MIAMI  -  COZUMEL  (Departing June 27,2006)

    I departed Dinner Key Marina in Miami at 12 noon along with Ron Atwood and his son Charlie headed for Cozumel.

    Ron is a long time friend from Long Beach, Calif., who was an excellent Hobie Cat racer back in the 70’s.  He still lives
    in Long Beach with his wife and two children, loves sport fishing and has never lost the adventurous spirit.  

    We started the trip with a very light breeze right on the nose which means that we just kept right on motoring after we
    cleared the jetties.  In addition, we were headed into a strong gulf stream current.  In the evening, the wind died
    completely so we kept on motoring making very slow progress as we fought with the strong current.  It wasn’t until the
    middle of the next day that we were able to start sailing.  Slowly!  It didn’t take long to realize that we wouldn’t have
    enough fuel to motor sail to Cancun, so we just shut the engine down and sailed very slowly for the next several hours.

    Charlie was working the fishing rigs with his dad and hooked a really nice dorado.  Unfortunately, it got away as he
    got it close to the boat.  Later he landed a barracuda which we tossed back after deciding we weren’t interested in
    eating barracuda.  While not fishing, Charlie managed to keep busy with his play station games and lots of poker and
    other card games.  Actually, I think he probably mastered the grand theft auto game while on the crossing.

    Finally, on the third day, we reached the Cuban coast near Havana and the wind started picking up.  Although the
    boat appeared to be sailing much faster now, the current held our speed over the bottom to around 4-6 kts.  As we
    followed the northwestern Cuban coast, we continued to work the fishing rigs, picking up several good hits.  As luck
    would have it, we landed 2 more barracudas and lost 3 more dorado.  So much for eating fresh fish all the way to
    Mexico, as we had planned.

    Our original plan was to pick up Kya’s brother Scott and 4 other friends in Cancun for the sail across to Cozumel, but
    we were now running so far behind our intended arrival that we called ahead and had them take the ferry across.  
    Kya was arriving into Cozumel Saturday and a stop over in Cancun would mean that we miss her arrival there.

    The sail thru the Yucatan Channel was actually very nice.  We had good boat speed despite the strong current.  We
    arrived in front of Casa Rosada at about 8am Sat. morning with beautiful weather.  Charlie and Ron liked the looks of
    the water and dove in for a morning swim before we headed in to Puerto de Abrigo to clear in.  The marina has lines
    running everywhere with the med mooring, so we really had to be careful getting into the small space we were
    provided.  After 3 attempts with the strong cross wind, we finally were tied up.  The customs and immigration guys
    were quick to arrive and help us even though it was a Sat. morning.  They were very friendly and seem to enjoy
    talking and just casually checking out the boat.

    The next 6 days were spent anchored out in front of the pink house.  Each day we had several good friends out for
    snorkeling, fishing, and just a great time.  Just as Ron and Charlie were leaving for California, Jerry and Conceicao
    King flew in from Hawaii to crew on Free Spirit to Panama.

    It was really great being in Cozumel at casa rosada with all the friends and the boat there to play on.  Kristi and her
    friends Tami and Rochelle along with Rochelle’s dad John, flew in from California for the week which was a special
    treat.  John treated everyone to some of his really special cooking at the house, preparing a huge fish and shrimp
    dinner and followed up the next morning with a really nice breakfast.  Kent and Christy Whitley flew in from Houston
    to join the fun.  We also had Chris and Kehrer from Cozumel on the boat and at the house most of the week which
    was great.  Kehrer really wanted to join on for the trip to Panama, but had a few too many commitments to get away
    on such short notice.  It would have been nice to have the extra help for such a long distance crossing, although the
    three of us should be able to handle the trip just fine.   

    Cozumel was so much fun that it was really hard leaving, but on July 10, when everyone flew out, it was time to get
    under way to Panama.  The plan was to sail across to Puerto Aventuras to top off our fuel and then sail overnight to
    Chincharro Reef for some snorkeling and diving before heading for Panama where we pick up Dick and Teresa
    Beauchamp at Bocas del Torro.  Dick is another longtime friend from California that now splits time between Cabo
    San Lucas and Steamboat Springs and is always up for a good surf trip or some other adventure.  A great sailor and
    all round good guy to have on the boat.  It should be a great trip.