Mexico, Isla Mujeres
In our last entry we had just postponed our departure from Cuba due to a strong “norther” coming through, and boy are we glad we headed that advice! The waves pounded the marina front for a few days and we were distinctly chilly again, but everything returned to normal trade wind conditions in perfect time for us to leave on Saturday. We had a mostly good sail; at least I thought so until we hit the Gulf Stream. I had written “magic” in the log during the 1st night as the motion was so smooth it hardly felt as if we were sailing despite doing 6-7 knots. The wind was blowing off the west end of Cuba and wafting lovely aromatic smells over us – magic indeed. The 2nd day and night were not so great, starting with a bad decision about how to shape our course across the Yucatan Channel. The current (which becomes the Gulf Stream further east) flows powerfully northwards (they say up to 7 kts although the most I saw was 5½) in the gap between Cuba and Mexico. We had to make our way south west with easterly winds varying between 12 and 25 kts, so it was quite blowy at times. My original plan was to get a long way south on the Cuban side but the wind angle would then be difficult for the crossing; I eventually decided to cut across diagonally but failed to allow enough angle southwards to compensate for the current. When we came across a lull in the stream caused by a huge shallow bank mid channel I mistakenly thought we were through the Gulf Stream, changed course and regretted for the rest of the trip. I just couldn’t keep the boat going in a good direction in the huge current with the wind at an awkward angle (I should have used the spinnaker pole to sail goosewinged, but never at night), so we see-sawed about a bit and wasted time going into the current and barely making headway. To make matters worse the rolling induced by random waves was pretty bad and things were flying across the cabin that have never stirred from their stowage in much more violent conditions.
Still, we made it OK and docked on Isla Mujeres, (just a few miles off the mainland coast at Cancun) at the perfect time of 0930 after a 330 nm passage in 48 hrs. We were swept up by this little marina who insist on doing all the formalities for you – at a high price, but with no choice. It all went very smoothly, certainly compared with a rough-kempt boat just arrived who have armed military guards on the dock and sniffer dogs onboard! Our experience was easy, but then we think most of the “fees” we paid (in cash) went to oil the wheels so to speak. After a bit of hard bargaining we’ve paid for a month here which isn’t costing much more that Cuba, despite a lovely location (swimming off the boat), a pool, bar and restaurant on site.
So far we are enjoying it here. The contrast with Cuba is astonishing; being back in the world of supermarkets (our first food shopping in a month), credit cards and internet access is a welcome relief. Being back in the world of oversized American tourists, USA style food (huge portions of high calorie, high fat and high protein!) and tourist tackiness is less appealing, but we’re looking forward to travelling, seeing something of the Yucatan and its Mayan sites and having a bit of a holiday before we head back. I expect most readers think we are permanently on holiday, but it really doesn’t feel that way to us, not always. It is also hot again (mid 30s) – we haven’t been this hot since leaving Trinidad a year ago.
Views from our walk into town:
Goldcrest moored in Marina Paraiso: