We arrive in Mexico the morning of March 20, 2022, a Sunday morning. We are excited to finally be in Mexico at the Isla Mujeres Marina. But We can not leave the resort until we check in on Tuesday morning. But we could peek at the fuel prices that price is pesos per liter so about 4.50 a gallon and 4.80 for diesel. At least it is a little cheaper than the states. Obviously on Sunday all government offices are closed by Monday is a holiday - it is Benito Juarez birthday. He was the 26th president and the first of indigenous origin.
While waiting to checkin, We were visited by a French Canadian couple from the anchorage that Dee chatted with on the Isla Mujeres Cruiser Net Facebook page. - They provided us with some information about the island and traveling in and out of Mexico. Such a wealth of information and we appreciated their willingness to be of so much help. This cruising community definitely has each others backs here.
As soon as we cleared all the check in process and finally customs we headed out of the resort and got our first look around the island. We saw the stunning views on the Caribbean Sea side and found a bay side restaurant Restaurant El comejen to have a taco and a margarita! My back is still causing a lot of pain, but I wanted to see Capilla de Guadalupe - the church on the water or cliffs. So we headed out to see the church and the stunning views from behind the church. We were unable to visit inside at this time. We walked the streets and found a little brewery. They can not serve inside yet, but you can purchase and the bottle opening is outside the door! We chose Tesora Pirata which was a vanilla porter. (We were able to sample). We stepped into a very small restaurant called Taqueria AA that had 3 tables. It was authentic food and the best hot sauce!
Tuesday morning as we prepare to check in a sailboat arrived to the slip beside us from Guatemala. They had been sailing for days and were tired but they joined us to get checked in and then to sleep. Over the next few days we loved getting to know Vera, Jerome and Bruno who had been sailing for a couple years and left from their home the Netherlands. They had some sailing friends around and although they graciously invited us out - we offered to keep Bruno so they could have a night out without him because apparently he does not like to be left alone. We loved our Bruno time!
Friday morning March 25th arrives and the winds tell us it is time to go. Although the north winds were coming right at us in the slip which made it hard to get out but once we were out the rest of the ride was fine. We cruised out through the anchorage and toward Cancun and then down the coast. Dee scored a Cero Mackerel just before Playa De Carmen began to come into view and the ferry which we thankfully avoided and the other ferries are safely on the dock as we passed.
Next stop, We cruise through the inlet and into our spot in Puerto Aventuras which we were super excited about, and to end the day Dee’s fresh Cero Mackerel with Bill and Angie at Latitudes.Now for some rest on the beach and reacquaint ourselves with Puerto Aventuras.
My sister is getting married once we made it to Isla Mujeres, I decided to buy a plane ticket home to see the wedding, family, and our granddaughter Lilia. I would be home for 4 days, but Dee would stay behind with journey since we have just arrived and try to learn more about the area. I also hope to get to a chiropractor about my back. So off with Bill and Angie I do to the airport. Hannah and Lilia picks me up and I spend a night with them before heading to my Mom and Dads for the wedding where I will be keeping Harley. So I get some Jesse time as well. She is off for a bachelorette weekend for a friend but I will snuggle with Harley. I see a chiropractor twice and although painful, big improvements begin to happen Wedding day is here and it was simple beautiful ceremony which my Dad performed. Some more Lilia time, Airport Night mare with cancelled flights but I finally make Cancun after 12 hours of airport fun!
We Didn’t leave Dry Tortugas until 3:30pm to arrive in the morning hours in Mexico. Little rough leaving but 2 hrs in a SE wind quartered our stern and first night was peaceful with a mostly full moon. Maybe the Gulf Stream helped settle the seas some for us. The first night crossing was a smooth ride… from sunset to sunrise.
Day 2 was more of the same only a little better. We cruised through the calm waters about 25 miles off the coast of Cuba which probably helped some with the wind and wave block coming out of the east. We saw hundreds of Portuguese Man of War. It felt like some migration we were traveling through.
According the National Geographic site, Portuguese Man of War comprises four separate polyps. It gets its name from the uppermost polyp, a gas-filled bladder, which sits above the water and somewhat resembles an old warship at full sail. Man-of-wars are also known as bluebottles for the purple-blue color of the uppermost polyp. The tentacles are the man-of-war's second organism. These long, thin tendrils can extend 165 feet in length below the surface, although 30 feet is more the average. They are covered in venom-filled nematocysts used to paralyze and kill fish and other small creatures. For humans, a man-of-war sting is excruciatingly painful, but rarely deadly. Man-of-wars are found, sometimes in groups of 1,000 or more, floating in warm waters. They have no independent means of propulsion and either drift on the currents or catch the wind with their uppermost polyp. To avoid threats on the surface, they can deflate their air bags and can briefly submerge.
Very interesting sea creatures who are actually sailing like a sailboat through the water but obviously not ones you want to tangle with (literally speaking).
Just as we passed the tip of Cuba near San Antonio SW wind rolled up the seas for a couple hours giving us a bronco ride in 6 footers. Just before dark we made a more westerly turn and as predicted the winds started laying down and the seas more following and we were thankful for this better ride as the sunset on our last night. My back is still very sore and some movements cause a lot more pain than others, but I have almost completed the crossing, although it was not as I expected with the injury. Night was again all we could ask for and moon gave us some visibility. Around 3am we hit the Yucatán current and slowed to 4-5kts at times then periods of 6kts. Up till now we had been averaging 7 to 8kts. This slow travel would stay with us till arriving.
Morning sunrise and big swells but well spaced and following. We enjoy the beautiful sunrise and nice waters but anxiously waiting for our first site of land. 15nm out we get our first glimpses of land after 40 plus hours. The coastline begins to rise out of the waters and we get our first real glimpse of Isla mujeres. As we round the north end of the island of Isla Mujeres, we get our first real look at the island and the resorts alongs the shoreline. Next we pass through the anchorage…
We arrive in Isla at 11 am our time - 10 am in Mexico at the Marina of Isla Mujeres where we are allowed to use the resort facilities while we wait for the check in process to begin. I realized that throwing lines was not what my back ordered, but I would have to dock in PA one more time and throw lines before putting this back injury behind me. I enjoyed soaking in the pool at the resort in Isla Mujeres and although the wait to check in was a little long. Because we arrived on a Sunday and second, Monday was a holiday - Benito Juarez Birthday. Benito Juarez was the 26th President of Mexico and the first of indigenous origin.
Hola Mexico! WE made it!
For information about planning and preparing for our Mexico crossing - check out our blog post. or visit solmatesjourney.com
Why Mexico? Why Not? Research for this trip began on Noonsite which gave Dee a lot of good basic information about Mexico and arriving by water. One of the links there mention the Isla Mujeres Cruisers Net Facebook page. This ended up being a good connection to a wealth of information. We also connected with several people who had experience with the crossing and familiar with weather and preferred routes. These connections also lead to meeting SaltShaker
While planning the route Dee learned about how the Gulf Stream and the Yucatan current play major roles in planning. They are really one in the same as the Yucatan current comes up the coast of Belize and Mexico up into the Gulf then makes hard righthand ¾ turn back down toward Cuba then becomes a little disorganized as it turns under the Dry Tortugas. It then becomes the Gulf Stream and become a lot stronger and organized as it travels the Keys and up the east coast. This means that during the crossing, we will cross the current twice even if we were leaving from Texas. The current also changes intensity and location, so Dee suggest an App where to see currents. Dee used various ones Windy, Predict Wind and his favorite Ventusky.
Where to leave from Key West or Dry Tortugas. Leaving from Key West would make the trip a little bit shorter but since the best place to cross the Gulf Stream is near Dry Tortugas, we chose this route for several reasons. We have been trying for awhile to get there, it shortens our trip by at least 50 NM and we could go there during the day, spend the night and time our departure from there to arrive in Isla Mujeres in the morning hours. Dee would over estimate the Gulf Stream and under estimate the Yucatan Current’s strength. They balanced each other out. Our route took a somewhat direct route to the tip of Cuba. We had considered more of a southern route to Cuba then follow the coast of Cuba but our winds favored this route although we did make minor adjustments while in route.
Leaving Dry Tortugas we ended up with SE wind until tip of Cuba then a temporary SW wind that made it a little rough but it clocked as predicted to more easterly, and we turned to a more west and direct route, for the last 90 NM. We had planned on going more south after rounding Cuba to ride with the current if weather/winds dictated but they didn’t. More planning details and information can be found on our blog post about planning and the crossing at http://solmatesjourney.weebly.com/solmatesblog/mexico-bound or visit solmatesjourney.com.
We leave Key West early on the morning of St. Patricks Day, 2022 with Salt Shaker to head out to the Dry Tortugas as our first leg to Mexico. Two legs to reach Mexico and a third to reach our final destination the marina in Puerto Aventuras, Mexico. The stunning blue water as we near the Dry Tortugas is the prettiest by far we have seen in the US. The sea turtles were an added bonus. I love catching a glimpse of the sea turtles when we travel.
By late afternoon we see our first glimpse of sand dunes and soon to follow Fort Jefferson. We have made it to the Dry Tortugas. According the website drytortugas.com, The Dry Tortugas was Discovered by Ponce de Leon in 1513, the Dry Tortugas were named after the large population of sea turtles living in the island’s surrounding waters. “Tortugas” means turtles in Spanish, and Ponce de Leon himself caught over 100 sea turtles during his time on the island. The name “Dry” Tortugas was later given to the island to indicate to other mariners that the land mass lacked fresh water, which was an extremely important detail for seafarers to know. The area is known for its treacherous reefs, and in 1825 a lighthouse was built on Garden Key to warn ships and guide them toward safety. At the time shipwrecks were common, and with underwater wrecks dating back to the 1600s, the Dry Tortugas currently possess one of the richest concentrations of shipwrecks in North America. It is also because of these large reefs surrounding the Tortugas that the U.S. was able to establish one of the most strategic harbors in U.S. history, and Fort Jefferson was born. Construction of the fort began in 1846, and although it was never officially finished, it remains a historic icon of the Dry Tortugas and receives thousands of visitors yearly.
We made into our anchorage before the sea plane landed to get their last load of passengers and Salt Shaker finally make it around Fort Jefferson to anchor by us. We watched tons of Frigates circle the fort. The most we have ever seen together until we make it to Mexico. It will become nothing special soon. While The sunset over Fort Jefferson was just beautiful
We woke early and in time for the first sea plane landing. Exciting to watch them come in and beach the planes. Now it was time to go snorkeling over off Loggerhead key. We had a great morning snorkeling but on the way back the waves had picked up and we caught a rough wave and the way I was sitting in Shelby, I pulled something in my back. At the time we weren’t sure what happened just that I was immense pain. We finally got back to Journey and Dee got meds in me and rubbed down my back and found material to make a makeshift brace. After about an hour, I said let’s go. We didn’t know if it was the right choice but we made the decision and prepared to leave by 3pm.
The sea plane made their mid day pick up after a yacht anchored in the no anchor area and just would not move. The sea plane pilots are obviously very good at their job.
Salt Shaker pulled anchor before us but chose a different path out of the Dry Tortugas which would actually put them several miles behind us. We kept up with them until into the night when we lost them on our screen. It is go time for Mexico!
For the first two weeks of March we enjoy Bahia Honda State Park. It was not exactly what we were planning but the weather just would not open up for us to begin the trip across to Mexico. We enjoyed our friends and all the new friends we made. Endeavours are all together so we explore some of what the park has to offer besides beautiful beaches. These beautiful sand sculpture created by a volunteer. Lot of Pelicans. The manatees continue to come and eat the seagrass. Which proved to be a lot and a constant battle in the basin. Seeing all the new arrivals of boats into the basin, this one was suspect. Finally, the helicopters from military, USCG, and the workers on the power lines. Wish I had that video. But the weather is the main culprit keeping us here. Yes that is rain coming and coming hard. Watched quite of few boaters caught out in that one.
Dinghy exploring was another great adventure we had just around the park shores, Horseshoe Beach on the other side of the bridge, One of our favorites was a magnificent sunset dinghy ride with Scott and Mary from Salt Wife.
For us if it is not the sunsets then Meeting so many friends both new and old is one of our favorite things to get to do while cruising. Endeavour cocktails and dinner aboard each boat. Meeting friends on other boats like Moira and Brad Roberts with dog Koda and Mark and Shawnett on board Now or Never and of course all the friends we made learning to blow Conchs at sunset at the top of the old bridge with the park ranger. Many thanks to Chris and Sue Oehler from Paradise for the great Conch pictures and sunset pictures from the bridge. Because some of the best reasons to be at Bahia Honda State Park is watching the sun go down over the water.
The end of our two weeks is coming and the weather finally looks promising. Salt Wife is off first headed to the Bahamas. We soon follow headed down to Key West for some final prep before heading out to the Dry Tortugas. We arrive in a familiar spot, Key West and the cruise ships are back! The first night we are in Key West we anchor North of the mooring field off Dredgers Key for easy shore access for some final prep The next evening we move to other side of Wisteria Island for a quick departure on St. Patrick’s Day! We are going to Mexico!
The weather a Bahia Honda State Park at the end of January tried really hard to keep us there longer, As you can see only the Kite surfer could enjoy and the park officials worried about him. We finally got a slight break on Feb. 4th and made our run up to Naples. No pictures because it was a rough ride a good portion of the day so when the waters calmed we were ready to get all the way into Port of the Island. It is an hour into the Ten Thousand Islands to reach the marina, so we had planned to anchor out and wait until the next day. We were just so ready so up the channel we went. We were greeted by so many friends and were glad to be on the dock before the sunset. The next morning we saw our alligator friends and the dock heron.
Friends on the dock when we arrived told us that on the airbnb boat behind us was a girl from Mooresville. We finally met Shara. Crazy story - Her grandparents lived about a mile from Dee and I. and where Dee grew up. Dee’s Dad and her grandfather were like partners in an appliance repair store a long time ago. We met her mom and stepdad who have place in Naples, her sister Kristin who visited and her husband, Chad. When he came to visit we took them out to explore Panther Key in the Ten Thousand Islands. Shara was here for a month with her dog Higgins who became a regular at our sugar scoop for a treat. We loved loving on Higgins.
We enjoyed catching up with friends from Naples. Mike and Karly just moved into their new home and we were invited to a house warming party and Dee got to experience “Virtual Reality” - loads of fun to watch. Dee and I continued to explore the Ten Thousand Island area and it all came back quickly for us. We did much needed boat projects like out with the old and in with the new forward AC unit! Lots and Lots of provisioning as we prepare for Mexico. We crossed path with some more Mooresville friends who have a camper in Naples and enjoyed sharing experiences about our travels. Catching back up with Karen and Dan on board Story was another favorite. We picked back up with lots of laughs and good times. We spent one day out on their boat floating in the Gulf of Mexico. Before we left we said good bye to new friends Kitty and Dave aboard Gran Plan. We are excited about what the future has in store for them and their new sailing catamaran. Finally, March 2nd arrives and it is good travel day so we are off the dock early trying to beat low tide. I said an hour but it was more like 2 before we could move off the sandbar. We missed the depth in the channel by about 20 yards. So close!
We were still able to make Shark River where we planned to meet Salt Wife, Scott and Mary for the evening and dinner. As we pulled in Journey was being hailed on the radio by Selah Way with Amy and David on board who were also making anchor in Shark River. Everyone joined us on Journey for cocktails. This is what we love about cruising. Beautiful sunrise as We were up and off early with Salt Wife headed back to Bahia Honda State Park back. We are ready for Mexico but need some good weather. Salt Wife is joining us at the park after making a fuel stop in Marathon. Rick and Christi make their maiden voyage on the new Inked Mermaid (formerly Kulana) up to hang out with us at Bahia Honda for a few days. Great to have three endeavours together and check out all the differences! And to hang out with the manatees…More Bahia Honda Fun to come for like 2 weeks!
We leave Jacksonville's Sister’s creek Free dock at high tide - maybe it was a King Tide. The boat ramp didn’t even look like a boat ramp. We were making a short run to north of St. Augustine. We anchored in a beautiful spot just off the ICW called Pine Island South. Perfect spot for us for the night away from busy St. Augustine. The next day we passed through St. Augustine and the beautiful homes along the ICW.
Into Daytona Beach for a few days. Where we explored the Beach, found a chalkboard bar, got some shots of Journey from shore and enjoyed watching some nightlife from Journey’s front deck. This dock not far from where we anchored seemed to be home to lots and lots of sea gulls. Not sure what to even say about this picture.
Our next stop was New Smyrna Beach for some time on the dock and to let some weather pass. We enjoyed the pool, finally time to make bread in my new bread machine and off to use the new to us folding bikes to make a Publix run and explore the beach area. It was a great stop.
We pulled into Titusville for fuel and got a glimpse of Revel on a mooring ball. Wish we were stopping and could get to know them better but we are off to the free city docks at Cocoa Village. We arrive to one spot just for us! From here we could walk to a Dunkin Donuts and get some good wifi and coffee to work and ended the day at Ryans Pizza and Pub with a great view of Journey and a large slice of pizza.
After another few days were continue south down the Indian River and caught this plane circling not sure if they are just having fun or spraying. We anchor in Vero Beach The no wake zone is tight here and we rolled a lot in this anchorage. But the Sunset was stunning. So we were up early and off out the Fort Pierce Inlet and down to Lake Worth to anchor in West Palm before the next storm arrives. It was a beautiful smooth ride down to West Palm. A little exploring, but mostly waiting for the weather to pass. This was a big storm across Florida but we ended up being fortunate as it was not that much in West Palm. Before we head on south, we catch a rocket one night going up from Cape Canaveral.
Finally, we relocate back close to the Lake Worth Inlet for a quick out and plan to head all the way to Miami, but it did not take long before our ride got really rough and we managed a few bad hours before heading into the Port Everglade inlet near Fort Lauderdale. We finished along day waiting for a bridge in Miami and then finally free of Miami we head into a new anchorage that we really loved near No Name called Hurricane Harbor. It was a really quiet overnight which we needed after that rough ride.
The next morning is a perfect morning and the sky is just beautiful as we head across Biscayne Bay and leave Miami behind. As we arrive into Key Largo, we are always greeted by Dolphins who spent quite awhile in our wake. We caught This stunning synchronized jump just for us! We passed Bella Gato heading North who are now spending their summer in Maine, before heading into Islamorada to anchor and enjoy a beautiful anchorage with a stunning sunset for arrival back into the keys.
We head out and down to Marathon and tuck back into our favorite anchorage at Coco Plum to again hide from winds and see if we can get a mooring ball in Boot Key Harbor. What we learn is the waiting list is would be about 3 weeks, so we make reservations down at Bahia Honda for the next weather event and plan to head down there and try to figure out what our next move will be.
This is our first time at Bahia Honda and we fell in love with this place. The people are great that volunteer and work here. They are so good to cruisers with free ice and a drink each day. The sunsets are spectacular. The weather is not giving us a break and we can’t find a permanent home in the keys for a month, so we are off to spend the month of February in Naples. Enjoy the sunsets.
We are finally off the dock in New Bern and headed south down the Neuse River. Our first stop will be back at Camp Lejeune and the Mile Hammock anchorage. We headed back down Adams Creek by the helicopter passing Beaufort, NC and Morehead City and into the Bodie sound. Just before the Camp Lejeune area we passed Nina for the first time. We would get to know Nina so much better real soon. Before anchoring In Mile Hammock we pass through the live fire range. Nina soon followed and anchored behind us and we enjoyed watching the dolphins before the sunset.
The next morning we set out and passed through so many beautiful areas. Anchored overnight near Southport then on through Myrtle Beach area to anchor in Enterprise Oxbow. We also passed Orza multiple times because she had to stop for almost all the bridges that were drawbridges while we cruised on through.
Oxbow was just beautiful and quiet……
We continue on down the ICW towards Georgetown, SC and spot an Endeavour 44 Bodensee. We love Georgetown, SC. Would that soon change? As we enjoyed exploring Georgetown again, we watched a boater get stuck in the shallows which is pretty much known about in the area but just in case Stay away from the island on the south side. We celebrated New Years Eve and welcomed in 2022! We had anchored farther back in the corner to prepare for the cold front coming. Just as the sun was setting the night of the blow, Nina arrived and anchored in front of us. Long night ahead. We woke to winds in the middle of the night and began watch and not long after the winds picked up reaching gust of 50 mph. Nina began dragging close to us. After it was all over around 4pm in the afternoon. We had dragged quiet a bit. The small sailboats were rearranged. We re-anchored and Nina soon followed. Now it was time to meet Ingrid and Dayton and get a look inside Nina. She is a beautiful wooden schooner with a wood stove! We exchanged stories and said goodbye. We were ready to head south and Nina would stay and explore Georgetown!
Our next night was just outside of Charleston near Isle of Palm as we prepare for our first overnight. We set out from Charleston Harbor around noon into some beautiful water. A little rough for awhile before sunset but things settled down and the overnight was uneventful from sunset to sunrise. But the long dark night seemed to go on forever. It was dark for about 13 hours. The long track is over and we are headed into Sisters Creek Dock in Jacksonville for some sleep and recovery. We have made it to Florida!
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