San Pedro


June 18th

Decided on leaving. I could hear the wind was up from the seas breaking on the reef, but I simply can't wait in Puerto Aventuras forever. Patrick is coming, I have to leave. On the way out, the Port Captain showed up on his scooter and tried to stop me leaving. I played dumb, and boy did I play it well. I went out through heavy waves and the troughs put me way too close to the bottom. Then while putting up the sails my engine died. If that had happened coming out from port I would have been thrown on the reef. Yep! I played dumb real well that day. It stayed pretty rough as I headed south through the night, got rougher once I left the lee of Cozumel.

July 20th

Arrived at Costa Maya (or Majahual) and was told not to enter port and stay at least a mile away. Its a cruise ship port and they didn't want anyone else there. OK I figured there was a gap in the reef further on down I could at least take a look. The charts show there isn't enough depth for me but I should at least try. Heading in the engine died so I headed back out, failed to get it running again and decided to stay out and head for San Pedro. Now Costa Maya was the southernmost Port of Entry for the Yucatan, if I wanted to do things right I would have to head back to Cozumel, 2 or 3 days of sailing in the wrong direction. Then 2 or 3 days back, it just wasn't going to work. I also managed to break 2 more sail slides on the main. Yep! When it rains it pours.

Reached San Pedro after a tough nights sail. I had tried just running without the main but run of water and then couldn't get the boat headed back in the right direction. Eventually put the main back up reefed and ever so slowly headed back south. No main and no engine is no way to be traveling. Ran through the reef under sail. Probably the most scary thing I've ever done. The plotters were useless with only the cruising guide for help, the plotter was used in GPS mode only. Would have worked better if I had the plotter set with the same coordinate nomenclature as the cruising guide. Still I was close enough to spot the hole in the reef and correct in time. That was probably the scariest time I have ever had on the boat.

Once in behind the reef I dropped anchor, which failed to hold. So I threw a second overboard which then fixed that sliding problem. The water behind the reef is calm because of the short fetch. But the the reef does nothing to reduce the wind. A 25 knot wind outside the reef is still a 25 knot wind inside the reef, its just a lot calmer.

Helped my self to a beer or 2 and set about fixing the engine. It was running by nightfall, after I had changed the diesel filters and blown out the fuel lines. I was burping diesel all night long after that little fix, but at least that engine was good.

Next day I launched the dingy and headed ashore for Customs and Immigration. It did not get off to a good start. The immigration guy sees there is no Mexican stamp out and so tells me I have to go back to Mexico and get a stamp. The nearest Mexican immigration Chetumal, I can charter a boat and go there. Really!?!!?!? So OK, I get on with finding a boat to take me to Chetumal when I'm told by a complete stranger that he can just get a stamp for me when he goes to Chetumal tomorrow. I just need to pay the bribe for the immigration guy to stamp it. I don't even need to leave San Pedro. …. Okay ?!?!? …. So next morning I hand over the last of my Mexican Peso and my passport.

In the meantime Patrick is supposed to be landing at 4:00 so I have a haircut then make my way to the airport. Patrick actually got into town about 10 ish, couldn't get hold of me and checked into a room on the beach where really close to the boat. We eventually meet up and I explain my predicament.

Anyway, long story made short, my fixer shows up the next day with a stamped passport and smooths the water with the Belize immigration and port master. It took a couple of days more, but we stayed in the room on the beach and never made it out to the boat for another 2 days. I was worried the anchors wouldn't hold and my first job every morning was to check the boat was still there. San Pedro was a great place to visit but my ass was well and truly saved by a good Samaritan and excellent ambassador for San Pedro.

Caught up on a lot of the world cup.



Patrick's plane

... from the inside



the plane

Riding at anchor