24 hours in Cozumel Mexico

Why is everyone heading the other way?

Why is everyone heading the other way?

At dawn, on the 10th of March, I found myself motoring through crystal clear waters off southern Cozumel, heading toward the small town of San Miguel.

Curiously, everyone else seemed to be going the other way!

As I watched, vessel after vessel, a seemingly endless procession, sped south.

What was going on?

Apparently nothing… or should I say “business as usual”…

Tourist activities galore!

Tourist activities galore!

On closer inspection all the boats were heavily laden with tourists preparing to partake in various activities including snorkelling, para-sailing, scuba diving or whatever else is the latest in seaside resort entertainment.

Even a submarine?

Even a submarine?

There were so many water craft, it felt like the start of some huge regatta.

Where did all these people come from?

Just two of the four cruise ships visiting Cozumel

Just two of the four cruise ships that were visiting Cozumel

There were literally shiploads of them. Mostly from the US… All I could compare it with was Aruba, but an Aruba on steroids!

The town was similarly awash with visitors, shopping for all those must have tourist accoutrements. One dollar maracas, bracelets with your name woven into the design, 6 T-shirts for 20 US…

OK, not my cup of tea perhaps… and no prejudicial jumping to conclusions. This could be fun… I’ll just sit down, relax, have an ice cold corona and check the weather forecast.

Boats at anchor off San Miguel

Boats at anchor off San Miguel

Strong northerlies descend upon the Yucatan Channel at this time of year and unfortunately the anchorage off San Miguel is very exposed. While a sailor could probably find shelter to the south of the cruise ship terminals many prefer to make a run for Isla Mujeres (approximately 40NM further north).

This was not an option for me, as my next destination was Cuba and I had every intention of getting there with a complimentary current.

If I intended to escape the uncomfortable northerly and take advantage of the closing weather window to Cuba, I had just 24 hours to visit Mexico.

Unlike Honduras where check in and out are a breeze, Cozumel’s procedures can politely be called challenging.

Despite what you may have read elsewhere, here’s the latest on what is required.

  • Visit the port captains office and fill in their arrival form;
  • Catch a cab to the airport (50 pesos) to see (in this order)
  • Immigration (306 pesos),
  • Customs (free),
  • The office of Agriculture (to confiscate your fruit).

Let me diverge at this point and explain that some cruisers try to give the last two a miss by only visiting the immigration office in town. But do you really want to risk being on the wrong side of Mexican law?

A temporary stop at the ferry terminal

A temporary stop at the ferry terminal

Besides, as happened in my case, both Customs and the Office of Agriculture might be rather keen to visit your boat. Kindly giving me a lift back to the port, I brought Eileen alongside the ferry terminal so they could carry out their inspection.

Everyone was rather chuffed about the whole affair.

  • Then it was off to the hospital for my obligatory health stamp (even if nobody checked my health),
  • and finally back to the port captains office to return the forms and finalise check-in.

There is slightly less running around for checking-out.

  • Be sure to provide a crew list, a copy of your registration papers, and the stub of your immigration entry form for the office in town,
  • go to the bank and pay another 471 pesos to the Secretaria de Communicaciones y Trasportes,
  • and collect your Zarpe at the port captains office.

Why it took an hour (upon producing the requested documentation at immigration), to just have a stamp placed in my passport is a mystery I prefer not to dwell upon.

At my age you start worrying about your blood pressure.

Only results matter. I had officially checked in and out, even if it took most of the time I was in Cozumel to do it. What more could I want?

Mickey Mouse arrangements for cruisers

Mickey Mouse arrangements for cruisers

I suspect it might be a bit easier for cruise ship passengers to stopover for 24 hours than it is for cruisers… or there wouldn’t be so many of them…

Guyana – Take two…

Speedwell of Hong Kong off Baganara Resort Guyana

Speedwell of Hong Kong off Baganara Resort Guyana

After picking up a few essential parts in Trinidad (and a tub of Gorilla Glue), I set sail once more for Guyana. It was time to take a closer look and make tentative arrangements to facilitate the reception of my newly conceived rally.

I was happy to see that not much had changed in the last 6 months.

The first fast food reaches Bartica.. What next?

The first fast food restaurants reach Bartica.. What next?

Other than a newly established fast food outlet.

I'm not sure they're getting the right message across here....

I’m not sure they’re getting the right message across here….

And the introduction of garbage bins…. Though it might be a while before people realize what those are for.

Did you hear the one about 3 men and a cow?

Did you hear the one about 3 men and a cow?

With the influx of cash from gold mining, Bartica will inevitably change, but for the moment, it’s still the wild west…

Apparently it landed on the wicked witch of the west.

Apparently it landed on the wicked witch of the west.

Obviously the sooner people come visit, the more authentic the experience.

Six yachts were visiting Guyana while I was there! An unheard of increase, considering that in 2011 the total number of visiting yachts for an entire year was 11.

Thanks largely to the efforts of Kit Nascimento, formalities for yachts visiting Guyana are are about as simple as they can be. An accomplishment worth applauding… Suriname and Brazil take note….

An Australian crew check in at immigration. Bartica Guyana

An enthusiastic Australian crew check in at immigration. Bartica Guyana

I was happy to meet the crew of yachts I’d come across in my previous travels, including Speedwell of Hong Kong, and Sandpiper 2.

I knew Shirley would be found anchored off Baganara Resort (a proposed stop for the rally), because the Gorilla Glue delivery was for her. Well not quite… It was really for Bernhard, who needed it to complete his new dingy.

Boat building materials... Gorilla Glue and a bottle of rum from Martinique.

Boat building materials… Gorilla Glue and a bottle of rum from Martinique.

Bernhard gave me a set of GPS coordinates detailing an alternate route along the Essequibo that should shave several miles off my next visit. Once I’ve checked them I’ll post the new route.

Good company and good food on "do it". Guyana

Good company and good food on “do it”. Guyana

I’m reluctant to share them at this point because there are occasional unpleasant surprises along the river as the crew of Do It discovered and I can think of nicer ways than running aground to have an uncharted rock named after your yacht.

Do it Rock surfacing at low tide.

“Do it Rock” surfacing at low tide.

Next stop…. Saint Laurent du Maroni to see what the local council thinks of playing host to an annual yacht rally…..