Up the Rio Dulce

Michelle waits for Geoff underwater.
©2012 Cheryl Crockett Lezovich

Happy Times and Eclipse had planned an early departure from Livingston, Guatemala, but the river gods had something else in mind. We were delayed first by HT’s starboard engine that’s become reluctant to turn over. Our second holdup came from Eclipse’s port side propeller, bound by a fishing net. The guidebooks provide ample warnings about abandoned fishing nets, but there’s nothing to be done about it. You can’t see the nets below the water’s surface, and you don’t realize what’s happened until you hear the dreaded thump-thump.

Captain Geoff jumped into the river and quickly assessed the situation. The Rio Dulce flows rapidly at the point where it dumps into the sea. Geoff tied a line onto a cleat and put a loop into the other end. He used the loop as a stirrup to shove himself under the swift water to reach the propeller. He used a knife to saw away at the net wrapped around it. Then he employed our Hamilton hook knife, a tool we bought soon after a fishing net wrapped around one of our propellers as we crossed from the Turks & Caicos to Puerto Rico.

Eclipse heads up the Rio Dulce.
©2012 Cheryl Crockett Lezovich

By 11:15 a.m. both boats were underway again. We headed south through the gorge that has become one of Guatemala’s leading tourist attractions. The steep walls of Cueva de la Vaca reach 300 feet high, a mass of bromeliads, brush and trees where tropical birds coyly hide. In certain places the walls are bare limestone rock looming over the river. Where the rock meets the river’s edge, the random graffiti of sightseers blemishes the limestone.

At the gorge’s end our boats slipped into El Golfete, a lake that’s a smaller version of Lago de Izabal further south. A light drizzle turned into a downpour that was so heavy we could not see Eclipse ahead. Both boats dropped anchor outside Texan Bay to wait out the storm. Thirty minutes later we re-anchored in a better spot for a quiet overnight stay on the Rio Dulce.

Happy Times in Cueva de la Vaca.
©2012 Cheryl Crockett Lezovich

Calm water after the squall.
©2012 Cheryl Crockett Lezovich

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About Cheryl Crockett Lezovich

Mom, first mate and writer aboard a 40' Manta catamaran, S/V Happy Times.
This entry was posted in Cruising, Travel and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Up the Rio Dulce

  1. Alan Ruddiman says:

    Hello Lezovich Family and the crew of Happy Times! Christina and I have just spent the last hour catching up on all your news. We discovered the link to your blog through Zero to Cruising’s blog which I have followed over the last year.

    We are so glad to learn that you are all still fully engaged in the live aboard sailing life and we are duly envious. SV Mango Groove made land fall in Florida in late June 2011 at the end of our year long sailing sabbatical and we had her sold by early August 2011. Courtney, Olivia, Christina and I all miss the sailing life and the wonderful friends we came to meet in that time. We think of you all very often and keep you in our thoughts.

    We are ambitiously already dreaming and seeking out our next yacht but reality dictates that we will only get out there in all seriousness for long term live aboard cruising in the next 3 – 5 years. We are on an exit strategy and sticking to it.

    Our best wishes to you all – Alan and the “Mango Girls” – ex SV Mango Groove.

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