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November 2017: Shamal is on the hard in Guatemala.Mum and Dad are home in New Zealand till Jan. 2018. *ATTENTION PLEASE* if you are still interested in receiving the posts, could you please subscribe to the Blog following the two step process in the right hand column, so that new posts are emailed to your inbox. As of next year the reminder emails that are being sent out will cease. Thanks to all of you for following our Adventures.

26 March 2018

Guatemala


Spanish Fort entrance Lake Izabal
Hello Again

 
Where are we, and what are we up to???

Spring is on its way
 
Yes it has been a very long break away from SHAMAL this time round, but we are now back on the Rio Dulce, Guatemala, and SHAMAL is about to be put back in the water at long last.

Fonteras
 
Fronteras
We departed New Zealand on the evening of 24th January and flew to Houston, then on to Newark to visit with our family and see the Grandchildren again.  On the 6th February we flew down to Miami, then on to San Pedro Sula in Honduras.  This airport is closer to the Rio Dulce than Guatemala City.  We had booked a shuttle to take us from the airport directly to the Marina, a trip which is done frequently by this company.  We were to be met at the airport by one of those guys holding up a sign with our name on.  Ha Ha.  Something went wrong as he had been double booked, we found out later.  Having no phone contact with the company, we were able to email them to be told, don’t worry, someone is coming.  Two long hours later a woman arrived in her own 4x4 to take us – well that is what we thought.  Off we set.  About an hour into the drive she pulls off the highway and informs us that this is as far as she is going.  Well that is what we think she said as she only spoke Spanish, and our Spanish is less than limited!! We are to wait and someone else will take us.  Thank goodness she did not just leave us on the side of the road.  We sat for another hour in her 4x4 till the next driver arrived in his minivan.  This is when we found out about the double booking.  The company had forgotten to inform him of our arrival.  Oh well never mind – all part of life’s little adventures. 

Local Cattle Ranch
 
Off we set.  Oh help this road trip joins the “World’s Worst Drives” we have done, along with one in Iran, and another through Georgia and Armenia.  That is not to mention the one in Kenya where Alec actually had to take over from the driver on a trip to Nairobi.

 
Top End Lake Izabal
We drove along at an average speed of 140kph.  There was heavy traffic on the road including many large trucks.  No Problem, one just passes them.  On corners, the brow of a hill, and with other traffic approaching.  Here the speed would increase as to clear them.  Road works – no problem – just pass them as quickly as possible.  We did grind to a halt thank goodness when we arrived at a river where the bridge had been washed out in a recent storm and they were doing major repairs, but we still had to be at the head of the que, so that meant passing everything in front of us.  It was now approaching 5.00pm and the driver informs us we must hurry to make the boarder into Guatemala before it closes.  That is when I stopped looking at his Speedo. We did arrive in time, and he had us all checked through in 5 minutes.  He then informed us we could now enjoy the rest of the trip at a slower speed – we settled back to 140kph again!!!
 
Ram Marina Paint Shed

It was after dark when we arrived back at RMA Marina on the Rio Dulce.  SHAMAL was standing on the hard just where we had left her and she looked fine – only a layer of black mould coated her covers and all through the back cockpit.  From what we could see it was mainly on the outside.  She did smell a bit musty inside, but after a quick meal at the marina café we just fell into bed and decided to  inspect things in the daylight next morning. 

 
Banana Boat, Puerto Barrios
It was good to be back on our home again, but now we really had some work to do.  First Alec removed the floor mats from the back deck and started scrubbing everything down.  Next he sorted through the spares we had brought with us and started fitting them.  I started cleaning.  Inside was good as I had wiped all the walls with white vinegar before we left.  Also I had placed those little dehumidifier pots around, so the boat needed more of an airing out than a major clean.  It took a week before that musty smell disappeared.  I removed the covers from over the whole boat and that took us three days to scrub and clean those.  We slowly worked our way through the maintenance list.  We had to have a couple of stainless steel anti-syphon vents made which took time, but “Carlos the Welder” made a superb job of those, even if it did take him a couple of weeks, and for us an untold number of tuk tuk rides up to his shop to see how things were going.

 
Bridge over Rio Dulce, Fronteras
We had a day off to do a shopping trip to the coastal town of Puerto Barrios with a group of cruises. Puerto Barrios is the capital of the Izabal province. It is also Guatemala’s only Caribbean port with dozens of Dole and Chiquita containers being shipped from here.  It has a population of about 23,000. Here in Fronteras we have a basic supermarket. The local fruit and vegetables are great, but for other products to was nice to be able to pick up some of those.

SHAMAL on hard RAM Marina
 
Straps from travel lift being put in place
After us working on SHAMAL for a month, and having her standing on the hard for eight very long months, she is finally lifted back into the water.  It is such a great feeling to see here back afloat again.  We pull over to the fuel dock, then it is off up into Lake Izabal for a quick spin to see if everything is working like it should be.  Alec is pleased with our initial run, so we return and drop anchor back in front of the marina as we still have some small jobs to finish off.

 
Paul and Hazel, Lake Izabal
Small stream we explored
A week later we pick up friends Hazel and Paul, and do a two night trip to the head of Lake Izabal which is some 30nm long.   We were now a good 50nm inland.  It felt quite surreal to be so far from the ocean.  As we enter Lake Izabal from the Rio Dulce we pass Castillo San Felipe to our STBD. Built in 1652 it served as a defence against pirates who would raid the Spanish galleons with their precious cargos of gold.
Top of Lake Izabal

 It was beautiful up there where a number of rivers run into the lake.  For our first excursion we set off up the Zarquito River in the tender.  The air was sweet smelling from the wonderful flowering plants. Water lilies and pale lavender hyacinths line the river banks in places. In others the tropical rainforest overhangs the water dripping in orchids, ferns, bromeliads and other exotic plant life. The beautiful blue Morpho butterfly along with other brightly coloured ones - red, orange, yellow - flutter across the river and along its banks, stopping to dip for nectar from the flowering plants. Dragon flies also join them on the hunt for food. We see a small troop of howler monkeys resting high in the branches of the trees. The sounds from the bird life also fills the air. We hear more of them than we actually see, but we do watch the kingfishers dip the waters catching insects and small fish.
Howler Monkeys Resting

Our only problem was the biting Congo fly - very much like a horse fly - which found any exposed part of our skin as a feeding station!! It would draw blood with each bite. We were armed with bug spray which did not help much.  So on our next excursion we armed Paul with a can of strong fly spray and a fly swat. He became an expert at walloping us the moment one landed.

On that second excursion we anchored in Ensenada Los Lagartos at the NW corner of the lake. As we drop anchor I see a small snake swimming through the water. For our return trip  we were lucky enough to get the sails up moving along nicely at 7kts.
Flower
 
Howler Monkey
Grey Heron
Then this last Tuesday we took a day off from jobs and joined a group of yachties on an adventure trip down river.   We went Zip Lining over a Cattle Ranch.  There were eight lines, the longest being 600mts.  It was so much fun.  Then to get back to the start we kayak down this small stream through farm land then jungle out into the Rio Dulce.  That was a mile and a half paddle.  The trouble was we had another three and a half miles to paddle back up stream in the river, then into the lake to reach our starting point.  It was well over 30deg.c. and we had not been given water for this leg.  After our 5nm paddle I must say I was exhausted, but Alec and I were the first to return of the group.  Only 5 of the 10 kayaks made it.  The others pulled out and had their kayaks towed back while they got a ride in the speed boat.

Alec on the Zip Line
 
Ann coming in
Today is the first day we have woken to continuous rain, but we still have a couple of “boat” jobs to work on.  We have been looking for that weather window to leave here.  We did miss one a couple of weeks back, but were just not ready.  The NE trade winds are still blowing.  We have friends who sailed from here leaving on the 30th December and arriving into St Maarten for work on the 25th January.  A trip which should have been 1,800nm, but became a trip of over 3,000nm for them.  They were beating all the way in winds between 20-30kks.  Hence the reason we will wait!!!  Also now we have Easter nearly upon us.  It is one of the biggest events of the year for the locals here, so it looks like we will have to wait till that is over.  Everything will close, hence it will be very expensive for us to check out of the country.  Also we don’t want to arrive in the Cayman Islands (our next stop) at Easter, again because of the cost to check in.

The start of our trip back to base
 
Well we will leave you for this posting to the Blog .  Hopefully we will get our weather window soon and be on our way again.
 
So as we sign out we wish everyone wherever you are, a very Blessed Easter, and stay safe.
 
Love from

 
The Admiral and The commander.

 

2 comments:

  1. Noelene and JohjnThursday, 29 March, 2018

    Great to see you having such a good time. It must be great to be back on Shamal. All the best for the trip to the Caymans.
    Cheers
    Noelene & John.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have always wanted to check out this place. Looks like you had an amazing time and amazing food to go along with it. Thanks for the share, keep up the posts, love this!
    Greg Prosmushkin

    ReplyDelete