Friday, June 10, 2016

Belize: The Ups and Downs of Cruising

Pico putting rudder back in
Putting on the finishing
We loved our stay in Mexico but knew we had to be in Guatemala by hurricane season so we set sail for Chetemal Bay to check out.  The decision to do so would turn into the disaster we described in our previous blog.  Squall . . . damaged rudder . . . expensive tow . . . repairs.

Obtaining repairs in Belize City was challenging but there were also positive aspects to the experience.  The management at Cucumber Beach Marina was supportive and helpful. 

Pico performed the repair work and is as good (better) than we hoped for.  And so, a disaster was resolved, sanity was maintained and a mere three weeks after the squall we resumed the journey south.

Sting Rays at Tobacco Cay
The reef by Tobacco Key is magnificent, vast and healthy.  It teems with fish including spotted drum, rays, and shark.  We came upon a large sting ray spanning at least five feet across.  Lionfish are plentiful here but harmful to the reef.  Eric, the dive master, speared them during our dives and we saw them again in the evening on our dinner plate. Delicious. We planned on just passing through but opted to stay for three days.  George, the self-appointed harbormaster, has lived on this postage stamp size island for 30 years and Eric for 20.  What a special and unique life they have.

Placencia, Belize

The weather was beginning to turn so we sailed inside the reef 15 NM to Northeast Cay in the Pelican Cays.  We happened upon a sheltered lagoon with three mooring buoys – two were just waiting for Atalanta and Argosea. There are about 10 small mangrove islands in the Pelican Cays sitting on top of columns of coral that rise 60-70 feet from the bottom. On shore we discovered the Hideaway Cay Restaurant owned and operated by Dustin and his wife Kim. They moved to this little gem of a cay from Key West several years ago, have a 3-year-old daughter, and have made a life fishing and running a restaurant/guesthouse among the mangroves.

Off the town of Placencia we found our next anchorage.  Finally, fresh fruits and veggies!  It’s mango season so we stocked up on mangoes, tomatoes, squash, avocado, lettuce, ginger, pineapple and more. It’s also the beginning of the rainy season and squalls frequently pass by at night.  They are brief but intense.  We have experienced several nights sitting in the cockpit on anchor watch.  Yoli’s is a great little waterside bar, Rick’s restaurant serves yummy shrimp ceviche, there are Chinese grocery stores where we can provision, and we used the bank and post office. We also found an ice cream shop and highly recommend the carrot/orange/lime flavor. It’s a lovely little town and our last port of call in Belize.

Anchored at Placencia
Tomorrow we haul up the anchor again and by Monday we expect to enter the Rio Dulce at Livingston, Guatemala.  We anticipate being there for 3-4 months, waiting out the tropical storm season in a well-protected area.  A significant community of fellow seafarers will be there doing the same thing so we are looking forward to meeting new friends, exploring Guatemala, visiting family and friends in the US, and maybe even getting in a side trip to Columbia or Peru (without Atalanta).
Stay tuned as the adventures continue.

Richard and Kay

More Pics

Eric the dive master preparing
Lionfish for dinner

These straps lifted Atalanta!!

After the repair.....good job PICO