March 5-18, 2013... Puerto Morelos, Mexico

Fabulous daysail to Puerto Morelos -- about 30 miles from Isla Mujeres.  Rounded the sea buoy and puttered up the coast to pick up one of the four moorings off the town dock.  There is no anchoring anymore, as the reef is part of a national park.  We spent a few days getting our bearings in town, which is no longer primarily a fishing village (as it says in the cruising guide) but exists for the tourists.  However, it is still a lot lower key than Isla, so we are happy we came.  

The port town is centered around a town square, stretching out north and south along the coast.  Much of the area to the north is fancy houses and condos -- seems to be a large Canadian snowbird community here.  The colonia is inland, a couple of miles up the road, where the non-tourist part of town is.  In town, there is a strange little area where the tejones (coatimundis -- relatives of the badger) live.  They all approach when they see you -- must be used to handouts -- and are really interesting looking.  

We are taking our time trying out the restaurants in town -- the Yucatan spices are really good.  New vegetable for us - chaya - adds an interesting flavor too.  But, the real reason for being here is the snorkeling.  This is the ‘Mayan Reef’ -- a northern extension of the barrier reef system in Belize.  There are moorings out at the reef, so we dinghied over a couple of times to try it out.  The water is a little warmer (!!) but we still wore wetsuit tops.  All the regular suspects are out there on the reef.  Best find this time was the stingray, which we couldn’t identify from our reef fish book.  Anyone know?

Puerto Morelos:  20d50.836’N  86d52.361’W

February 21 - March 5, 2013... Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Left the Dry Tortugas in dead calm winds, which eventually picked up during the 2.5 day trip to Isla.  The last day we rollicked along with major water over the bow and were happy to be coming in to harbor.  But the trip along the Cuba coast (which we never saw) was beautiful and lots of little dolphins swam along with us for at  least an hour, jumping, spinning, and splashing as if to show off for us.  Our own private SeaWorld.

Anchored in the Bahia along Isla’s northwest coast, we settled in and waited to start the administrivia of checking in till our first full day there.  It went smoothly (until John lost his credit card at the ATM machine...recovered an hour later...oy) but it took three tries to find the Customs official and have him stamp us in.  Kay and Sonny on Valentina welcomed us to town and introduced us to the delights of eating in Isla where we eventually OD’ed on fantastic ceviche and black bean soup.  The town itself is not exactly what we expected -- much more crowded with daytrippers ferried in from Cancun and all the touts renting golf carts and selling souvenirs.  Very hectic.  Most of the cruisers stay in marinas and spend weeks if not months there.  We stayed anchored in the Bahia through a couple of northers, one with winds in the upper 30s, and the anchor paid for itself again.  We moved not an inch.  Hail Rocna!

We walked all over the island, with one long trip to the Mayan ruins at the southern tip.  Most of the ruins were knocked over in a hurricane and looked pretty ruined, so there is an outdoor art park there to encourage more people to come visit.  It was pretty nice, and the water crashing into the rocks extremely dramatic.  But there wasn’t enough in Isla to keep us there, so we left when the winds let us and headed to Puerto Morelos.

Isla Mujeres:  21d14.778’N  86d44.772’W