February Update in Isla

Phil & Nikki Hoskins
Sat 23 Feb 2013 00:49
We've just paid our marina bill for the two month period since the beginning of the year and are now 'waiting for weather' as they say in cruising parlance meaning we are ready to go (well almost) and just need to see 3-4 clear days of favourable conditions in the Gulf of Mexico. As the days roll on the opportunities for such an event to occur should increase as the worst of the winter fronts gradually tail off. But we are paid up for a few more days yet. The most recent weather update indicates that the computer forecast models are uncertain of exactly what is going to happen in the coming days - more especially into next week, so we are not holding our breath. Friends of ours (we have a few left!) departed Isla last week to sail to Florida. They were 80 miles from the Dry Tortugas, which is a national park some 60 miles west of Key West, when they were hit with 25-30 knot adverse winds.  According to a passing commercial ship they called it was to set in for at least 24 hours. There was nothing for it but to sail all the way back to here. In 'Snakes and Ladders' this would be equivalent to landing on a snake at the top of the board and sliding all the way back to the bottom thus proving yet again how tricky it is to get to Florida from here and just how dreadful our analogies are!
The longer you spend in a place the more you discover the little things that become major annoyances. The current  issues we are becoming increasingly frustrated with are the boat being covered in dust along with 'high altitude' bird droppings. Well, the dust isn't just any old dust that will hose off with the dribble of water that emits from the dockside supply. We are talking of cement dust, which is blowing over from the concrete production plant about 100 meters away to the east. Just where the prevailing winds come from! As anyone who has dabbled with bags of cement over the years will know (putting aside nasty thoughts about the mafia for a moment) it's a very fine hydroscopic powder which on adding moisture becomes hardened. If we left numerous pairs of sea boots on the foredeck for the duration of our stay we could certainly find a ready market in any village in Sicily. The high altitude droppings come courtesy of the Frigate birds that soar high above the island in the thermals perfecting their bombing accuracy on newly washed decks. After falling 500 feet what started as a large splat has at ground zero become 3-4 millimetre diameter brown spots that have a very wide drop zone. So there exists a vicious circle here. We wash the boat off whilst the cement plant is busy pumping the stuff into the air and the Frigate birds are pumping their stuff out of their bomb bay doors in the skies above.  By morning the whole boat, inside and out, is covered once more. Anyway - that's the moan out of the way and we're already feeling better for it. We are toying with the idea of working a midnight washing off shift when the plant is closed, the birds are roosting and the water pressure possibly better - that could work!!.
One fun event not affected by cement dust was the Isla Mujeres Carnival. This took place over a four days last week and was advertised to ground dwellers by the various large signs that were strung locally. To ensure that incoming tourists on approach to Cancun knew something special was happening on this little island a magnificent laser beam could be seen sweeping the surrounding skies from somewhere in town which must have made life tricky for the pilots navigating their way into the locality. Here are our pictorial offerings from this event.
            Bring on the parade...........
           A flying Saucer hat,  getting the drummers organised, candy-striped 'paraders' and those who prefer to motor the route - they were all there
                              BUT - Not all were willing participants as we witnessed .............. Ah! Bless...............
                    But a great time was had by most unless you were caught up in the golf cart traffic jam!
Unfortunately, as is well known in the Latin world, starting times are just approximate. In town where the carnival was due to start it was obvious that not all the floats were ready to roll simultaneously which led to occasional gaps along the route. This wasn't a huge problem as there were only half a dozen or so floats on the day we attended so it gave the impression that the procession was longer than it actually was. As is traditional some of the floats threw handfuls of sweets into the waiting 'crowds'. In fact there were more sweets than spectators which meant that even the more elderly were able to jostle and kick some of the 'rugrats' out of the way to get a fair share of the goodies. One other thing about the ladies in this part of the world is that being of grander proportions is not the huge hang-up (no pun intended) that we seem to have in Europe and so they proudly go out and strut their stuff. Good for them! The parade terminated about half a mile out of town by the side of the airport where two sets of grandstands (or bleachers as our USA friends call them) had been set up. At each end a huge set of loud speakers were stacked up with ear-shattering music playing to keep the audience from falling asleep in the heat whilst waiting for the procession. For the participants four days may have been too long as by the fourth day things were fragmenting with events starting late or even on a different day altogether. It needed someone to 'cement' the whole thing together really.
Another strong cold front that hit last Friday with winds gusting up to gale force through the anchorage brought more spectator sport as boats dragged in the vicious gusts. The holding is not good at the best of times out there but from the perspective of two of the more securely anchored small yachts it couldn't have been any fun to see a huge steel 100 foot plus sailing ship dragging towards you. With no time to raise their anchors apparently both boats started their engines and whilst there was still room and time to manoeuvre they motored at full belt to the extent of their tethers round the stern of the steel leviathan dragging towards them. Stomach-churning stuff! That was just one episode in an evening of chaos and mishaps out in the 'cheap seats' as we call the anchorage. We were relieved to be secure in the marina, cement dust or no cement dust - last mention - promise!
To prove that our intentions to finally escape Isla are genuine the 'Admiral' has just returned in a taxi from the supermarket pushing a 4 wheeled marina truck laden with groceries. Well, 'groceries' covers a very wide miscellany of 'goodies' and in all honesty a lonely looking carton of milk and some squashed packets of paper towels were spied somewhere in the melee of beer cans and gin bottles! So it looks like we're OK for a few more 'Sundowners' before we go. Had to pack it away quickly though because of all the dust.
Some more pics from February excursions then we'll call it a day!.....
Similar hairstyles is what you are thinking here?       and still snugly attached to the marina - boat in foreground is a Viking Sports Fisher which dwarfs us!
          A 'Walk on the wild side',  'Surf's Up!'  That's it - 'We're going nowhere' !