Sailing vessel Dances With Dragons' Ship's Log


Cruising the Western Caribbean

We had an exciting Harvest Moon Regatta.  We placed 3rd in our class and 7th in the overall divison.  Then the task began of getting the boat ready to cruise again.  We had unloaded a lot of stuff to "lighten" the boat for the race.  It was beneficial though, we really were able to assess what was necessary to take and what to leave behind. 


We planned to leave October 19, after a wedding and high school reunion.  We were going to rent a car one-way after leaving our car in Houston and were told there were no one-way rentals to the Port Aransas area.  So we decided to rent a car in Port Aransas the next weekend and drive both cars to Houston and the rental one back.  This really turned out to be a blessing.  We still had so many projects to complete and we were able to finish them.  And we were able to see our families one more time before we go home to visit!

 We picked up our charterer, Ron Lord, in Houston and  brought him back with us.  We were supposed to leave on October 26.  The night of October 25, the stove quit working.  If you read our other cruising adventure you know how much Wayne likes to eat, so leaving without a stove was not an option.  We ordered one and it was to arrive on Friday, October 30.  Again this turned out to be a blessing.  Had we left on the 26th, we would have been "beaten up" by the waves in the Gulf.  They were over 10 feet high!

 The stove arrived when it was supposed to and Wayne and Ron installed it that evening.  It works perfectly.  And Nancy loves having a new stove that lights easily and the oven and broiler work, as well.  The guys enjoyed the meals cooked on it...guess who is the cook on board!!!!  We were able to untie the dock lines and leave at 0800, Saturday, October 31!  This day was appropriate....we left Florida for the Caribbean on April 1, April Fool's Day, so it seems natural we should leave for our second adventure to the Caribbean on Halloween!

The motor/sail was fantastic.  We decided to motor/sail to get out of the Gulf as quickly as possible.  With fronts moving through about every 3 days, we didn't want the 10-foot seas.  We set out on a port tack and NEVER had to tack again.  It was amazing.  Our rhumb line was fairly straight.  We had a northeast wind around 15 knots the whole sail.  On the fifth morning, we entered the Yucatan Channel and changed tack for the first time.  The sail in the Gulf was fast and enjoyable.  The waves at the most were 5 - 7 feet and very bearable....usually they were 4 - 6 ft.  We enjoyed the benefit of a full moon for the first two nights, and then sporadically with cloud cover.  We had rain the last night out and kept a careful watch for ship traffic.  At dawn in the Yucatan Channel we talked to a dredge that informed us about the hurricane further south. 

We entered the channel at Isla Mujeres at 0800 on November 5.  We were able to get a slip at Puerto Isla Mujeres Marina, located in Makax Lagoon.  We are so lucky!!!  It is the hurricane hole for the island.  We spent a quiet evening, well until 6:00 when we all crashed for the night for 12 hours, in the marina with only about 10 other boats on the dock.  Yesterday, activity greatly increased.  The dock is full and everyone was readying their boats for Tropical Storm Ida.  She is expected to come right over us.  Once more, this seems appropriate for our cruising.  We began in June of 2005 with Hurricane Dennis approaching close to us in Marathon Florida.  (We decided it is best if we don't stop and start cruising...this time we plan on going until we are too old to cruise anymore!)


The boat is tied up and down, everything on the deck is secure and lots of stuff is down below.  We are on floating piers and have experienced rain bands on and off.  The storm is expected to be in the area around mid-day Sunday, today is Saturday. 

We will begin exploring the island and mainland as soon as the weather becomes feasible.

WH-Nancy didn't leave much for me to report, she covered all of it. The ride was great! The waves were such that we were angling up and over them smoothly. (I didn't throw up once!!!) Our guest on board fared well also and was very helpful. He stood his share of the watches and was eager to learn all about sailing. (We gave him all we know in about five minutes!  We are still learning every day)

Nothing broke on the boat on the trip down. (I know all our sailing friends find this hard to believe but it is true. GRACIAS A DIOS!!!) It means I get to enjoy being a tourist instead of wrenching around on this old boat!

We haven't had time to get out and see Isla Mujeres but intend to take the ferry boat over to Cancun, do the tourist thing and go see the Mayan ruins and just explore in general. Don't know how long we will spend here, we make up a new plan over "coffee and talk" every morning. We do know that when we make a move it will be SOUTH.

WH-15 Nov 09--Sunday at 0600 weatherunderground said Ida would be a category two hurricane as it passed over Isla Mujeres @ 1300. We tied the last line we own off to the dock and checked in to the hotel which is a strong structure.  As it turned out the storm weakened a bit, turned east a bit and all we got was maybe 35 mph gusts and a little rain.  We are glad she decided to spare the island. Obviously.

We spent a day untying the boat and then we went to Cancun, rented a car and drove to Chichen Itza, Tulum and Coba' to see the Mayan ruins.  (Well worth the time.) Nancy is going to add some pictures to this thing soon of the ruins, etc.

Don't know when we will be leaving Isla Mujeres, we are looking at the cruising guide to decide where we want to go next. (Today @ the Soggy Peso bar they are serving ribs so we can't leave today.)

An American couple own and operate the Soggy Peso and they have it fixed up real nice. Another American couple own and operate JAX  and it is a real cool place too. They have the college games on Saturdays and NFL games on Sunday. (No Bud Light but the Corona is good and cold and served up with a smile.)

I have to clean the raw water strainer and nose around in the engine room some before we go have ribs n Corona so I have to close.

Oh, I want to announce that I have decided to come back in the next Life as an iguana. I have been studying them some since we arrived and all they do is come out of the bushes and sit in the sun and wait for lunch to come crawling or flying by. Then it is just, Gulp, and they get that down their neck and wait for desert to come crawling or flying by. They don't appear to be worried about having enough for retirement, health insurance, kollidge tuition, boat payments, paying for the stimuLIE  package or anything. Yes, I shall come back an IGUANA!

NK---16 Nov--


I have no desire to come back as an iguana, so I will be seeking a new partner.   Iguanas eat bugs and have leathery skin....yuck!   And if you are not lucky enough to come back as an Iguana on Isla Mujeres, they are delicacies in the other countries.  Sorry Wayne!

After we arrived on Friday in Isla Mujeres and secured the boat, we all had cabin fever.  Ron rented a golf cart, which besides scooters and taxis is how most people on the island get around.  There are a few other cars, but not many.  Through a few rain showers, we rode around the center of town.  We walked down to the beach and watched the surf and weather.  The winds gusted around 35 to 40 knots and we had a few downpours.  We enjoyed dinner at Jax, which as Wayne told you is an American - Texan owned restaurant and bar. 

We returned to the marina, it was now full.  Boats from as far as Cancun came to the Lagoon for shelter.  The last two boats in the passage way to the lagoon were the ferries and they took up almost the whole passage.  No boats could go in or out of the lagoon after they parked.


 It was a pretty amazing sight!  We spent the night on the boat and only had a little wind.  When we checked Weatherunderground Sunday morning at 6:00, Hurricane Ida was a Category 2 storm and the eye was expected to pass over Isla Mujeres about 1:00 PM.  We added a few more lines to the boat and got a hotel room at the resort.  By 1:00 we had very little rain and wind.  The storm had moved to the East and dropped to a Category 1 storm.  We received more wind and rain on Saturday from the storm than we did on Sunday when it went by! 

Monday Ron had to return home unexpectedly, and we spent the day untying the boat and tidying her up.  Tuesday morning Wayne talked to Peter, the marina manager and he suggested we see some sights on the mainland.  So we packed and took the ferry to Cancun.  We rented a car and headed south to Tulum.  We stayed at the Blue Sky Resort and this room overlooked the Caribbean Sea.  That's Wayne sipping his "welcome drink."



Wednesday morning we drove to the Mayan ruins in Tulum.  Tulum means "walled city" and it backs up to the Caribbean.  The view is absolutely stunning, although the city faced inland.  An inscription in one of the buildings dates it at 564 AD, although the "heyday' was between 1200 and 1521 AD.

We then drove to Cobá for our second visit to Mayan ruins.  Cobá is inland and has two very large lakes close to it.  This is a ruin we could climb on and after riding bicycles for a couple of miles to reach the tallest ruin, we climbed 140 feet up 120 steps !  And it was almost straight up!!!!  Most of this construction occured from 500 to 900 AD.  Most of this site has yet to be uncovered, so how large it truly is, is unknown.  There are two interesting ballgame courts with large stone hoops that a "ball" was bounced off the players hips and through the hoops.  Someone at the site said the winner was "sacrificed" after the game. 

Look towards the top at the beginning of the slope and you can see the hoop.  On the ground was On the ground was a carving of a skull.  

This is the ruin we climbed.  Going up didn't seem so bad, but it was straight down once you got to the top.  The view from the top was spectacular.  Wayne helped a young lady down who was too scared to climb down. 


We then drove to Chichen Izta and got a hotel so we could get up early and begin exploring what is called, The Most Important Temple."  The city has 5 separate squares; only 3 have been restored.  Chichen Itza covers an area of a little more than 9 square miles.  Chichen Itza was a major site for the teaching of philosophy, science and the arts.  Chichen Itza has long be considered an immense treasure and declared a cultural assest of humanity.   

 This is the Pyramid of Kukulcan which the dimensions of the pyramid represent the 365 days of the solar year.  The steps, which have a serpent's head at the base, at the exact arrival of the equinoxes project seven triangles of light and give the illusion that the serpent is slithering down the stair, while its shadow crosses the square.  The serpent of light represents the day that creates wise men and saints.  The serpent of shadow represents the night and darkness that brings men to perdition. 

To the east of the base, excuvation had begun and about 10 more feet of structure could be seen below ground level. 



 These pillars were seen for a couple of miles around the perimeter of the  south side of the ruins. 









 This lady danced with the beer bottle on her head at the restaurant by the ruins.  This is supposed to be a typical Mayan dress for the ladies.





 It was all so amazing!

 WH- 23 Nov 2009--I strongly recommend to everyone they either sail to or fly to Isla Mujeres or Cancun, rent a car and go visit the Mayan ruins!  I swear, I didn't know I was so interested in history.  In high school the teacher sat me next to Mary Lee Jordan and expected me to learn history!  (I don't remember much of anything but Mary Lee!)

Well, never mind, I know all about the Mayans now and you will all enjoy seeing these ruins and learning about them if you missed it in school like I did.


After we returned from the mainland, we met a fun couple from San Antonio, Susan and Dan.  Isla Mujeres has been a vacation favorite of theirs for a few years now.  They introduced us to the Soggy Peso's ribs on Sunday.  As Wayne mentioned, the Soggy Peso is owned by Mal and Sally, a couple from Dallas.  Ribs, Barbequed Chicken and Sausage is not to be missed on the island on Sundays.  It is excellent and the people who run the restaurant are friendly and fun.  After stuffing ourselves, Dan, Susan, Wayne and I, headed to JAX, a sports bar and restaurant owned by another Texas couple, to watch NFL football. 

The next day Susan and Dan took us in their golf cart to the south side of the island.  The Caribbean water surrounding the island is spectacular.  Looking to the Southwest you can see Cancun and from the Southeast, nothing but blue water.  The reefs surrounding the island create the different shades of blue. 



After Susan and Dan left, Wayne and I continued our exploration of the island.  We also rented a golf cart for a week and had lots of fun riding around the island.  The "centro" of the island is crowded with street merchants, shops, restaurants, palapa bars, hotels, taxis, scooters and golf carts.  The beaches are home to fishing boats, white sand, lounge chairs, swimmers and merchants.  There are a couple of ferry docks in which the boats leave for Puerto Juarez and Cancun almost hourly.  The area is a hub of activity, noise and "holas, buenos dias, tarde or noche."  The main road winds around a statue which is a tribute to fishermen. 

We took a day and explored the southern end of the island that has a Mayan ruin which is dedicated to the goddess Ixchel.  The tip of the island is a park and the water surrounding it is amazing.

And before we left Isla Mujeres, I decided to make sure I could feed the iguanas so in Wayne's next life  I can sail by Isla Mujeres from time to time to feed him!!!

We will have Thanksgiving Dinner at JAX, owned by Jackie and Michael.  We will get to see the TEXAS - A&M game! 


WH- 25 Nov 

We are looking forward to heading to Belize and exploring that area. All our cruising friends give us a thumbs up.  I do enjoy visiting places but after we are in a place for a time I get to looking out to sea and urging Nancy to plot the course to our next destination. I like the water in between maybe more than I like the ports of call.

 I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and I hope you are all as happy as I am.  (This is assuming someone is reading all this stuff.)

November 28 - Saturday 

We left Isla Mujeres at 5:30 in the morning and sailed 11 1/2 hours to Puerto Aventuras.  It was a fun, but rocky sail.  The seas were on our quarter and it was somewhat rolly.  But the winds were good and the sun was bright!

Puerto Aventuras is a resort in the Mexican Riviera.  It has dolphin pens and you can swim with the dolphins.  They perform such tricks with their trainers as letting the trainer surf on one and two dolphins pushing the trainer out of the water.  The water is so clear that we could see a new baby dolphin nursing below the surface.


There are manatees and seals as well.  We had fun watching the dolphin shows, the manatees and listening to the seals as we circled the harbor.  The manatees had just been fed lettuce.  There were three adults and one baby.

They used their front flippers to hold the lettuce and eat.  

We found Gringo Dave's the first night we arrived and have enjoyed a few meals, beers, margaritas and football there.  We have also eaten at a restaurant owned by a wonderful lady, Donna whose restaurant looks on to this dolphin pen.  I watched as a family swam with the dolphins.  We strongly recommend these two establishments!

The marina is surrounded by condos that are half a million and under.  It is beautiful to sit in the cockpit and have coffee and watch the sunrise in the marina. 

Our plans are to stay for the next best weather window, which should be Monday and sail to San Pedro, Belize on Ambergris Caye.  It's about a 32-hour sail. 

WH- 3 Dec 2009

Puerto Aventuras is definitely a good place to pull in to as you bump along the western side. Good marina staff to greet you, Gringo Daves and Donna's to go to for great food and the ball games.  20 kilometers north is Playa Del Carmen and you can get provisions there and the "El Centro" is pretty cool along the beach there.

We went to Playa Del Carmen  Sunday and met with Julie and Mark, our friends from Corpus.

We must have walked ten miles with them!!  It was good to see them and "talk boats". They are about to have their boat ready for cruising and we look forward to finding them in some anchorage someday soon.

Monday looks good for heading to Belize. I am ready. Been hemmed up in this marina long enough. At San Pedro we will be at anchor which is more to our liking.

WH-11 Dec 09

The ride down here to San Pedro was awesome! Winds on the port hip at about 20kts! We were flying! The crossing of the reef called "San Pedro Cut" was uneventful. She groaned and rolled some but we made it thru fine.

We have been doing boat chores and just relaxing and looking out over the pretty water. We have begun to use the new watermaker and it is working great. The water in the anchorage is so clear that the watermaker is not going thru filters too fast.

The genset went pearshaped as my Brit friends would say.  It runs but it is showing -14 amps instead of charging the batts.  That is my job for tomorrow morning. Jose says that 95% of my electrical problems will be with the ground so that is what I will check out first.


We left Puerto Aventuras at dawn, Wayne's favorite time for leaving.  The winds were predicted to be light, but they never were.  We maintained 6 - 8+ knots of speed the whole way to San Pedro.  Even when we tried to slow the boat down, she just kept the speeds up.  We didn't want to go through the cut before the sun was up well. 

We had met some other cruisers, Tom and Doris on Footloose, and Debbie and Dave on Wind Dancer.  We buddy-boated for a while, but they pulled into Bahia Ascencion for the night.  We kept sailing.  The night was beautiful.  We had a full moon and cloud cover for the sail from Port Aransas to Isla Mujeres and didn't see many stars.  This time the sky was full of stars.  We could see the Milky Way.  I forget how awesome it is.  The moon did rise around 11:00, so we got to enjoy the full starred sky and sailing under the moon light. 

We are anchored behind the reef in San Pedro.  It is cool with the wind always blowing.  The town is a good dinghy ride away and somewhat wet.  We will pull anchor in about a week and move closer to the dinghy dock.   The town of San Pedro is fun.  We've made some friends and walked the town. We will be here until the first of January. 

Sunset overlooking San Pedro and the town from the anchorage.

A view of the reef from the boat and the beautiful water we look at daily!





SAILING IS EASY         By Wayne Harris

The sails go up,

the wind blows,

the boat goes.

It's easy.


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