Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Where To?

We came to Key West by following the dirt off our starboard side. Now that we are at ‘lands end’ it’s time to really decide where to next. Ever since we began planning this trip three years ago people have asked us, “What about hurricanes”. We never had a definite answer but knew that hurricane season would be a real concern once we got south. Now we’re there and here comes the next round of hurricanes.

We considered the Bahamas but decided that we’d feel like targets out there on the open Atlantic. Considered the west coast of Florida but they get hit like anywhere else. We’re NOT ready to head north so soon like many do and spend summer/fall in the Chesapeake or farther north. We feel like we just came from there.

Then we talked with an old cruiser who just came back from the western Caribbean. We’re talking Isla Mujeres, Belize, Guatemala and the Rio Dolce. There are many things to recommend this tack. For one we like the idea of continuing on. To reach Isla Mujeres we’d sail nearly west from Key West and a little south. Just continuing on. Isla Mujeres is just off the coast of Cancun and is around three hundred miles from Key West. From there we can follow the Mexican coast to Belize. Around there you encounter off shore reefs much like we enjoyed in the Hawk Channel off of Florida’s east coast. Here you have regular trade winds but calm seas within the reef.

The image above shows a satellite view of the route from Key West to Mexico. Isla Mujeres is located off the tip of Cancun.

Continuing south you come to Guatemala and the Rio Dolce. You can follow this river about twenty miles inland where there are two large lakes. Fresh water! There has never been a hurricane down here. One it is too far south and for another it is in the mountains. While we probably won’t want to spend months and months up the Rio Dolce it would be good to have it within a day or two sailing and then maybe hide in there for the heavy hurricane time of September and or October.

One of the most exciting aspects of this tack is the run to Isla Mujeres. Three hundred miles of open ocean. The typical trade winds should be with us but there can be fairly strong current against. We feel like we are ready and maybe need a run like this to move this adventure up one notch. If we’re interested in continuing this cruising life, and this is Sue speaking, yes we still are, then two and three hundred mile treks will become a regular thing. Of course we’ll look for a good weather window and be our usual cautious sailor selves. It is exciting, scary, and adventurous. That’s the idea, right?

Before we go we have much to do. The boat is in pretty good shape overall. We need to get the SSB working for sure before we leave. We still plan to have the front sail cover repaired and that should happen this week. There is still a lot to read and learn about the beaurocracy of entering and leaving various countries. As we plan this now we could be shoving off for those foreign shores around mid May. Stay tuned.


deborah said...

Working in a hospital you never say the "Q" word, "it's quiet today" because sure enough without fail all hell will break loose. I wonder if when sailing you never say the "H" word "There has never been a hurricane down here" Your plans sound great. How exciting for you and for us who will get to read all about it.

Rusty said...

Sounds like a great idea.

Check out the Log of Ithaka, here's the link:

The Bernon's have spend a lot of time in the Western C and a lot of time in Rio Dolce. They could be a great source of information

Erik said...

Captain and First Mate (which is which I am not sure),

I say sail through the Panama Canal and check out the San Juan Islands in the Pacific NW.

Actually where ever you go sounds very exciting. I am jealous!


Steve Mitchell said...

Go for it! Sounds like a terrific hurricane avoidance plan, plus adding quite a bit of pizzazz to your adventure. Yes, I'm jealous, too, but you know that already.


LeahC said...

sounds awesome! i agree with erik...head up to the pacific nw, or hawaii...maybe wherever your daughter and her hubby are? I think that's a good plan! :-) I kid. really.