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RoRC report from Roatan

by Suzanne and David Chappell 14 Sep 2020 15:32 UTC

Roving Rear Commodores Susanne and David Chappelle give an account of the pre- and post-lockdown periods in the Western Caribbean where they spent 84 days boat bound in Roatan.

Pre Lockdown, how our season started last November 2019.

Once again we are back on Suzie Too for another season in the Western Caribbean. After spending our summer back in the UK we had quite a few miles to cover from the Chesapeake where we had hauled Suzie Too to head back to Mexico and The Honduras Bay Islands for a season of diving. The weather was rather cold in the US, much colder than usual; duvets and warm clothing which had not been seen for years had to be hauled out of the depths where they had been put in vacuum bags. Our cockpit canopy was erected for the journey south and several layers of clothing worn. It all felt quite foreign to us to be wrapped up in so many layers. So it was with great relief we arrived in Mexico early December into 28C with hot and breezy weather. Back into storage bags went all the unneeded warm items; hopefully, they won't be needed again for some time.

Our journey south from Solomons Island in the Chesapeake area is about 1600 miles, we sail on the outside as we are unable to take advantage of the ICW due to our depth which is 2.7m and our mast height being 23m. This year we had upgraded our routing software and David was thrilled with the Time Zero V4.0 which helped us plot the best route all the way down the US East coast and from Key West where we checked out of the US to head to Isla Mujeres in Mexico. The software helped us utilise countercurrents going south and it was amazingly accurate and graphical as we had to cross the Gulf Stream twice keeping outside the TSS on the north coast of Cuba and again at Cabo de San Antonio to ride again the counter currents and cross perpendicular to the Gulf Stream, which made for a very fast and easy passage in the gentle easterly winds.

We had a two-night passage, passing Cuba to port, with the most amazing starlit skies, filled with planets and thousands of stars and a firework display of numerous shooting stars, making the 3-hour watches pass quickly. We arrived into Isla Mujeres anchorage in daylight, where we found good holding with sand and seagrass and good depths with just a short dinghy ride ashore.

Here you have a choice with check-in, you can either do it yourself and spend the day to visit the various offices or do as we did, opt for the easy check-in at El Milagro Marina. They do all the Customs, Immigrations, Health procedures for you at a reasonable price. It's very efficient, the paperwork was done over a beer in the marina gardens, we just paid the fee and our paperwork was ready 2 days later to pick up...easy a result as more time to spend on the island enjoying ourselves.

If you have never been to Isla Mujeres it's a must stop! You can ride around in golf carts, walk on beautiful sandy beaches, there are beach bars galore, restaurants serving great food, from seafood to vegan dishes. We did the yoga every morning at the Tree House followed by a brunch in one of the lovely vegetarian restaurants. There's every type of food served on the island all served by a local smiling Mexicans, its friendly and has a brilliant vibe, very reasonable prices so your dollar goes a long way - a truly memorable experience.

The anchorage area is large and free but there are several marinas if you have a shallow draft boat. If you fancy a trip to Cancun a ferry goes every few minutes to the high rise for a shopping fix or if you need to get your boat's 10-year TIP (Temporary Importation Permit) from the Port Authority offices.

Next stop down the coast is El Cid Marina, a fabulous little marina in Puerto Morelos which is a safe haven, very secure and a great place to leave your boat for either inland travel or to visit home. It's part of an all-inclusive hotel chain, with the option to use their facilities of 7 pools, 3 jacuzzis and several restaurants. You can visit the local town which is just a short walk along the beach or a 5-minute taxi ride. Puerto Morelos is a lovely seaside village and has a supermarket and deli where you can buy most provisions. It has many lovely little restaurants. Our favourite is El Merkatito on the beach, its very rustic but the ceviche and raw tuna dishes are divine.

Those of you with a shallow drafted boat could also explore Puerto Aventura where there is another little marina just further down the coast towards Cozumel with an ex-pat area of condos and a few little restaurants. We chose not to visit Cozumel this time as we find it too commercial with a steady stream of cruise ships every day visiting the island.

We are now waiting for a weather window to go south to Roatan in the Honduras Bay Islands and have been here for 10 days, but there are worse places to be stuck! The weather this year seems to be particularly boisterous across the whole Caribbean, anyway. We are just off for an afternoon swim and jacuzzi with some of our Suzie Too Rally friends.

Who would know at that time what was in store for us and after 2 weeks in the islands we would be locked down in Roatan for 84 days once we arrived...

Continue on to Lockdown in Roatan

This article has been provided by the courtesy of Ocean Cruising Club.

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