March 17th – 24th, 2015 (-6 on UTC)

Dear Friends and Family,  (LOTS OF PHOTOS and a VIDEO at the end of  this  post)
Our trip to the entrance to the Rio Dulce of Guatemala from Placencia, Belize wasn’t particularly exciting until we arrived at the entrance to the “Rio”.

 

"Beach House" crossing the Bahia de Amatique with the Rio Dulce River mouth in the distance.

“Beach House” crossing the Bahia de Amatique with the Rio Dulce River mouth in the distance.

 

The charts show low tide depths as little as 3 1/2 feet for over a quarter mile! As such, it’s best to get there at higher tides and follow the track that the guide books give to avoid the shallow mud banks.
Being a “skinny water” boat, “Beach House” went over the bank – where we did see water depths as low as 5 1/2 feet – without even a touch of the bottom; at least none we could feel.

Nikki posing for our traditional hoisting of the colors.  The Guatemalan maritime flag over the "Q" Flag (which Carmina made for me 39 years ago!)

Nikki posing for our traditional hoisting of the colors. The Guatemalan maritime flag over the Quarantine – “Q” Flag (which Carmina made for me 39 years ago!)  The “Q” Flag is flown by any arriving vessel until cleared by local Customs.

 

About an hour later (and with an even higher tide), “Windward” started to traverse the bar and we were able to radio back where the shallowest part was. The other news was that indeed, the shallows did run almost a quarter of a mile. Just when we radioed to Dennis that the bar was at it’s shallowest, “Windward” came to a grinding halt. Their draft is 6’4” and my guess was that they were probably trying to push a foot of mud and it just wasn’t going to work. The other good news was, that the sea was as flat as a board. I imagine in a big swell and wind, the bar would be breaking the entire width of the entrance channel.

We had already had the Guatemalan officials aboard and were with our agent, Raul of Servamar, when I radioed out to Dennis if he wanted Raul to arrange a “tip over”? A tip over is where a local fishing boat for a fee, comes out, ties a line off to the halyard on the top of your mast and tips you over – literally!  This allows the keel to rise up sufficiently to sort of get dragged over while the vessels motor powers it over the top of the river bed.

"Windward" in the back right being "tipped" by "Wally" on the far left.  The photo was taken through the rigging of the small French monohull "Clown" that had just arrived from Honduras.  Photo from "Beach House" - Livingstone, Guatamala - Rio Dulce

“Windward” in the back right being “tipped” by “Wally” on the far left. The photo was taken through the rigging of the small French monohull “Clown” that had just arrived from Honduras. Bahia de Amatique in the background (seaward of the Rio entrance).  The Peninsula in the background is where Cabo Tres Puntas is en route to Honduras.  Photo from “Beach House” – Livingstone, Guatamala – Rio Dulce

As Raul was standing right next to me, he heard the conversation and Dennis’ “yes please” and was on the phone to his friend Hector of the small fishing boat, “Wally”. Within 10 minutes, “Wally” was on site, tied his drum reel off to “Windward’s” halyard and while tipping him over from the side, Dennis could then scoot along the bottom until deeper water was found.

This whole process looked quite amazing and took only about 10 minutes. The fee was $50.00 which in Guatemala, is a good days wage.
(SEE VIDEO AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST OF “WINDWARD” BEING TIPPED OVER ON THE WAY OUT OF THE RIO DULCE).

Once “Windward” was inside, we all went ashore to finish up our check in process Livingstone is a small quasi tourist town but has a not very good reputation. When we got to the public dock we were swarmed by locals who for about $3.00 would “watch” your dinghy. They almost got into a fist fight over who was going to get the “job”. Of course the issue here for us was, if we don’t pay to have our dinghy watched, the same guy who is getting the “job” might be the guy who steals your dinghy if you don’t contract with him!….

 

Local ladies doing the wash.  People would bathe in this pool and others would get fresh water from the white PVC pipe at the bottom middle before it hit the community wash and bath.

Local ladies doing the wash. People would bathe in this pool and others would get fresh water from the white PVC pipe at the bottom middle before it hit the community wash and bath.

 

Dennis with Raul en route to Customs - Livingstone, Guatemala.

Dennis with Raul en route to Customs – Livingstone, Guatemala.

 

It’s always a bit creepy when being ashore and watching the locals sort of size you up. Frankly, I did feel a bit uncomfortable ashore and was glad that there was security around the ATM when we went to get local currency to pay our agent and our entry fees. The worst “feeling” I’d ever had like this was when Nikki and I were in Guyana two years ago up the Essequibo River. Must be something about rivers?….:-)

When we got back to the boats, it was getting dark and we did not want to go up the Rio Dulce Gorge, (which is beautiful) at night. First, we didn’t want to miss the scenery and second we were warned that it was not a good idea as to the possibility of opportunistic locals to turn temporary banditos. The other good news was that the conditions were very benign and despite that the Rio Dulce entrance is very open to the sea, it was quite calm. The current, which always comes out of the river, put our sterns directly into the wind coming into the river. When we anchored, this allowed us not feel much roll from the small swell coming in from the sea.

When we woke up the next morning, we saw dozens of small fishing boats who were working the mouth of the Rio Dulce just on the seaward side of the bar.

When we woke up the next morning, we saw all the local fishing boats out over the Rio Dulce Bar entrance.  Many were using nets, many used fish traps.

When we woke up the next morning, we saw all the local fishing boats out over the Rio Dulce Bar entrance. Many were using nets, many used fish traps.

The conditions were calm, the light good and so together, we motored up the 7 mile long, very winding Rio Dulce Gorge. The Gorge is a mostly deep river that has high cliffs on either side with lots of bird life and thick vegetation. Not only was it gorgeous, but I actually got a glimpse of a Manatee when we were about 1/3rd of the way through. At first I thought it was an inner tube floating down the river, but then the inner tube had a tail and sounded toward the bottom. We’d heard stories of Drug Lords and Banditios up the Gorge but we’re happily pleased to just see nice locals waving as they went by in their Pangas. Some of the houses and resorts seemed quite lavish on the banks of the Gorge, but we weren’t going to stop and ask any questions….:-)

"Beach House" entering the Rio Dulce Gorge (from Windward)

“Beach House” entering the Rio Dulce Gorge (from Windward)

 

The long and winding gorge. Note the deep high walls.  This is about where I saw a Manatee!

The long and winding gorge. Note the deep high walls. This is about where I saw a Manatee!

 

Fisherman with fish traps are scattered throughout the Gorge.  We must be alert as to not get our propellers caught up in the traps.

Fisherman with fish traps are scattered throughout the Gorge. We must be alert as to not get our propellers caught up in the traps.

Jungle Outpost.... There were a few somewhat up market homes and resorts along the route.  Note all the modern conveniences on the roof.

Jungle Outpost…. There were a few somewhat up market homes and resorts along the route. Note all the modern conveniences on the roof.

 

The full trip up the Rio Dulce is actually 20 miles where all the marinas are and the water is fresh (hence – Rio Dulce “Sweet River”). The “Bridge of the Americas” is a landmark where the Rio ends and Lago Izabel (Lake Isabel) begins. The bridge would be not quite high enough for us to pass under, but smaller boats could go upwards of another 10 miles further inland. We also heard that it took 30 years to complete the bridge which clearly could have been built in 6-12 months by any 1st world engineering company. Apparently, for the adventurously initiated, there were wildlife and Manatee trips up to the far west end of the lake. At the far western end of the lake, one has a better chance to see a Manatee. As such, I was lucky on my spot of one the day before.

Docked at Ram Marina (Windward left and Beach House right)

Docked at Ram Marina (Windward left and Beach House right)

We were headed toward RAM Marina which we heard was the most upmarket and full facilities marina in the Rio. Owned by an ex pat American named Rick (a complete character – in the nicest way), we found nice docks, friendly folks, good water and power and we could finally get a bit of mechanical assistance. Rick even let us use his USA phone line to take care of making our airplane reservations to go on a land trip to Columbia (planned for early May) and our trip back to LA for Skye’s wedding oat the end of May.

Of course one of the highlights of this trip would be a visit by long time friend, the lovely Ms. Carmina Robles! Carmina lives in Guatemala City and would be making the 5 1/2 hour drive to the Rio the next day. Cindy and I had a great time with Carmina in 2009 when we were on the Pacific side of Guatemala. “Beach House” had yet again, by coming to Guatemala made another “country to country” circumnavigation. This time, we were only 150 miles as the crow flies from Puerto Quetzal on the Pacific coast where Carmina last visited “Beach House” 6 years ago.

Carmina Robles Perez aka: The Guatemalan Princess!....:-)  Frontera, Guatemala

Carmina Robles Perez aka: The Guatemalan Princess!….:-) Frontera, Guatemala

 

Nikki on a "recky" of Frontera, Guatemala with the gals.

Nikki on a “recky” of Frontera, Guatemala with the gals.

 

Open Market - Frontera, Guatemala

Open Market – Frontera, Guatemala

 

Note the "semi truck" in the road.  That's about all the room he had to get by and you can imagine with 500+ trucks a day, this is a might crowded bridge.

Note the “semi truck” in the road. That’s about all the room he had to get by and you can imagine with 500+ trucks a day, this is a might crowded bridge.

When Carmina arrived, we decided that we wanted to take a trip to one of the largest ancient ruin sites of the Mayan world at “Tikal”. Carmina’s car would have been a bit small for the 5 of us and as such, we hired a mini van with driver to the trip to Tikal. Another reason was, that it was a 4 hour drive each way!

Bridge of the America's from the Rio Dulce.  This bridge is only two lanes wide and took 30 years to build!  It gets well over 500 semi truck trailers over it daily.

Bridge of the America’s from the Rio Dulce. This bridge is only two lanes wide and took 30 years to build! It gets well over 500 semi truck trailers over it daily.

We left the town of Frontera (Frontier), at 7 a.m. and were very glad we’d hired Jorge to do the driving. He knew the road very well and seemed to know where every pot hole and “tumelo” was.
A “tumelo” is a speed bump which are found all over Mexico and Central America as the most effective way to keep speeding vehicles from going too fast. The tumelo’s sometimes seem as big as a mountain! In fact, Jorge was so familiar with this road, he was waving to someone everywhere we went. As such, I told him that he was so popular, he should run for President….:-)

The Guatemalan elections are coming up soon and universally everyone says they’re corrupt. In fact, the political parties apparently go into the country villages and give away food and supplies to people to get their votes on or just before election day. It seems to be a national disgrace, but no one seems to have the political will to change the system. As Guatemalan Presidents can only stand for one 4 year term, it seems it’s just the well off folks trading who gets to be in charge of the graft and corruption for the next 4 years. We were taken aback a bit by the $2,000,000 US made sport fishers owned by politicians whose annual salaries were about $60,000 USD…..umm

Another rumor we’d heard was that there is a huge mine near the west end of Lago Izabel where about 250 semi trucks haul dirt (unprocessed) to Russian ships at Puerto Barrios near the mouth of the Rio Dulce. The rumor part was that officially, this was a nickel mine, but locals said they believed what was being mined was uranium. As such, Guatemala didn’t want it to be processed in country and off to Sevastopol it goes. Welcome to cruising and all the stuff that goes with it!….:-)

We arrived at Tikal around 10:45 a.m. and paid the entry fees and found an English speaking guide, Josh. It was a walking tour and we were able to go up on the largest temple – “Temple 4”. Josh showed us a scale model of Tikal where you could see this was the tallest of the Temple structures.

Welcome to Tikal

Welcome to Tikal

Often heard, but rarely seen, this "Howler Monkey" greeted us with his loud territorial screams just as we entered the park.  They are apparently pretty good shots on the heads of unsuspecting tourists with brown aerial ordinance....:-)

Often heard, but rarely seen, this “Howler Monkey” greeted us with his loud territorial screams just as we entered the park. They are apparently pretty good shots on the heads of unsuspecting tourists with brown aerial ordinance….:-)

 

When Cindy and I did this in 1996, you could actually climb up the western steps. Today, the park has installed a wooden walk way to get to the top. It’s easier and safer too. These temples are very steep and I’m sure a fall would not be pleasant if not down right disastrous.

For all about Tikal, see the following links:
Tikal via Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tikal
Tikal National Park: http://www.tikalnationalpark.org
UNESCO World Heritage Site: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/64

Panorama of the main Temple Square

Panorama of the main Temple Square

 

The "Gang" at the top of Temple IV - Tikal

The “Gang” at the top of Temple IV – Tikal

 

Temples of Tikal

Temples of Tikal – Note the excellent restoration.  This cannot always be done due to the cost and as such, most of the ruins are still buried in the jungle.

Temples of Tikal with "The Gang"

Temples of Tikal with “The Gang”

 

Traditional Tortilla making at Katok Restaurant on our way back from Tikal to the Rio Dulce.

Traditional Tortilla making at Katok Restaurant on our way back from Tikal to the Rio Dulce.

The walk was long, it wasn’t as hot as it could have been, but still hot. We walked back to our ride and Jorge took us to the Katok Restaurant that was recommended and fortunately not full of tour busses which it often is. We took a quick trip through the small town of Flores on the lake and headed back to the Rio where we arrived around 8pm. It was a long day, thank you Jorge!

We were watching the weather carefully as the next leg of our voyage would be a bit daunting. Being in the Rio Dulce, we next had to get to the Bay Islands of Honduras which were 120 miles straight up wind. This would be a motor boat ride and we wanted to make it as comfortable as possible.

The day before we left, I was doing maintenance and I went to tighten a plumbing fitting on the generator. It broke off in my hand with the slightest touch. This did not bode well!

Carmina drove me into Frontera and with her wonderful bi-lingual skills we were able to finally find the plumbing fittings (which were US “NPT”) and could at least then see how the system could be fixed. The problem was, that due to the compact nature of the generator’s design and it’s difficulty in accessing it, we had to take apart many pieces to finally get to the broken fitting, etc.
Essentially, this took 4 hours and the project became an entire days event. “Noye”, who was one of the marina’s mechanics, assisted me in the operation which made it easier and more pleasant. Thank you Noye!

We took the dinghy for a lunch about 3 miles up Lake Isabel at Rosida’s Lobster Bar that was best accessed by boat. It was a lovely outing. Despite the name of the restaurant, there was no lobster at the “Lobster Bar”….:-)

 

En route for lunch by dinghy to Rositas Lobster Bar - Rio Dulce, Guatemala.

En route for lunch by dinghy to Rositas Lobster Bar – Rio Dulce, Guatemala.

Rositas "Boat Kitchen" at the Lobster Bar. BTW, there was no lobster at the lobster bar....:-)

Rositas “Boat Kitchen” at the Lobster Bar. BTW, there was no lobster at the lobster bar….:-)

 

 

Rositas Lobster Bar accessible by boat just west of the Bridge of the Americas - Rio Dulce, Guatemala

Rositas Lobster Bar accessible by boat just west of the Bridge of the Americas – Rio Dulce, Guatemala

Many people chose to keep their boats in the Rio in the hurricane season and we could see why. There are several marinas, lots of services and frankly, the prices were unbelievably cheap!
I have never stayed at a dock for $10.00 US/day. The electricity was twice as expensive as the berth. The small, air conditioned marine store at RAM Marina is now working with West Marine and anything in their catalog can be delivered in three days from the US! They have a travellift and are putting in a new one for big catamarans. We were staying at “Zia’s” slip and could easily see keeping the boat here for the offseason as an option.

The next day with hugs and tears we said goodbye to Carmina and were off to make the afternoon tide and check out at Livingstone with a weather window for Utila Island, in the Bay of Islands, Honduras. We topped off our fuel and about an hour behind “Windward”, headed for Livingstone. Raul had all the paper work done ahead of our arrival and “Wally” was on call for “Windward”.

Goodbye Carmina. We "lub" you!....

Goodbye Carmina. We “lub” you too!!….

 

"Windward" in the Rio Dulce

“Windward” in the Rio Dulce

For “Beach House”, this would again be an easy exit back over the river bar. In fact, it was about 6” deeper than when we entered. This time, “Windward” had planned ahead and Hector aboard “Wally” was at the ready. When “Windward” started to get stuck, “Wally” tipped them over and in 10 minutes our escapes were made good. Check out the photos and the short VIDEO of “Windwards” escape. Fee – $50.00, Cool – Priceless!…:-)

Hector on "Wally" doing the Rio Dulce Tip Over Dance......:-)  $50.00 - Cheap, Getting  out of the "Rio" - Priceless!

Hector on “Wally” doing the Rio Dulce Tip Over Dance……:-) $50.00 – Cheap, Getting out of the “Rio” – Priceless! Note “Windward’s” halyard (line from the top of the mast going to “Wally’s” big line reel with it’s guide.

CLICK ON THE VIDEO LINK BELOW TO SEE: “Windward” being “tipped over” to get across the river bar at the Rio Dulce, Guatemala…..
VIDEO IS 39 SECONDS
http://svbeachhouse.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Windward-Tip-Over-VIDEO-1.mp4

Note “Wally” (small fishing boat) “tipping over” Dennis and Lisette’s Norseman 44-7 “Windward”.  The Rio Dulce River Bar was only about 4 1/2 feet deep at this point.

We made our exit with a plan to be off Cabo Tres Puntas (The Cape of Three Points), which was 10 miles along our route so we could pass near the infamous Puerto Cortez at night. Puerto Cortez is just inside the Guatemalan/Honduras border (Honduras side) and has recently had a few bandido fisherman hold up a yachtie. As such, we decided a tandem, night voyage without lights would be most prudent. As we had no lights on and could watch traffic with our radars on, we studiously avoided all the targets and kept occasional chatter up on the radio. One boat about midnight was in our direct path and I turned to go by him 3 miles closer to the beach. As such, we were only 5 miles offshore, but saw no further traffic.

Despite the wind being light for most of the night, the trip was awful! The seas were only a meter high, but very, very short period. We felt like we were in a washing machine and it was perhaps the worst I’ve felt on a trip in years. It was uneventful until the next morning when we approached Utila and the shallow reefs to it’s western side. Again, the charts were not particularly accurate.
“Windward” swung well to the South and we picked our way (easy enough) through the “weeds” (unmarked reefs).

We arrived early enough to just get anchored and checked in which was only $6.00 and very easy. The town was cute and the island was all about inexpensive diving and partying for 20 somethings.
“Windward” had some trouble getting anchored, so would have to wait to get the check in done.

Nikki hoisting the Honduran courtesy flag, East Bay, Utilia Island - Honduras

Nikki hoisting the Honduran courtesy flag, East Bay, Utilia Island – Honduras

The next day, we decided a quick overview of East Harbor, the main town, would suffice and we’d be off to the main island in the Bay of Islands – Roatan.

Stay tuned,
Scott and Nikki (Still in Roatan – awaiting a weather window to get around “Thank God Point” (Punta Gracias a Dios) – more on this in our next blog!

March 4th – March 17th, 2015 (-6 on UTC)

Dear Friends and Family,

We negotiated the somewhat tricky entrance at San Pedro, Belize and as we’d been just on the move, decided to take the afternoon off. Dennis and Lisette on “Windward” had checked in that morning and said it was a breeze. We went to check in the next day and got a pretty shocking experience when we were told to see the Port Captain (Dennis and Lisette were not told to do this).

Just after entering the outer reef at San Pedro, Belize. You can see the waves breaking on the shallow water on the far left of the photo.

Just after entering the outer reef at San Pedro, Belize. You can see the waves breaking on the shallow water on the far left of the photo.

First, the customs officer told us the “customs fee” was 50.00 Belizian dollars (25.00 USD). He immediately took the bill and put it in his wallet. We’ve all been to this movie before and as such, we just smile and realize it’s part of “doing business” in the 3rd world. We took the taxi ride to the Port Captain’s office where we told that the fee for 18 days in the country was 90.00 USD. They had a chart for vessels under 40 gross tons and if we’d spent a month, it would have gotten even more expensive. We’d heard that the fees in Belize were high and the rumors were correct. We additionally had fees for Health, Immigration and Agriculture. The official offices were at the airport which had a runway not seemingly long enough to have some of the 12 seaters that fly in there – get off the ground!

San Pedro, Belize anchorage with the reef in the background.

San Pedro, Belize anchorage with the reef in the background.

 

A little beach shack restaurant on the main drag of San Pedro.  It's basically one street which parallels the beach.

Dennis, Scott and Lisette at “The Treasure Chest”. A little beach shack restaurant on the main drag of San Pedro. It’s basically one street which parallels the beach.

 

Street scenes of San Pedro. Note the most popular mode of transportation - The Golf Cart!

Street scenes of San Pedro. Note the most popular mode of transportation – The Golf Cart!

We had a look around San Pedro and it was a mostly one long street, very busy, tourist spot with lots of day dive boats and the beaches clogged with the now ever present Saragasso Weed. It was hot and a bit buggy, so we’d be glad to move on the next day. We departed for Cay Caulker on what we all thought would be about an hour and a half trip. The guidebook was a bit sketchy of how exactly to get by the shallows en route, but with “Beach House” in the lead, we thought we’d be able to spot the “sand dunes” on the bottom for “Windward” who drew almost 2 more feet than “Beach House”.

We got about 30 minutes south of San Pedro off the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and “Windward” got stuck on a sand bar. Dennis tried to motor off forward, but couldn’t budge. We circled back and we then too were in very shallow water – about 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 feet deep. We got a line on “Windward” and with both boats engines started to power up. No luck! Dennis dove below and found that the front of his keel is what was stuck in the sand. As such, we put the line on his stern and after two attempts pulling “Windward” backwards, we were able to get him off the sand bar. We carefully picked our way through the weeds so to speak (going more inshore) and soon found a route around the sand. The tide here is only about 1 foot and it was rising, which may or may not have been some help?
Wish I’d taken some photos, but we were a bit busy while being a tow boat!…:-)

Good thing this was a “sand bar” and not reef! Not only would there then have been damage to “Windward”, but we later heard that the nation of Belize has a US 100,000.00 fine for hitting a reef!
In fact, their law apparently states that if you hit a reef, you’re not to try and get off till their Coast Guard assess the damages and that anyone assisting them is then subject to a fine as well if they don’t have permission. Well…Good Luck with that! And you thought your country had silly bureaucratic rules?!

There were a few more shallows we called out on our way to Cay Caulker, but the rest of the trip (which took almost 3 1/2 hours), was uneventful. We anchored in the lovely shallow bay in the lee of Cay Caulker, which is supposed to be one of the nicest Cays inside the reefs of Belize.

The inner reef system of Belize is very long, in fact the entire length of the country (about 100 miles or so). Essentially from a boating perspective, you can think of the country as the inner and outer reefs. Belize in known for it’s three main atolls of Turneffe, Lighthouse and Glover Reefs. These, with the exception of Chinchorro Bank in Mexico, are the only other true atolls in the Caribbean.

Cay Caulker would more or less be the test of how the inner reef islets would be. There are literally hundreds of them. Many uninhabited, many touristy and many with just one or two high end resorts that tend to be exclusive and are either ambivalent or not welcoming of cruisers. As we would only be in Belize a few weeks, we’d see how the inner reef compared to the reputation of the outer reefs which have the famous “Blue Hole” and world class diving. The other difficulty is that sailing within the inner reef can be a bit daunting. The charts are substantially inaccurate, lots of uncharted reefs and shallows as well as much of the entire reef system is less than 10 feet deep; often 5 feet or less! Given “Windward’s” experience, they were justifiably gun shy about the prospect of navigating 100 miles of inshore reef.

"Beach House" in the lee of Cay Caulker, Belize.

“Beach House” in the lee of Cay Caulker, Belize.

We went ashore at Cay Caulker and I know I’m jaded, but it was mostly disappointing. It reminded me of “Gili Air” island in Indonesia (except Cay Caulker was cleaner). Something about when you go into a restaurant and it smells like an open sewer, doesn’t work for me. We found a nice Italian restaurant (sans smell) and had a nice meal. We explored the usual “Chacki” shops and investigated the diving and kite boarding options. All in all, it did not capture our imaginations. We did have an interesting meal the next evening at the “Bondi Bar and Restaurant”. It was owned by a local and his Aussie wife. They were trying to sell it and move to Australia. The setting was nice, the food good but it was so hot and buggy I just couldn’t see who exactly would want to buy it for the asking price of 95,000 USD.

Given this was supposed to be one of the best islets on the inner reef, we decided on seeing the outer atolls which Belize is famous for and avoid the navigation hazards. We first set off for Turneffe Reef about 20 miles offshore and about a 35 mile sail to it’s southern entry from Cay Caulker. It was a pretty light air day but we were able to sail a bit. The big deal for us was, that after almost 50,000 ocean miles, we were finally in a position to be with a buddy boat who could take pictures of “Beach House” under sail!!! Dennis took lots and we finally have some here to show you!

"Beach House" with the big reacher off Turneffe Reef, Belize.

“Beach House” with the big reacher off Turneffe Reef, Belize.

"Beach House" sailing to Tenerife Reef, Belize.

“Beach House” sailing to Turnerife Reef, Belize.

 

Of course, we had to take some of “Windward” as well!

"Windward" en route to Tenerefe, Belize.

Norseman 44-7 – “Windward” en route to Tenerefe, Belize.

In all the excitement, we’d turned our radios on single channel so we could talk and we missed a “sail by” of sister ship “Zia” (Switch #6). Peter Verallis is the 3rd owner of “Zia” (originally owned by Scott and Stacy Molitor of Anacortes, Washington). Peter sent us an email that night saying he’d seen us sail by him while he was heading north and tried to hail us on the radio. Ah, so close!
Aside: When we got to Guatemala, we stayed in Peter’s slip at RAM Marina in the Rio Dulce.

Turneffe has the most dry land of the outer atolls, but it’s substantially uncharted and very shallow. This meant that we couldn’t get very far inside the entrance channel and the reef was only of limited protection. We were anchored off the Turneffe Island Resort, but as nice as they were, we were not allowed to use the resort restaurant or any of it’s facilities. We stayed the night and decided to move on to Lighthouse Reef, perhaps the pinnacle dive and nature site of offshore Belize.

Scott (with Nikki) on a "recky" at Turneffe Reef, Belize.

Scott (with Nikki) on a “recky” at Turneffe Reef, Belize.

 

Departing Turneffe Reef for Lighthouse Reef.  We had quite the rain squall!

Departing Turneffe Reef for Lighthouse Reef. We had quite the rain squall!

We anchored at Long Cay which was an easy entry and a very well protected anchorage from the prevailing easterly winds. We were joined by two other catamarans coming up from the Rio Dulce of Guatemala and quickly realized there were about 10 buoys just outside the reef on the edge of the drop off where the “Belize Agressor III” live aboard dive boat was. The guide book said we could pick up any unused mooring and shortly, we would. There is also, Half Moon Cays with a Boobie and Frigate Bird Sanctuary on the eastern side of the reef. Unfortunately, in our several days here, the anchorage was not calm enough to move the big boats over to it and the dinghy ride would have been too long and rough. We did however take a day to wend our way through the reefs to the center of the atoll to visit the famous “Blue Hole” of Belize.

Frigate Bird - Long Cay, Lighthouse Reef.

Frigate Bird – Long Cay, Lighthouse Reef.

 

It was still pretty windy, but the outer reef to our east gave us enough protection for the two hour trip from Long Cay anchorage. The guide book was of some help, but eyeball navigation was the order of the day. The “Blue Hole” is a giant limestone sink hole that goes over 400 feet deep and is almost perfectly round. To learn about the “Blue Hole”, click on the following links:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Blue_Hole
http://www.belize.com/belize-blue-hole


Below is a Youtube Video of inside the Blue Hole of Belize:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mqQHmJFtsY

The Blue Hole of Belize from the top of "Beach House's" mast.  This site was made famous by Jacques Cousteau abroad m/v "Calypso" in the 1960's and 70's.

The Blue Hole of Belize from the top of “Beach House’s” mast. This site was made famous by Jacques Cousteau abroad m/v “Calypso” in the 1960’s and 70’s.

 

From the top of the mast - "Beach House" at the Blue Hole.

From the top of the mast – “Beach House” at the Blue Hole.

The old men in the sea - Blue Hole, Lighthouse Reef - Belize.

The old men in the sea – Blue Hole, Lighthouse Reef – Belize.

"Beach House" with the edge of the Blue Hole in the foreground.

“Beach House” with the edge of the Blue Hole in the foreground.

We had a pretty easy trip up to the “Blue Hole” and after lunch went for a dinghy ride and snorkel. I had dove the Blue Hole in 1996 with Cindy and as beautiful a site as it is from “above”, it’s pretty much one of the more boring dives imaginable. For the most part, it’s like diving in a giant limestone lined swimming pool. At 140 feet, there are a few stalactites which (back then) had some cute Drum Fish, but other than that it was a nice dive for the guides to get the rest of the day off as all of us had to have extended surface intervals due to nitrogen loading.

The “Blue Hole” today is perhaps Belize’s most famous tourist site, but it has an interesting story to go with it! Back in the late 1960’s, Jacques Cousteau aboard his diving/research vessel “Calypso”, entered Lighthouse Reef to explore the “Blue Hole”. Upon reaching it, “Messieur Dive” (as he was known in France), realized what a good overview shot it would make with “Calypso” inside the Blue Hole. The problem was, there was no entrance wide enough for “Calypso” to enter. As such, with no ones consent, Cousteau dynamited a hole wide enough for “Calypso” to enter, took the overview shot and eventually created the television show (1970’s), “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau”. I know this as my Father did all the business work on the show for Metro-media Producers Corporation working under it’s head, web follower – Chuck Fries.

Complete 45 minute video of “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau” at the Blue Hole of Belize.

Click on the link here: (LINK COMING SOON – I HOPE?)…:-)

The Belizian Government was as you might imagine, apoplectic about Cousteau’s cavalier actions and banned him and “Calypso” from the country forever! The irony of course is that it brought great attention to the site and made it a major dive/tourist destination which has made Belize millions of dollars. In 2010, when Cindy and I flew from Tahiti to Easter Island, we did a dive with a local French outfitter with our met up with our friends Bill and Johanna Strassberg and their son Gram Schweikert whom we met on “Visions of Johanna”. Aside: Nikki and I met up with Bill and Jo this past Winter in Ft. Lauderdale. I got into a discussion with our Dive operator about Cousteau’s trip to Belize who then sheepishly confessed to me that he was the actual person who did the dynamiting “back in the day”.

And now you know……the rest of the story!

The "Belize Agressor III" - a liveaboard dive boat at Lighthouse Reef, Belize.

The “Belize Agressor III” – a liveaboard dive boat at Lighthouse Reef, Belize.

Scott getting ready to go for a dive off Long Cay's drop off.

Scott getting ready to go for a dive off Long Cay’s drop off.

 

After our return to Long Cay anchorage, we spent a few more days there and did indeed do some diving at the drop offs just to the west of the anchorage. They were lovely Caribbean dives, with nice walls, good visibility and nice “stuff” as I like to say. We saw several turtles, large schools of various reef fish, barracuda and some really big Tarpons. Our friends on catamaran, “Like Dolphins” saw a few reef sharks on one dive as well. Lighthouse Reef was the real highlight of Belize and if you get the chance, go…..

Our next stop would be Glover’s Reef about 35 miles to the south. We had yet again a lovely day sail where Dennis took some nice photos of “Beach House”.

"Beach House" under sail!

“Beach House” under sail!

 

"Beach House" en route to Glovers Reef, Belize.

“Beach House” en route to Glovers Reef, Belize.

The entry again was easy and there was a nice shallow sandy anchorage. The next day the winds were predicted to come up, so Dennis and I thought we’d get in a dive before the winds with the local operator at Isla Marisol Resort. The “resort” here is a bit of a rustic charmer and there is a backpackers “resort” next door. The dive was just okay, partly because the visibility was starting to go down due to the big swells that were now kicking up. We moved the boats to a somewhat better protected part of the anchorage for the second night and that was the smart thing to do. Glover was nice, but not as nice as Lighthouse and again….time was moving on and so did we. You could spend a few weeks each exploring the inside of all three of these atolls in calm weather. If we’d had the time, it would have been fun.

The next day we sailed to what would be our last stop in Belize, the town of Placencia. After a nice 1 1/2 hour sail to the entry at Gladden Spit, (where we were told Whale Sharks come during the full moon), we had to carefully negotiate our way back through the inner reef which was again…poorly charted. In fact in one instance, we had to pick our way through a reef series that was not on the charts and had an opening about 150 feet wide. This is something we are used to doing, so as long as conditions and light are good…no worries.

We arrived at the lovely anchorage at Placencia in the late afternoon where there were about 20 cruising boats and plenty of room. Placencia is either the first or last anchorage for most of boats coming from or going to Guatemala. Friends Peter and Mary of “Neko” told us not to miss the “Tranquilo Bar and Restaurant”. This Bar is on the small Placencia Cay on the outside of the anchorage and is only reachable by boat! It was nicely done and except for a bit too much spice in my chicken, it was a lovely experience. Owned by an American ex pat from Georgia and managed by another, we had quite the good time here with Dennis and Lisette which included the complimentary “sunset shot” done by all in attendance….:-)

Dennis and Scott at the "Tranquilo Bar and Restaurant". Placencia, Belize.

Dennis and Scott – with a lovely local – at the “Tranquilo Bar and Restaurant”. Placencia, Belize.

The Tranquilo Bar is only accessible by boat.

The Tranquilo Bar is only accessible by boat.

 

Scott, Dennis, Lisette and Nikki with the anchorage at Placencia in the background - "Tranquilo Bar and Restaurant" - Placencia, Belize.

Scott, Dennis, Lisette and Nikki with the anchorage at Placencia in the background – “Tranquilo Bar and Restaurant” – Placencia, Belize.

 

We had a walkabout town that afternoon and early the next morning, we caught the ferry over to “Big Creek” where Customs, Immigration and the Port Captain’s offices were to check out of Belize. Here is where Dennis and Lisette had to pay the daily fees to the Port Captain’s office. At least they paid for the actual days versus we who “guessed”. We only overestimated our stay by one day!

 

Big Creek Ferry.  This is the small town about a 20 minute ride from Placencia where we checked out of Belize.

Big Creek Ferry. – Nikki rehydrating in the heat of the mangroves. This is the small town about a 20 minute ride from Placencia where we checked out of Belize.

After we got back to town, the gals did some shopping and we made a reservation for dinner at the “Secret Garden”. This was another recommendation from Peter and Mary of “Neko” and also a nice place, good food and a lovely atmosphere. The internet however was not much use. Just before dinner we went on “The Mile Long Side Walk:. It’s a local boardwalk that has a raised and wide walkway which wends through the backwater areas of the town to lots of beach accesses and artists shops. We immediately came across “John the Baker Man” and went in to have a look and of course buy a few samples.

John the Baker - whom we met along "The Mile Long Walk" in Placencia. He was quite the bread  baker- YUM!

John the Bakerman – whom we met along “The Mile Long Walk” in Placencia.
He was quite the bread baker- YUM!

We left early the next morning as we had to time ourselves for the tide 50 miles to the south to cross the Rio Dulce “bar” upon entering Guatemala at the small town of Livingston.
We went over the entrance first and I saw water as shallow as 4 1/2 feet. The conditions were calm, but the crux of the bar is almost a quarter of a mile long. This might be a problem for “Windward”.
Dennis gave it try with the knowledge that he could call in for a “tip over”. This is a technique where a local fishing boat comes out and uses there fishing reel to pull your boat over to get over the bar!
Cost – 50.00 USD and very well worth it! We saw Dennis get stuck on our AIS system and quickly asked our agent Raul if he could send someone out. Ten minutes later, Hector aboard “Wally” was out to the rescue!

The Rio Dulce River Bar - Just a teaser!  In our next blog I hope to be able to imbed the video of "Windward" being tipped over by the local fishing boat "Wally".....

The Rio Dulce River Bar – Just a teaser! In our next blog I hope to be able to imbed the video of “Windward” being tipped over by the local fishing boat “Wally”….. Note the halyard (line) at the top of the mast going off to the left.  “Wally” was at the other end!

We were late in the day, but due to the super services of Raul of Servamar, were able to get completely checked in and found an anchorage on the side of the river for the night.
The next morning, we’d go up the 7 mile long and very winding – Rio Dulce River Gorge which itself was a highlight and quite spectacular!

Next: Guatemala, The Rio Dulce and the Mayan Ruins of Tikal. And of course….let’s not forget – getting to see – CARMINA!

Stay tuned for more soon….

Scott and Nikki (written from Roatan – Bay of Islands, Honduras….still waiting out the weather to move East)

February 24th – March 3rd, 2015 (UTC -5)  Quintanaroo, Mexico has decided to stay on US East Coast time despite being as far east as Texas!

Dear Friends and Family,

We departed Isla Mujeres and motored with little wind down the coast for the 30 mile trip to Puerto Morelos, Mexico – still in the State of Quintanaroo. Ya’ gotta’ love that name!  We arrived with Dennis and Lisette on  “Windward” and decided that the next day we’d rent a car and the four of us would drive to the Mayan Ruins of “Coba” and “Tulum”.  Along the way we made a quick drive through at Puerto Aventura which ended up looking like a Mexican Newport Beach, California. Very upmarket with a well protected marina. It would have made an interesting stop with the boats.

Note our alternate ride en route to Coba…..:-)

 

Scott and Nikki in our Coba Taxi.  It was a long walk between pyramids, so we took the easy way out.

Scott and Nikki in our Coba Taxi. It was a long walk between pyramids, so we took the easy way out.

It was about a 2 hour drive to Coba, which means “Wind upon the Waters” and the link below has an short, but excellent presentation on the details and importance of the Coba site in the Mayan culture:
https://www.locogringo.com/mexico/ways-to-play/mayan-ruins-archaeological-sites/coba-ruins/

As there was no Toltec influence in Coba, there was no tradition of human sacrifice. This despite the fact that it was only a few hundred kilometers from Chichen Itza to the north.

Dennis and Lisette of "Windward" at the base of the 70 meter pyramid - El Citadel

Dennis and Lisette of “Windward” at the base of the 70 meter pyramid – El Citadel

 

Nikki and Scott (in distance) carefully negotiating our way down  El Citadel. It was much steeper than it looked. Note the rope if you need a security blanket.

Nikki and Scott (in distance) carefully negotiating our way down El Citadel. It was much steeper than it looked. Note the rope if you need a security blanket.

 

Guard Tower:  There were several roads that at one time were up to 10 meters wide and completely paved with stone.  Guards would sit on the four corners of this structure and could see for miles who was coming toward Coba.

Guard Tower: There were several roads that at one time were up to 10 meters wide and completely paved with stone. Guards would sit on the four corners of this structure and could see for miles who was coming toward Coba.

We got off to a late start and realized that if we wanted to get to Tulum before it closed, we’d have to make tracks.
We arrived about a half an hour before Tulum closed, but it was long enough to get a feel for one of the only Mayan sites that was right on the coast of the Mexican Riviera. In the Mayan language (of which there are about 22 dialects), Tulum means wall. It was one of or the only walled cities in the Mayan culture. An incredible beach setting, see all about the particulars at this link below:
https://www.locogringo.com/mexico/ways-to-play/mayan-ruins-archaeological-sites/tulum-ruins/

Nikki entering one of the few places the wall has a portal - Tulum, Mexico "The Walled City"

Nikki entering one of the few places the wall has an entry portal – Tulum, Mexico “The Walled City”

 

The main Citadel from the side with the beach down below

The main Citadel from the north side with the beach down below

Beach below the Citadel, Tulum - Mexico

Beach below the Citadel, Tulum – Mexico. Note the ever present “Sargasso Weed” on the white sand beach.

The Citadel - The ruins of Tulum are actually not that extensive and the Citadel is the most interesting and prominent building as it is right on the cliffs above the beach. Reserved for the elite of course!

The Citadel – The ruins of Tulum are actually not that extensive and the Citadel is the most interesting and prominent building as it is right on the cliffs above the beach. Reserved for the elite of course!

 

Tourists on the beach below and just to the north of the Citadel. Day boats will anchor inside the reef on somewhat calm days. Today was not one of those days....

Tourists on the beach below and just to the north of the Citadel. Day boats will anchor inside the reef on somewhat calm days. Today was not one of those days….

We got back to the boat late and were very glad we’d moved from our original slips as a Southeaster started to blow hard and the way the marina was oriented, it made for the docks to look like roller coaster tracks during the night.

The really cool thing is that when we went to the end of the dock, we saw another SWITCH 51 sister ship, “Neko” with Peter and Mary had just arrived from the island of Providencia, Columbia – headed north. A great surprise!

Peter, Mary, Nikki and Scott onboard "Neko" - Switch #12.  "Neko" is cat in Japanese.

Peter, Mary, Nikki and Scott onboard “Neko” – Switch #12. “Neko” is cat in Japanese.

"Neko" has the tall saloon roof like Beach House and except for their red versus our blue, the boats really do look alike.

“Neko” has the tall saloon roof like Beach House and except for their red versus our blue, the boats really do look alike. As well, they have twin aft wheels where we have a single steering wheel on the port forward bulkhead.

 

Scott, Nikki, Mary and Peter aboard "Beach House" - Puerto Morelos.  We'd been hoping to catch up with each other for several years.

Scott, Nikki, Mary and Peter aboard “Beach House” – Puerto Morelos. We’d been hoping to catch up with each other for several years.

We had been in touch ever since Peter bought the boat (Hull #12, the one right after Beach House) and hoped that we would meet up one day. Friend and blog follower Mike Priest had even delivered the boat for Peter from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to San Francisco back in 2010-11.

We had a great time meeting them, looking at each other’s boats and comparing notes. Peter and Mary would be stopped off for an air trip to TITSNBN in a few days (You remember: That Island That Shall Not Be Named – aka: Cuba) while we would continue south with “Windward”.

After our trip to the ruins, we spent a few days in Puerto Morelos including visiting the small town which turned out to be really nice. Some great restaurants, a nice town square (zocolo) and all right on the beach. There is the old lighthouse that was turned into a “leaning tower” when Hurricane Mitch came through in 1998. Puerto Morelos was ground zero where “Mitch” came ashore. “Mitch” was a whopper and almost 20,000 people were killed throughout Central America and Mexico with over 6 billion dollars of property damage. The far Western Caribbean doesn’t get that many Hurricanes, but when they do, they can be devastating. See the following link on Hurricane Mitch:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Mitch

The old lighthouse in Puerto Morelos that was doing it's best leaning tower of Morelos imitation.  It has since been replaced, but is left as a reminder to the devastation of Hurricane Mitch.

The old lighthouse in Puerto Morelos that was doing it’s best leaning tower of Morelos imitation. It has since been replaced as a lighthouse but left as a reminder to the devastation of Hurricane Mitch.

Time was progressing and “Dad” Scott has to be in LA on the 30th of May to give away my one and only baby girl at her wedding!  Temps Fugit – Time is Fleeing and as such, we moved on next to Cozumel which was only about 20 miles to our Southwest. We’d meet up with “Windward” at the small island of Cayo Cuelbra in a remote bay in southern Mexico – en route to Belize in a couple of days.
Though the trip was only 20 miles, it took quite along time as the 3+ knot Gulf Stream Current yet again reared it’s ugly head. There are no great anchorages in Cozumel and it’s really a Scuba Diver’s Paradise. There are some of the best drift dives in the Caribbean along it’s western reefs.

I'd like to give a better photo, but this cruise dock says it all

I’d like to give a better photo, but this cruise dock says it all

I had been here with Cindy in 1996 for a diving vacation and boy had this place changed. Again…not for the better. Back in the day, Cozumel was about 4 diver hotels with a few upmarket resorts – all catering to divers. Today, 4-6 cruise ships a day come here every day but Sunday. Why? I have no idea. There really is no site seeing here, nothing of archeological or historic interest and the Cruise Lines have created a giant open market (that looks local, but isn’t) where the tourists buy “Chachkis” by the bus load. The folks on the cruise lines think they’re buying local crafts and…a few of them maybe are. For the most part it’s a rouse and the market is owned and operated by the cruise lines themselves. Just another revenue source from the tourists. They typically stop is for just the day.
After one night of this, we knew it was time for our boot heels to be wanderin’….

The next morning, we left early to beat the cruise ship tango and motored along the Marine Reserve on the Westside of the island. Dozens of dive pangas (small boats) were on site by 8:30 a.m.

Cayo Cuelbra Dolphin.  The water was only 10 feet deep, but an entire group of dolphins followed us into Cayo Cuelbra. Yet another bay with so so charting.

Cayo Cuelbra Dolphin. The water was only 10 feet deep, but an entire group of dolphins followed us into Cayo Cuelbra. Yet another bay with so so charting.

 

Cayo Culebra Sunset.

Cayo Culebra Sunset.

When we reached the tip of the island, we set sail for the 40+ miles to Cayo Cuelebra where we hoped to meet up with “Windward” for the night. It was a combination motor/sail but a much easier trip than the day before. We arrived off the shallow banks of Bahia de la Ascencion and hailed “Windward” on the radio. They had arrived that morning after an overnight sail from Puerto Morelos. They had been to Cozumel more recently and knew that we’d be disappointed. They were right.

As part of the off the beaten path adventure route, Nikki and I decided to head for Chinchorro Bank which is one of only four true atolls in the Caribbean. Much like the islands of the Tuamotus in the South Pacific, this is a rarely visited Mexican National Park and research atoll. It was right on the way, so we decided to go. Along the way, we came across two boats headed north who had stayed there the night before. They said it was beautiful and that getting into the anchorage was easy if we followed the cruising guide….ummm!

A very interesting adventure page on Chinchorro Bank, it’s Manatee’s and Crocodiles can be seen here:
http://bigfishexpeditions.com/Diving_With_Crocodiles.html

When we arrived at Chinchorro Bank, it was getting late. First we realized that our charts and the guidebooks’ waypoints had only the vaguest notions of each other in common. In fact, following the guidebooks waypoints, we’d be going right over the entry reef for over a mile! As such, we cautiously did so and had no difficulties till we got to the anchorage. Here, the guide book told us we’d have 6-8 feet of depth to anchor in the protection of Cayo Norte, a small island inside the north of the bank. This was also where the park headquarters were to be found. When we got to the anchorage, we quickly found we were in MAYBE 4 feet of water and no matter how we hunted and pecked our way around, it wasn’t getting any deeper. A panga from the park (we surmised?) came out and as it went zooming by, suggested the one mooring that was apparent. First, I’m suspicious of anyone’s moorings I don’t know. Second, it was in an open unprotected area and would have been very uncomfortable for the night, especially when the reef was at high tide. Lastly, every time I tried to get close to it, the water got shallower!

Cayo Norte with it's lighthouse at Chinchorro Bank. The water was all of about 4 feet deep here.

Cayo Norte with it’s lighthouse at Chinchorro Bank. The water was all of about 4 feet deep here.

As such, I had found a 4.5 foot spot, went back to it and dropped the anchor. We did this just before it got too dark to see the bottom. We had a pretty comfortable night and also…a full moon. This turned out to be a light bulb (of sorts). Knowing that we had to leave VERY EARLY the next morning to get to San Pedro, Belize, I was concerned about seeing my way out with no light.

The sand flats were interspersed with flat areas of rock and hitting that would be more than a negative experience. I got up at 4 a.m. and low and behold, the moon was so bright, I could easily see the bottom and discern where the rock flats were from the sand patches. However, at 7 a.m. (when I wanted to leave), the moon would be too low, the sun too bright to see even the 4 foot depths.

So, (and here’s where the light bulb so to speak) went “on”. I turned on our very bright search light which is located about 1/2 way up our mast. It’s remote controlled and it lit the sandy bottom (before sunrise) up like a light show! This allowed us, using our in bound track, to see any obstructions and get out of Dodge.

The charts were clearly not “geo referenced” as there was no commercial need here. Geo Referencing charts is where the original surveys, often done in the 1800’s, are not correlated to accurate modern GPS positions. The charts are usually right (but not here), and the GPS coordinates which are highly accurate don’t match. Geo Referencing is an ongoing project by charting agencies around the world started back in 2007. Areas of high traffic and commercial interest are being done first – and for the most part – have been completed. Chinchorro Bank has not been done. The other aspect of our charts was that they showed land areas where there were none! I suspect Hurricanes over the years have submerged these areas. Chinchorro is a wild place and would have been fun to explore, but given the weather moving in and poor charting, it will have to wait for some other intrepid navigator to take it on.

Nkki en route to San Pedro Belize from Chinchorro Bank

Nkki en route to San Pedro Belize from Chinchorro Bank

 

Chinchorro Rainbow en route to San Pedro Belize

Chinchorro Rainbow en route to San Pedro Belize

We had a brilliant and lovely sail, the 50 miles to San Pedro, Belize and yet again another “experience” with inaccurate charting. The entry to to reef would be with the sun behind it in the afternoon, making the entry potentially difficult to see. Dennis on “Windward” was already inside the reef and confirmed the location of the buoy and entry coordinates for us.

Arriving outside the reef at San Pedro, Belize (Photo by Dennis).  Believe it or not, in our next blog, you'll actually see Beach House UNDER SAIL!

Arriving outside the reef at San Pedro, Belize (Photo by Dennis). Believe it or not, in our next blog, you’ll actually see Beach House UNDER SAIL!

Scott breaking out the courtesy flag of Belize with our Yellow "Q" Flag below

Scott breaking out the courtesy flag of Belize with our Yellow “Q” Flag below

You have to make a quick dog leg to the right just after you get through the reef as to not hit another reef, just inside the passage. The light was good, so the entry was straight forward. This was the first pass I’d seen in sometime that looked like some of the areas of the South Pacific. We anchored in 5 feet behind “Windward” and shortly after, the expected 20-30 knots started to blow. The reef was good protection, but at high tide, a bit bouncy! We’d check in the next day after sharing “sea stories” with Lisette and Dennis and begin our Belizian experience then!

Adios for now!
More soon,
Scott and Nikki (written from Roatan – The Bay of Islands, Honduras – waiting out the weather)