Querencia is a 42’ Valiant owned by Carl & Kim Scheile. They have made the trip to Belize several times.
Editor's note: As the emails progress you will notice breaks in time where Carl had to return to the US to work for a few weeks before continuing his vacation.
Date: December 28, 2005
If you get this it means we have left Port Aransas. For where, we don't know. But, we hope Isla... trying for warmer weather.
Date: December 31,2005
Subject: Bashing in the Gulf of Mexico
Day one: Nice north wind for about one hour, then ESE wind. Off course, looks like Campeche. Washing machine effect. Motor sailed part of the night.
Day two: Wind picked up 15-18kt SE. Now Veracruz is looking good. Might tack, might not. Smashing square into 4 footers. Maybe we will wait for the cruisers from the Veracruz race.
Raymond I think your record of 4 1/2 days from Port A to Isla is intact, how much did you motor? Bob, it looks like your record on Rima of 10 days might be in jeopardy. We are not going via New Orleans! Nothing like bagels and lox to settle things down, thanks Robert.
Just got info on marina rates at Isla, they have gone up 60%…not good news. Seems they want to recover their hurricane damage quickly, but nothing has been repaired, pilings supposedly are leaning. First day’s 24 hours, 112nm made good, sailed 126nm. Good news, water temp 74 degrees and sailing nicely. Right now 1.7kt vmg. The GPS says 34 days to Contoy! So far I believe the forecasters have been on a vacation. The wind they forecasted never happened. Pretty blue water though.
Day three: I'm in my bunk and Kim's on watch. Next thing I know we are on our ear. 1,2,3 reefs and 30kts later we still are on our ear. Gusting to 40. So much for light conditions! We are slamming into flat waves, go from 5.5kts to 1.9kts and a bunch of water goes out the back. So far the new hard dodger is working well. What a ride. Jeff, the plugs you made work! Wind is shifting south. Broke a control line to the wind vane. Everything is creaking and groaning as we launch off the waves. Kim is doing her watch from below. Waves approaching 8ft. Second day run, 110nm made good, sailed 131nm. Wind starting to go south. Time for chili.
Day four: We have been motoring since 2pm yesterday when the wind let up. Now we are pushing almost a 2kt current, never a dull moment. We are still short on fuel. Found a nice plump flying fish on deck, will freeze it and save it for El Rey. Kim tells me we have only gone 22nm in 6hrs, that was motoring and not even in the right direction. Boat speed 6.4k and our ground speed 3.8k, till the engine quits. So we are heading 150 degrees, boat speed 2.9k and our ground speed is 1.5k due West.
Now we are having fun, moving away from Isla at 1kt. Got the motor running and we’re back on track, sort of. Till we were running the generator and it came to a thundering halt, so what else. Got the generator running, now it’s raining. Oh, well. We are having fun now! We still think Rima’s record is at peril. Third day's run, 98nm made good, sailed 110nm. We hope this has not been too boring.
We wish everyone a Happy New Year. Thank you all for coming up on the radio. As of 1200 on the 31st of December, N 25'00 W 91'23 375nm from Isla, in a straight line…the one we are not following.
Date: January 03,2006
Here it is, plot and weep…N21'48 W86'56. Yes we should have been there by now, but due to weather considerations, we were unable to get there sooner. Our boat is not as fast as Heart of Gold or Rima. But we can assure you, short of sinking; we will be in Isla within the next 12hrs. Less than 7 days. 7 days was our slowest trip, so at this time I don't think we are in danger of breaking that record.
GO HORNS! We will stay in contact. We saw two Whale Shark today...Have Fun.
Date: January 04,2006
Subject: Isla Mujeres is still here
Day five: We have been pushed east, right in the middle of the northbound current. We are beating into 14-18kts of wind, heading of 130, tracking 114. Boat speed 5.8. Ground speed 3.8. Wind has picked up to 25k. Spoke with a cruise ship out of Galveston. Their name was Elation (more than us) and they confirmed it…we have wind and current right on the nose.
It gets better, wind is up to 30k gusting to 40k again, we are crying uncle and heaving to. Days run, WHO CARES.
Day six: Last night was miserable. Had 7 ship encounters; fortunately we are parked (hove to 4hrs). Sailing again wind 22k on the nose with the current against us. Starboard tack we are tracking 075-90 degrees. Port Tack 220-235 degrees. It all depends on how big a wave displaces us. We have decided to try and motor into 22kt of wind and a 2-2.5kt current. We are able to get 2.8kt vmg at times, painfully slow. Wind seems to be laying. Motoring, we find the PSS drip less coupling leaking, a lot. We cut the engine, mess with the coupling and it seems to be holding, its being checked every 30 min.
Making 5kt 185nm to go. We came across a pod of at least 50 small spinners; we think they either escaped from New Orleans or Mobile. They knew what they were doing, tricks I've never seen.
Day seven: Light wind today, motor sailing. Picked up (caught?) 38 small flying fish. Flying fish omelet? Kim thinks I'm nuts.
We tore the main on a seam just below the second reef points so all we have now is a small main. We were sailing along slowly when I hear a slap. The sound came from above. I looked up and this Frigate bird is stumbling to recover flight. I think he was trying to land but missed. We must be getting close to land, another large pod of dolphins, these guys not as aggressive. Not an hour later we come across two Whale sharks. We just sat and watched…it was awesome. It was in the same area we saw them last year. I asked Kim to get the camera, but she said she was not missing this. No Pictures!
It’s HOT today, not much wind. We are about 20nm from Contoy Lighthouse and you can see that light at least 10nm out. Will be dark in a couple hours. Wind is light, seas are not running, we have been over the north end of the reef six times, we have waypoints, we have more instruments than the Space Shuttle so we decide to cross at night. I called Rick on "Wango Tango" and he caught our line as we wrestled the boat into position. We are now tied up at Marina Paraiso. We’re plugged in and even have power. 10:45 pm and we are watching Sex in the City in Spanish. Go figure, its Kim's show! Six days twelve hours later, we sailed 790nm to cover 692 on the rhumb line. Only 100 extra miles. Its RUM time! It was a fun trip! Will give updates on Isla when it gets light out. It’s looking kind of bare!
Date: January 04,2006
Subject: We be there
There are two big shrimpers lying on their side over on the island where we snorkel.
Date: January 05,2006
Go Horns! Almost needed bail from Isla jail. All resolved, Kick Ass.
Date: January 25,2006
The plan is to leave Isla around the 14th of February. Be in Belize till around the 12th-14th of April, around two months. Back in Isla, then depart Isla around the 15th of May for Alacran, then on to Texas. I've been on the boat for a few days but need to return to the grindstone on Thursday. Life is good... hope all is well.
Date: February 19,2006
Well, it doesn't work. All that and still doesn't work. We are in Mexico and I ain't a mechanic. We pulled the injector pump and I will take it to Cancun to see if they can at least bench check it. We will see. Went out and dove and took some video. Just wish it were Lighthouse.
Date: February 22,2006
Subject: Engine 101
I am back from the States and ready to continue our adventure, only problem is it’s gusting to 30mph in the marina. Just made it back from the airport with two bags and I can't get on the boat. The waves are breaking over the dock. I have to plan my approach just right. The pilings have been tied together since Wilma did her deed. "Chepo" tied them together because he did not trust them. This is what Kim told me when I arrived. This gave me a warm fuzzy $870 dock fee feeling. I am just glad I did not have to call the Insurance Company to explain why I was cruising down the Caribbean with four pilings attached to the boat. At least not yet!
Here we are on a schedule again. Need to get the boat ready, fuel, stitch torn main (since there is no one here to repair it, except us), engine maintenance, zincs, transducer, provision, BEER, etc.
We get word there is a boat on the reef at Puerto Morelos. People want to know if we can help. I really feel bad, but Puerto Morelos this is 30nm away, please, call the Coast Guard! Is this selfish? Oh, wait, this is Mexico there is NO COAST GUARD! Please, if you plan on coming this direction don't plan on any help. You need to be self sufficient to an extent. You might be able to get some help, but if you are in Puerto Morelos where there is a big shipyard, don't call for help in Isla Mujeres and expect a 40ft sail boat to pull you off in a blow. Anyone can get in trouble at any time and everyone should try and lend a hand within reason. Just remember there is no Coast Guard.
Yes it still is blowing, after all it is a sail boat. I don't know what it is but when one arrives to a new destination after an ocean passage no one wants to leave. We met several boats that said they were leaving two weeks ago. When we mentioned when we were leaving, they said they would be gone. They are still here, go figure. That's what a schedule does for you. We have to leave.
So there it is, we try to leave and can't. The motor doesn't run. To make a long story longer, at this time the head and injectors are off the boat. All we can do now is hope. Kim has flown to Phoenix to pick up some engine parts, at least this guarantees us we will have the parts. Maybe in a few days we will know more. The adventure is just beginning.
Kim is back with the parts and we rush over to the head overhaul shop. The Tech pulls the valves immediately; I said they are the right parts since I got them from Westerbeke. Wrong. They are F%&*@#+ wrong. Back to whatever square we were at. I'm sorry senor these will not work, the old ones are too thin so you need to find in the US, we do not have these in Mexico. Tomorrow one of us is heading back north. Will come back to this later.
Back to life in Isla. The marina is dead, it’s Rick, Bubba, and us. That is it! Got a call on the VHF, a cat around 50ft was dragging. Folks were calling, wondering if the Port Captain might be able to help. It’s 9pm and I said they might have better luck hailing the US Coast Guard. They actually asked what frequency! They were not American. There are no American boats here. Back to the cat, folks got a few dingys together went over to the cat. The generator was running, lights were on, anchor was up on the roller, but no people were on board. Lots of speculation going on, kind of weird and will update when we hear. We found out later they set the anchor but the windlass failed, rolling all of it back up. Usually when it fails, it does not work. They went aground, so all is well with them.
Friday was a busy day, searching for the right valves. Not before making calls to Hal, Robert, Thane, Bill, Valiant, Westerbeke and every diesel parts place in the USA. I located them in Miami. Being Friday, we were looking at maybe getting them here by Tuesday if the moon and the stars were aligned right. That would mean getting the boat put back together by maybe Wednesday. So I flew to Miami and picked them up myself (that's another story in itself). Today I’m on my way to Cancun with the right valves and hope to get something accomplished.
By the way, the boat that was on the reef in Puerto Morelos has been declared a National Monument. Sad deal. But a good marker on the reef now.
We have pulled the injector pump to have it bench tested in Cancun. Yes they did test it…I didn't know what they were doing when they put it in a vise and hit it with a hammer. This is your bench test, I bet Westerbeke would do it the same. Tests OK, no problema here. So I take the pump back, we put everything back together with the cover off of the kill switch. We crank and start the motor, and of course it’s depositing a lot of oil in the engine room. The mechanic is getting $60 US an hour, we are in Mexico, and he doesn't even clean up. But hey its running today, tomorrow we'll see. Lots more to the story and will have to save it for another day. All we can say this vacation is over. See all we needed to do was put in 40 weight Tequila and she runs. We have no clue what was wrong!
Date: March 15,2006
Subject: Wind 101
I've been in the States (US) long enough to get over my freeway phobia. I'm not sure if that is a good thing. Hauled all the older folks out of Florida to Phoenix and made some money doing it, so its time for another vacation. We are hoping this time the Earth, Moon and Stars align and give us a better ride. Some might wonder why on earth would we subject ourselves to these stresses (adventures according to me). What else would we do in the winter, freeze? So here we go again in search of that perfect Beach, Sunset, Photograph, Moment or just that Big Fish.
March 9-14: I guess its only fitting to have wind, only problem is its too much and from the wrong direction. There must be a lesson here, maybe patience. But I'm on vacation. Ha! Wind, wind and more wind. We hope it’s going to let up. We checked the weather faxes for the next 3 days, not good, more wind. Now we are not sure this Moon and Star thing is going to work. We have provisioned the boat 4 times and each time we watch the avocados turn black then grow fuzz…into the trash along with everything else. Now we are looking for some diversion since we still are on vacation.
A new boat has arrived in Isla, an Island Packet, just like Thane and Tami’s. The sailor is a minister from Dallas. I never knew preachers sailed. Real nice person, but he is not sure if he is terrified of sailing yet, maybe just unsure. He asked me how to get to Belize so I gave him my best instructions. Then I mentioned there might be a cold front coming and he wanted me to explain what a cold front did. Then I was concerned. That became the marina story for the two boats here.
When we finally left Isla on the 12th, it was blowing 17 in the slip. I think everyone thought we were crazy (maybe just me). But with my weather forecasts (US Navy) my decision was justified. Only thing is weather forecasts down here are not as good as up there in the US. Once we got out in the bay it never went below 22k on the nose. We had to tack out of the bay. Kim said the only good thing about going when it’s blowing is that no one else is out there so you shouldn't run into another boat. That's even the Mexican Navy. Wind peaked around 35 with some huge seas on the beam at times. We had waves come in from both sides out the back and into the cockpit. One wave broke a snap of the dodger that was riveted into the traveler. I wonder if it’s still under warranty? We came up to the north end of Chinchorro Bank at 9pm last night. We were debating if we should stop or not. I got no sleep the night before since we were trying to get out of the current by sailing close to land. I was a bit leery at first since I looked at my waypoints from two years ago and couldn't remember the entrance. Just remembered the big coral heads I got lobster at. Was not remembering if other coral heads lay in our way. So just as we caught a gust to 35kt and a wave to match, the control line to the wind vane snapped. The boat rounded up and that made up my mind. I spoke with Blue Jacket, a boat we have been diving with, and his waypoints were close to ours. We went in. The lighthouse was on and just as we start in the light goes out. Come to find out, it shuts down on schedule due to lack of fuel. Fine time to leave me now Lucile! The Mexican Navy boarded us this morning and I asked about the light. They casually mentioned that it looked like we were heading for the reef and I asked, “why did you not call on the radio?” They said they had thought about it. What would you think it would look like as you are bobbing side to side in 8ft'ers. It blew 35+ all night. What a night. We departed Chinchorro at 11am this morning and sailed along the western side, then along the south end of Chinchorro. Really pleasant sailing in 15k of wind. We would have stopped and done some diving but the Admiral nixed the deal. On a mission is Lighthouse Reef and should arrive real early, around 2 AM. Might grab a dive ball and get some sleep, then get an early dive in. Maybe on our way back we'll stop and dive Chinchorro. Wind up to 25, 47nm to go. Motor ran today. All for now.
Date: March 18,2006
Subject: Southern Cross
We have one question. From where you sit, can you see the Southern Cross? If so… Good On Ya!
Date: March 30
Subject: Better Belize It
We had a great sail from Chinchorro and arrived to Lighthouse at 3am, of course. I think we are just destined to arrive at night. The Mexican Navy had boarded us before departing and all went very smooth. In fact they were a lot nicer since the last time we were boarded there 3 years prior. When we arrived at Lighthouse we picked up a dive ball. They are located on the west side of Long Cay. We got several hours sleep and did our first dive. It is March 29th and life could not be any easier, although we did manage to piss off the Park Ranger on Half Moon Cay within about 1hr after anchoring. Geoff (Blue Jacket) and I had gone for a dive. When we got back the girls, Kim and Sue, informed us that the Park Ranger wanted us to move. Apparently we were in the channel that brings "Amigos del Mar", the dive boat to the island. The dive boat does 20kts with a wake that would challenge "El Rey" and the Ranger told us he didn't want us to spill our coffee. So here we are. It seems like we can find controversy anywhere.
We get up in the morning around 4:30-5 edit some pictures or video from the dives the day before, download weather, listen to the NW Caribbean Net on the SSB, eat breakfast, go for a dive, fill the dive tanks, eat lunch, send Kim out to look for conch, go for an afternoon dive and fill dive tanks again. Then we take showers, cook and eat dinner and socialize till around 9pm. That is the extent of our busy schedule, with some variations of course. Mostly we are capturing images under water. Sometimes we capture them for our dinner plates. Night dives when we feel it’s time. Between the turtles, rays, eels, all the other fish and, yes, sharks, we are having a blast. Alive at Lighthouse. We were only two boats out here, now there are 10 others. We also heard Hal on "Griffin" is heading out, we brought him a bottle of Tequila. Amazing what that does to psyche you up. Anyone up for a dive?
All pictures on this page are copyrighted by Carl Scheile.