Sunday, March 15, 2020

Wintering in Mexico

We’ve been docked at El Milagro in Isla Mujeres 
for almost 6 weeks. The island  is only 4 miles long and a 20 minutes ferry ride from Cancun but it has a laid-back Caribbean vibe that we enjoy . The streets of this former fishing village are crowded with scooters, golf carts, and taxis but we usually opt to walk. Our leisurely pace enables us to wander the streets lined with colorful buildings and surrounded by clear, turquoise waters. 

Sunset at El Milagro
Tony and Anne Robson were with us until March 1 and during that time were rented a car and drove to Valladolid for lunch, bought some Mexican glass in Playa del Carmen, had dinner at in Puerto Morelos (Richard’s #1 restaurant), and drank our share of margaritas. We attended Carnaval and went diving to see the underwater sculpture park.  We spent a considerable amount of time lying in the sun relaxing and reading. The Mexican sun is intense and it’s important to avoid the serious skin-scorching that results from too much time in the water with not enough sunscreen.  We end almost every day watching the spectacular sunset and swapping tales with interesting folks we have met staying here at El Milagro. 

The Robson’s flew back to the UK on March 1  and Tara, Chad and baby Henry arrived March 3-11.  We took them to visit Mayan ruins at Ek-Balem, stopped by a number of bars and restaurants, and pushed Henry in his stroller for miles; no easy task when sidewalks seems to just randomly come to an end. We snorkeled from our dinghy and saw underwater life including healthy coral, parrot fish, angel fish, barracuda, and lots of other snorkelers.  If we were here in May we would have an opportunity to see the migrating whale sharks. Henry loved riding in a golf cart over numerous speed bumps to visit a turtle sanctuary and tour the island from North to South. Hildago, the main shopping street , is filled with colorful shops beckoning tourists to negotiate the price for souvenirs, trinkets, jewelry, textiles, pottery, T-shirts, and tequila. Restaurants galore blanket the island. From upscale and touristy  to hole-in-the-wall and local, there is an abundance of delicious food. We still haven’t gotten our fill of ceviche, shrimp tacos, pastor, or chilaquiles. Kay found a street vendor selling her favorite local sweet – marquesitas con Nutella y queso -  while Chad chowed down on churros. Yum!

We anticipated leaving the land of Corona beer and sailing back to the land of corona virus on Tuesday, March 17 but it is not looking good for a weather window until at least the 24th. I guess we will just have to linger longer and drink a few more margaritas.

While those in the States are concerned with the pandemic, it is not as much of an issue here in Isla Mujeres.  Stores are not being run on and folks appear to be taking a cautious but calm approach to the situation.  It is one of the better places to be as the pandemic unfolds, at least for now. 

Thanks for following our journey

Richard and Kay

More pics:

Pastor for Tacos
in Cancun

Chad, Henry, and Tara
Isla Mujeres

Ek Balem

Henry relaxing

Murray is happy to share

Night on the Malecon
Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres

Visiting Turtle Rescue

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Sunset in Key West
Hola! from Mexico . . . our destination for this winter.  Entering the Caribbean’s west coast isn’t easy but far easier than heading to the islands in the Eastern Caribbean.  The route we followed this time took us from Key West to the Dry Tortugas to Isla Mujeres.  
Fort Jefferson
Dry Tortugas National Park
Our friends, Tony and Anne joined us in Key Biscayne and we continued to Key West; a most enjoyable place to visit.  With great sunsets, interesting shops and quasi-decent food, we waited for the perfect weather to make passage.  The Dry Tortugas is on Richard’s “bucket list” so we sailed overnight to this small collection of low sandy islands and the home of historic Fort Jefferson. Check it out at: .  
Fort Jefferson
We toured the fort, walked the beautiful beaches and prepared for what promised to be one hell of a thunder and lightning storm.  This weather event lasted the better part of the night with lots of electricity and very high winds.  The holding was good in the anchorage and we were well protected in the lee of the island.
Finally, on Sunday the weather and winds seemed right and weather guru Chris Parker gave us a thumbs up so we ventured off for two full days and three nights of sailing.  After the first 24 hours, we were moving west shadowing the Cuban coast with good wind and fair seas.  With four people on board the “watch schedule” is much more pleasant than with just two and allows for lengthier periods of sleep – as long as you are able to sleep with the boat doing its best to toss you out of bed. The following day we entered the Yucatan Channel and crossed the Gulf Stream for the second time in following seas. The currents mostly worked against us rather than for us but at sunrise on Wednesday morning four tired sailors and one dog desperately in need of a walk, arrived at Isla Mujeres (Spanish for “island of women”) - our home for the next 6-7 weeks.  
Isla Mujeres
We settled at a dock at  El Milagro (, cleared customs,  and are once again on island time.  The water is warm and blue, the temperatures are in the mid 80’s and the food and margaritas are perfect.  There are plenty of tourists here this time year and the ferry brings loads of “day trippers” over from Cancun. The streets are busy with the main modes of transportation being scooters and golf carts. The mainland is a 15-minute fast ferry ride away. We rented a car and drove to Puerto Morelos and Valladolid for a change of scenery.  
We’ll pass our days with outings on the island, volunteering at Isla Animal Rescue, snorkeling, paddleboarding, kayaking, and of course, some boat maintenance.  We are enjoying meeting people who share our love of exploring Mexico in a low key way that isn’t experienced at all-inclusive resorts.  Locals are welcoming and beach bars abound; we are so fortunate to have this time in such a wonderful, interesting and beautiful place.   

Thanks for following our travels.

 More Pics:

Tony and Richard

Kay in the lobby of El Milagro
Isla Mujeres
The crew cooks up a great dinner for all
El Milagro
The leaning lighthouse
Puerto Morelos

Ann and Kay at
Our favorite restaurant in the world!

The Ferry coming into Isla Mujeres
from Puerto Juarez
Lunch in Valadilid, Mexico

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Weather Weather Weather.......

The Three Amigos - Vero Beach 
We are now in the Florida Keys, a day or so away from Key West. The wind is howling and the seas building.  The holidays were spent in Charleston with our southern-based family. It was wonderful to spend December visiting Jason, Meredith and Liam. As usual we ate too much food in too many fabulous Charleston restaurants.  This year we had the joy of attending Liam’s Holiday Concert at school,  joining him for lunch in the cafeteria, and volunteering at his 2nd grade Economics Fair. It felt great to be back in an elementary school with all its energy and excitement.

The sail from Charleston to Miami was sans Kay who had a great visit in Vermont with grandson Henry, Tara and Chad.  Our good friend John Creelman took over as first mate for three weeks and did a splendid job.   The sail south was a combination of outside passages and Inter-coastal Waterway depending on weather conditions in the Atlantic. The problem with the ICW is that inadequate funds have been allocated for dredging resulting in significant shoaling.  The saying is, “There are two kinds of sailors in the ICW, those that have gone aground and liars.”  A second issue with inter-coastal travel is the transiting of bridges.  There are many 65’ fixed bridges (our mast is about 64’) and other lower bridges that have to open either upon request or on a set schedule. This results in a lot of “hurry up and wait”.  Since we can only motor about 50 miles a day on the ICW, we prefer overnight passages in the Atlantic. The good news is that the ICW is available when the weather is inclement and there are places that are stunningly beautiful.  This year John and Richard discovered the town of Cocoa near Florida’s “Space Coast” - a lovely town with great restaurants and a rich history from the early days of NASA. They even witnessed a Spacex launch and separation.

Anne, Kay, and Tony on Key Biscayne 

Key Biscayne
We grabbed a mooring in Vero Beach in a very protected harbor.  Unlike most places, they double and triple raft boatsv on the moorings.  We had the great fortune of being rafted with S/V Ring of Kerry owned by our friends George, Cecilia and their puppy Champ.  We were also happy to spend time with our friend and Vero resident, John T. who we had shared a house with in Guatemala for several weeks. Our Vermont friends Peter and Blaine are only a few  miles down the road so we were able to visit with them, too. All and all it was a wonderful visit with old friends and great weather.
Atalanta at rest in No Name Harbor

The next stop was Key Biscayne where we anchored comfortably in No Name Harbor.  Richard rented a car to facilitate a crew change and provisioning. Kay arrived in Miami on January 14,  John departed from Ft. Lauderdale the afternoon of the 15th and Tony and Anne arrived from Westbury, UK  that evening. We also squeezed in a lunch date with Richard and Martin from S/V Sea Cloud.

Richard and John in Vero
We are currently stalled at Marathon Key due to weather and anticipating a sail to Key West on Thursday where we hope to chill and relax for a few days with an eye to the weather.  With the help of professional meteorologist, Chris Parker, we will look for a three-day weather window enabling us to sail to Mexico.  We anticipate a brief stop over in the Dry Tortugas, a group of small islands 60 miles west of Key West.  It will take a couple of days and nights to get across the Gulf of Mexico to beautiful Isla Mujeres.  Hopefully we will be sipping margaritas on the beach there the next time we post.

Richard and Kay

Click here to follow our progress: 

More pics:

Opulence on the Inter-coastal

John Creelman

Kay, Richard, and Roseanne at Angel Oak

St. Augustine

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Winter Seems to Have Arrived

Preparing to Face the Weather
We had only been out a week and were already waiting out a second storm; first at Block Island and then in Cape May. Our southward journey continued with stops at anchorages in the Cohassey River, Turner Creek, Back Creek, Oxford Marina, Tred Avon, Spring Cove in Solomon’s Island, Deltaville, and a couple of days plugged into heat the Tidewater Marina in Portsmouth, VA. We had the opportunity to visit with friends along the way which is the best part of the trip. We are finding that boats have emptied out of the harbors, leaves have mostly fallen from the trees, nights are chilly, and daylight hours are too brief. 
Each time we set out, we never know how the trip will feel or what our attention will drawn to.  We struggle with the desire for each sailing adventure to be new and unique and try to avoid repeating prior experiences – even though we’ve visited wonderful places and met lovely people. This time, our focus  seems to be about how difficult it is to leave family and about the weather patterns arriving this fall.  The easier of the two to deal with is the more complex one, weather.  We make decisions based on how much risk/discomfort we are willing to endure, whether the wind will carry us in the right direction, or if it’s time to just sit and wait for more favorable conditions.
Murray Finding his Own Seat
Having accurate weather information to base our go/no go decisions upon is essential and we currently have series of resources that we are pretty happy with. We use Passage Weather Offshore for weather routing and departure planning, WeatherNet to download GRIB files (small maps), and a range of text based reports, NOAA (National Weather Service) for its mammoth data-base.  Recently, we contracted with Chris Parker, a marine meteorologist who emails a detailed, region specific analysis of the weather for the area that we are sailing.  We highly recommend his services!
Cape May
We are settling back into the boat way of life.  While we miss our family in New England we are moving every day closer to our Charleston family.  We are anxious to spend December at Charleston City Marina near Jason, Meredith and Liam before we leave them too soon and sail to Florida. Our good friends, Anne and Tony who “buddy boated” many miles with us aboard S/V Argosea, will hop onboard in Miami and we’ll make our way to Key West where we wait for a weather window to make the passage to Isla Mujeres, Mexico for February-March.
While tied up in Portsmouth/Norfolk, we rented a car and drove to visit our good friends in Richmond for a few days.  Spending time with them is always a highlight of our trip south.  Today we move through the Great Bridge Lock while trying to keep warm during this cold front passing through. We saw snow flurries yesterday which is great motivation to get moving south.  Today we inch our way toward our destination.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Beginning a New Adventure: October 2019

It has been a while since our last blog.  We tend to only use this format when we are traveling more extensively and anticipate new adventures on the water.  On Friday, October 25, 2019, Kay and I once again pushed off from our home port of Bristol, Rhode Island.  Our goal is to reach the Yucatan area of Mexico by February.  Like most sailing adventures, it is the journey rather than the destination that makes it all worthwhile.

The night before leaving Bristol
In the past we have met new friends, explored new and exciting places, immersed ourselves in different cultures and shared much of it with old friends from home.  We are hoping for new experiences despite the fact that some of the places we will be going are somewhat familiar.  As always, the hardest part is leaving family.  We love our time with our kids and grandchildren, nieces and nephews not to mention my sister and mother.  Hopefully, they will visit and perhaps we will slip home at some point to surprise them.  Regardless, we will be back in New England again in the late Spring for summer in New England.

Here is our tentative itinerary:
Leaving Bristol

  • Leave Bristol October 25, 2019
  • Block Island
  • Cape May
  • Chesapeake Bay
  • Portsmouth, VA
  • Round Cape Hatteras or use ICW if weather requires
  • Beaufort, NC
  • Charleston, SC (for the month of December)
  • January 1 leave Charleston for Florida
  • Pick up Tony and Ann on Key Biscayne
  • Key West (by Jan. 20)
  • Isla Mujeres, Mexico (February and March)
  • Begin north from Mexico mid March
  • Return to Bristol by end of May
We hope that you will follow our blog and make comments as we progress.  

Thanks for following

Richard and Kay