The Cruising Adventures of Joan & Ben Schuetz aboard
Part 35: It's a better day today
Sunday , 4 June 2000
We had been checking the weather daily and from the looks of things there were two, maybe three tropical waves headed our way. The forecasts, however, didn't indicate any serious winds. Boy what newbies we are. I guess we must have thought a tropical wave was a scantily clad young lady on the beach waving. Or maybe that a tropical wave was a fruit drink.
After leaving Sapodillo Lagoon, on Friday morning we bucked wind and chop all the way to Caye Caulker, arriving around 5:00 PM. The Caye Caulker anchorage area is notorious for its bad holding. The bottom is a grass covering of a soupy soft substrate. We put out two anchors and I dived both of them to check their set. Both anchors were buried out of sight. Sounds pretty good, huh. NOT!
The tropical wave started to really get nasty about midnight. At 3:00 AM the wind was gusting to 38 knots with driving rain and the first anchor let go. That anchor, the Danforth, came up with a hundred pounds or so of grass and gook on it. OK, so we still had one out. Around 3:30 AM the second anchor pulled free and we were adrift. Fortunately, there wasn't anyone or any land behind us to hit. Joan and I tried for the next two hours, in high winds and rain, to reset an anchor. No such luck. So, using the spot light to avoid lobster pots, we moved away from the island about a mile to some hard bottom where we easily regained a solid anchorage.
On Saturday the wind and rain continued unabated. A local boater (Mo, on “My Time”) provides his take on the weather at 7:00 AM each day on HF radio. He said that Monday there would be a 36 hour window for boats that needed to make a move. (That's us.) But, after that, another tropical wave that would make landfall and the weather was going to be- you know. So today, Sunday, we moved to San Pedro so that first thing in the morning we can check out of Belize. Our plans are to head directly for the Chinchorro Banks, an Atoll about 20 miles off the Mexican coast and about 65 miles from here. On HF radio today we also talked to a boat (“Darka”) on the Banks who said that they were just fine through the last tropical wave and that there was a good solid anchorage there.
Now for the really serious stuff. We have been trying to keep up with the progress of Capt. Norm who left Isla Mujeres, Mex. on Monday. But, with all of the bad weather, few boats had been moving and so no one had any information about the Quetzal's progress. We got an email from Maria Saturday afternoon asking us and others for our prayers. Joan and I had knots in our stomach through the night. But this morning we were able to contact the boat, Ten-Ten, at Livingston, Guat. who confirmed that Norm had pulled into the harbor late yesterday. Short of a hurricane, he had been out in some of the worst weather and seas that these parts had to offer. And he had been all alone sailing 24 hours a day for almost a week. Yup, today has been a good day for lots of people.
In a few minutes, we are going to dinghy in to San Pedro to do some shopping, let Maggie stretch her legs, and maybe get a beer.
Joan, Ben & Maggie