In preparation for our next leg, we first have to duct tape
the broken control unit to the side of the cockpit.I knew this would be an ongoing repair as even duct tape is not
impervious to doses of seawater.
On July 23d we hoist sails and depart
for Belize.Yes, hoist sails.For
the first time on this expedition we experience favorable winds, even though
we still have to deal with a counter current for much of the way.Our destination:San
Pedro on the southern tip of Ambergris Cay, a distance of about 170 nautical
miles.I figure, based on the
passages so far, it will take us 48 hours for this leg.
presents some interesting challenges for the sailor.What makes it so attractive for fishermen, divers, snorkelers and
those who just enjoy swimming in warm, clear water,
the Barrier Reef—the second longest
in the world—also creates many hazards for boaters.Ambergris Cay is protected by this reef.I had anticipated a mid morning arrival whereby we could enter the
L-shape cut in the reef just a mile away from San Pedro.But we arrive at
There was no way I will venture an entry through the reef in the dark, and
the seas were too rough to wait around.Also, the rough seas might make an entry through the cut in daylight
too dangerous as well.
So, on to Belize
The challenge presented by the entrance to
Belize City is not the reef, as there is a wide break
in the reef here.It is lack of
depth.Very shallow.After several attempts and scrapping the mud bottom many times, we
finally tie up at the very windy Radisson Hotel pier at FortGeorge,
located on a point that is exposed to the north and east winds that prevail
in this area.
Each day we are here, the wind increases in intensity.The water at the pier is so rough that I find it hard to enjoy what
should have been fun excursions into the quaint old former capital of
Belize.Finally, after four tortuous days of watching the
Sirius II bucking and rolling in
the swells, and watching one solar panel disintegrate on a piling, I asked
the dock master to round up a crew to push the heaving boat away from the
pier.We’ll take our chances in
the open seas.
I had been told about a new marina five miles away
protected by a breakwater, and that is where we are going!Here I spend the better part of two days trying to make telephone
contact with the makers of my broken solar panel and automatic steering,
only to find that both units are no longer made and parts are not
available—except maybe from a local dealer.In Belize?Let’s get real.
During our time in
Belize City, Carmen and I tale some side trips.First we go by water taxi to
San Pedro, the most popular tourist stop in
Belize.We rent a golf cart and in an hour we see everything of interest on
Ambergris Cay.This is not the
cay that I remember from 10 years ago!But then I was here with
Sirius II, anchored out by the reef with another boat,
Just Imagine, enjoying swimming
and snorkeling.My expectations
may have been different under these circumstances.
Then we go on bus excursions inland to
Belmopan, the new capital city
of Belize since 1970 after a hurricane ravaged Belize City, the
Belize Zoo (which is very
interesting because of the manner in which the natural environment has been
incorporated for the zoo inhabitants), and the
Blue Hole—a terrible waste of
time for the entrance fee that is levied.Many people go here to swim in the warm, fresh water, but there is no
bathhouse or other conveniences close by.We did not bring swimming suits and are quite reticent to swim in the
Enough of Belize
City; it’s time to go.
is a well-protected anchorage.
It is 60 nm distance, so an early start is necessary if we are to make it
before nightfall.Which is what
we do.Because of its excellent
anchorage, Placentia is attractive
for cruisers.Because it is
quaint and pretty much off the beaten path, it is also an attraction for low
budget tourists, mainly from Europe, who
are trying to get away from other tourists.We enjoy our relaxed stay here, especially the many fine restaurants
catering to sea food.
Punta Gorda to check out of
Belize, about 40 nm distance.An easy day’s cruise, but there is absolutely no safe overnight
anchorage here.So, based on
the recommendation of the Belize Cruising Guide that I have been using, I
elect to anchor off nearby Moho Cay for the night.But the island is so small that the wind comes over the top and the
rollers come around both ends of the island.It is not a restful night!Maybe the island has been downsized since the author last visited.
Checking out of Belize is straight forward and we
are soon on our way to
Guatemala, the Rio Dulce, less then 17 nm