January 16, 2010
The Ocean Dance remains tied to the dock at the El Cid Marina in Porto Morelos, Mexico. The weather in the Yucatan Channel has remained unsuitable for the next leg of the voyage and the crew will wait for a suitable weather window before departing the marina and venturing out for the next legs of the voyage.
Today was an extremely sad day for the crew of the Ocean Dance. First Mate Amy made the decision to leave the boat and continue her travels on land L She and friend Robin departed around 5:00pm in the afternoon with plans to visit more Mayan ruins on the Yucatan Peninsula before returning home to Colorado. First Mate Amy will certainly be missed aboard the Ocean Dance and the last three months with her aboard have been a joy Good luck Amy and remember the one rule HAVE FUN!
Returning to the Ocean Dance for the next week was Bob Hersch from Southern California. Bob has previously been aboard the Ocean Dance once in Zihuatanejo with his wife Roz and then again on the passage from Playa del Coco, Costa Rica to Panama. Bob is planning on spending a week here on the Ocean Dance in Mexico before flying home to Southern California. However, Bob may have to depart on a moment's notice as he may be called to assist with medical relief in Haiti which was ravaged by an earthquake on January 12th. As a retired orthopedic surgeon Bob's skills are sorely needed in Haiti and he is patiently awaiting an assignment to a medical team headed to Haiti.
The crew did enjoy watching the NFL game this evening at the El Cid Resort but soon returned to the Ocean Dance to call it a night.
January 13, 2010
Another quiet day in a chilly and wet paradise. The pools at the El Cid Resort continue to beckon but alas the crew is committed to staying warm in their sweatshirts inside the confines of the cabin of the Ocean Dance!
Mark, Lee and Jim awoke early to head to Cancun to pick up the dry cleaning, as requested by the Admiral, stop by the Caterpillar shop for spare impellers for the Cats, the rental car agency to arrange to keep the rental car for another week, and do a little grocery shopping.
The day of minor errands started poorly as the dry cleaning was not ready (surprise) and the crew headed to the Caterpillar shop for the impellers. The impellers for the raw water pumps on the engines would cost approximately $50.00 each in the US and Jim was shocked to receive a price of $153.75 US for each impeller! At first he believed the price quote was in pesos but soon discovered the price was in fact in US dollars! The crew quickly left the Caterpillar dealer sans impellers! Jim would obtain them in the US when he returns to the balmy weather of Kansas City ( -5 F as of yesterday ) and bring them back when he returns to the Ocean Dance. After all, they are spares and are not critical to the operation of the engines at this time!
Amy and Robin departed around noon by bus for an adventure in Cancun...
The remainder of the crew made the decision NOT to start any projects on the boat as the morning had been full of failures on their run of errands. The crew spent the rest of the day reading, catching up logs, and generally looking wistfully at the nearby pools of the El Cid Resort wondering when and IF the weather would turn warm and sunny!
January 12, 2010
Ah, the joys of shopping in a foreign country we finally were able to obtain a price for a gallon of Comex antifouling paint from the Comex store in Playa del Carmen today! And it only took four trips to the store before a price could be quoted.
In Panama, Comex, which is manufactured in MEXICO, was purchased for the Ocean Dance at a price of $120.00 US per gallon. As Comex is manufactured in Mexico one would ass-u-me the price would be substantially less as their would not be the cost of transporting the paint to Panama, correct? Wrong! The quoted price at the Comex store was $200.00 US per gallon! Go figure. Mark made the wise decision to forgo purchasing the antifouling paint
Returning to the boat, the crew settled in out of the cold and wet weather to catch up on reading, writing logs, etc.
January 11, 2010
Chore day on the Ocean Danceat least to begin with.
Mark and Robin worked on the oil exchange system which had developed an air leak which prevented the system from draining the oil from the two engines and the two generators. It only took then an hour or so to reroute the pump to pump directly from the oil lines rather than through the manifold and soon both engines and both generators were drained of the old oil! Now it would be a simple matter to change oil filters and pour new oil into the engines and generators.
Amy and Robin again headed into town while Mark, Lee and Jim stayed behind to tend to other chores. Mark, Lee and Jim drove to Playa del Carmen to search out the NAPA store to obtain a few items needed for the boat (windshield wipers, hand cleaner, etc.) and also stopped at the Comex paint store. Mark and Lee want to purchase Comex antifouling paint for their beloved Manatee, their catamaran still in the BVIs, as the price per gallon of paint is ridiculously inexpensive here in Mexico as compared to the price in the BVIs. And of course, there is plenty of storage space aboard the Ocean Dance to transport the needed paint to the BVIs.
The Captain enjoys a corn on the cob complete with butter, cheese and chili powder purchased from a street vendor in Playa del Carmen
Continuing on south from the Napa store, Mark, Lee and Jim soon found themselves in Puerto Adventuras. As Mark described it, "this must be the Disneyland of Mexico"! The development must have covered hundreds of acres and certainly had the tourist feel to it. There were dozens of buildings of condominiums, numerous pools with captured dolphins and manatees in which the tourist could pay to swim with them, restaurants galore, a golf course, skate board park, tennis courts and basically everything the tourist with money would enjoy! Ah, where are the beaches of Zihuatanejo with the panga fishermen, local citizens, etc.?
Tourist swims with a manatee at Puerto Adventuras, Mexico
The crew did enjoy lunch at Gringo Dave's before touring the grounds to watch the manatees and dolphins, fishing boats returning to their docks and other tourist activities before piling into the car for the ride north back to the El Cid Marina.
A hungry pelican waits for scraps of fish as the crew cleans their catch of the day!
The entire crew met for dinner in Puerto Morales and enjoyed the fine dining at their favorite restaurant, La Pirata! A fun time was had by all at dinner but as Amy and Mark had not had the pleasure of visiting the wrestling bar in town Mark and Lee led the crew through the streets of the town to La Panza, the wrestling bar. The interior of the bar is filled with photos and masks of the most famous, at least in Mexico, of the wrestling stars of their version of the infamous version of American wrestling.
January 10, 2010
Football Sunday in Puerto Morales! Oh yes, the NFL playoffs have started and the Captain was happy once again to see American football rather than that damned version of football enjoyed by the English members of the crew!
Amy and Robin departed the Ocean Dance early for a jaunt into town while Mark, Lee, and Jim stayed behind to tend to a couple of chores on the boat. However, once the chores were completed they soon headed to the El Cid Resort next door to the marina to watch the games. Upon arriving at the resort, they were dismayed to discover there was not a TV in sight showing the game. No problem as the Captain soon found a member of the resort staff and convinced him to appropriate a TV from the tour desk and place it in the lobby of the bar. This was soon accomplished and the three crew members of the Ocean Dance were seated in front of the TV while being served beers and cokes compliments of the resort. Keep in mind the resort is an all-inclusive style vacation and even though the crew as marina guests were entitled to use the facilities of the resort they were not entitled to food and or drink! But a 100 peso note passed discreetly to the bartender soon alleviated that situation and the free drinks flowed continuously.
As the game between the Ravens and Patriots came to a conclusion, Amy breathlessly arrived after running the 2 miles back from the town of Puerto Moreles. She had discovered the second game started at 3:30pm local time rather than the 6:30pm start time the crew had expected. She did not want the remaining crew members who did not go into town to miss the game! What a great First Mate she is As she had left Robin in town to save a table at a local bar/restaurant, the crew piled into the rental car and headed into town to watch the game between the Cardinals and Packers. And what a game it was!
After the game was over, the five crew members piled into the rental car, returned to the boat and enjoyed a dinner of shrimp fajitas prepared by Lee. So much for the Captain's weight loss plan with Lee aboard! That woman can cook as can Amy! Delicious meals are served around the clock on the Ocean Dance!
January 9, 2010
A cool, windy and wet day on the Ocean Dance which is still docked at the El Cid Marina in Puerto Morales, Mexico! How cool was it you ask? Well, Mark and Lee by mid-morning were actually wearing sweatshirts while doing boat chores INSIDE the Ocean Dance with all doors and windows closed to the elements! The Captain offered to light a fire in the fireplace but his offer was met with disdain by the crew So, the boat chores continued all the while the Captain was referring to the crew as wimps! After all, we were in Puerto Morales on the boat while the Admiral was suffering back home in Kansas City with -5 degree weather. And here we were complaining about the temperatures falling into the low 60s go figure.
Around mid-afternoon, Amy and Robin returned safely from their road trip and rejoined the crew of the Ocean Dance. Amy's first duty once back aboard was to give the washer and dryer a good workout as they had accumulated quite a pile of dirty laundry from their trip.
After enjoying a good movie aboard, "Snatch", Lee prepared another fabulous dinner for the crew and soon all were snug in their bunks!
January 8, 2010
A day spent on boat chores! Mark and Jim spent the day cleaning the outside of the boat while Lee spent her day inside cleaning the forward three cabins and heads. It is amazing how much can be accomplished with three crew members and how beautiful the Ocean Dance after she is washed and polished! She is a beautiful girl and loves to be pampered.
Once the cleaning was completed, Mark; Lee and Jim piled into the rental car and set out in search of boat items which were needed! A huge tornillo, nuts and bolt store, was located in Playa del Carmen and long sought items were obtained. Also found was a NAPA auto parts store where spark plugs for the dingys were purchased all in all it was a great day for acquiring bits and pieces which had been sought for weeks in Belize and Xcalak, Mexico! All one has to do is find a major city in Mexico to find everything one needs for the boat
January 7, 2010
Ah, the Admiral's dingy was first on the boat chore list today! As most know, the Admiral's dingy is her pride and joy on the Ocean Dance so Mark and Jim dedicated their morning to getting the dingy back in Bristol condition! After only 4 hours of washing, scrubbing, polishing, etc. Mark and Jim were finally able to stand back and admire their work. Mark suggested a photo be taken of the dingy and sent via email to the Admiral for her approval. A great suggestion and one which will be followed shortly.
After the cleaning of the dingy was completed, Mark; Lee and Jim set out in the rental car in search of Costco, Office Depot, Honda Marine Store and the Home Depot in search of boat stuff! With Lee in the rear seat and Mark driving we set off from the marina with a hand drawn map provided by Armando, the harbormaster of the El Cid Marina. Now, if you have ever had the opportunity to drive the area of Cancun, you know the city planners did not believe in streets going in any recognizable pattern. Rather, most streets seem to curve back on themselves which adds to the confusion of the traffic patterns and of course major traffic jams. So, with Lee providing the comments expected from a female from the back seat ( comments such as "why don't you stop and ask for directions") Mark drove haphazardly through the streets of Cancun in search of the various stores we sought! AND, much to the amazement of the lady in the back seat, each and every store appeared as if out of nowhere just as Lee was about to mention "you two will never find what you are looking for" and to her credit and disgrace of all women everywhere, she admitted Mark and Jim were in fact capable of finding their way around WITHOUT ever having to stop and ask for directions.
Having spent the time shopping, all agreed it was time for relaxation and entertainment. Mark suggested we all go to the movie theatre at the Mall of the Americas in Cancun to see the movie "Avatar". Arriving at the movie theatres, the crew found themselves among hundreds and hundreds of movie goers! The Captain made the suggestion that the crew forgo the movie and instead return on another day for a matinee showing which hopefully would be less crowded. Upon exiting the theatre, Mark noticed an entrance for a VIP theater next to the regulars cinemas! Eureka, a VIP theater complete with leather recliners, waitress service, food and drink! Ah, civilization has beckoned and within seconds the crew was sitting comfortably in their personal leather recliners with a waitress at the beck and call! The movie, Avatar, was OUTSTANDING and all agreed we would return prior to departing Cancun for another evening at the VIP theater to see "Avatar" again. It is a movie not to be missed.
January 6, 2010
A quiet day spent on the Ocean Dance relaxing and making lists of chores to be done and items to be obtained for the few projects that needed tended to.
And of course, another delicious meal prepared by Lee and enjoyed immensely by Jim and Mark.
January 5, 2010
A very sad day on the Ocean Dance which began at a very, very early hour. The Admiral and the Captain awoke at 4:00am, dressed and departed the Ocean Dance at 4:45am for the airport in Cancun. The Admiral was on her way back home to Kansas City to return to work and the cold, cold, cold of Missouri. Once the Admiral cleared security at the airport and was out of sight ( L ) the Captain returned to the Ocean Dance and yes, she did go back to his bunk for another couple of hours sleep!
Later in the morning, Mark; Lee and Jim returned their original expensive rental car and exchanged it with a newer car at a different rental agency for a much lower daily fee. This car would be kept for the next weeks to enable the crew to get about Cancun, Puerto Morales, Playa del Carmen etc.
January 4, 2010
Another road trip was called for today
Diane, Mark, Lee and Jim departed the marina early with the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza as their destination. Chichen Itza was a 2 hour drive west from Cancun and Mark volunteered to drive while the remaining crew took naps during the drive.
Arriving at Chichen Itza, the crew was amazed at the magnitude of the Mayan structures and the grounds themselves. The ruins at Chichen Itza cover over 20 acres of structures but to date only 6 acres have been uncovered. The crew spent hours roaming around the ruins and were equally amazed at the hundreds of vendors selling souvenirs inside the grounds of the ruins. Soon it became a game with the crew to see who could get the most for the sum of $1.00US. After the contest, it was declared a tie with all crew members having purchased souvenirs for their $1.00US that will probably be re-gifted at some time in the future!
Mayan ruins at Chitchen Itza still be excavated
Heading back to the Ocean Dance from the ruins, the crew decided to take the local roads back rather than the expressway. It was a wonderful drive through the numerous towns and villages along the route. One does get the full flavor of Mexico while traveling on the expressways and the drive back was enjoyed by all.
Arriving back in Puerto Morales, the crew decided to stop for dinner rather than return to the boat at that late hour to cook and eat. The Admiral requested Italian and soon the crew was seated on an outdoor patio at the local Italian restaurant in town. The food was not that memorable but the crew had a great time nevertheless.
January 3, 2010
A day of rest was call for today The crew spent the day relaxing, reading and grazing and basically ignoring any and all chores! The day was enjoyed by Diane, Lee, Mark and Jim.
January 2, 2010
Ah, Puerto Morales on the horizon as day breaks. A most welcome sight indeed as the predicted weather for the voyage from Xcalak to Puerto Morales never did appear!
Upon arriving at the El Cid Marina the Ocean Dance headed directly for the fuel dock to take on diesel fuel as the fuel levels in her three tanks were getting extremely low. The Captain had made the decision in Panama not to put on fuel prior to departing north as their would be plenty of fuel aboard to enable the Ocean Dance to arrive at the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico where diesel fuel could be obtained at a much lower price than in Panama, Columbia, Honduras or Belize! And with the capacity to carry 2,700 gallons of fuel the saving per gallon amounts to a substantial amount when purchasing fuel in Mexico.
After filling her tanks, the Ocean Dance was backed into a slip, dock lines secured, shore power and the fresh water line attached. Ah, it was great to be secure in a slip at a beautiful marina and resort. The marina is part of the El Cid Resort on the beach in Puerto Morales, an all-inclusive resort but as marina guests, the crew was entitled to use of the facilities of the resort, just not the restaurants or bars! Hm, we will see about that!
As the weather was somewhat warm, the crew headed to the pool at the El Cid Resorts only to discover the water in the pool was damn cold! We were used to the warm waters of the San Blas Islands and Belize and were not at all impressed by the cold fresh water of the resort swimming pool! But the intrepid Captain braved the elements and ventured in while Lee headed for the beach to swim in the ocean! Good choice by Lee!
The El Cid Resort and Marina
The day at the marina and resort was enjoyed by the entire crew and soon they headed back to the Ocean Dance for a quiet dinner and a good night's sleep. A good night's sleep tied to the dock was APPRECIATED by all!
January 1, 2010
Location: Xcalak, Mexico
The dawn broke and Mark, Lee, Diane and Jim were soon busy hauling the anchor in preparation of the voyage to Puerto Morales, Mexico. The journey north would take approximately 21 hours and would be an overnight voyage, the Admiral's first adventure offshore on an overnight passage! She, as was the rest of the crew, was anxious to get underway and around 9:30am the Ocean Dance went through the reef and out into the open seas before turning north on her course to Puerto Morales. The predicted weather was perfect for the voyage with winds expected to be in the 4-5 knot range and seas of 1-2 feet from the east! Just perfect conditions for the Ocean Dance and crew to head north!
All was calm as the Ocean Dance cruised north with fishing lines out! At 2:00pm, Mark noticed a scum line in the water and said "there are fish under that scum line" as the Ocean Dance approached the scum in the water and immediately headed back to the cockpit to watch his line! Damn if he wasn't right on about hooking a fish! His line started to scream, he took his rod out of the rod holder, set the hook and a beautiful Dorado left out of the water! Within seconds, Jim's reel started to scream as a second Dorado came out of the water! Oh yeah, a double hook-up! Both fishermen fought their catches until Jim brought his to the stern of the boat only to have it throw the hook and disappear beneath the sea. L Mark however was successful in bringing his catch to the stern of the boat three times, Jim went down on the swim step with the net and soon had Mark's catch securely in the net which Mark hoisted aboard. Oh yes, fresh Dorado for dinner tonight! This was by far the largest fish brought aboard the Ocean Dance to date!
A beautiful and delicious dorado caught by Mark underway to Puerto Morales
Approaching sunset, the predicted weather started to disappear, the winds kicked up, the seas began to build as the Ocean Dance continued on her way north. Hm, so what the hell happened to the calm seas and winds! They disappeared in a hurry as the seas built to 9-10 feet directly on the bow and the winds climbed to 25 knots or more! This was getting a bit uncomfortable for the crew but certainly not for the Ocean Dance. This girl seems to love high seas and winds and continued on her way north with the autopilot holding her steady on the set course. We did adjust course to take on the seas at a better angle and the Ocean Dance held true to her course.
The crew was on three hour shifts with the Admiral and the Captain on one shift with Mark and Lee taking the alternating shifts. The Admiral at one point did tell the Captain this overnight passage was not what she had expected but when she learned this would probably be the worst conditions she would encounter on the Ocean Dance she simply smiled and said "it damn well better be"! J The Ocean Dance and the crews handled the adventure
quite well and when dawn broke all were glad to see the island of Cozumel off the starboard beam! Soon the Ocean Dance and crew would be behind the safety of the breakwaters at the El Cid Marina.
December 31, 2009
Location: Excalak, Mexico
Ah, New Year's Eve is upon us! Diane, Jim, Mark and Lee ventured ashore via dingy at Excalak, Mexico. Upon arriving at the dingy dock for XTC Diving, the crew ran into Collin and Hugh, the crew from the Coup d'Amour, and informed them of the dinner invitation for the evening at the home of Don and Karen, our new Canadian friends. Collin declined the invitation as he mentioned "I really don't know them and besides, they live in a house! If they were on a boat I would go"! The Captain explained none of the crew of the Ocean Dance knew them either but would be going at which point Collin agreed to go but ONLY if the crew of the Ocean Dance were in attendance!
At the agreed upon time of 5:30pm, the crews of the Ocean Dance and the Coup d'Amour met ashore at the home of Don and Karen. They could not have been more hospitable host and hostess! The appetizers were amazing, in fact the crew all believed the appetizers where the dinner as they were various and plentiful! But we all soon learned there was more to come as a delicious chicken dinner was prepared as all gathered around the breakfast bar in their home!
The evening was an incredible experience and one which will be remembered by all in attendance! It was without a doubt, one of if not THE
most memorable experiences of any New Year's Eve in anyone's memory!
December 29, 2010
Today Amy and Robin have decided to go on a land trip for a few days and departed the Ocean Dance to catch a bus Playa del Carmen. They hope to join up with friends there to celebrate New Year's Eve. And they also hope to be able to check into the country and obtain a visa as there is not any immigration officials in Xcalak. They have been assured by Javier, the owner of the XTC Dive Center in Xcalak that they will not have a problem if they take a copy of the zarpe from Belize along with a copy of the crew list of the Ocean Dance and their passports. So off they went on their land adventure.
Diane, Jim, Lee and Mark spent the day enjoying catching up on grocery shopping, having lunch at one of the local restaurants, hanging out with Collin and Hugh, the crew of the Coupe d'Amor
We need to introduce you all to Collin and Hugh, our new friends from England and Scotland! Upon arriving in Xcalak we noticed an Island Trader 45' sailboat attached to a mooring behind the reef. We dropped our anchor about 200 feet from the sailboat and set about securing the Ocean Dance from the short journey from Belize. The sailboat presented a strange impression as their were two items missing from the boat both the main mast and mizzen mast were gone! The Island Trader was actually a sailboat with masts and sails! Ah, a sailor who really wanted to be a power boater! Now that is a switch from the usual!
Upper photo is of Collin on the street in Xcalak and lower is of Hugh and Mark
The Captain took the dingy over to the Coupe d'Amor and hailed the crew. Collin and Hugh appeared on deck and were invited to dinner aboard the Ocean Dance that evening. Arriving back at the Ocean Dance Jim informed the crew there would be two more for dinner this evening and was met with "you insist on bringing home stray cruisers"! Hell, better than bringing back stray animals was the Captain's response!
Collin and Hugh arrived for dinner shirtless through the falling rain however, upon climbing the ladder into the cockpit both opened their backpacks to retrieve shirts which they had packed away to avoid getting wet.
The evening was one of the most enjoyable events ever held on the Ocean Dance. We all soon learned the Collin had purchased the Coupe d'Amor in New York City and was motoring from New York to Cartegena, Columbia where he would put the boat in a shipyard for much needed repairs and new masts. Oh, lest I forget, I need to mention this boat is Collin and Hugh's first adventure in boating and here they are taking an Island Trader sailboat without masts, without sails, without radar, etc. from New York to Cartegena, Columbia! What an adventure and oh yes, WITHOUT cruising guides of any kind as well! These two are the ultimate adventurers!
The stories told by Collin and Hugh were incredible and most enjoyable. We loved meeting these two adventurers and wish them well in the continuing voyage to Cartegena and then beyond to South Africa. Their ultimate sailing plans call for them to sail to South Africa in time for the World Cup later this year. We all wish them well and success with their endeavors. And yes, the Captain did tear his cruising guide in half and gave them the half of the areas they would be going to and which the Ocean Dance had come from! At least now they have the chartlets and descriptions of places to see, avoid, etc. on their journey.