Guatemala with the Family and on to BelizePosted: December 1, 2005
We returned to Rio Dulce in Guatemala ten days before Christmas of 2005 to put the boat together before the boys arrived for the holidays. She was in great shape! The de-humidifier worked well with no mildew below. The winter cover kept her exterior in good shape despite the very damp environment. Still, we had our work cut out for us to get everything running. The tropics are hard on a boat and a few small items needed fixing.
We kept the boat at Mario's Marina, a great place and the social center for the Rio--we woke to the Howler Monkeys and joined the early risers for coffee at six in the morning. Mac and Ron are the owners and managers of the marina and can't do enough for you. When they take some time off, Daniel takes over and is great to work with. A funky place that is easy to stay for a long time and many people do!
Alex, Drew, and Zach all joined us for Christmas and we visited Tikal and Antigua, and even had a few days of lounging around the boat enjoying the fresh water and swimming. The weather at this time of the year is fantastic in the Rio Dulce and Guatemala -- cool, dry with calm winds -- a great time to explore the river, lakes, and the Guatemalan interior while the northerlies roll through the northwest Caribbean.
In late January Heidi and I went to Antigua for two weeks of Spanish school and touring of Guatemala. We are now a bit more proficient in Spanish and know a great deal more about this country with its indigenous people dressed in fantastic colorful fabrics. The old Spanish towns, the Rio Dulce, and the Mayan culture make this a great place to visit.
Antigua, the original capital of Guatemala, is a great town to spend time in with a wonderful selection of restaurants, cobblestone streets, and lovely old Spanish architecture. There are over 100 Spanish language schools here all specializing in one-on-one instruction. Many people come to Antigua every year for a vacation and to improve their Spanish.
However, the best thing about Guatemala is the Mayan heritage. The Mayan ruins of Tikal are truly astounding! There are over ten thousand structures yet to be excavated in the Peten area of Guatemala alone. El Mirador, a city in the jungle that has recently been discovered, might even dwarf Tikal. There is a lot to be learned about this civilization that essentially disappeared about 900 AD.
We left the "Rio" February 15th thinking the cold fronts and high NE winds would be slowing down, and headed for Guanaja, the eastern most island of the Bay.
The Islands of Honduras are our favorite. However, as we reached Roatan after a wild overnight sail the door closed with a 25 knot easterly forcing us into West End of Roatan. West End is another funky town with sandy streets and good restaurants. This town is a diver's heaven with many dive shops and a reef 200 yards off the beach--ideal for diving from our dinghy. Perhaps the diving is not world class but its accessibility and water clarity makes this area a lot of fun.
The wind continued to blow so we sailed over to La Ceiba on the Honduras mainland to a small marina and a shipyard with a 100 ton lift. The marina, owned by Rita and Tony, is a great place to explore inland Honduras. We also took advantage of the nearby shipyard and hauled CHEWINK for an overnight repair to the propeller--we had hit a wire or something in the Rio and wanted to make sure all was well for the long trip north.
We took a whitewater rafting trip and another into a bird sanctuary via the banana train. There are lots of things to do in Honduras and warrants more time than we gave it.
With an overnight sail, we were in southern Belize--a landscape of sandy islets and mangrove islands inside the second longest barrier reef in the world. With the Rio Dulce as a base and its proximity to southern Belize this area makes a very good cruising area. There's a lot of good diving and snorkeling here, especially near the atolls of Lighthouse (an incredible sanctuary of Frigates and Boobys), Turneffe, and Glovers there is good diving at all of them but we enjoyed the town of Placencia the most. This is a small town south of Belize City that seems to have been forgotten yet is a convenient place for more inland travels to Mayan ruins. Placencia also has the best ice cream in the Caribbean--that alone makes this a worthy stop.
Where to now?Previous Log Entry: Up the Rio Dulce and down the Colorado River
Next Log Entry: Belize and the Keys
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What is Cabot's Log?
The following log and pictures are from Cabot and Heidi aboard CHEWINK, their Lyman-Morse Seguin 49 which Cabot built in 1987 and has sailed more than 62,000 miles. The log follows them as they began their second circumnavigation in 2000 through their current adventures in the Caribbean.