Prior to getting to the Rio, we spent our last few days in Roatan, once again in French Cay, pottering about with barbecues, swimming and Mexican Train Dominoes. All in all a very convivial time.
Steve even found time to set about cleaning some of the hard to reach boat places with a toothbrush!
We even had rain one day.
The passage to the Rio would have been straightforward had we not incurred a total instrument failure. We discovered a blown fuse on the Course Computer for the SeaTalk network, and subsequent replacement fuses also blew. Although the chart plotter appeared to function as normal, it was not receiving a GPS input so we did not have our position. Not especially great when your way in and out of the anchorage is fringed by reefs, and to add insult to injury, no working depth display. We had wanted to follow our inbound track out, but without GPS this was not an option.
As it turned out, friends Robyn and Tony on catamaran Alley Cat Too were heading back to the Rio at the same time, so we followed them out and used our InavX App on the ipad as a chartplotter for the rest of the passage, which went without a hitch.
Once again we stopped at the 'Holding' anchorage of Tres Puntas, about 10nm to the North of the river entrance at Livingston. We spent a few relaxing days there, although we did have a bad thunderstorm one night and fork lightning is pretty scary when you have a tall metal mast.
We had timed our passage to coincide with one of the highest tides of the year. We needed all the depth we could get to transit the sand bar at the river entrance. To belt and brace this, we once again enlisted the services of a local called Hector and his friend via our Agent Raul, to tow and tilt us over the sand bar.
At the appointed time we made the rendezvous and the process began. Like last season, the side decks touched the water and it was a very surreal experience.
Once safely across we anchored just off the town of Livingston and unlike last time, the officials came out to the boat. The paperwork took next to no time to complete, but we still had to go ashore to find a cash point to pay for the services of Hector and the Agent.
Although it was still early morning having cleared in so quickly, we chose not to go all the way to our marina but break the journey up by stopping off at Texan Bay. This allowed us to go slowly through the gorge to take in the sights and sounds.
It was whilst in Texan Bay that we met a young Polish couple, and had happened to mention that our instruments had gone on the blink. Very kindly Bartek offered to come and take a look later on that day. It transpires that it was a faulty voltage regulator on the TriData repeater instrument, and within 20 minutes Bartek had soldered a new one in place. Hey Presto, all the instruments came back to life!
We did not have time before we left, but the intention is to rewire the instruments in such a way, that if one goes down it does not prevent the rest from working.
All too soon we left the tranquillity of Texan Bay and headed down to Fronteras. We anchored off Monkey Bay so we could nip ashore to say hello to Jim and Kitty, the marina managers.
The next morning we were rudely awakened by the rather haunting sound of Howler Monkeys. If you have never heard them before, check out the clip below.
The following day we headed to Tijax marina and moored in the same berth as last season, which we had reserved and probably just as well. With two devastating hurricanes in the Caribbean last year and the need to find safe harbour, most if not all of the Rio marinas seemed to be full or very nearly.
During our chores to put the boat to bed, we discovered some water in one of the bilges. Eventually we tracked it down to a leaky gasket on the fresh water pump. With almost no chance of buying a rebuild kit, we purchased a new pump and will get a gasket kit when we are back in the UK. Feeling smug at having solved the issue, it was disappointing to find more water in the same bilge the next day. This time it took the best part of the day to discover it was down to a broken ring clamp on the shower sump pump. Of all the spares we keep, this was not an item we had thought of. All we could do was add it to the list of items to purchase.
We also met up with Jose the carpenter who looked over the minor snagging issues on the new teak deck. He will attend to those whilst we are away. We have also asked him to sand and varnish the internal companionway hand rails, and we are going to get Jose to put white formica on the companionway sides and just above the steps. The varnish was looking shabby in places and for some reason the wood veneers never did match. Once it is done we will take some photos. Below are the 'Before' pictures.
One of the last minor jobs was to apply the custom cut vinyl to the outside of the front hatches. We had already done the others and it had made a big difference in keeping the interior cool, but allowing enough diffused light in so as not to make the boat gloomy below. We went to a local company Andy Stickers and were very pleased with the results. It has made a huge difference in keeping the boat cooler.
Other projects, including the anti fouling, can wait until we haul out in nearby RAM marina in October.
And so, our relatively short sailing season was at an end. Although we had only covered about 1000nm, quality made up for quantity. The Bay Islands were truly spectacular, and it was great to visit Mexico and Chichen Itza. The best part however, was that Lynne had not had any recurring vertigo attacks.
Our flights were booked back to the UK from Guatemala City. To break the journey up, we left the day before and stayed up at the Conquistador Hotel in Zone 4.
It took us 6 hours door to door by coach and taxi to the hotel from the bus station in Fronteras. We had on the recommendation of fellow cruisers, booked a taxi driver called Roderico Lopez to pick us up from the bus station in Guatemala City and take us to the hotel.
Below is the view from the hotel bedroom window.
The hotel is a little shabby around the edges, but the location seemed safe enough for us to have a stroll in the evening to find a place to eat.
At this juncture we would sign off until next time, but our adventure was not quite over. On the flight back we both developed severe stomach cramps during the stopover at Madrid, followed by severe sickness and diarrhoea, never nice. Fortunately Lynne's sister and husband picked us up at the airport for a marvellous door to door service.
Our timing to the UK has worked out well as we arrived to one of the hottest summers since 1976.
We will start the blog back up again when we return back to the river. In the meantime we should just mention that Janet and Kelvin had been in touch to say that Scarlet Lady had been sold. We wish the new owners fair winds and safe passages.