Thursday, January 24, 2008

Midnight Express to Guatemala by Saigon Charlie

March 22-23, 2001 - "Midnight Express"
by Saigon Charlie

Cancun, Mexico

6 AM-Exchange rate getting better 9.47 to USD this AM. (was 9.38 Saturday)

Start of a new day and a new week. Yesterday was once again spent on the Isla Mujeres, this time spending several hours doing a systems and safety check of the boat. Must say, I finished this task feeling comfortable about any possible emergencies. Can’t really think of anything I would have done different actually…

Myself (beard) and Brad onboard the "Midnight Express" heading for Guatemala

This time I left the Cancun side from Puerto Juarez which is half the price of the boats from the hotel ports. On the way over I took a cab, getting the price down from 40p to 20p. Wasn’t sure of which bus headed there and for only 15p difference, it was worth it. Ended up taking a high speed ferry for 35p which took about 20 minutes, left the dock at 9:05.

I immediately rented a bicycle as I had scoped them out the day before at 50-60 p per day. When I went back to the place that had only wanted 50 p the price was now 80p. Got it back down to 50 p until 5PM.

It got really hot quickly and after spending some time talking with folks at the marina, I set out by bike for the Maya ruins on the end of the island. The bike was old, rusted and the gears didn’t work so after some time I opted to turn back for the marina. Met up with Brad and we talked a bit more on the boat where I met Alexandra, the sail maker for the vessels around there. He was getting his main jib repaired from his previous incident. We talked a bit and than we decided to see if we could find a decent lunch in town. Flagged down a cab for 10 p and headed for town. Seems no matter how many are in the cab, it is still the same price.

We opted for a quiet café on the beach where we both ordered the cheapest and simplest dish, fried fish. It was only 50 p and it was huge taking up the entire plate. It was delicious and mine was picked clean in a few minutes. After a bit , Brad offered me the remaining half as well. Devoured it . Didn’t realize I was so hungry. After talking about some of the issues with the radios and the non-working weather fax, I told him I would look for a VHF antenna on the Cancun side on Monday. We than grabbed a cab back to the marina.


This AM as I was making my walk to the little, two table café where I have my huge mug of Nescafe each morning, I once again and stopped and watched the kids at the school. They all looked so happy. Such an amazing contrast to the kids at the school on the hill near the market. Like two different planets. When the bell rang at seven they literally stopped everything and ran to their classrooms, almost like a race to see who could get there first. I’ve also noticed that they seem to stay in school until past 5:30 PM, seeing many children there until 6.

Finally was able to clear the boat and myself out of Isla Mujeres. $20 USD can sure solve a lot of problems in this part of the world if you have lost your immigration card.

The weather has been incredible! Seas today are 1-2 feet, winds out of the northeast at about 5-10 knots. Just a beautiful day.

Hearing all kinds of stories about Rio Dulce. Haven't met a boater yet who doesn't made some comments or had knowledge about the crime and area. Have to see with my own however.

New Deep Channel
N 20 34 275
S 087 07 296
Rock Quarry Dock

Small horeshoe bay just south. Watched a boat with several people in wet suits around it. Water is glassy smooth. Closer to shore, the better the current moving south gets.

Mexican Navy patrols beaches along coast at 500 feet with blue and yellow J-3s.

10:15 - 23rd
We are now hitting 8 knots with a hull speed of 6.5 according to the GPS. We are in a decent southern current as we head south. Seems we have finally found the mythical counter current along the coast.

N 20 23 244
S 087 18 269

30NM to Tulum and the Mayan temples. Cozumel is to our west but you can't see it this close to the coast. Estimate it is about 24nm away.

13:25 - Weather and seas building.
N 20 02
W 087 27.213

Puta Allen
N 19 44.65
S 87 24.98
ETA 15:50

Entering Bahia de la Ascencion. From the waypoint a course of 245 degrees gives us a depth of 12-13 feet until we started our turn. North to an anchorage off the fishing village Punta Allen. Head north on the longitude line of 87 30 00 N which puts you to the west of the 2 mile long sandbar . As we make the turn north, 2 Mexican Navy patrol aircraft fly very low over us and check us out.

Settled into a quiet, safe and beautiful anchorage on the leeward side of Puta Allen. Pointed straight at the light house as we put out more rope and chain. Decent holding and about 7 feet of water showing under the depth finder.

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