Stationary or sedentary. Not us.

We're not in Kansas any more.

12th September 2023

Shell Bay, Rio Dulce, Guatemala – Nanajuana Marina, Rio Dulce, Guatemala via Cayo Quamodo, Rio Dulce, Guatemala

Medical advice says that a stationary and sedentary life is unhealthy and after surgery rehabilitation should be slow and steady. After weeks ashore we have been anything by sedentary but Ruffian has been stationary and now that we are afloat our rehabilitation can start, albeit, slowly.

With Ruffian now bobbing on the water we could finally get ready to move, and we found that like the human body, if it doesn’t move then it seizes. Getting ready for the off Brock was hauled up, his engine unlocked and the bolts holding the engine in place were seized firm. Initially thinking that manual brute force would be the solution, the engine had different ideas and simply defeated Iain. It was time for a different approach.

Freeze spray was sprayed, anti lock was sprayed, and liberal volumes of Corrosion X and Corrosion Off were liberally applied. Still, there was no movement until the big guns were bought out. Our huge adjustable spanner that lives deep in the bilge was clamped to the bolts and suddenly we had movement. We’d won the battle, Brock could be stowed and we’d learnt a lesson, but there was going to be a sting in the tail.

With Ruffian’s diesel tank empty we took about the quick task of filling it up and once again we found that things seize if they’re not used; the fuel tank cap was locked solid. Unlike the outboard bolts however, the filler cap was awkward, irreplaceable and made of soft fragile aluminium.

With our biggest wrenches not big enough, we acquired the biggest pipe wrench that the cruising community had, and took about nursing the filler cap off. With Fiona lying prone on the cockpit floor and Iain suspending himself between the wheel and aft deck we gripped the wrench that closed the wrench that gripped the cap that was protected by rags. The seized filler cap really was proving to be awkward.

In unison we squeezed and pulled and the cap made the smallest of movements. Resettling in our painful awkward positions we once again squeezed and pulled and once again the cap shifted, but this time we could actually see movement. Now victorious, with Iain being fully sceptical, Fiona took it upon herself to ensure that this wouldn’t happen again. The cap was plunged into a solution of baking soda and vinegar and in a plume of clearly noxious fumes all the corrosion simply fell off. Well done Fiona.

After months of being stationary we were now active. Water flowed under Ruffian’s hull, her engine purred happily and mountains, rivers and fishermen all gave Ruffian her usual ever changing landscape. To move felt like freedom, to move felt magical, to move felt like everything we’d been working towards.

The work never stopped on Ruffian but being in a new location with a new view and new opportunities gave us a new lease of life. Raymarine control heads were changed, Volvo displays swapped out and we luxuriated in the world of pottering. It was glorious and all topped off with sunsets over mountains where islands added interest.

With our Guatemalan tourist visas running out we couldn’t be stationary and sedentary and we had to get out of the country, head to Mexico, and get a new stamp in our passports. Usually going to another country involves an ocean passage, planning, provisioning and a heap of bureaucracy. This time however we just hopped onto a taxi bus a sat for 6 hours and bounced our way to a new country. So much for the stationary and sedentary change.

We entered Mexico and everything was remarkably similar. Beans and rice were on every menu, cars that had no place on the roads raced along and motorbikes weaved through the traffic surviving on good luck , but worryingly sometimes the luck wasn’t on their side.*

The one big difference in Mexico was religion. In the town that we’d made our pit stop in the dominating Catholic church was dressed in flowers, from floor to ceiling , and included a prone crucified Jesus. Then as the darkness closed in Jesus was lifted from his floral bed and paraded through town while being serenaded by the high school brass band.

With a new stamps in our passports we were admitted back into Guatemala** where we can once again heed medical advice and ensure that we’re not leading a stationary and sedentary existence. We’re finally able to explore the Rio Dulce, luxuriate in all our hard work and enjoy life on the water.

* We were witness to the most awful head-on crash, with a motorbike taking on a car and the motorcycle very much lost out.

** After a Q100 ‘fee’ that quickly disappeared into the pocket of the customs officer, to which Iain will be eternally grumpy.

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Author: Iain & Fiona Lewis

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