...& New Years in Isla Mujeres

Phil & Nikki Hoskins
Wed 2 Jan 2013 19:31
We very nearly didn't make it to Isla Mujeres for the New Years celebrations. Moving further north we fall under the influence of the cold fronts that pour off the coast of the USA with monotonous regularity at this time of the year. And they can be vicious!
We left Guanaja on the 27th December, hoping to have left the biting bugs behind (wishful thinking). Motoring out of the anchorage with memories of a wonderful Christmas Day dinner we sprayed the whole boat through with insect spray to try and eradicate the 'no see-ums' that had taken up residence in lockers and clothing just waiting for the opportunity of biting into our bare flesh one more time. However, we were still being bitten by the swines two days into the voyage!
'Alcatraz' - the expanding hotel on Dunbar Rock, Guanaja    'Carnival Glory' passes us heading eastwards towards a rising full moon and a new destination
We motored for twelve hours through a windless zone to the north of Guanaja. Knowing that the forecast had predicted for the wind to fill in at between 10-15 knots plus in the following 24 hours or so which, with a favourable north-going current would see us well on our way. A cold front was predicted to exit the Gulf of Mexico on the 30th December and affect the area around Isla Mujeres on the 31st whilst weakening all the time.
Unfortunately, as often happens with weather predictions it didn't quite turn out that way.  We were within nine miles of our destination waypoint and thirteen miles from the anchorage when the front loomed ahead of us.  First as a squall line and then in the distance the beginnings of the cold front itself which had not weakened as predicted. Our wind went from very little from one direction to quite a lot from another - up to twenty seven knots and almost on the nose. We now had a lot of work to do to actually get to Isla Mujeres. If we'd had an engine issue or the front had been stronger then we would have had to look at other alternatives. As the front heralds north-easterly winds that would have put us onto a lee coast with few safe harbour entrances. It would have meant another night at sea heading back the way we had just come! But perseverance won the day and we clawed our way up the channel in the darkness between Cancun and Isla Mujeres. Alarmingly, in the rising seas, we saw two large unlit buoys and were also drenched as the boat scooped up large quantities of sea water and threw it at us in the cockpit. Our friend who had left the following day from Guanaja in a faster boat had been clobbered further south by the front. He had an even worse time than we did getting here.
We dropped anchor in 'Isla' around ten in the evening behind, we were amazed to discover, our friends on Chanticleer  who had arrived just thirty minutes ahead of us from Florida which is in the opposite direction! Steve was ably assisted in his delivery of the boat from Florida by Kent from Southern Mist. Our three boats had been in Monkey Bay on the Rio Dulce two summers ago so it was a reunion of the Monkey Bay 6 minus 2. The ladies were still in the States for various reasons. They'd set their men free for a few days over New Years. Coincidently the last time we arrived in the 'Isla' anchorage 2 years ago we parked behind Chanticleer.
The voyage north wasn't without it's rewards though - a fourteen pound Mahi Mahi took one of our lures. We pulled the fish in with little effort, which is just as well as 'Skip' had been urgently called up from his off-watch slumbers and was still in his M&S undies! No wonder the fish gave up so quickly.
Mahi Mahi - One of the most amazing fish in the sea! This is a female. Sorry, we catch so few of these we are posting two pics of the one fish. Beautiful (M&S's just visible on left - not  so good)
And so to our New Years celebrations. We checked into the Marina Paraiso for a week, cleared Immigration, Health, Port Captain, Agriculture and goodness knows who else. It was now time for some fun at the Bahia Tortuga Bar near the marina.
    Ajaya 'resting' in Marina Paraiso                   and we have a pool to soak our weary bodies in
    We agree with that !                                                                         and this speaks for itself really