Day 366 - San Pedro, Belize (N 17° 54.8 W 87° 57.7)
18:01 hrs - May 31st, 2008
Rain delay

We've been anchored in San Pedro (Ambergris Cay) four days now, but regrettably we've had little opportunity to explore Belizes' largest island settlement. Before we had the chance to rent bikes and tour the sandy streets the next tropical wave swept in from the east and, along with the remains of the Pacific depression "Alma" that drifted across into the Caribbean, filled the sky with large squalls and thunder storms delaying our shore plans. Last night the winds picked up, gusting to 35 - 40 knots. All night we could hear the thunderous sound of waves continuously pounding the reef. Although the winds have temporarily eased just a little, there's still a distinct line of breakers and fine sea spray marking the blue sky as the rollers build, surge and collapse onto the coral. The 100-yard unmarked cut in the reef, that we navigated just a few days ago, is now awash with white water and foam.

Our anchorage, in comparison to the scene "outside" is almost idyllic. I say almost because the entire seabed between the reef and Amerbris Cay is covered with a giant slab of limestone. Fine white sand and patches of sea grass cover the hard surface, but at most there's only about 6" of sand, certainly not enough for our anchors to find purchase. We've dropped both CQRs (60lb & 45lb) with a 10:1 scope of chain for each anchor held with 20' long nylon snubbers. We're holding, but only because we dove down and literally chipped small holes into the limestone with the tip of each anchor - we're hanging on by our fingernails!

However, we're secure. With two anchor set at 30 degrees apart, with a combined weight of 105 lbs, and with 250' of 3/8" BBB chain, I'm happy to report that Dream Time hasn't budged an inch! In contrast, the three chartered catamarans that we watched drop anchor this afternoon by the reef, danced around on their rodes and dragged almost immediately into one another. Shortly after, they appeared to give up, motor off, and tie-up at a marina. Someone we met months ago, perhaps back in the ICW, said, very wisely, don't ever anchor near chartered or damaged boats, and if they drop a hook next to you, don't waste your words, relocate!

Still, our time served on Dream Time during the last few days has been well spent. I've mapped-out our 130 NM route down through the reefs and islands of Belize to Punta Gorda, our last port-of-call in Belize before crossing the Honduras Bay to the mouth of the Rio Dulce. Hurricane season officially begins tomorrow, but we plan to spend as long as we can cruising down through the clear, turquoise waters of Belize before heading into the jungles of Guatemala.

(A special thanks to our buddy Hart from North Captiva Island for the tropical depression "Alma" info!)

Dream Time: Serviced watermaker - changed charcoal and pre-filters, cleaned sea-strainer and re-calibrated salinity level. Calibrated B&G depth reader to show 'actual' depth, rather than depth from transducer (Fully stocked for cruising Dream Time draws 5' 5"). In anticipation of the upcoming 'rainy season' we resealed two port lights, six more to go.

Day 362 - San Pedro, Belize (N 17° 54.8 W 87° 57.7)
16:01 hrs - May 27th, 2008

We said goodbye to Puerto Morelos, Mexico on Sunday morning, and sailed into San Pedro, Belize today (Tuesday) so we are now officially in the third new country of our trip, and it is so, so lovely here!  We are anchored just off the town in six feet of crystal clear 84 degree water. The colors here seem impossible, they’re the colors you wish for when you’re on vacation, the colors you see on exotic postcards and in movies, but here, they actually exist and they are beyond perfect! Then just to add to perfection, we have pretty little reef fish and sting rays swimming around under the boat as they make their way around the anchorage!  San Pedro is our first stop in Belize and we are planning to sail slowly down the coast, stopping along the way to enjoy as much of it as we can before hurricane season gets underway, and we have to scoot into Guatemala for the season.  Anyway must sign off now, going for a swim, perhaps a few laps around the boat before dinner!


Day 359 - Puerto Morelos, Mexico (N 20° 49.8 W 86° 53.4)
18:52 hrs - May 24th, 2008
All cleared-out but not allowed to go!

For the last three days Puerto Morelos has been closed by order of the Port Capitan, no boats under 40' have been allowed to leave! The tropical wave we've been tracking has moved across the area bringing gusty winds and choppy seas. As the current that sweeps up the coast can reach speeds of up to 5 knots, it doesn't take much for the area to be awash with white caps. In anticipation of leaving bright and early tomorrow morning, we cleared customs, immigration and paid our departure fees on Friday, so theoretically as our passports were been stamped for departure, we shouldn't even be here anymore!

The winds are already subsiding and shifting slightly more to the E -NE, which for our southerly passage against a 3-5 knot current will hopefully keep us moving somewhat in the right direction. We have just over 183 NM to San Pedro Belize, so with the current against us and averaging a whopping 3 knots an hour we should arrive sometime on Wednesday. Depending on the conditions, we may stop off at Chinchorro Bank, Mexico's only coral atoll and the largest in the western hemisphere, anchor in Cayo Norte for a night to time our arrival through the reef in San Pedro with plenty of daylight in our favor.

Hasta Luego Mexico, Hola Belize!

Note to cruisers: According to the Port Captain, anchoring is no longer allowed in Puerto Morelos, white mooring balls just north of the light house have been placed for transient boaters, no charge. Also, should you decide to stay in Marina El Cid, avoid berthing near the end of "B" dock in strong ESE - S winds - lots of swell!

Day 353 - Puerto Morelos, Mexico (N 20° 49.8 W 86° 53.4)
11:37 hrs - May 18th, 2008
All work and no play?

Life aboard Dream Time is not all about lounging around on deck with Catherine, sailing in warm trade winds, snorkeling, fishing, sipping Caribbean rum and watching the sunset. Well, OK it's mostly about that, but recently it's been more about work. The last few weeks in Mexico I've spent the majority of my waking hours down below in "the office". The Cruising Guide books and Caribbean charts that normally blanket our salon table have been replaced with laptops, printers, external drives and legal pads. Now, please don't misinterpret this as griping, far from it, I've actually really enjoyed myself!

There is a part of me that still finds the buzz of giving a great presentation, or the deep satisfaction of meeting an impossible deadline, intoxicating. I love my work, and I really love that I'm able to do it from Dream Time. Business is booming, certainly not because I'm working from the boat, the i&D Partners back in New York deserve much of the credit, but the system we planned, set-up and have spent the last year fine-tuning, is paying off.

Over a year ago, Fortune Small Business magazine ran an article about i&D's 'restructuring' in their March publication. We've just finished a series of interviews with Fortune for the second installment covering i&D's story (which I've been told will go to press over the summer). It seems that Fortune received numerous emails from business owners and professionals around the country, eager to pursue similar lifestyles and wanting to know if our plan was actually working. Through trial and error, we've made numerous changes and improvements to our communication equipment and software, and since leaving US territorial waters almost 3 months ago, I'm happy to report that we've been able to stay connected whenever and wherever we need to.

As much as I still get a buzz from work, now that my recent i&D commitments have come to an end, Catherine and I are excited to disconnect our shore power, unplug our WiFi boosters, turn off the laptops and air conditioning, open the hatches and start cruising again! We'll be heading to Belize and if the recent forecasts don't change, we'll ride the more northerly post-tropical winds straight down the coast to San Pedro - what a life!

Interested in reading the most recent articles about Dream Time? Click here to view the June 2008 Cruising World article about our deck restoration project, or to view the i&D full-page Panasonic Toughbook print ad appearing in four American in-flight magazines!


Day 343 - Puerto Morelos, Mexico (N 20° 49.8 W 86° 53.4)
16:01 hrs - May 8th, 2008
A little further south

Well we didn’t get very far, but we are a little further south and a little closer to Belize, the 3rd new country on our list of new countries to explore as we wind our way around this pretty planet.  We have stopped off in Puerto Morelos a little fishing village south of Cancun.  With a population of about 2000 it still has the feeling of small town Mexico, but with the arrival in 2006 of a 600, soon to be 1000 room luxury resort just outside town it has taken on a more tourist oriented approach and offers lots of scuba and snorkel tours, the reef here is spectacular and ranks 2nd after the great barrier reef in Australia so it's definitely worthy of the attention, as is their indestructible lighthouse that has managed to survive a number of ferocious hurricanes and remains defiantly standing, if a little slanted.  We had planned for a 1 or 2 night stay here, but NY business is deciding our schedule right now, so we have to be here for about 2 weeks, but then we must must must head south before hurricane season catches up with us. On the sail down here (which was perfectly heavenly by the way) we were going over our sailing timetable and figuring out where and when etc. and we started talking about the Panama Canal and then the Galapagos and the Marquesas and then New Zealand! and while it felt exciting it also felt like lions and tigers and bears oh my!!  Crikey, I feel like I have only just begun this whole life on the ocean wave thing, and now here we are discussing really challenging sailing, and you know, its just me, the one that gets worried when she thinks she’s going to run out of bananas!?  What am I doing talking about sailing across wide empty oceans for weeks and weeks at a time?  We have been sailing for almost a year now and although I still feel like the same person I was commuting in to NYC every day, I know I’ve changed.  I know I’m less scared of the unknown now, and much more aware of everything around me.  I can live with the knowledge that bananas (and m&m’s) may not be available every day and I’m OK with that, and for a control freak like me that’s quite something.

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Day 338 - Isla Mujeres, Mexico (N 21° 14.5 W 86° 44.4)
17:36 hrs - May 3rd, 2008
Business Trip

It wasn't until after we arrived in New York that I realized I hadn't packed a single pair of socks! Sorry for the late update but Catherine and I have only just returned to Isla Mujeres after spending a week back in the States to take care of a little business.

The trip was an overwhelming success. I reluctantly traded my faded Bermuda shorts and worn-out sandals for a brand new ensemble of business attire (including socks) for an important i&D presentation. Catherine ordered so many spare parts and supplies that we were required to purchase three giant reinforced Samsonite suitcases just to ship it all back with us. I met with Panasonic Toughbook to discuss a new magazine ad that will be running in four in-flight magazines showcasing Dream Time as a Toughbook case study, and we extended the lease on our apartment for an additional year. Yes, the trip was a success, but also a little stressful. You see, after months of casual, relaxed cruising we had both reached a deep level of serenity that we hadn't felt in years, certainly not during the ten years we lived in New York. What surprised us the most was not how hectic it all felt, we were prepared for that, but how quickly our hard-earned mellowness was overwhelmed by the energy in New York. Within a few days we were racing around, turbo charged by regular doses of triple shot, non-fat lattes, focused on what had to be done three steps ahead of what we were actually doing. We accomplished a great deal, but the whole experience was actually kind of a blur.

We're happy to be back on Dream Time. Somehow we managed to store all of the spare equipment and supplies that we brought back with us. Waypoints have been entered into the chartplotter, water tanks topped-up, provisions stowed, yes, we're ready to go. Next stop, a quick day sail down to Puerto Morelos where we'll clear out of Mexico, then it'll be a 180 mile run straight down the coast to San Pedro, Belize!

PS: Happy belated birthday to Tracey xoxoxoxoxoxox :-)

Dream Time: Installed new Spectra Salinity Probe in watermaker. Repaired portside teak caprail (two areas splintered and damaged by collision while we were away). Permanently mounted and wired satellite antenna.