Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 30-07-2012, 20:51   #1
Senior Cruiser
 
bstreep's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: San Antonio, TX/Port Aransas, TX
Boat: 1990 Macintosh 47, "Merlin"
Posts: 2,274
Central America/Mexico - Commuter Cruising

Well, we - collectively - had a "wild hare" moment last week:

We'd LOVE to go cruising. I own/run a small business. Our daughter is getting to the point where she will be able to handle things for a short period of time. So...

We are considering moving our boat from South Texas to somewhere in Central America (Mexico to Panama), so that we can spend 2 weeks every 2 months +/-, cruising. IF we do this, we'd depart Fall of 2013, after hurrican season. Our 2 biggest concerns:

1) A marina where we feel comfortable leaving the boat for 6 weeks +/- between visits. As we will have 7 months before hurricane season, that's not a huge issue.

2) Ease/affordability in traveling between San Antonio (or Houston) and the marina.

Some thoughts are: Isla Mujeres, MX, Roatan Honduras, and Panama. Obviously, Panama is a much longer trip on the boat than Isla.

Please feel free to chime in with thoughts.

Thanks,
__________________

__________________
Bill Streep
San Antonio/Port Aransas, TX
bstreep is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30-07-2012, 21:58   #2
Registered User

Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Western Caribbean
Boat: Seaton Durbeck 48
Posts: 59
Re: Central America/Mexico - Commuter Cruising

Cancun offers cheap flights from Texas, and outside of the hurricane season its probably a good place to leave a boat, A slip for a 40' boat will run $800+ in Isla, higher in Cancun or Puerto Moreles. The boat will have to be imported, about $50 but good for 10 years.
Nothing I'd recommend in Belize.
Rio Dulce is safe and secure, fresh water, and slips average about $200. Good cruising community, fairly cheap boat labor, lots of bars and restaurants. Texas to Rio trips run from $400 to $600.
Roatan marinas are in a state of flux. Fantasy Island has driven all cruisers away. Dixon Bay Marina is under construction and has been for 3-4 years. There's a small, new marina behind Fantasy Island called Brooksey Point, I believe, not sure of prices, but website appears cruise friendly. Roatan Yacht Club has a few older slips, little in the way of amenities, and wouldn't be a good option for an absentee owner.
There are a couple of mini marinas toward the East end that might be good options for leaving a boat, no amenities, water access only, but secure: Turtlegrass in Calabash Bight and Sandy Byrd's across from BJ's. Costs are about $200 per month. Flights from Texas are fairly expensive, higher than Guatemala and much higher than Cancun.
__________________

__________________
ontno1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 31-07-2012, 13:10   #3
Marine Service Provider
 
Steve Pavlidis's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: aboard
Posts: 33
Re: Central America/Mexico - Commuter Cruising

Rio Dulce for sure. Very safe, and lots of folks do what you want to do, leave and return to play on their boats. You'll love the community of boaters and prices. Airport is in Guatemala City, approximately 5-6 hours by bus from the Rio. Another option is San Pedro Sula airport in Honduras.
__________________
Steve Pavlidis
Steve Pavlidis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 31-07-2012, 16:13   #4
Registered User

Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Western Caribbean
Boat: Seaton Durbeck 48
Posts: 59
Re: Central America/Mexico - Commuter Cruising

A third option for the Rio Dulce is entering Guatemala at Flores. Flights from Texas are cheaper or as cheap as those to Guatemala City. Safe, clean, inexpensive hotels and a four bus ride to the Rio. Tikal makes a good day trip from Flores.
One can also fly into Cancun, take an overnight ADO bus to Belize City, then bus or fly to Flores.
__________________
ontno1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 31-07-2012, 18:19   #5
Senior Cruiser
 
bstreep's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: San Antonio, TX/Port Aransas, TX
Boat: 1990 Macintosh 47, "Merlin"
Posts: 2,274
Re: Central America/Mexico - Commuter Cruising

Thanks for the responses. The Rio Dulce certainly makes sense during hurricane season. We do draw 6'4", and have a bit of a concern about getting over the bar.

A 5-6 hour bus trip isn't EXACTLY what we had in mind, though!
__________________
Bill Streep
San Antonio/Port Aransas, TX
bstreep is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 31-07-2012, 19:04   #6
Registered User

Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Western Caribbean
Boat: Seaton Durbeck 48
Posts: 59
Re: Central America/Mexico - Commuter Cruising

Explore the Flores route, shorter bus ride, beautiful little town, close to Tikal, and much safer than Guat City.
My boat draws at least 6' 4" and crossing with a tide of 1.5' I've never touched. Could probably cross with a lesser tide, but +1.5 is fairly common.
__________________
ontno1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-08-2012, 07:23   #7
Registered User

Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: W Carib
Boat: Wildcat 35, Hobie 33
Posts: 7,957
Re: Central America/Mexico - Commuter Cruising

Re travel to the Rio. Yes, getting to the Rio can be a inconvenient, but if you only do it a couple of times a year then its not so bad. Flores, Guatemala and San Pedro Sula, Honduras are a bit closer, but still at least a few hours land travel. And, both have more limited flight schedules than Guate City. One suggestion is to break up your travel a bit -- Guatemala is a spectacularly beautiful country. I'm in Guate City now and plan to head back to the Rio tomorrow. It's about a 4.5 hour drive, but I plan to take 2 days to do it!

You could berth the boat in more convenient travel locations, but the Rio is the only place in the NW Caribbean that is effectively completely sheltered from hurricanes -- that's why there are so many cruising boats here. For example, Roatan has direct flights from the US...mighty handy. Belize City is also a straight shot. But of course neither venue has the hurricane protection of the Rio. Alternatively, you could have someone move the boat for you at the end of hurricane season.

Check the "storm box" on your insurance and this may help you evaluate alternatives to the Rio.

Another practical matter to keep in mind. One of the worse things you can do for a boat is let it sit unused -- which of course is exactly what most boats do most of the time. So, when you pop into wherever she is not likely to be ready to leave the dock. Inevitably there will maintenance and repairs which need to be done before you can get underway. I would allow at least a week in your schedule to account for this likelihood (highly likely). Also, you might consider hiring someone not only to keep the boat clean (which most marinas here on the Rio will do), but also to do tend the systems and have her ready to go when you show up. My boat is in Panama now and I plan to go down a full month before cruising season to start making ready.

Re crossing the bar at the Rio. I live on the Rio and have run many boats from the charter fleet in Belize across the bar for years.

Regardless of what you may hear or read elsewhere, the controlling depth over the bar is about 6'. Any vessel which runs aground drawing less than 6' was off course. Follow the route described in Freya Raucher's guide and you will be spot on. I assume that Mr. Pavlidis's guide describes this route too, but have not looked at it yet. I've had cruisers drawing as little as 4.5' tell me they ran aground...they were way off in the weeds somewhere.

The mistake many boaters make is that they tend to want to favor the Livingston side (roughly N side) of the mouth of the Rio...this of course is exactly where you don't want to be. Stay down near the middle of the mouth (as described...heading of 225T as I recall) and hold that course at least until abeam of the municipal dock in Livingston. You can then carry 6' minimum all the way from mid channel to the municipal dock.

I used to run a couple of monohulls from the charter fleet in Belize over the bar on a regular basis. Both drew just under 6' and I never even touched bottom regardless of tides. As a previous poster stated, they cross with 6'4" and a bit of a high tide.
__________________
belizesailor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-08-2012, 08:35   #8
Senior Cruiser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,594
Re: Central America/Mexico - Commuter Cruising

I've read that changes are happening in Roatan and NOT for the best...

New, restrictive anchoring/mooring rules is what I've heard.. IF not out right ban in some anchorages ..
__________________
Randy

Cape Dory 25D Seraph
rtbates is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-08-2012, 10:18   #9
Registered User

Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Montegut LA.
Boat: Now we need to get her to Louisiana !! she's ours
Posts: 3,421
Re: Central America/Mexico - Commuter Cruising

We have crossed over the Rio entrance with 6ft draft and never hit bottom YET ! our new to us boat has 5ft6in draft and we are looking forward to getting back up the Rio as soon as we can !! we don't fly back, but have had folks fly in to sail with us ! and what they did was rent a car at the airport, and we found other cruisers who wanted to take the car back to the airport ! so it worked well for us ! (we sailed to Panama they flew home from there ) Some of the best memories we have are from the time we spent in Rio D for a hurrycane season !! lots of fun and great food and folks !! just our 2 cents
__________________
Bob and Connie
bobconnie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-08-2012, 10:19   #10
Senior Cruiser
 
bstreep's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: San Antonio, TX/Port Aransas, TX
Boat: 1990 Macintosh 47, "Merlin"
Posts: 2,274
Re: Central America/Mexico - Commuter Cruising

Thanks again for the great posts. Yes, insurance is an issue - we are currently in a hurricane area, and it's very probable that we'll have to change insurance companies once we leave the US.

We do also understand that we can't just hop on board and take off. We have friends who had a boat in the Rio Dulce (lived in Belize), and didn't do too well with the paid maintenance deal - the boat was always a mess.
__________________
Bill Streep
San Antonio/Port Aransas, TX
bstreep is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-08-2012, 10:41   #11
Marine Service Provider
 
Steve Pavlidis's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: aboard
Posts: 33
Re: Central America/Mexico - Commuter Cruising

Quote:
Originally Posted by rtbates View Post
I've read that changes are happening in Roatan and NOT for the best...

New, restrictive anchoring/mooring rules is what I've heard.. IF not out right ban in some anchorages ..
Authorities in West End, Roatan, Bay Islands of Honduras, have prohibited anchoring in their waters. Mooring is also no longer permitted at West End and this may soon extend to the French Cay area. At this time there are no restrictions from Second Bight eastward.
__________________
Steve Pavlidis
Steve Pavlidis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-08-2012, 15:02   #12
Registered User

Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: W Carib
Boat: Wildcat 35, Hobie 33
Posts: 7,957
Re: Central America/Mexico - Commuter Cruising

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Pavlidis View Post
Authorities in West End, Roatan, Bay Islands of Honduras, have prohibited anchoring in their waters. Mooring is also no longer permitted at West End and this may soon extend to the French Cay area. At this time there are no restrictions from Second Bight eastward.
Yes, I was in Roatan this past season and the only actual issues were in the West End.

There is much political wrangling going on over this issue.
__________________
belizesailor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-08-2012, 15:26   #13
Registered User

Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: W Carib
Boat: Wildcat 35, Hobie 33
Posts: 7,957
Re: Central America/Mexico - Commuter Cruising

Quote:
Originally Posted by bobconnie View Post
...and what they did was rent a car at the airport, and we found other cruisers who wanted to take the car back to the airport ! ...
Pretty sporting choice of them to make!

Just be aware if you chose this option that driving in Guatemala is never boring! Could start a whole thread just on this subject. Guatemaltecos drive like there is a life threatening emergency all the time -- even when just going to fetch milk at the market. However, in their own way, they are quite courteous -- especially after you learn the correct "hand jive" for driving in Guate (forget the turn signals...hand jive is the way to negotiate traffic here).

Rental car rates are pretty reasonable here and you can also hire private van/drivers at reasonable rates.

If you do rent a car, don't even think about driving at night on the highway (The City is not so bad, but the highways are not a good idea).
__________________
belizesailor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-08-2012, 15:32   #14
Registered User

Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: W Carib
Boat: Wildcat 35, Hobie 33
Posts: 7,957
Re: Central America/Mexico - Commuter Cruising

Quote:
Originally Posted by bstreep View Post
..... We have friends who had a boat in the Rio Dulce (lived in Belize), and didn't do too well with the paid maintenance deal - the boat was always a mess.
Most of the marinas here do a pretty good job of keeping the boats clean. However, personnel and management changes sometimes effect their level of service.
__________________
belizesailor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 21-10-2012, 08:49   #15
Registered User

Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 5
Re: Central America/Mexico - Commuter Cruising

Quote:
Originally Posted by bstreep View Post

We do also understand that we can't just hop on board and take off. We have friends who had a boat in the Rio Dulce (lived in Belize), and didn't do too well with the paid maintenance deal - the boat was always a mess.
Personally I wouldn't rely on any marina. There are always exceptions but in the marinas I've been in for any length of time (Marios, Mar, Suzannas) from what I can tell monthly maintenance is a joke. I can tell when someone is about to arrive because although I didn't see any activity beforehand all of a sudden workers are swarming all over the boat. I hate to count the number of people I've seen arriving only to find their batteries are dry, engine work needed due to not being started regularly, mold/mildew down below, etc.

Best thing to do is to ask around, find some individual you can trust (preferably a gringo). Pay them a monthly fee (maybe $20'ish) to follow a checklist. Have them verify via email each month that months items were checked.
__________________

__________________
Westsailor32 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
Central America, cruising

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off




Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 04:37.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.