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Dowesva 12-23-2012 03:07 AM

Two birds with one boat: travel and learning in the Gulf

I'm a twenty two year old male with VERY little experience on-board a ship, never been out on anything bigger than a lido in calm weather.

A friend of mine asked me to go check out some properties for sale in Bocas del Toro, Panama and Tulum, Mexico. He's willing to pay me for the trip, but I was thinking of adding in a bit of my own financing and trying to get my feet wet in the process.

I'd be flying down to Bocas in mid to late February, unless it was on the way for someone and they had time for me to look around at properties that is. I'd like to spend a solid week in that area as there are so many islands and so much cheap property for sale. After that my next required destination is the Tulum/Isla Mujeres area. There aren't required stops between point A and point B, however there are hundreds of amazing places I would love to see en-route so the slower the better in my book.

I can afford all of my own living expenses and provide as much as possible in terms of work. I can also pay extra depending on the trip, basically the more stops the more I'm willing to let go of. I'm by no means loaded, no trust funds in these genetics, but it seems like a worthwhile investment since I'm saving up to buy a boat anyways and should probably get some experience first.

I'm a quick and eager learner, not lazy or obtuse, and I lived in a car for two years back in my vagabond days so I'm used to making due with small quarters. All in all I think I'm pretty easy to deal with, I can talk a lot if I get excited, so you might have to tell me to shut up once or twice, but I'm pretty quick to learn what people do and don't want from a travel companion.

I'd prefer one of the two extremes for a skipper: either a younger person who enjoys hitting the shore and having a good time along the way, or a salty old sailor who I can learn a lot from and listen to old boating stories while we sail. In my land-travels (47 states, but never made it out) I've covered some major miles with both so I know I enjoy the company of either.

You would have to give me a thorough run down of the dos and don'ts for what to prepare, what to bring, what to expect, etc. Not only is it my first time out on the sea, but my first time out of country as well.

There's a whole list of places I'd love to see en-route. If anyone has suggestions of lesser known spots that I probably won't find online please let me know. In the off chance I find a skipper who's willing to customize the trip for me I want to be well prepared to choose.

nolatom 12-24-2012 05:33 PM

Re: Two birds with one boat: travel and learning in the Gulf
I know nothing about the areas you've inquired about. But with no experience but a willing adventurous attitude, I'd advise finding the yacht harbor areas (boatyards too) and just hang out and "be a friend to make a friend". There are no secrets on the waterfront" so if you get known favorably by a couple of sailors even if they don't have a spot for you, they'll know someone who does, or might.

In-person is the way to go, since on paper you aren't a qualified crew so it's unlikely you'll get a ride from long-distance correspondence.

Good luck, and hope those more area- knowledgeable will chime in.

Dowesva 12-24-2012 06:18 PM

Re: Two birds with one boat: travel and learning in the Gulf
It certainly seems so, although I have one possible ride thanks to another forum. If I can't find anything beforehand my plan is to fly down to Panama, check out the properties, and hit the harbors in search of a ride. Worst case scenario I'll be flying out to Belize from there and working my way up to the Yucatan, which is what I'd be doing if I hadn't thought of checking for a boat anyways.

I still haven't worked out the details with the captain who might be up for it, but he's in Puerto Rico so it would add another leg to the trip I would love to have. Assuming he bites my ideal route (we haven't gotten to how many stops yet) would be:

Parque Tayrona, Colombia
Cartagena, Colombia
*Portobelo, Panama
*Bocas del Toro, Panama
*Boquete, Panama
Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica
Vivarios, Nicaragua
Roatan, Honduras
*Hopkins, Belize
The Blue Hole, Belize
*Corozal, Belize
Ambergris Caye, Belize
*Tulum & Akumel, Mexico

I put asterisks on the places I need to property hunt (2-5 days) and the rest are just places I'd like to visit. I was hoping to get some opinions before I show that list to him. Is that a reasonable number of stops for a Feb-April trip?
Are there any issues I should be aware of for these locations? (security issues, tourist trap, high docking fees, etc)
Are there any must-sees or must-property-hunts along that route that I've missed?

Thanks in advance!

Neo* 12-27-2012 07:39 PM

Re: Two birds with one boat: travel and learning in the Gulf
I agree with nolatom. Head to the nearest marina and lend a helping hand. I started by helping wherever and whoever I could. I learned a lot and made lots of good connections.

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