Friday, March 31, 2017

Travellin’ to paradise, past and present

UltraMar docks at Puerto Juarez on the mainland
Living on an island in the Caribbean Sea, there is only one way to get there – by boat. Be it passenger vessel, car ferry or private yacht, we all have to cross the water. Okay, one or two lucky people have small private planes that are permitted to land in the seldom-used, almost-defunct airport. But the rest of us peasants cross by boat; big boats, little boats, private boats or commuter boats.

New boat the Bo Hengy II - Doris Nielsen Nickel photo

Every couple of years we see a new addition to the fleet of passenger ferries bringing people to this little piece of paradise. 

The vessels are getting bigger and bigger to accommodate the increase in visitors. With the newest arrival the Bo Hengy (presumably pronounced Bo Henry) each crossing can transport 408 visitors to Isla Mujeres.


Photo Credit unknown, posted on Recuerdos de Isla Mujeres!
Before the UltraMar started business the only passenger service to the island was provided by Ausencio Magaña and his family members. Their fleet included the La Carmita, a banana-shaped boat that rolled and wallowed in the seas creating havoc with the tender stomachs of landlubbers and tourists. The preferred place for locals to ride was in the stern, well away from any seasick travellers. 

2002 Caribbean Miss
The next Magaña ship was La Novia del Mar and then the popular La Sultana del Mar.  A fourth boat, La Dama Elegante, was equipped with a six foot (2 metres) by two foot (60 cm) glass insert for viewing the sea life. A sunken shrimp boat, the Blanca Beatriz was rescued from near Isla Contoy, and refurbished. Although that vessel was primarily reserved for circumnavigating the island with sightseers.  

In 2002 our first trip to Isla was on the Caribbean Miss owned by the Magaña family.  

This modest craft held maybe forty people and a bit of cargo. I have never been sea-sick, but the combined diesel fuel vapours and the slight rolling motion pushed my tolerance to the limit.  


2005 UltraMar passenger ferry
When we returned in 2005 the first UltraMar catamaran was in service with interior seating for fifty or sixty people.

2009 saw the arrival of a larger catamaran for UltraMar with upper deck seating and a capacity of about 200 passengers. 

Three larger boats holding up to 265 people arrived in 2011 with flashy blue underwater LEDS lighting up the nighttime crossings.

Flashy underwater LEDs on UltraMar boat

Still not enough to deal with the thousands visitors, UltraMar put the Bo Hengy into service this week.  The company didn’t even have time to paint the new ship in the distinctive blue and yellow corporate colours.

This week is spring break for many schools in Canada, USA and Mexico. The lineups will are huge, but with the new larger ship in service hopefully traveling back and forth to the mainland won’t be a problem. Although we typically hide out at our beachfront home during this crazy time of year.

We have sand, sun, and cold beer all within easy reach. No need to leave home.

Hasta Luego
Lynda & Lawrie




~

Treasure Isla



Treasure Isla is a humorous Caribbean adventure set on Isla Mujeres, a tiny island off the eastern coast of Mexico. Two twenty-something women find themselves in possession of a seemingly authentic treasure map, which leads them on a chaotic search for buried treasure while navigating the dangers of too much tequila, disreputable men, and a killer. And there is a dog, a lovable rescue-mutt.

$2.99 USD  E-book edition available on Amazon


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