|I was losing my grip. Dock fever had overcome me and I needed to get back out there, feel the water below our hull, hear the wind through the open hatches, remind myself why we live on a boat. So when one of my walking buddies, Gail, from Gabriella invited us to join them and another boat on a trip to the end of Lago Izabal we jumped at the chance.
There have been several pirate attacks over the years in the remote areas of the lake so we didn't take this trip lightly. Few boats venture into these infamous waters, which is a terrible shame considering the unspoiled paradise to be found, teeming with wildlife and surrounded by awe inspiring scenery.
To the north, towering over us at 9,892 feet are the majestic mountains of Sierra de Santa Cruz. To the south the peaks of the Sierra de Las Minas lay shrouded in mist and clouds. A lush carpet of resembling patchwork quilts in countless shades of green suggest order in this endless sea of jungle. By day the smokey firest burning in the distance is the only sign of life here. As dark fell hundreds of bats, large bats the size of big birds swooped down around me as I sat on the swim platform, eating bugs from the surface of the water.
The phrase "pirate attack" conjures up images of rape and pillage but it's more a case of crimes of convenience in this area, dingies left unattended disappearing quietly in the night, boats left unattended stripped of valuables.
Travelling with buddy boats was highly recommended. We considered hiring an armed guard to accomnpany us but decided against it. There was a total of 8 people on board the 3 boats and we split the night hours up into 2 hour bandito watches. I was excited when I began my first watch at from 12-2 the first night. We all "flew" our dingies, which means pulling them up out of the water at night. For us this means removing the motor, a small inconvenience to guard against such a tragic loss.
I shone my bright spotlight around the boats and surrounding anchorage every 10 minutes during the 2 hours watch. It was our way of notifying any would be banditos that we were up and watching for them. The banditos are counting on the element of surprise and our message was clear, we would not be the victims of a surprise attack.
Whether it was blind luck or good planning we will never know but we enjoyed an uneventful and safe trip. I savoured every moment out there, reminding myself of the old days when I longed all week to get away from the office and out on the water. It was like heaven to me, sleeping with our hatch open, gently rocking in our comfy cradle. We woke to the distinctive roar of the howler monkeys in stereo from trees on both sides of the bay.
The Weather Gods smiled on us and we enjoyed an unexpected string of rainless nights, very uncommon here. Perhaps the weather pattern is slightly different out on the lake than here on the Rio but after being closed up tight with a/c running for over 2 months it was a real treat to be out in the fresh air.
We didn't spot a single pleasure craft on the lake during the entire 5 6 day trip. The first 2 nights we spent anchored just inside the mouth of the Ensada Los Lagartos, not far from the scene of a pirate attack back in 2001, where an unsuspecting single vessel was boarded by 3 armed banditos and robbed of approx $13,000 worth of equipment.
By day we took turns exploring by dingy and at night we gathered together for pot luck dinners, getting to know each other better. The 3rd night was spent anchored in the most protected anchorage on the lake, a lovely bay referred to as El Refugio.
From there we cruised back towards the Rio Dulce, stopping for a night at the well known resort of Denny's Beach. (next update)