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tapske 10-19-2012 08:27 PM

Texas to Mex. Riviera, to Cayamans
The purpose of this thread is so I can pick the brains of experienced sailors in the Gulf Of Mexico.
IE: Best Ports of entry for PPWK, hazards to watch out for, out of the way places worth visiting, etc...any details (I heard Mexico requires a fishing license even if there is NO pole on the whole boat).... things like that.

My goal : Over the next 4 years to take my Columbia 9.6 meter, on at least 1 trip a year to Mexico and surrounding Gulf area (isla Mujeres, Cozumel, N.W. Jamaica, Belize, and the Cayman Islands).

Then on the 5th year, I plan on trading up to a Beneteau Oceanis 44 or greater (or similar), and spend the rest of my days chasing that ever-elusive ......freedom.... All around the greater Southern gulf, and then on to New Zealand, Fiji, and Cook Islands. Preferrably places that have no runway, and no real docks to speak of.....

My Columbia 31'6"(solid FG, not core) is a sea-worthy vessel for its age, and identical models have circumnav'd. I have all the bells and whistles as far as safety and electronics that I care for: EPERB, 24 mile radar, side scan sonar, Top-of-the-line GPS, auto-pilot...wind-vane auto...4 radios....All current charts loaded on GPS....extra sails, extra standing and running....etc....etc...even got an anchor watch app for my phone... :p

Once I figure out how to post pics or pic links here will attach some. -----Although I really believe that for the most part, a man's boat is kinda like his kids... beautiful to him,,,, but after 2 pics... kinda boring for other ppl to look at.. (unless they're "in the market" of course)

FIRST TRIP: I will be spending 5-7 days a month honing my skills in the Port Aransas (Texas-Gulf) area over the next 6 months or so. Then will make a 550-600 NM run to Either Vera Cruz, or Progresso (depending on weather and prevailing winds) in April or May 2012. I am allotting 20 days for the round trip.... current thinking dictates about 5-6 days to get there.... 5-6 days to get back.... 1-2 days making repairs (once there)... and 6-9 days docked.....soaking up a slower-----less protected----but freer culture.

ANYBODY with ANY experience or knowledge of this general route, or similiar (first or second-hand), is greatly appreciated. Pretty much anything from U.S. side to Mex. info is desired.

This is not a "maybe" or a dream trip. This is happening even if I have to solo it. Initial plans involve the wife, but if she doesn't feel like she can hold up, I have a friend that wants to go, if that falls through, I would consider talking to other local South Texans that have sailing experience, and can pay their fair share (food, drinks, docking fees, entry fees, responsible party supplies, etc..) If that doesn't happen, I will go solo.

Second trip is 25-30 days the following year to Isla Mujeres, and possibly Cozumel.
Then third trip is year after that 35-40 days to Cayman islands (by way of Cozumel)

Sorry about the lengthy introductory diatribe....just wanted to be clear.

disclaimer to the well intentioned: I have spent a lot of time in Mexico over the last couple of decades. Please do not warn me about the "dangers". I KNOW almost all of the "dangers" are land-based border town drug wars, and massive inflamation by an overzealous, ill-informed American media. I have witnessed first hand.... local Mexicans chasing after someone to give them a wallet they dropped, or a bag with some recently purchased item.... They are a good people.....unless you want to try and open up an illegal drug export businiess....then yes... you will probably wake up dead.

I look forward to hearing any and all advice y'all can throw my way !!!


Fair Winds........ Live now......As my avatar symbolizes--Nothing is Forever....... NIF


rhr1956 10-20-2012 11:26 AM

Re: Texas to Mex. Riviera, to Cayamans
I can't offer much advice as I have never sailed in the gulf. It does sound like you have given it a lot of thought. From one Texas guy to another...Viva Big Tex!

Capt.aaron 10-20-2012 08:53 PM

Re: Texas to Mex. Riviera, to Cayamans
I sail around that area a lot . I suggest you get that " blue Blble" book, the crusing guide to Mexico and Belize's caribbean coast by Freya ,I think. It has a picture of the Blue hole on the cover. Isla is great, Cozumel not so much. great protected anchorage in Isla and easy to clear in and out. It's hard to sail to the caymans from there because it's up wind all all the way. Unless you gunk hole up the south side of Cuba 'till you're due north of the Caymans. They are expensive and not great for cruising due to lack of harbours and such. the outer islands of Belize, the atols, turneffe reef are awesome. Just my 2 cents worth. I single hand a little 28 foot sloop with no engine around the western carib. a lot. your little Columbia is plenty boat.

floridajaxsailor 10-21-2012 09:55 PM

You are right the Mexican people- they are absolutely delightful
whoever told you that rule about fishing license: it's nonsense
good luck start slow-I like k?the previous post about the Caymans, sailing up wind... a lot of caution needs to be taken

tapske 10-23-2012 02:54 PM

Re: Texas to Mex. Riviera, to Cayamans
Thank you Capt. aaron,
This is exactly the type of intel I am hungry for. I have heard of that book before, I will go ahead and buy a copy... sounds like a great resource.
Seems like either Progeresso, Vera Cruz, or Isla Mujeres is going to be the easiest port-of-entry. Even if I plan on heading on to Cozumel, probably easier to check in at one of those first.
I was in Cozumel recently, and they are building a new marina just North of "marina Calleta". There are 2 marinas currently in Cozumel, "Abrigo" on the northern side of the island, and "Calleta" on the mid-southern side. The new marina is supposed to have almost as many slips as both of those put together, and is slated to be opening in December 2012.
I do have a friend on Cozumel (Dario) that runs a little sailing charter on his 48' sloop "Adelaide II". It is a center cocpit and can have another mast installed to be a ketch, but he prefers to run it as a sloop. Anyway, he says most local guys have already signed contracts with the new marina.

So my thought process is, based on basic supply and demand, the other 2 marinas may lower prices a bit, or offer more perks in an effort to entice more business once many of their long-term guys move to the new marina...... we shall see.
I do enjoy Cozumels proximity to nice dive spots, and spear fishing (free-dive of course), but I enjoy the "pace" of Isla Mujeres better..... (seems there is always a sacrifice on some level)......
Currently I have NO experience in Belize waters, an issue I plan to remedy over the next few years.
Thanks for your input !! maybe I'll see you on the 1 some-day....


tapske 10-23-2012 02:56 PM

Re: Texas to Mex. Riviera, to Cayamans
Thank you, I thought it seemed a little odd... I'm hoping the "blue bible" (freyer) will help shed some light on some other issues as well.

tapske 10-23-2012 03:08 PM

Re: Texas to Mex. Riviera, to Cayamans
Just got back from 10 hours in GUlf. Went about 15 miles out. waves running 2-3 with the opccasional 4' er. Practiced hoving-to and settting reef single handed. And (unplanned practiced) untangling gib-sheet from mast cleet half-way through a tack, in mid-lvl seas....witrh 15 knot winds.....

all in all good trip. deductions -----

1. While motoring Course holding auto pilot can't keep up with seas pasty about 3', corrections are too slow.

2. Wind-vane auto pilot works like dream on close hauled, close reach, and pretty good on a beam reach. anything broader than a beam reach and performance gets progressively worse based on the angle. Broad reach is not feasible. And a run is not even an option.

3. Since I was running single handed, and seas were getting close to 4' , I didn't feel brave enough (yet) to single hand my spinnaker. or run out my whisker pole for a wing on wing. just gybed a couple time on the way back in.

Pretty sure the trolling lure I was dragging behind me most of the day got the monofillament twisted up in my prop. :mad: gonna have to dive before next trip out to untangle.....

such is the way of the sea.....

fair winds.....


2belize&back 10-23-2012 05:06 PM

Re: Texas to Mex. Riviera, to Cayamans
just sailed from tampa 2belize&back2texas, august & september,in a 22 footer.have many highlights of trip & info,i.e. incredible currents in the yucatan channel, wind behavior along mexican coast 2 belize city,a great place to dock or moor 15 miles south of cancun ect...feel free to ask.

tapske 10-23-2012 11:09 PM

Re: Texas to Mex. Riviera, to Cayamans

Originally Posted by 2belize&back (Post 937653)
just sailed from tampa 2belize&back2texas, august & september,in a 22 footer.have many highlights of trip & info,i.e. incredible currents in the yucatan channel, wind behavior along mexican coast 2 belize city,a great place to dock or moor 15 miles south of cancun ect...feel free to ask.


To me that is a long way on a 22 footer !! balls of steel man !!

I know all to well the current running along yucatan. I know between mainland Mexico and Cozumel 5+ knot Northern current is normal and can get quite a bit faster.
I am VERY VERY interested in your trip. and what you know....and knew...and thought you knew before you went...and learned on the way, and on the way back.....what you shoulda done....what you shouldn't have done.....what you wish you woulda done....what you're glad you didn't do...where you would've liked to spend more time... where you couldn't wait to get out of...etc...etc.... me !!! ...... :laugher

fair winds..... you 22' maniac (22' ! that's Lunacy...... which by the way is what I named my boat.............................................. .................. . "Luna-Sea" ;):eek: :cool: (documented)


floridajaxsailor 10-24-2012 09:24 AM

Re: Texas to Mex. Riviera, to Cayamans
sounds like quite a successful sea trial
all those things are working themselves out
Jib is spelled with a J btw :)

I would not single hand a spin in any high winds, just me
coming from one who used to jump rope swings & ride off-road motorcycles with abandon
anyhow, they sure are pretty when u get them to fly downwind

this is a great thread as the new poster has added some small boat experience along that section of the Mexican coast that could be invaluable to many sailors
kudos for his voyage


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