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12 volts system.

12 volts system, what a novel and easy system for gunk huller, on blue water sailing. Well so is the misunderstanding. It is not an easy system, (mind you it can be deciphered with proper research) And after 40 years of playing with boats, I am just starting to understand it all, or so I think. Who’s fault is it ? the answer is in two parts, first the sailor him/herself, for not researching, but also the internet. The internet is a beautiful thing, so much information’s out there. The problem is, also so much dis-information’s, Wanna be teachers, wanna look good kind of people, or just too much time on their hands and not enough brains to go with it. The second part of the problems, which in my opinion is where 95% of the problem arises from. Are the sales peoples. They do not know their products, they do not care, all they want is their commissions.  No matter what lies they have to tell you in order to convince you to by their products. In My 40 years of toying with boats, I finally found out a real knowledgeable sales person. Where, In a small town in Quebec about a 1 1/2 hour drive north of Montreal.  He knew exactly what I was talking about, knew the specs by heart, knew what system to go with what other system, proposed a similar product at a cheaper price, and compared the two of them with no hold bars, just plain truth.

This is going to be a very long blog, and it will have to be done in many steps. I am still on the water after all. First the biggest problem of having the proper stuff to live on a 12 volts system is cost. Especially if you are in the middle of no where, and replace your house battery bank. It is not like in the U.S. or Canada, where prices are fairly competitive because of so many sales persons trying you sell you their products, especially if you are talking about 4 or 6 batteries at a time. You can hear the chiching sound as they salivate over their commission. Never mind the lead acid batteries, their first option will be to push on you is AGM versus acid filled. (Of course we are talking deep-cycles here since we are talking house bank) Are AGM better then acid. most people would say yes, Where My problem lies, is cost versus return on your money. A good acid battery, well care for, well maintained and not abused should last you an average 5 years, depending on the brand, cheaper batteries,( I mean manufacturer here) last less then good batteries. AGM will last longer, possibly 7 years or so. Again, as long as they are cared for properly, monitored, and not abused. Abused batteries die fast and cost a fortune. I know I have done it in the past, learned My lesson, bit the bullet and moved one. If you make a mistake once, it is called learning, twice, it is call stupidity. so an AGM will last 2 to 3 years longer then acid batteries. So it is a 30 to 40% more life. The problem is, good AGM cost 50 to 70% more then acids. You do the maths, and see if it is worth it to you. In My opinion, it is not worth it for Me until the price comes down. Then perhaps I will switch to AGM. An other factor, the weight. AGM weight way more then acids batteries, and are harder to get in countries like Guatemala, Honduras etc… If you are a North American cruiser, no problem, if you are a blue water sailor like Me, Huge problem, with the weight, comes the increase cost of shipping, some times as much as $200.00 per units, more if it an 8D. Then there is customs, taxes, unless you can declare in “transit” and some countries do not care if you are in transit or not. you have money, they want it. After all even with My miserable pension, I still can make more then a 100 times more then the locals. In Canada I am a poor schmuck, here I am a rich gringo. But a battery that sell for $180.00 in the U.S. sells for about $240.00 here. Acid ones that is. You see where I am going with this. So research, research, research.

Next is the capacity. Battery salesmen are notorious to over state the capacities of batteries. A battery that was sold at a capacity rating of 450 Amp hours, will typically produce 400 Aph/hrs, so it is better to over size your batteries, then kill them in the first year. Next come the charging systems. It can be easy if you are a day sailor, go for a joy ride once in a while, then charge them back on shore power for a month or so, until the next joy ride. Me, I need a more serious system then that. I need solar panels, wind generator, Fuel generator, motor alternator etc…. Why ? Because I have a fridge that is a pig on power, then the water maker ( We wont go there). Electronics instrumentation’s, because no one uses sextant anymore. I need to cook, vacuum, use lights, water pumps, water heater etc…. etc… etc…. Now it gets complicated. Because of the charging systems you will need, you will also need multiple charging systems, and to use those you will need a charge controller, and if you are smart, you will invest in a good charge monitor. The controller, well that one is easy to understand. You will need a device that will neither fry your batteries, nor let them die prematurely. Now why the monitor. Well if there is something wrong with your system, you will not know it until it is too late. Batteries are all ready fried, or drained past survival state. No CPR, no mouth to mouth, a dead battery is a dead battery. And just a side note here. forget all that stuff about reviving batteries on the internet. I have been toying with it for the last 40 years, no Epsom salt, no washing with baking powder. It DOES NOT WORK. Dead is dead, end of the conversation. If you are a land lubber,  go ahead play with it. if you are in the blue yonder, and come into a storm, and cannot start your engine for emergency, or need power to get in between two close reef, you well quickly understand what I mean by dead is dead. And unfortunately, that might be you, So do you really want to risk it ????????

An other component to consider, is wiring. Very, very important, too small, and you have over heating, possible fire situation, lack of conductivity. Too big, loss of currant, more expenses etc…. So My 2 cents is go with the proper wiring size, and add 5 to 10% in size. Do not cheap out on the wiring. You will be asking for trouble. There are many professional sites on the internet that will do the calculations for you. Voltage, amperage and distance, usually is what you need to know.

Ok now lets look at every thing separately. First the batteries. once you decide your preference, acid versus AGM according of your budget, the size and amount of amp hours. The problem with size on boats, is usually the battery locations. Remember, batteries needs to be in a proper battery tray, with good ventilation. Otherwise you could have a disaster on your hands. In My lifetime, I have seen boats literally blow out of the water, or having acid eating through structures.  Unfortunately for My boat, the battery well, dictate My size of batteries, which are golf cart batteries 6 volts. Not a bad thing, since after some research, I learned that 4 X 6 volts, two in series, and two in parallel, gives you twice the amperage rating, at twice the voltage. Thus a 225 amp 6 volts time two on both figures will give you 450 amp hours at 12 volts. That is for My at this time very border line from what I need. Because My fridge is a pig on power. 6.5 amp hour. I am shopping for a new one, with half the consumption, then I will be styling. until then, I have to be very careful with battery consumption. LED lights can also cut on consumption’s, 1.5 amp hour versus .03 amp hours, makes a huge difference. especially if you are careless and think your boat should be lit up like a Christmas tree. Some people use inverses to run A/C even at anchor. I find that ridiculous, but lets face it we all have our zone of needs and comfort. so if you think that for instance a fridge uses 6.5 amp hours, and runs half of the time, then that is 78 amp in a day. now you will use water pump, bilge pump lights at night etc…. etc… etc…. It does add up. so lets say you use 95 amp hours in a day, and your batteries are 450 amp hours, that means you are using 21% not bad, but battery manufacturer are notorious for over rating their batteries. After all it looks good on paper. I found out that My 450 amp/h batteries actually hold only 400 amp/h so now you are at 23%. give an average loss of 2% over the wires, now we are at 25% and it keeps adding up like that. on and on and on. So do yourself a favor, oversize your batteries. because once you start using your electronics, like Auto-pilots (energy pig) chart plotter (energy pig), other instruments like VHF, wind instruments, depth sender, are you getting the picture yet ??????? it all add up. Sure you can run your engine all the time, find if you have a yacht, but why buy a sailboat if your need to be motoring all the time. And the problem with batteries, is if you let them drain too much, they will never, and I mean never, get back to their original states. So now you have to deal not with 400 amp/h which was the original state of the batteries, but more like 300 amp/h. now you are in trouble.So try to over size your amp/h as much as possible (to a point. because there can also be over doing it) Use good judgement.

So 100% battery reliance impossible. That is why we use alternators, wind generators, solar panels, gas or diesel generators, chargers,  etc…..If you have those you need also charge controller, voltage regulator,  a battery monitor is also not a bad idea. In my opinion, a good monitor is a must, it will do nothing per say for your batteries, but it will help you understand what is happening to your batteries before it is too late. Mine is a fairly high end one, it tells me how long since last 100%, when was the batteries last equalized, how much I draw, how much I am charging, it has alarms that warns me before it is too late. etc…

Back it it in a few days.

 

 

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2016 sailling season

 

THE DOWN SIDE OF SAILING

Well it has been an interesting year. Yes my blog are becoming few and far in between. But there is a reason for it. First, I have never been much of a writer. Peggy was much better at it, and it is not only her writings that I am missing. Seconds, I prefer to write with a whole season’s perspective, that way I can mull over what I am going to write, and only put My foot in My mouth only 4 or 5 times instead of a 100 times. Well, let’s say that putting My foot in My mouth, is a point of view. Me I call it as I see it, I am  not politically correct, I do not care who I offend, and frankly I prefer to have few friends, then many knifes in My back.

So let’s analyze this season.

First the weather was the crap. Most people blames it on El Nino, others blames it on climate warming, and others, Oh well who cares. The end result is that the weather is changing. First, the torrential rain in the RioDulce in Guatemala. Well it rained to a level rarely seen around here. Yes it did happened in the past, but not quite to this extent. The hotel/Marina was closed for almost 2 weeks, because of floods. Everything was under water. Offices, bungalows that are on stilts, well you get the picture.

So let’s see if I can figure out how to insert one here.

Any who, the rain was terrible.

So I rose with the boat to the occasion (pun intended) and it was a great time to scrub the hull. The water line was at dock level J such an  easier task that way. But came the time to sail a bit for the year. Always do a little up keep, and maintenance, and a few renovation every year. Just like a house, if you do not take care of it, eventually it will fall apart.

Now since Peggy left, I have been trying to get a crew every year. Not that they are needed, I sail perfectly good by myself. But it sounds better to sail with other people, someone to talk to, someone to share the tasks, watches etc.…. Well I must either be looking in all the wrong places, or get the wrong people on board. I never charged any money for sailing crew, they just have to cover their own expenses. Most of them want either the experience, a short free ride, well sort of free, since they have to cover their food and visa entries and such. Remember I can solo sail, so it is not that I need them, just want the company.

I guess there must be people either watching too much TV, movies or whatever. Because let me tell you that it is not all deserted paradisiacal  islands with a waiter waiting for you on hands and knees with a Pinacolada on a silver tray for you. Nor is it perfect sailing weather, and no you cannot take a ½ hour hot shower on a boat. Maybe on a cruise ship perhaps, but not on a 43 foot sailboat. And yes trimming the sail is involved in sailing, so is keeping watch and fixing things is part of the whole package. And no there is no internet in the middle of the ocean.

So for this year, crew # 1 could not remember what to do each time we had to tack and jive, or raise the sails, whether it be the main, Genoa or whatever. Keep in mind, all my lines are color coded, all different colors, and they can all be controlled from the cockpit. So if after raising the main 14 times, one cannot remember that they have to pull the green and white line, well perhaps the Captain is allowed to (pop a fuse) and once the line is identified, and the crew ask “what end should I hold ?” well one is certainly expected a roll of the eyes and a deep sigh.  And never mind that she wants to be on line every day to check her B&B business in Europe. So you get the idea. No clue how to sail, no will to learn, and a need to be connected 24/7. So crew #1 gets off loaded in Belize after 2 weeks.

Crew # 2. Well I figure if women don’t work so well, perhaps I should give a guy a shot at it. Hummmmm well, perhaps solo sailing is in the cards for Me. This is a mature guy, between 55 and 60. He apparently owns a 25 footer that He sails regularly on day sail. Well this must have been a plastic 2.5 inches boat in a daily tub. Because, this one barfed the whole time, slept the rest of the time, could not cook to save his own life, needed internet 24/7, because he needed to talk to his mommy 3 times a day, spending the rest of the time on face book looking at stupid video about nothing in particular. And yet did not have the decency to buy his own internet stick. And those are only the main issues. There not enough room on this blog to talk about the rest.

 

So that was the “crew” part of this year’s season. I gave up ans sailled solo for the rest of the season. Is there good crew out there? I am sure there are, just haven’t found them so farL .

THE WEATHER

Well as stated before, the rain was biblical in Guatemala this year, flooded town, landslides, many people have died, and neighborhood obliterated. So I left Guatemala early January on My way north to Isla Mujeres, to eventually meet My sisters there.

Well from Guatemala to San Pedro Belize, it was not bad, some wind, some storms, but behind the reef, well, it is bearable. So I waited for a weather window in San Pedro, it is not a bad place to wait for one, a bit too touristy to My liking, and a bit too rolly because of the constant high speed water taxies. But what the heck, no places is ever perfect, not even in what could be paradise. So I stayed there a few days, made My way to Xcalak Mexico. Get the basic legal paper work done, and waited again for a weather window. The plan is to sail from Xcalak to Cayo Del Norte and overnight there. I checked 5 different site on the net, Buoy weather, Chriss Parker, windguru, Passage weather and so on. The consensus, is the next 3 days are excellent, 10 to 20 knots wind, 6 foot seas and well-spaced.  A dream ride to Isla Mujeres. But Murphy decided to pop its ugly head up. 3 hours out of Xcalak the wind raised to 35 to 40 knots. If you know the coast of Mexico in the Carbbean side. There are very few places you can get in or out in heavy weather, there is no turning back since the entrance to Xcalak is only 150 feet wide with very bad reefs on each sides. Cayo del Norte, not much better, and Mahajal has no charts, so I did an over nigther to Cozumel, I was too late (My own fault) and ripped My genoa. Thus I had to sail overnight to Cozumel with the main. I arrived there early in the morning, with an easterly wind, making it in nice calm waters since I was on the lee side. Within a few hours a couple of sailboat limp in, both of them with ripped sail. At least I did not look that stupid, seems other sailors got the same surprise, and the same treatment. I tried to finish My clearance papers there, but after the run around, I gave up. Cozumel is a cruise ship Mecca, and de local authorities do not give a hoot about us little people. Leona Whemsley must have given them her book on how to run things. And in any case a “Northy” was coming this way, making the lee side not so lee anymore. Cozumel is not a good place to be, when the ugly “Northy” shows its ugly face. The port of Cozumel was closed to cruise ship twice this year because of storms, so if cruise ship should not be there, well neither should I, Thus I make a bee line for Isla Mujeres, in 35 to 40 knots of wind. So guess what, I ripped My other sail just as I arrived at Isla Mujeres. fortunately, it was just a small one in the right place, quite an easy fix. Finally a break during a somewhat bad situation.

So now the sail fixed, and the bad weather mostly behind Me, it is now time to make way back to the Rio. The sailing was somewhat pleasant, always nice when one is solo sailing, but the current was a solid 3 knots up all the way to Belize, and a head wind also made things a bit slow. Lots of tacking and Jiving. Thus the engine got a bit of work. But you gotta love those Yanmar engines, they are a work horse, they use little fuel, and they are fairly quiet. So be it, it was motor sailing all the way to Belize. And once behind the reef of Belize, sailing becomes very easy. Good protection from the reef means small short waves. A bit noisy at times, but fairly comfortable. But being behind the reef and solo sailing, also means constant alertness. Shallow areas, lots of water taxi’s etcetera, and then there are the lobster traps and the fishnets. So a keen eye, and being aware of your surrounding is warranted at all time. But the scenery and surroundings are magical, so why would anyone wants to  be sleeping and missing all that ?

So with good weather most of the time, I made it back to the Rio in about 1 week solo handed. Now the reno and fixing will be in order, But I will keep that for next year’s log .

THE PLACES FOR THIS YEAR

 

So from the Rio I made My way to Belize. I love Belize, the people, the surroundings, the islands, the sea life. It is a unique place, almost a paradise. I say almost, not quite. It is also gouging heaven. Not by the locals, most of them are very competitive. A bit more expensive than the rest of Central America, but still affordable to a certain extent. But when you have to deal with the government, well that is a total different story. First the fees. Yes they have changed over the last few years. It now cost $200.00 for the first two days when you bring a boat in Belize, then it is $5.00 a day for the privilege of keeping the boat in their waters. Compare to Honduras and their measly $25.00 to $50.00 that includes everything for  a possible 90 days depending on your situation. It makes Belize very expensive. Then there is the passport issue. They only stamp your passport for 30 days, at a rate of $25.00 for the first time, and $45.00 every time after that. So every 30 days, it is the paper dance, go to immigration, then port captain, then custom etc…, every time you have to open your wallet.

Now the marinas. most boaters live on the hook, not because they love to, but because the marinas are too expensive. At Roberts Grove, (a very nice marina, but lousy to nonexistent services). A boat My size (43 feet) is about $450. U.S. a month, not cheap, but still affordable. But, and there is a but. It is only if your boat is flagged in Belize. If it is flagged in any other country, the price suddenly more than doubles to the tune of $980.00 a month. Why ???? Well because they say so. And the marina keeps empty, and all the boat live at anchor. Now what geniuses cannot see that there is a bit of a problem there. It bugles the mind.

Most anything boat related is outrageous. Not everything, but most anything.

But if you want to talk diving, then yes everything IS outrageous. More than double than what other Central American countries charges. A simple dive is about $75.00 and up, a 2 to 3 dive trip is $250.00 and up. That is why I have dive tanks on the boat. But they need to be filled. A bit expensive, but it is the lesser of two evil.

So will I return to Belize. ABSOLUTELY. it is a beautiful country, with great people and a gem of a place.

And there is also a glimmer of hope. Before I left Placencia for the Rio, I talked to 2 officials from the tourism department. They were fairly  high up the chain of command. and they listen to Me for a couple of hours, and they agreed in principle to My gripes. And they understood the situation, and they were sympathetic to the situation. They said that they did noticed a reduction in boaters visit, they saw that they were missing on an opportunity ( boat needs fixing, fixing=money and jobs) The Rio understood that a long time ago, and it is quickly becoming the place of choice for boat repair and upgrades. So let’s hope that the situation will eventually be corrected.

 

Now Mexico, also a beautiful country and gorgeous people, and no I am not just talking appearances. They smile all time, they have very little, but they will give you the shirt off their back if you need it more than they do.

The paper work can be a hit and miss. If you hire an agent, it is a breeze. It can be well worth the money. Over all the fees are reasonable, not cheap, but over a 180 days stay, yes it is well worth it, not so much for a 30 day stay. Depending of the officials and the place you get the papers done, it can be a breeze or a two days affair if you do not use an agent. Punta Sam with an agent is the simplest time I did My papers. Cozumel ???? well forget that one, it is almost impossible. Once I waited 4 days for officials to come to the boat (yes they do HAVE to come to the boat) Isla Mujeres is cheaper, but it is a one to two days affair depending on how many boaters checks in that day. But if you stay in Mexico for 180 days, than what does 2 days matters, plus the place is a bit of paradise. Next time I go to Mexico, I will try Mahajal. It is not on any cruiser brochure, but I hear that it is possible to do paper work there. We’ll see.

Now the marinas. Well any marinas in the big tourist area have all become quite expensive. In Isla Mujeres 4 years ago I was paying $350.00 a month at marina Pariadiso. It is now around $900.00 a month. 4 years ago the marina was full all the time, now there are only 3 to 4 boats in there. Ummmmm someone dropped the pooch on this one again. And all the marinas are now the same. Lets gouge the gringo type of mentality. The exception might be marina ElCid. In puerto Morelos. Not dirt cheap, but affordable. The only down side, is that it is way out of town if you are like most boaters and hoof it. Taxi’s will charge you 250 pesos, for a ride that should be 50 pesos at the most anywhere else. So either way, you get soak.

So again the Rio wins on every aspect when it comes to boating. So to the Rio I go, back to Marina Tijax, with outstanding staff, Ninette and Oscar and everyone else there. Eugene (the owner) is awesome and for the paper work, Raoul is one of the best. Not cheap, but well worth the money. So till next year, after My renovations and upgrades, I shall stop My bitching.

 

Sailing solo

I never meant to be sailing solo. but a lonely day at sea, is way better then having lots of friend while slaving at work. I have used quite a few site trying to find a steady sailing companion.

Yes I got quite a few replies. But neither takers, nor serious candidate. Am I asking too much ? I really don’t think so. All I am asking for, is a fun loving person, down to earth. one that truly understand what sailing is all about. That means, that is neither a life in tuxedos, nor gowns, nor champagne and flashy nails. Mind you if doing your nails every day is your thing, then be My guess, but as far as I am concern, a plain Jane without make up is more up My alley. I am not looking for a galley slave either, but a first mate, should be able hold her own on a sailboat. So far, all I am getting, is tons of people looking for a vacation on the cheap. well guess what, I am not a travel agent. two weeks just will not do it for this Captain. A minimum commitment, should be the norm. Well at least I would think so. Am I wrong ? Or asking too much ? I can get day tripper where ever I go, lots of them all over the place. The problem is, I tried that in the past, totally green people, and yes I do mean green. Just wait a few hours, and their faces turn ashen and they are looking for the nearest bucket, and some time the cockpit gets most of it. know what I mean jelly bean ? 🙂 And if they do not turn green, they break stuff like there is no tomorrow. Two years ago, someone yanked on the wiring of My electronics, Why ? because that person thought it was a good place to try to keep her balance. So I lost My chart plotter, depth sounder and wind instrument all at once. Thank God I knew the area, but I still had to navigate 350 knots by memory. Fortunately when I started sailing I had no such equipments. So it was down memory lane for Me. And yes I have paper charts, cuz any descent Captain does not rely on electronics alone. and yes I still can do dead reckoning and use a protractor and spreader.
I know quite a few sailors that have found their best mate while sailing solo, How do they do it ? Not sure, are they so desperate that they will put up with every thing ? Or are those first mate out there ? I am not sure. Every one I meet have been a couple for quite a few years before sailing, and they decided on sailing at a later time together as a couple, and it was a mutual decision for them. Have I gone about it wrong way ? Well not on this side of the fence. Sailing is what I am about, this is what I love. Yes I meet tons of beautiful people all over the place, and yes it is a blessing. Because it is what boating is all about. And all in all, I would never change a single thing. Sailing solo is better then sailing with an incompatible mate. And I will keep on sailing solo till I die if it is in the cards. But gosh darn it, there as to be some one out there, that is looking for the same thing I am. Or am I the sole weirdo in this whole wide world ?
Any ideas ? Any one has a good experience they would like to post on this site ? Feel free to reply. All the solo sailors out there would like to know of good experiences. It just might be the picker upper We need. At least a glimmer of hope that it can happen.

The rest of the trip is uneventful, and My timing it perfect, We arrive near Utila at sunrise, and We start to navigate through the islets, and reefs, with the plotter and daylight, it is fairly easy. Now arriving in the bay and never had been there before, I rely on “my crew” as to what is where, well guess what, she does not remember, I don’t know about you, but when I sail somewhere, I tend to remember where I got My entry papers done, she does not remember where it is, nor where the main dock is, nor where the ferry dock is, the ferry dock tend to be kind of important, no one wants to anchor in their way of approach or departure. OK I guess her resume got kind of embellished there too. So after being waved away but a couple of mad local ( I cannot blame them, I am just an other stupid tourist that does not know what He is doing), I finally find a descent anchorage, mind you I am told that it might not hold in a storm, but it is good enough for now, while I tour the town, and find for Myself what is where. Utila is a great place to do port entry papers for Honduras, every thing is close bay, Immigration, port Captain, and customs are side by side, and the bank is 30 feet away. Now as it goes for efficiency, they are hard to beat, while I am at immigration, the port Captain and Customs, comes in, grab My documents, and start their paper work, while I am still doing Immigration, by the time I am done with the passport part of it, the boat’s papers are ready, total cost, about $20.00 for immigration, and the same for the Port Captain, I think Customs was either free or included in the second $20.00, and talk about friendly, I thought for a while, that they wanted to adopt Me 🙂

So now I am legal, I go to town, grab a few groceries (Utila has a bit of every thing, and very cheap), gi back to the boat and relax for the day, the morning after I check the fore cast, and find out the there is a” northy ” coming for that night, Now remember I have been told this is not a good holding in stormy weather. It is 6 hours sail to Roatan, and I decide to make a run for it, it is 10 AM, and the storm is due for 4 PM, I can make it, hoist the sail, lift anchor, and We are on the way, it is a good sail, descent wind, not much wave, as soon as We reach Roatan the wind picks up, and picks up, and picks up, But by now We are protected by the island, although I have an other 3 hours to where I need to go, even if the wind is strong, the waves, are quite manageable due to the island. so mid way, I take the sails down and decide to motor the other one hour to French harbor. Now at the entrance of French Harbor, the GPS red flag the entrance, I see about 30 other sailboat in the bay, so they had to have been to get in somehow, My crew, had claimed that she had been here is the past, actually many times. So I when I see the reef in front of Me, and believe it or not, there is a million dollar boat stuck on it. So I turn to the crew, and ask her what is the way in, she answer, how should I know, I flew here. Ummmmm interesting, I guess next time some one tells Me they have been somewhere, I will how they got there. Fortunately, one of the people that came to see if they help the boat on the reef, sees Me doing circles, and deducts that I am not sure of the way in, He waves at Me and tells Me to follow Him. So I do, and now I have a track of the entrance on the plotter. Such is the way it goes with boaters, they are always willing to help each others. But He did not stayed around, I wanted to Buy Him a few beers 🙂   The anchoring is very crowded, after all there is a storm coming in, well it is actually almost here by now, the wind blows hard, but in the bay there is no waves. I find a descent place, it is a bit close to the reef, but the anchoring looks solid, so I drop anchor, and when the anchor grabs, I leave it in neutral for about 15 to 20 minutes, just to make absolutely sure I hold. It is now about 5;30 PM, and see that there is a gathering at Fantasy Island Marine, so why not head there, that is after all how boaters get information’s, We bribe each others with beer and other delicious beverages 🙂 Once there I meet a whole bunch of boaters that already know, Sega-Sega, Yonders, Ma Blonde, Mad-Cap Beatrice and a bunch of others. Boaters tend to always bump into each others. It might be a big world out there, but most good anchoring s are well known to each others because We all share information s, and French harbor is not just a good anchoring, it is a fantastic one. So I figure, I just might stay here for a while, and treat Myself to a little bit of luxury and moor at the marina.

Jerry is the dock Master, and He is an outstanding one, He finds a slip for Me, it is going to take a few days, for it to be available, after all remember the area is full of boaters because of the storm, and this is a holding place for people going to either Panama, Nicaragua, some are going the other way, to Cuba, Mexico Belize etc… Fantasy Island Marina is part of Fantasy Island hotel. The name is quite appropriate, The grounds are gorgeous, there are 3 beaches, all with white sand and gentle slopes, the water is clear, and soooooo warm it is almost paradise. There is a swimming pool, that is almost always empty, after all, why swim in a pool, when you have the perfect blue waters of the ocean at your doorstep? The Marine is more expensive here then in Guatemala, almost double, but it is not that this expensive, just that in Guatemala it is so cheap. By Canadian and American standards, Fantasy’s marina rates are quite a bargain, and worth every penny. The service is outstanding, the boaters are friendly, and Jerry is so helpful, and the snorkeling is out of this world, and if diving is on your agenda, the fully equipped dive shop is on the grounds, with 4 dive boats ready to take you anywhere you want.

The snorkeling and diving here is out of this world, things I saw just snorkeling in less then 20 feet of water, turtles, barracudas,  monster size groupers, sea rays, fishes of all types and colors, lobster so big they would not fit on a huge plate and they come to look at you, but they are safe since this is a protected area. So the rule is take nothing but pictures, and leave nothing, not even foot prints, after all they went to great length to put mooring balls for diving and snorkeling, so use them and leave the area as when you came in.https://eteinfini.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/p1010986.jpg?w=300

A new sailing season begins

Although the plan was to sail 6 months, and work the other 6 to upgrade Ete Infini, it turns out the the 6 months of sailing are always cut short. Not that I am not on the boat 6 months a year, but that preparations always seems to take longer then projected. I have been in Guatemala since November 1st, and I am still here.
I brought a ton of stuff to perk up Ete Infini ( new water heater for hot showers, new rigging’s, electrical and such )
But once you start working on a boat it is hard to stop. I had a budget for this year, and as usual it meant nothing once I started sprucing her up. I got a new Bimini and dodger (that was not in the plan). I found out My propeller was slightly not up to par due to it’s age, so I got it fixed, now I find out the cutlass bearing needs to be changed and so on.
But better to get things done here in Guatemala then up north, either the States or Canada would be prohibitively too expensive compare to Guatemala. For example, I got a new dodger and Bimini for $1,200.00 US that would have set Me back $8,000.00 up north. One new prop and one refurbish prop was set at $360.00 US (labor not included) the prop alone would be $1,400 each up north. So I figure lets get most of the work done here, workmanship is usually excellent ( you have to shop around and listen to other sailors for advice on who does what) and they are not always on time, but what the heck if I can save $10,000.00 US on My up grades, why not be a little patient. And the level of honesty in Guatemala is no where seen up north. Here you have to pay up half up front without a receipt, but as of yet, I never had a problem with them coming back once they have the money, even if they don’t show up until a day or two past the promised date.
One more thing in regards to Guatemala and the cost of owning or keeping a boat here. It is a lot cheaper then either US and Canada. To keep Ete Infini at Tijax marina, for a 43 ft, more like 50 with the bowsprit the davits, it is $200.00 a months, the power is about $25.00 more on top of that, And when I am in Canada, they was the boat once or twice a month, they air it out every day, and when I come back, they take all the bedding’s and was them to be ready for the day I arrive. Now tell Me you can get such service at home, without costing you an arm and a leg. The marina has a gorgeous pool in jungle setting, it is very relaxing with three small water fall, the dock Master, Abel Oscar is one of the hardest working person I ever seen, he never stop, always helpful and a world of knowledge. He treats all the boats here as if they were is own, with pride and dedication.

So that’s it for now, today I have to climb the mast to install a new halyard, and an anchor light, then tons of other little stuff do take of, and most people think that sailing is all fun and games. I love owning a sailboat, and love traveling with it, but first gotta make her look purdy so she feels good too 🙂

Next blog probably will be from Honduras, see you then.

From the Janitor

Just to let you know I’ve moved things around a little. Photos are no longer on their own gallery pages but have been included into the appropriate (I hope) posts.

You’ll have noticed the pages are gone from the top. The information on them are now in a normal blog post but entitled “xxxxx – INFO”. So the information has not been lost, just rearranged a bit.

Renovations are ongoing for a bit.