Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Middle Child's Birthday Sail Away & On the Move; Nov/Dec

Bryna joined us in October to celebrate her birthday. Twas a gift from her charming husband, John; who had to stay in Milwaukee and work. 
We celebrated and sailed, celebrated and snorkeled, celebrated and fished, celebrated and explored a cenote; eating well all the while. It was a delightful week that went by too fast.

The following pictures were taken by Bryna.

Heading out of the anchorage in Isla Mujeres

Beautiful on the water
Isla Blanc Beach. Lots of turtle crawls.

Fish for dinner

Breakfast with Dad - Mango Cafe on Isla Mujeres

Lunch at the place with the -  red plastic chairs - street food. Hurry up and stuff some food in dad he looks hungry!

Poolside El Milagro, Isla Mujeres

El Milagro's Iguana Hotel wall.

Gloriamaris back at the dock - black and white catamaran behind the turquoise boat

Bryna's last night with us; enjoying sundowners and dinner at Soggy Pesos, Isla Mujeres.
Palomino is one of her and Johns' favorite watering holes in Milwaukee.

Now to be remembered at Soggy Pesos.

Can one ever have enough sunset pictures? Or sunrise pictures?

Heading East: Time to change the water under the keel!

The siren song of the sea, the whistling wind and the sight of mountains rising up from the sea, is wooing us east. We will leave behind friends - cruisers and locals alike - treasured anchorages and dive spots, mind-boggling Mayan historical sites, inexpensive good food, and the strength of the US dollar.

A strong dollar meant we could help the locals more by using their services and patronizing their restaurants.
Labor prices and wages in Central America are embarrassingly low compared to US standards. Honduras 4$/day, and the day is sunup to sundown as is true for most of the region. Mexico wages vary depending on the region; non-tourist area $2.50/hr - $4/hr. Fronteras on the Rio Dulce in Guatemala; an area that caters to cruisers, the rate is $15/day. 

We were happy to pay the prices the workers ask; though some ungracious people haggled, we would not. We also advise giving a tip, a propina, for work well done as we cannot imagine how families survive on so little.
However, one should give the tip directly to the waitress/waiter or laborer, as some owners and managers keep the tips for themselves. 

We have had the following exchange rates here in the western Caribbean.
Mexico        $1 = 15.   Pesos
Belize          $1 =   2.  Belizean
Guatemala  $1 = 7.5  Quetzals
Honduras    $1 = 21.  Lempira
Our buying power will diminish the further east we go (With the exception of Jamaica and the Dominican Republic). In the islands whose currency is the Euro (EU) the dollar will be weak. In considering the weak dollar and the fact that nearly everything is shipped, or flown into the islands, the cost of food, water, Happy Hour ingredients, parts and repair costs will go up. 

Things We Will Not Miss

We will not miss the inundation of Sargasso Weed and Sargassum Seaweed. Both are a brown algae normally seen in the Atlantic in the area named, Sargasso Sea and sometimes seen off the coast of Florida and the Bahamas, but apparently seldom seen in the lower Eastern Caribbean.  Until recently the two brown algae were rarely seen in the Western Caribbean. But now, the algae has become a noxious epidemic and is disconcerting to marine biologists as well as, water front resorts, beach restaurants/bars and homeowners.
We have seen numerous mats with coverage of 100 yards or more laden with plastic. Some mats that pile up in bays are so thick, fish are smothered. The smell is rank, not to mention the flies that are attracted to the algae. Lounging on the beach is impossible, so the tourism boards of the various countries are desperately trying to come up with beach cleaning and disposal options. Marine biologists are also trying to figure out why this is happening. 

For those that have followed the blog you have seen these pictures in a previous post.

Sargasso/Sargassum mat...

.......So thick it is supporting a chest freezer

Nor will we miss the plastic pollution.

This beach is full of bits of plastics caught up in the Sargasso that has washed ashore.

We have seen flip flops and croc style shoes on every beach and out in the middle of the sea. This "sculpture" can be seen on beaches throughout the region. 

So as not to be misunderstood; the plastic pollution is coming in from many sources. US companies; Coca-Cola for one, sell a staggering amount of products here. The region must deal with copious amounts of plastic waste. There are few, and in most areas, no recycling programs or education about the impact of plastic on the environment. There are no proper disposal facilities and the plastic that doesn't end up in the ocean or ditches (to be washed into the ocean later) gets burned in trash fires.  It is not solely the fault of any one country. The ocean currents carry magnitudes of plastic from EVERY country surrounding the Caribbean.

This is not to say that we will not encounter the same tribulations in the East. Only time and nautical miles will tell. We have already heard woeful stories of Sargasso/Sargassum invasion and yet more plastic pollution. 

On a lighter note; we will not miss bland white cheese and no-buzz beer (a Charlie-ism). One must add when one is from Wisconsin; finding fabulous cheese and beer is a calling. 

Off to Grand Cayman 

Our playmates along the way

The dolphin on the right has an injured dorsal fin

Fantasy Island stop - our exhaust riser came apart 68 miles out of Isla Mujeres; one of the welds failed so we ran on one engine as the wind was not cooperating for sailing. We stopped and had a welder repair the riser. 
Lobster from a local fisherman and our Apple Pie; because it is Thanksgiving today.

Enjoying the Thanksgiving Day

One of the many beautiful beaches on Fantay Island

Another sunset along the way

The busy harbor of Georgetown, Grand Cayman. 4 or 5 cruise ships a day!

Check-in with Customs and Immigration
First 30 days in Grand Cayman are free. 

Gray and overcast skies do not allow for the beautiful turquoise color of the water to show

Two of the four cruise ships before their departure at day's end.

The view from our mooring.

Next Post: Exploring Grand Cayman.

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