John Pasnau releases the stern line on his 11-metre cabin cruiser, Fish Trap, and settles into a deck chair. Chatting with his friends while his captain expertly motors the craft out of the harbour and into the warm, turquoise sea, John is serving as host and guide for the upcoming day on the water.
“We’re doing the usual Sunday Funday cruise,” says John. “If the weather cooperates, we take a boatload of friends out for a day of snorkelling, diving and spear fishing. It should be awesome.”
John and his wife, Valerie, live on the small island of Isla Mujeres, just offshore of Cancún along Mexico’s famed Riviera Maya.
Today, John and Valerie are enjoying the simple pleasures of island life, but it was a different story a few years back.
“The cost of living had gotten out of hand back home,” says John. “We were fed up. We’d travelled a bit but when we took a trip here in 2010, it appealed to us like nowhere else. We knew we had found our place. We sold up and moved here in September of 2014.”
John has been seriously involved with boating for years. “I’ve owned a boat for decades. I didn’t get as much use out of it then as I do now, of course,” he says.
Island life, for the couple, is centred around their community. They are heavily involved with a local children’s charity, in which John serves as a mentor. They also help local artists market their work.
“There’s plenty to do here and we rarely go more than a couple of days without being on the water. Weather depending, of course,” says John. “It’s not unusual for spear-fishermen, equipped with only a snorkel and mask, to take their limits of grouper, snapper and lobster in a few hours. You don’t need to be scuba certified. There is plenty to see along the reef and the hunting is good and not too deep, so snorkelling works well.”
John says his typical day on the water combines several activities, depending upon the wishes of the guests onboard. “We always set up a couple of fishing lines on the way out of the harbour. Might as well drag some bait behind the boat as we’re cruising and we almost always bring home dinner.”
It’s easy to understand why John and Valerie love their adopted home. The warm, turquoise waters teem with fish, dolphins and sea turtles; they’re ideal for all water sports. The island, while small at eight kilometres long and a less than a kilometre wide, has all the essentials. And what can’t be found on the island is available in a nearby city—easily reached by ferry in just over an hour. John and Valerie own two motor scooters, which provide the perfect transportation around the island.
According to John and Valerie, the cost of life in paradise is around $2,700 a month. But that doesn’t include any of the boat expenses. “Our friends normally contribute petrol money every Sunday,” says John. “That’s great, but to tell you the truth, even if they didn’t, I’d have the boat out on the water anyway. We’re making the most of island life.”