the best. I have no idea what percentage of hotels/rooms are out of commission, but looks pretty extensive. But there were lots of cranes and construction equipment visible, so it's clear that the reconstruction is well underway.

Kim and Carl, our friends from Querencia, had preceded us by several days and were waiting to welcome us to Isla. They showed us a great shortcut into the bay and got us into a slip next to them at Marina Paraiso. They've spent a lot of time here, so they're a great source of local information.

We spent 34 days at Lighthouse Reef with Kim and Carl where we definitely consumed far too many calories in various forms. Carl grew up in Mexico where his nanny taught him to cook. He's a wonderful cook, but man does he use the peppers! Yowzer! That man must own stock in Rolaids. :-) Sue has become quite a good cook and could teach most boats a lot about how to provision and retain fresh food. It's really quite amazing how well we ate when you consider that we had to bring all of the food stuffs that we needed for 34 days. It's quite an art. Virtually every night we ate on one another's boat and on many nights we hosted parties for new boats who pulled into the anchorage.

Carl and I dove on average 2 times per day and occasionally threw in a 3rd night dive. I was shooting up a storm of digital photos and Carl had a new high definition video camera that he spent most of his time using. As a result we have the reef well documented. We had some outstanding dives swimming with huge schools of fish, gliding along with spotted eagle rays, playing with turtles, scaring sharks and finding new fish to photograph. Man, I love that place! Many of the photos are on my web site (www.GeoffSchultz.org) in the diving section and I'll be adding video as soon as I have time to process it. One cool thing that happened is that I was contacted by a French organization that wants to use 35 of my photos (out of a total of 300) for a marine life identification card set that's intended to be used by divers while underwater.

But as is true with most things in life, the good times had to end. Carl had to head back to work and we needed to get the boat headed north. So we all packed our stuff up and headed to Mexico. As I write this Carl is off piloting airplanes full of people and we're waiting for southerly winds before we continue our trip north. When we get the right weather window we'll head to Key West where hopefully we'll put the boat into a marina so that we can come home for a few weeks. Then we plan to head to the Bahamas for a month or two and then head to the Chessapeake where the boat will ride out the hurricane season. Then late in the fall I'll move BlueJacket to the Virgin Islands so we can head down the eastern Caribbean next year.

Anyhow, we hope that all is well with you and that you're enjoying your spring. Keep in touch!

-- Geoff & Sue

For the cruiser:

If you're coming from the S and are headed into the bay, there's a cut through the land that will save considerable time. The waypoints through the cut are:

21-12.747N 86-45.212W Red bouy in main channel
21-14.213N 86-44.667W Cut

Follow the dark water through the cut. We say a minimum of 9 feet through the cut. Jog left and then right into bay.

We fill our tanks with diesel and paid $2.12/gallon. There was a 3.79% surcharge for using a credit card on top of that.
Log ID: 840

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