Archive for February, 2010

Marking Time In Mexico

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

We have been back in Mexico for about 2 months now, and we have to say that we really like Mexico.  We stayed on a mooring ball at Marina El Cid for about a month.  El Cid is just a little south of Puerto Morelos and is

Coba Hotel

The Hotel in Coba

about a 15 minute walk along the beach into town.  Puerto Morelos is a small, laid-back town, with just a little buzz of tourism, nothing at all like Cancún or even Isla Mujeres.  There is a nice central plaza, surrounded by small shops and restaurants, and a very nice beach.  On Thursdays the fresh produce truck sets up shop on the street beside the church and you can get really good produce for very little money.  There is a very nice corner cafe with really good coffee and a nice used book store with lots of titles in English.  Most days we would walk along the beach into town, have coffee and bagels while people-watching, stroll around a bit, buy a couple of novels to read, and have a late lunch at one of the restaurants, then head back to the boat.

While we were in Puerto Morelos, we took a bus to Cobá, to visit the Mayan ruins there.  There are Mayan ruins all over the Yucatan and on down into Belize, Guatemala and Honduras.  We visited several the last time we were in Mexico, but we never made it to Cobá.  One of the distinctive features of Cobá is that it is mostly unexcavated.  The more well-known ruins like Chichen-Itza have been excavated and refurbished to a large degree, so that one is able to see them somewhat like they must have appeared when the were still occupied.  Cobá, in contrast, is mostly unexcavated and appears much more as it would have when it was

Coba

Restaurant and Bus Station in Coba

“re-discovered.”  Some of the main structures at Cobá have been excavated, but not much reconstruction has been done.  The main pyramid at Cobá is also the tallest in the Yucatan (about 140 feet tall), taller even than Chichen-Itza.  We arrived in Cobá in the early afternoon and rented a room for the night.  We got to the ruins about 8:00 the next morning and had a couple of hours before the first tour buses started rolling in.  The ruins are scattered over an area of approximately 30 square miles and clustered in 3 or 4 main groupings.  The Mayans built elevated roads of stone and plaster connecting the various groups of structures, as well as extending to other nearby ruins.  The longest Mayan road out of Cobá extends over 62 miles.  Archaeological evidence indicates that Cobá was first inhabited around the first century, with most of the major construction having been done between 500 and 900 B.C.E.  It remained an important and inhabited city until at least the late 14th century.

After our visit to Cobá we set out for Isla Mujeres, an easy 5 or 6 hour sail to the North.  Or at least it should have been an easy sail.  I noticed the bilge pump running and discovered that we had pumped 100 gallons of fresh water

Pyramid

Patrick On The Coba Pyramid

into the bilge.  One entire tank of fresh water was now being pumped over the side.  Bummer.  I decided that since we weren’t sinking, I would wait until we got to Isla Mujeres to figure out where the leak was.  Then the autopilot decided to act up.  As long as the autopilot was engaged, it worked fine, but when you put it in standby, so that you could hand-steer, it wouldn’t release and you couldn’t steer the boat.  Bummer.  I had to physically disconnect the hydraulic ram from the rudder post and then hand-steer the rest of the way.  Fortunately it was a short trip and we still had 100 gallons of fresh water in the other tank.  We made it to Isla Mujeres without further mishap and got anchored.  We decided to declare the rest of the day a holiday.  The next morning we found the source of the fresh water leak.  A hose had come off a fitting.  As with so much on a boat, it was much easier to fix it than it was to get to it, but after a couple of hours we once again had fresh water.  The next item on the agenda, the autopilot, also turned out to be relatively easy to fix.  There is a solenoid valve that acts as a clutch when the

Soggy Peso

Patrick and Nancy with Freddy at the Soggy Peso

autopilot is engaged and this solenoid valve was not releasing as it should.  A disassembly and thorough cleaning got it working again, although it is possible that some small piece of debris in the hydraulic fluid caused it to stick in the first place.  I have ordered a replacement solenoid and if the problem reoccurs I will have to drain the fluid from the whole system, disassemble and clean everything, and put it back together with new fluid.  In any event, everything was now fixed and we declared the rest of the day a holiday.

The most excitement we’ve had while in Isla Mujeres this time is watching the drag races.  That is a euphimistic way of saying that a lot of boats were dragging their anchors around the anchorage with all these Northers blowing through.  One boat was dragging so frequently that we loaned them our secondary anchor.  I am glad that we did not head directly to the U.S. as we had originally intended because these Northers we are having are the result of all that really nasty winter weather dumping snow all over the place in the States.  We have become so accustomed to the tropics that we get all shivery and put on jackets when the temperature gets to the low 70’s here.

We also met a very nice couple at the Soggy Peso.  Greg and Cheri were on vacation from the States and interested in

Greg and Cheri

Greg and Cheri

cruising, so we invited them aboard to see the boat.  They own a restaurant in Des Moines and vacation every year in Isla Mujeres.  Speaking of the Soggy Peso, it was very nice to see Mal and Sally, the owners, again, as well as the Soggy Peso Crew of Freddy, Yo Yo, Snoopy, Cash and Manuel.