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Old 24-07-2004, 19:17   #1
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Rio Dulce

We are getting ready to leave San Diego heading to the carib and on. We would like to go up the Rio Dulce but our cutter has an 8' draft. Does anyone know if we would be able to enter the rio. As I understand it the depth at the entrance to the rio is 5.5 ft. but boats with much larger drafts have gone up the Rio befor.
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Old 25-07-2004, 14:37   #2
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Rio Dulce

I emailed steve at brunos marina last week and he finally answered. He said the entarance is ususally arround 7 ft and a boat with an 8 ft draft at high tide can get in. If not the fishing boats at livingston will take the halyard line and heal the boat so you can motor in.
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Old 08-05-2006, 03:37   #3
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“...The mouth of the Rio Dulce has a sand bar which must be crossed before reaching the deep water of the river. Vessels drawing more than 5 feet must take care to enter where the bar is the lowest. Vessels drawing over 5 1/2 feet should cross the bar at high tide. The deepest it ever gets at the deepest point during the highest tide is 7 1/2 feet ...”
Excerpted from:

Rio Dulce, Guatemala (15.8333̊ N, 88.8167̊ W) ~ Cruising Information:
http://www.mayaparadise.com/
Including:
Cruiser Information: http://www.mayaparadise.com/boatinfe.htm
Tide Tables: http://www.mayaparadise.com/tidesidx.htm
GPS Coordinates: http://www.mayaparadise.com/riogpse.htm
Weather (Local & Marine):
http://www.mayaparadise.com/wxe.htm & http://www.mayaparadise.com/weather.htm
And much more ...
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Old 08-05-2006, 05:56   #4
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Steve gave poor advice

Taurus,
Although it should be evident by Gord's post regarding the entry across the bar at Livingston, FWIW I will offer an opinion based on my experience crossing the bar this past winter and spring on two ocassions. My boat draws a shade under 5 feet. My depth sounder is offset for one foot under the keel (i.e., when it reads 2 feet deep, I have 3 feet of water under the keel). On the first ocassion I crossed the bar the depth meter read 0, which meant the water was one foot deep or less under the boat. On the next ocassion it read about a foot. As a perusal of tide tables for Livingston will indicate, the tides there and throughout the area for that matter fluctuate an extremely small amount. Consequently very shallow draft boats usually enter and leave anytime they want but boats drawing over 5 feet try to time their passing at the highest tide. The boats drawing more than that plan their arrival and departure very carefully. And another point, that bar is not just a short bump that you have to go over. It is probably 200 or 300 yards wide. Now regarding having a local fishing boat to heel you over. The only way a deep draft boat can be heeled over enough to do the job is by them attaching a line to a halyard and pulling you sideways for a couple of hundred yards. That may be something that I may hire a professional tower like Tow Boats US to do but would not want to have that service provided by someone not totally experienced in such manuevers. Also, the bar is at least 1/2 mile or more in front of the town. And another point is that it may be possible to hire a fisherman when leaving if you can find one with a boat powerful enough to do the job if you speak Spanish or have crew who does but when coming in to port how are you going to contact a fisherman? Some of the smaller boats have no radios and who do you hail if you see a large boat in the distance? I heard that some boats have been heeled over the bar on ocassions but it seems to be a rare occurence. If I were determined to bring a deep draft boat up the Rio Dulce I would do more research on the subject. There are several other marinas in the area and many very experienced cruisers who have been in and out of Livingston on many ocassions who can offer even better advice than I. I would suggest that you also query other Forums where there may be some old salts lurking around. The SSCA has a forum where you should post. Also there may be some better info in some of the old SSCA bulletins which can be purchased as a CD. Steve Pavlidis, the noted cruising author, frequently posts on that forum. He has extensive experience in that area and I saw him at Mario's early last winter. He could probably offer excellent advice. Anyway these are just a few things to think about.
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Old 08-05-2006, 12:02   #5
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Taurus:

I'm a little more optimistic than Joe or Gord's reference...but not so optimistic about 8'. The bar's deeper area oscillates a bit over time, which can account for some boats finding less water than there really is. And along with tidal influences, rainfall and regional winds can have some effect...so quoting the 'real' maximum depth over the bar is both a bit of art as well as science. Friends of ours on a Nauticat 43 e.g. crossed the bar with 7' draft and, except for being tide savvy and feeling a bump or two, found it a non-event - in both directions.

FWIW I did watch a large power cruiser work all morning, around high tide, trying to find its way over the bar. He carried a bit under 8' as I recall and he used his main tender, radio equipped and with depth sounder, like a sheppard uses his dog. He also used a lot of engine. You don't have his options and, regrettably, I think you'll have to put the Rio on your 'maybe' list.

BTW there aren't a lot of interesting places to cruise in that immediate area. You'll come from the Bay Is. most likely, and you'll find some pleasant, remote anchorages along the Honduran mainland (plus a decent boatyard, if you need one)...but if the Rio isn't possible for you, I suspect you'll immediately divert to Belize.

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Old 08-05-2006, 17:28   #6
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Rio Dulce other subject
Recommendation as to a yard to haul a 24’beam cat for maintenance, repair and modification. On internet have come across a place that runs under two names “The Shop or El Toque Final”
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Old 09-05-2006, 04:24   #7
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Cameron:

I would include La Ceiba (Honduras) in your research. Good people, safe and not too far away. Don't know what their lift capabilties are but the SSCA Bulletins and also CD has uptodate info on this yard.

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Old 09-05-2006, 15:35   #8
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Just to second Jack's suggestion:

Its a few years ago now, but I spent 2 or 3 months in Guatemala, Honduras and environs...I spent a few days in the region around la Ceiba...it had quite extensive port facilities and cranage.
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Old 28-01-2020, 12:20   #9
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Re: Rio Dulce

awesome place the rio dulce
I have spent 15years living there over the last 35 years.
well worth your visit.
years before crewing on a Mason ketch rig with 7 ft draft we crossed the bar outbound on high tide and bumped bottom a few times but made it across.
definitely well worth your visit.
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Old 28-01-2020, 12:45   #10
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Re: Rio Dulce

FYI - there have been some reports of piracy in addition to normal theft along the coasts of Nicaragua and Honduras, though 2019 was fairly quiet for violent interactions (versus nuisance theft).

This Noonsite partner-site is a good place for information updated information.

https://safetyandsecuritynet.org/newsreports/
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Old 28-01-2020, 14:45   #11
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Re: Rio Dulce

in all places theft exist some worst than others use caution and precautions. use lock bars or heavy chains on outboards
raise dinghys on deck or above water a couple or 3 meters or more to limit easy access anchor near others so you aren't easy prey. stay farther offshore from coast where piracy is known to be more prevalent. in 35 years going to Guatemala state dept has always had warning issues due to existing violence and criminal issues. these exist mostly in cities and main routes in and out of cities.
travel daytime only less chance of crime.
crime exists in most cities throughout the world. USA cities included. Chicago's crime as any other major city in USA exists as well. and much worse than Guatemala.
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Old 28-01-2020, 15:30   #12
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Re: Rio Dulce

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tartan37CB View Post
in all places theft exist some worst than others use caution and precautions. use lock bars or heavy chains on outboards raise dinghys on deck or above water a couple or 3 meters or more to limit easy access anchor near others so you aren't easy prey. stay farther offshore from coast where piracy is known to be more prevalent. in 35 years going to Guatemala state dept has always had warning issues due to existing violence and criminal issues. these exist mostly in cities and main routes in and out of cities. Travel daytime only less chance of crime. Crime exists in most cities throughout the world. USA cities included. Chicago's crime as any other major city in USA exists as well. and much worse than Guatemala.
Tartan - as a guy who travels throughout Central America, I too have recited stats about how Chicago, St Louis, and Baltimore all appear above fill-in-the-blank CA city for crime stats. But this is different - these piracy events are armed men boarding yachts at sea with extremely bad intentions. Think "Home Invasion" or "Car Jacking." Far cry from having your dingy swiped while you're ashore at dinner. Last April, an underway yacht reported being surrounded by four pangas and boarded by 20-25 armed men.

Everyone must make their own decisions based on their situation. But please do so with knowledge of what's out there. I intend to transit this coast in about 2-years. You can be sure I will give it a very wide berth.

Noonsite.com continues to have the best collection of information.

https://www.noonsite.com/place/nicaragua/
https://www.noonsite.com/place/honduras/
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Old 28-01-2020, 17:27   #13
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Re: Rio Dulce

as you say we all have choices such as so of the boats that never leave marinas.
your link indicates Nicaragua not Guatemala. it also states in your link" They did not appear to be organized pirates, they did not have any weapons other than knives, or any tools, they had to leave our outboard motor behind. they did not kill anyone. how many armed robberies in USA major cities in last year or years? how many armed assaults in those same USA cities? how many armed assaults resulted in deaths. read your statistics for all of USA cities! are you same in USA cities than out on the oceans and other countries.
as you say best to be aware of areas to steer a wider berth of.
Rio Dulce has grown progressively over last 35 years I have been going and in comparison to other areas crime has been minimal.
it's not for everyone but it offers alot of natural beauty and friendly people for the adventurous souls who dare to enjoy the land of eternal spring!
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Old 28-01-2020, 18:36   #14
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Re: Rio Dulce

To the OP: you might contact Raul at Servimar. He is the main contact for clearance in and out of Livingston in the Rio and has dealt with this draft question probably hundreds of times before. navieraservamar at gmail.com. He is in the business of helping cruising boats come and go from that part of the world.

Echoing mvweebles, we just crossing over to the Bay Islands a few days ago from the Rio (via Belize). I'm not opposed to calculated risk taking and would have loved to leap frog along the Honduran mainland, but the security situation has clearly changed in recent years. Prevailing wisdom at this time is to stay well offshore, especially around the Punta Sal area.

Following the US city analogy, why knowingly transit a hotzone when you could route around easily enough on the interstate bypass?
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Old 28-01-2020, 19:52   #15
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Re: Rio Dulce

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tartan37CB View Post
as you say we all have choices such as so of the boats that never leave marinas.
your link indicates Nicaragua not Guatemala. it also states in your link" They did not appear to be organized pirates, they did not have any weapons other than knives, or any tools, they had to leave our outboard motor behind. they did not kill anyone. how many armed robberies in USA major cities in last year or years? how many armed assaults in those same USA cities? how many armed assaults resulted in deaths. read your statistics for all of USA cities! are you same in USA cities than out on the oceans and other countries.
as you say best to be aware of areas to steer a wider berth of.
Rio Dulce has grown progressively over last 35 years I have been going and in comparison to other areas crime has been minimal.
it's not for everyone but it offers alot of natural beauty and friendly people for the adventurous souls who dare to enjoy the land of eternal spring!
Okay, I own a condo in Playa del Carmen MX, a town with a fast rising crime rate that starlets the hell out of people. I rent it occasionally VRBO and cite your arguments all the time. Don't do drugs, don't hang out in clubs until sun up, stay off dark streets, travel in pairs, blah-blah-blah.

If you think it's okay to be boarded by 2-dozen men 50-miles offshore simply because they had machetes instead of guns and they didn't actually kill anyone, you live in a tougher neighborhood than I ever have. BTW - while it was in Panama vs Nicaragua, there was a NZ owner (trawler yacht) who was killed by boarding pirates a year or so ago. His wife was slashed by a machete but not killed.

I'm not saying don't go. I'm not saying anything. I'm just saying there are risks and unless you know about them, you can't mitigate them.

BTW - it's been 15 years, but this is not my first time through this area. I used to be a full time delivery skipper our of San Francisco and have moved a couple boats to Florida. Moving boats has enough risk. I'm just saying it's the captains job to minimize, not ignore.
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