Sunday, July 31, 2011

Roatan, Honduras to Rio Dulce, Guatemala

June 1st. Checking out at Coxen Hole, Roatan was very straight forward.  We were most fortunate both the Port Captain and Immigration Officer were in their respective offices. Often on “Cruise ship days” it is necessary to search for them at either the airport or the cruise ship dock.
June 2nd. At first light we’re on our way with our buddy boats: Interlude and Niki Wiki.
Our coarse is set at 266*. We’ve got a gentle swell off the starboard stern quarter; wind on our nose----Figures!!! The main is up but---OOPS!  the GPS has stopped. Rand reboots and all is well.

Five hours later we have only travelled 21.8 miles but the winds are finally picking up, albeit still on the nose. And the seas; well, they have totally reversed and are on the port bow.


Using our radar we tried and succeeded dodging a number of squalls.


Throughout the night we regularly checked the radar and saw a number of freighters.  At one point around midnight we had a freighter anchored on our port side. Then on our starboard it looked like another freighter was anchored? We decided to slow down and sure enough the freighter to our starboard was not anchored but was in fact slowly passing us. Before we knew it we were again in total blackness. This area is where the Canadian cruiser had been murdered last year so we were really on the alert.
After 26 hours we’re almost there. We’re awaiting high tide off the Garifuna town of Livingston. And why are we waiting for high tide??? We need to cross a very shallow sandbar at the mouth (La Buga) of the Rio Dulce. The average depth is 5’8 to 6 feet. High States draws 6 feet so high tide should give us an additional one and a half feet meaning we should have 1.5 feet under the keel. Tight but as friend Jay on Rum Runner would say it's do-able. For boats with a deeper keel there is the option of being “tipped” over while crossing the bar.

Approaching the bar Rand keeps total concentration on the compass.

High States flying the Q flag off Livingston, Guatemala.

Customs and Immigration delegation arriving at Niki Wiki

We had taken Interludes advice and did an on-line pre check in for Guatemala by emailing agent . He can also be contacted via his website at .

Within half an hour of anchoring off Livingston Raul along with the Port Captain, Immigration Officer and Health Officer were on High States. Because Raul had all our general information we only needed to hand over the official boat registration, crews list and passports.  We were asked the usual questions; do we have fire arms or drugs on board and then they were on their way. We were advised to come ashore in an hour to pick up port clearance documentation and our stamped passports.  Excellent quick friendly service.
Rand taking the “Captains” ashore to pick up the documents. Our cost for three months Port/Immigration fees was $160.00 (1200Q)

Lynn stayed on High States for security plus the current was strong, the holding not great.

The town of Livingston is very isolated; accessible only by boat or plane.

Sharing the river with the locals. There are approximately 50 isolated villages in the mountains along the Rio Dulce.

As we begin up the Rio we are impressed with many quaint homes. You can see the rivers current pushing by these mooring balls.

High States rounding one of the hairpin bends in the Rio Gorge. It is recommended for security not to stop overnight at Livingston or on the River.  It’s not only narrow with a swift current, approximately one knot; but fishing nets and unlit boat traffic are some of the additional hazards.

The Gorge is amazing. Approximately 6 miles long carved between 300 foot high limestone cliffs covered in dense jungle foliage. We’ve read the first Tarzan movies were made here. The river twists and turns with a number of shallow shoals marked with narrow bamboo stakes. The river depth ranged from 10 to 60 feet.. The native Maya Indians in their dug out unmotorized cayukos hug the shoreline to keep out of the current.

The Gorge opens into El Golfete; a 9 nautical mile long shallow lake full of small tributaries and marshes. We’re on the lookout for the endangered Manatees.

Once across the lake we are back in the river heading for the Marina district. Mario’s is one of the first of at least twelve marinas after leaving El Golfete and will be our home for the next five months.
Celebrating our arrival with our buddy boats at the Cayuko Bar and Restaurant.

Rand coincidentally wearing his Victoria T shirt while trying the cervaza Victoria.

We have made incredible headway (for us) since leaving Bocas del Toro, Panama April 28th. In fact in five weeks we have travelled 830.862 miles (722 nautical miles ) bringing our miles travelled since leaving Florida in 2007 to 6231.47 miles (5415 nautical miles).  WOW!!!  

1 comment:

Rum Runner said...

Glad to hear that you had safe travels up the Rio Dolce. The pictures of the Gorge are beautuful! Hopefully you will get a chance to explore that area a bit more during your stay. And glad to hear that the river entrance was "do-able" :)

Jen and Jay
m/v Rum Runner