Guatemala - Rio Dulce II

 Home Up And Finally - Mexico


1 August 2013 - Well, the UK had been great, even the weather was kind to us, but now we were back loaded down with goodies for both ourselves and the boat.  But just before finally calling the holiday over we diverted for a few days to Antigua Guatemala, which had been the old capital until the government finally had enough of the earthquakes and eruptions and moved 50 miles down from the mountains to where Guatemala City is today.  What remains is a small colonial town high enough in the hills to be cool and dry which has become a magnet for tourism.  And it is really very nice for a few days.

But finally, we would have to go back to work!



One of the main reasons for being in Guatemala was we needed a substantial rebuild of the anchor locker, which would require much cutting and welding of steel plates.  Labour rates in Guatemala for a semi-skilled worker are around US$10 per day and even when marked up by the yard or company doing the work, it doesn't require a calculator to know that it's possible to save a great deal of money when compared to doing the work in the US.  OK sometimes the quality of work might be a little lower, 80% of the quality for 20% of the price seemed attractive to my Pareto tuned brain. 

To lift the boat and do the work we'd selected Abel's boatyard (more correctly Astillero Magdelena).  A family business started by Abel the elder (Don Abel) as an extension to his transportation business (much of the transport in this part of the world is via the river) and now run by his son Abel the younger - Aka Abelito, Aka Juan - the last somewhat strangely as none of his actual names is actually Juan.  Anyway, they were our choice for lots of reasons, not the least that the transportation part of the business centered around an old steel tug and barge which seemed to spend a lot of time being welded.  It was a good choice and the one we would make again - if we were ever to arrive in Guatemala needing a new anchor locker again that is.

But before we even started the work we needed a place to live, which proved to be surprisingly difficult to find. In the end we booked one of Captain John's bungalows -  affectionately referred to as La Choza (The Shack) for 2 months - more than enough time but best to have the flexibility.  In the end we stayed for more than 6 months!!

Meanwhile work progressed at Abel's:



And then, because all of this might not have been stressful enough, we decided to replace the port-lights, and the hatches and re-deck, and at the end of it all we would replace the rigging!



And whilst all this was going on, summer became Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving became Christmas and any other excuse we could find to turn La Choza into La Fiesta! 

On Christmas Day we would be cooking a leg of pork with roast potatoes and all the trimmings in our wooden shack on the side of the river, to share with our American friends here.  We enjoyed ourselves, probably drank too much but managed to stay sane.





Of course the work did finally finish or at least it got as finished as it was ever going to get.  We'd missed the high tide at the end of January, the next possible opportunity was April 1 (sic), it was kind of skinny,  we would definitely need a tow, but we equally definitely weren't going to miss it!   We began transporting our stuff back aboard by dinghy in late February (a seemingly endless task) and finally moved back aboard ourselves at the beginning of March to begin the equally endless task of getting all the systems up and running.

Then down the river to Cayo Quemado to collect our sails and new stackpack and for Tom to install our new rigging.  Norseman terminal stripped out so back up to Tortugal Marina after 8 days to wait while a  new one was shipped in from the US.  Filling the boat with beer, wine, 7up, breakfast cereal, etc all the stuff that's really expensive in Belize - ie everything.  Boat now full to bursting. 

Back down to Cayo Quemado to finish the rig and put on the sails.  Dinghy the 8 miles to Livingston as a dry run to prove it's viable, have some lunch and to do a bit of river exploration.  The day before departure from the Rio we made the dinghy trip again to Clear Out and pay the man as we would be leaving early the following morning and wanted to avoid having to anchor in Livingston and possibly miss the tide!


Best of all Clayton and Fiona on the trawler Argo are leaving on the same tide and have offered to tow us over the bar.  There's something very comforting about 200hp + depth sounder + GPS - none of which were available to Hector our previous tow.  Down the river at dawn, tied to the stern of Argo at Livingston and off we went.  We dug into the soft mud quite hard a few times, but I don't think they even noticed. 


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Last updated 18th March 2018