The approach we made to the Vivarillos from the west, at night, was to waypoint 15-50.46N 83-18.13W. It is clear to approach slowly from the west, and the depth shallowed to a minimum of 12 feet. At the waypoint, it is about 10-12 feet deep in good sand. It is possible to go another 100 yards further in at least, but you should probably do this during daylight. At this point, you are between the Grand Vivarillos island to the south and the Bird Island to the north, with a continuous reef out
in front. It is good protection in weather from NNE to SSE, but does get rolly if the wind goes too far north or south. It is possible to move around behind Grand Vivarillo in a westerly, but this is really not a good place to weather a strong frontal passage.
We have a fairly detailed chart of the Vivarillos in our raster electronic chart (and I think the CMAP chart is similarly detailed).
Yesterday, we opted to take advantage of the light wind and good sun conditions to go explore another reef area 16 miles NE of the Vivarillos. This area has 2 names, Cayos Cajones and The Hobbies. Our chart of the Hobbies is not very detailed. It looks to be just reef with no land. We were really not sure what we were going to find here. But friends had told us it was a 'not to be missed' place. We also weren't sure what the weather was going to do. There is a front approaching and we didn't
want to get caught in an unfamiliar area with stinky weather.
But the GRIB file was forecasting light winds and no westerly component, and the skies were clear. So we thought we'd leave early, go up and check it out, and if we didn't like it, we could go back to the Vivarillos anchorage before dark.
So yesterday, we motorsailed in about 5 knots of wind, up to the two waypoints our friends had given us. 16-01.829N 83-06.214W and 16-02.500N 83-06.320W. Once we got in close, we had to go on visual navigation, because the area is strewn with coral heads. But it was easy getting in, and after checking out both anchoring spots, we opted for the second waypoint. We were surprised to find 2 islands with vegetation, and several visible sand islands, since there is no land indicated on the chart at
The first waypoint is right off the southern island and has good protection from the SW around to the East, if you tuck in close. The second waypoint is good from South, around to the East, and all the way on around to the NW. Both are good anchor spots in the normal ESE trades, but since we were expecting the wind to soon switch to the NNE, we opted for the second anchorage.
But all day yesterday, the wind remained very calm... less than 5 knots out of the SW. We checked the GRIB (wind prediction) forecast again and decided it would be OK to stay for the expected frontal passage.
So we all (Dave and I, Mike, Laura, and Liz from s/v Gilana, and Sophie and Bernhardt from s/v Stella) jumped in the dinghies and went out to explore the reef. Dave and I quickly found a couple of spots inside the reef with good relief and some fish, we marked them with the GPS so we could come back later. But the water in the inner reef was kind of murky. So, we went further out to the outer reef. With the calm wind it was an excellent opportunity to explore the outer reef--which normally has
breaking waves over it.
Gilana found a swim pass from inside the reef to outside, and we all went snorkeling through. There were lots of fish and at least one small Hawksbill turtle swimming around. After a bit of looking around, we found a big school of snapper, with several of them close to 2 feet long. Mike had brought his spear gun, and eventually picked out one of the biggest Red Snapper, and speared him. Then he loaned Dave his gun and Dave got a Cubera Snapper. Mike's fish was big enough that they shared half
with Stella, so everyone had fish for dinner.
The sea was glassy in all directions at sunset and it made a spectacular sunset.