Galileo: Voyage Back to the US

We spent a month in Guatemala, a truly beautiful and amazing country, working on Galileo (mostly wiping up cockroach turds) and doing some land travel. Ariel had never been to Tikal, some of the most awesome ruins in Latin America, so we spent a couple of days there.Tikal is real Indiana Jones stuff; a once-visited-never-forgotten kind of place.

This is where there are pyramids arising majestically from the steaming tropical jungle. The total cacophony of sound, with countless species of birds flying through the canopy, is startling and howler monkeys are everywhere scaring the crap out of people with their incredibly loud and DEEP growls which echo over the primeval scene for miles and miles. It sounded like the tree tops were full of agitated jaguars. Indeed, the day before we arrived a real jaguar was seen by a National Geographic film crew right in the middle of the plaza.

Back to the boat. After putting things right on board, we then sailed the 1,000 or so miles up through Belize and Mexico to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida where we sadly put Galileo on the market with Art at SGA Yachts.  And she is sold within two months – good job Art! Along that trip we had the usual sort of adventures and break downs including wrapping a line around the prop that yanked the engine off its mounts in San Pedro, Belize! (My fault. Classic operator error).

Let’s see, we also fried the starter just after leaving Isla Mujeres, Mexico to cross the Gulf of Mexico 350 miles to get to Key West. This meant two things, we couldn’t start the engine and we couldn’t charge the batteries. So what? you may think, this is a sail boat and this is a sailing trip, ain’t it? Well, not always. We didn’t have much wind on that trip and the three day journey took six days. Six days of drifting and watching our batteries go flatter and flatter.

That meant no lights, no water and no radar. We had to cross very busy shipping lanes through the Yucatan Channel and we got up close and personal with some very big fast moving ships. Yikes. The rain was also incredible. There was squall after squall pounding the waves flat into submission.

All we had on board for the rain (Derek’s miscalculation again) was one old cockroach-eaten pair of thin West Marine rain gear. This clammy suit left black gum on your wrists and had a nice long slit on the crotch that let in as much cold rain water as it could, usually around 2 AM.

On our 5th day out, we got within 14 miles of Key West. We were excited, we were starving and we couldn’t wait to get ashore. Then the wind died. And I mean completely. It must have been 90 degrees in the full beat-down-on-your-head-with-a-hammer type of sun. All we could do is drift along with the plankton.

And sweat. We dropped a fishing lure in the water half heartedly and it actually drifted AHEAD of the boat. All day long we sat there – I could see those “Golden Arches” on shore and Ariel could taste her ice cream. And it was not to be. We just sat there all day rolling back and forth, back and forth watching the planet turn.

During the night a light breeze finally took pity on us and we tacked back and forth, back and forth in front of the entrance to the channel. We don’t do night entries. Derek was a little worried, not about the boat or the trip but that this pretty dismal experience may turn Ariel off long distance sailing – and we had just bought a big-assed boat in Thailand right after sending the career down the toilet…

Fortunately for our hero, she was a real trooper throughout and showed she was built of sterner stuff than that! Anyway, at dawn we had absolutely no electricity left. Derek tacked the boat in and up the channel to a marina where for a nifty $85 a night we could tie up to the fuel dock and take a bus into town. Definitely overpriced. $800 later we had our brand new starter and were on our way to Ft. Lauderdale, our final destination.