April 6-17, 2013... Mexican Coast Southbound

After spending some time in the US visiting family, leaving Anhinga at Marina El Cid, we were anxious to get moving again. Not too many sailors cruise the Mexican coast south of Puerto Morelos. Having done it, we know why. Its not easy. The current runs north, making a south trip slow. If you leave after a frontal passage (like we did) with a N-NE wind, that wind/current combo makes for a very lumpy trip. The primary anchorages are deep into the bays on the coast. So, getting out -- into the prevailing winds -- is an opportunity to bash into the waves. And, though firmly into April, the winds continued to howl at 20-25 knots most days, raising the seas, not the best sailing conditions. All that said, we did it! Though it took 10 days to get where we were going.

From Puerto Morelos we sailed overnight to Bahía de la Ascensión. This is part of the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, and we thought it would be nice to be in a natural place after the weeks of hubbub in Isla Mujeres and Puerto Morelos. Into the bay we were met by a dolphin who led us to Cayo Culebra, a large island. According to the cruising guide, we could sit out the high SE winds there. But, the guide was wrong, and we moved twice for protection -- the final time 4 miles closer to the mainland. The only others in the bay were fishermen and one sailboat. We kayaked around Culebra and off Wilson Point (also called Punta Noh-ku and Punta Hualaxtoc) seeing lots of little fish, birds, mangroves, palms and a huge expanse of sky. We went aground by kayak -- this time Patti did the honors of dragging the boat across the sand. Until we saw the rays buried in the sand -- back in the boat!

After about 5 days, we got the go-ahead (sorta) from Chris Parker, the weather guy, for 'the least bad day' to go south. We went. Shoulda waited. We BOTH got seasick, wallowing in the high seas without enough wind to push through. With the heat, the engine, and the rolls, we were both green. Rather than continue, we went into Bahía del Espiritu Santo to get behind Isla Chal and recover. The shallow spots in the bay were a challenge, but soon we had another dolphin guiding us to Chal. There, we found the best anchorage we've had in Mexico -- protected and beautiful. We explored by kayak where the wind didn't whip up the water. We were in search of the elusive roseate spoonbill and even took the dinghy to a lake hoping to see one. Didn't. Sigh.

Finally, a weather window! Off we went (bashing into water east from the bay) but after turning SSW, sailed all day and thru the night with a 'sporty' 20 knots, or higher, getting to Belize too early. We had tried slowing down, first dousing the jib, replacing it with the smaller staysail, then sailing just on the main. Instead of heading to San Pedro as planned, we started to the English Channel (the main ship channel into Belize City). But 10 miles past San Pedro, the sun came up and we saw the wind and water recede a bit, so went in Long Cay Pass and turned north to settle in at Caye Caulker, Belize. Finally.

Cayo Culebra, Bahía de la Ascensión: 19d42.142'N 87d29.098'W
Wilson Point, Bahía de la Ascensión: 19d38.795'N 87d27.632'W
Owen Island, Bahía del Espiritu Santo: 19d22.022'N 87d31.073'W
Caye Caulker, Belize: 17d45.803'N 88d01.991