Sunday, October 27, 2013

Cozumel While We Wait

While we were waiting for the autopilot to show up the first time, we took a sailing trip south from Isla Mujeres to Cozumel. The water there is beautiful, but the anchorage near town on the western shore was rough, really rough, due to winds and seas, but mostly due to relentless boat traffic - in particular passenger ferries. The anchorage on the north end of the island would have been quieter as far as boat traffic but with the wind direction it would have been rougher.
In the end we decided to stay near the town, San Miguel and take the dinghy ashore for sightseeing. It is a small town but bigger than the town on Isla Mujeres  with the usual hawkers and tourist shops laden with trinkets galore catering to the passengers on the cruise ships. However,we did come across a very nice bar restaurant in town called Wet Wendy's, where we imbibed on margaritas made with their homemade tequila, which in this case means; it is made locally, but finishes its aging at Wet Wendy's. 

They also have wifi which is very handy for us cruisers.

One day we rented a scooter and headed out with the snorkeling gear to visit some reefs.
Alas, we did not find much for shallow reefs it was more like rock gardens. 

We swam out across the rock gardens from the beach and had a pleasant snorkel but did not see many fish and little in the way of live coral, hard or soft varieties. While hiking back to the scooter we observed many turtle nesting sites. As we neared our dive bag an officer approached us on a dirt bike ( did we mention this was a rutty dirt trail we went out on?) warning us that we should not leave the scooter and dive bag unattended, as it could get stolen. There wasn't another soul around but we took his words at face value pledging to be more careful. We obviously could not take our gear with us snorkeling, so then what does one do?  

Well....get back on the scooter and head to the highest point on the island where one can find refreshments.

Coconuts Bar and Grill is reported to be on a 300 ft high bluff. We think its probably more like 100' high, as you can see from the following pictures.

Nonetheless, it was a beautiful view as we sat under the umbrella and had a margarita.

We finished out the day circumnavigating the island on the scooter. We learned that the signs designating scooter/bike path don't mean a thing, as you can meet cars, trucks and even buses on the path. So as always, pay attention while in Mexico.

The water is gorgeous in Cozumel.  The deeper reefs on the south end of the island are part of a National Park. They start around 40 ft deep and go down past sport diving limits. They may be gorgeous and worth paying the park fee, dive boat and dive gear rental fees but not for us. We were hoping for readily accessible snorkeling and that was not the case.  It is illegal to anchor in the park and it was over 14 miles by dinghy so the only way to access the one reported good snorkel site is to sign up for a charter and wear a stupid orange life jacket while trying to snorkel. No thanks.

The afternoon before we wanted to head back north to Isla Mujeres there was a storm standing along the mainland.

Fortunately it stayed on the mainland and we were grateful for that! There were many storms similar to this in the area while we were there. That was another reason for the rough anchorage and our decision not to travel further south as originally planned.

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