All aboard Las Sirenas

Rio Dulce Travel Blog

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Tiny Castillo de San Felipe guards the eastern edge of Lago de Izabal.

Hello all,

I woke up today at Bruno's Marina/Hotel/Restaurant/Internet ready to go.  The room was certainly cheap and large, but the small air conditioner coupled with the 20 foot cielings didn't really ever cool things off.  I flipped on the laptop and there was a very strong wi-fi signal that I couldn't hook up to, so I went down to the office to ask about 'net options.  The was a small internet room with four terminals, and there was allegedly Wi-Fi available, but only in the afternoons when another employee got there.  I took a walk over to find the spot where the boat would meet me later at Rio Bravo restaurant, and lo and behold there was a hopping little internet cafe with Wi-Fi there for 33% less.

I set up shop there and surf, downloaded and updated to my heart's content for almost three hours.

Elais foot steers the boat while talking to Raul.
  I went back to check out of the hotel by 12:15pm or so, and then came back for some lunch.  While waiting for my food I noticed two woman sitting nearby that had all of their luggage.  Remembering back to signing up for the sailing trip in Antigua there were two American women that already signed up.  I wondered if that was them, and how many others in the restaurant were on the trip.

Around 1:30pm I noticed a launch dropping some people off, and then the person found the two women had a Sailing-Diving-Guatemala t-shirt on.  I introduced myself, and the four of us were in the small rubber dingy heading across the harbor to Las Sirenas.  As we got on board, the first rule was 'no shoes', so our sandals were all collected and thrown into a big garbage bag for storage.

Raul readies the spinnaker.
  We then chose cabins.  There was another person yet to board, so there would just be four of us in the four single cabins.  I chose the one on the front left of the catamaran.  I was next to the kitchen, and the kitchen separated my cabin from the one further astern.

The cabin itself was maybe 6 feet by 4 feet, and about 3 feet tall.  There was a small area on the way to the galley where I could stand up if need be, but half of that was taken up by kitchen supplies such as bread and utencils.  There was a light and a small fan hooked up to the DC system on the boat, and the bed was basically the entire cabin.  The pillow was placed into a smaller cubby hole towards the bow that was smaller then the rest as the left hull of the catamaran got slimmer further forward.

Here we are under sail. That left hammock off the front was quite comfy in this position.
  It seemed cozy enough, and I was encouraged to see the fan.  These cabins also sell as doubles, and that would have been rough if only for the fact that my bag rested on the bed with me because there was nowhere else to put it.

The last passenger arrived on a crowded launch on the way somewhere else that was loaded down with locals.  Ben was from Ohio, and had just gotten out of the U.S. Navy after five years.  Christine and Joanna were cousins from New England and are both teachers.  All three were currently on a break from taking Spanish language courses in Antigua and in that 23-25 year old area.  All of their spanish was better then mine, and the two-man crew, Raul and Elias, did not have alot of English.  Raul was the captain, and he laid out the itinerary for the day, and a few guidelines for the boat.

Finca el Paraiso from the boat.
  He spoke Spanish in a fashion that was simple and relatively easy to understand for even a beginner such as me.  But I did have to ask Christine to clarify a few things at the end, as she seems to have the best grasp of speaking and understanding Spanish, followed by Joanna, Ben and then me.

We got underway just after 3pm, and the plan was to sail from Rio Dulce further inland and westward towards Finca el Paraiso, where we would anchor for the night.  We made our way under the huge concrete highway bridge and then passed Castillo San Felipe at the entrance to Lago de Izabal.  Izabal is the largest lake in Guatemala at 228 square miles making it just a tiny bit larger then my home state Wisconsin's own Lake Winnebago (215 sq.

Finca el Paraiso restaurant and bar.
miles).  The front of the catamaran featured two mesh hammocks strung between the two hulls.  I grabbed my supplied towel, slathered on some sunscreen and took up a spot in one of the hammocks while the other three opted for spots on the deck.

We had been under the power of the boat's 50hp Honda motor until we got fully into the lake.  Then Raul and Elias sprung into action they rigged up and hoisted the small spinnaker sail on the front of the boat, and off we went.  The lake was relatively calm and being in the hammock gave the added advantage of getting the downward push of the wind coming off of the sail.

It was a nice three hour sail until we reached Finca el Paraiso just before dusk.  We anchored about 40 feet from a dock that three local kids were playing around, and about 75 feet from shore.

Raul and Elias set us up to sail.
  The shore was a resort with a restaurant and bar in a thatched roof hut.  The black sand and rock beach was neat, and it did become deep about halfway out to the end of the dock.  The four of us swam in from the ship to check out the beach, and we all took turns jumping and flipping from the dock for about 30 minutes before coming back to the boat for dinner.

Elias was the chef on board, and dinner of chicken breast pieces in a nice sauce with sides was served under the main sail as the sun fell over the Finca ('property' in English).  Elias even served up a tasty dessert, and that would become a normal onboard thing after each meal.  We all enjoyed sitting on the boat watching distant, and not so distant, lightning until everybody made their way underneath for some sleep.

Later, Phil

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Tiny Castillo de San Felipe guards…
Tiny Castillo de San Felipe guard…
Elais foot steers the boat while t…
Elais foot steers the boat while …
Raul readies the spinnaker.
Raul readies the spinnaker.
Here we are under sail.  That left…
Here we are under sail. That lef…
Finca el Paraiso from the boat.
Finca el Paraiso from the boat.
Finca el Paraiso restaurant and ba…
Finca el Paraiso restaurant and b…
Raul and Elias set us up to sail.
Raul and Elias set us up to sail.
Rio Dulce
photo by: islander23