Finally On Vacation!

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March 26, 2011

Dear Friends and Family,

We are on our track to exploring Belize and the atolls and out islands.  It is really the beauty of this part of the trip that is appealing.  We really should have raised anchor with Paul and Bernice and come out here as it was an easier trip than I thought it would be as we were behind the protection of the atoll so the waves were only about 3 feet and we had a great sail to the north end of the Turneffe atoll.  This is an atoll filled with many mangrove islands and is more filled in by land than the other atolls in the area.  Because of this there are more bugs, big flies and mosquitoes so we are using our screens for the first time.  The winds off the island keep things cool and the bugs down a little.

When we arrived, we came in over the reef which is not exposed in this area and put down anchor in sand bottom at about 8 feet of depth.  A pod of about 6 dolphin swam over to check the anchor for us and gave us a “fins up” to let us know we were secure.  Well, not exactly, but it seemed so.  Because the bottom looks white and the water is clear, we could see the darkness of the dolphin swimming around the boat.

We met people here on a boat that we met briefly in Cay Caulker and who are friends of friends of ours from home.  Chickcharnie had us for cocktails last night and helped us get in to this anchorage at the north end of the atoll.  If you check the position report, you can get a satellite view of where we are and what the atoll looks like.

We went to a place ashore yesterday and some people who were on a 125 foot yacht were there.  We had a nice visit.  The guests on board are partner to the owner of the boat.  They are from California and were celebrating their daughter’s 21st birthday with her boy friend and their son.  Nice to visit with.  The boat has a crew of 5 including a chief and and engineer.  Very different life than what we have here but somehow, while it would be great for a week or two, I would rather be the one in charge of things.  It might get boring being waited on the whole time.  Of course, I probably could make an attitude adjustment!!!!!

We hope to be able to do some snorkeling or diving here and will work our way around to other parts of the area before coming back to pick up Rob’s brother, Kevin in about a week.

We and Chat-Eau left Cay Caulker on Wednesday and headed to  Water Island which is where I left off on the last log.  The next day we made the 4 mile trip to Goff Cay.  It is a little island along the reef marking one side of the main ships channel.  The cruise ships and tour snorkel companies use this place for taking guests in to have a beach and snorkel or swim.  When we arrived the small island was awash with tourists.  Not the romantic notion of a tropical beach.  There were a lot of activities of private businesses on the island.  There were people selling wood carvings and jewelry.  Someone was doing the hair braiding.  There was someone there with a grill made with two beer kegs cut lengthwise and welded together.  He was selling food and beverages.  Some people there were on a package for all they could drink.  Still another man had brought a boat loaded with recliners that he rented for $10 for the day.  There was an outhouse on the island that had a hose running right to the area where snorkels were.  Probably the most interesting sight for selling was a little grove of trees that were bent by the wind to make a little cave like area on one end of the island.  There we saw several locals with some of the young adults enjoying an unusual type of cigarette.  We got out of that area before we inhaled too much of the smoke!!!  We later took a picture of that little area after everyone left.  We thought it might be nice for television’s Survivor Series location!

We chose to return to the boat and eat lunch there and wait until about 1:30 when the tourists would clear out.  Upon coming ashore then, Rob and I snorkeled one side of the island but didn’t find it very interesting.  You could swim out to the outside of the reef but it was a bit rolly so we came back.  Nancy decided not to snorkel at the next spot so stayed on the now deserted island on her own.  She had been looking forward to some beach time and though it was small enough to explore in about 10 minutes she said she enjoyed it.

Steve joined us at another part of the reef.  It was OK but not in our top or even middle of snorkel experiences.  We did see a lion fish though.  They are beautiful to see in the water but it is not good to see them in the Caribbean.  They were introduced from the Pacific Ocean a few years ago, probably unintentionally, and have since devastated the area as they are quite prolific and have no predators in these waters to keep them in check.

While anchoring the dinghy, a young man from a local fishing boat stopped by to visit.  Not to sell us anything, just to visit.  He was very nice and showed us what he had aboard.  Not very much.  The fishing boats of the locals around here are interesting.  They are very efficient sailing vessels.  We had seen one under sail right in Cay Caulker.  They are beautiful under sail.

On board they stack about 5 very small little boats that the divers paddle around in.  They dive down from them to spear fish or collect conch and then put the catch in the little boat.  They split up in the area and return the catch to the big boat where they have a cooler full of ice to keep the catch.  You see these little boats out on the water and all you can see is a head bobbing around.  When we first saw them near Geoff Cay, we thought someone might have gotten carried away by current.  The boat is not that large and has 5 divers and one cook aboard.  They stay out for about 8 days!  I don’t have a clue where they even can all stretch out and sleep.  The young man we spoke with came to our boat as we returned from snorkeling and asked if we had a couple of batteries for their radio.  We gave them that and some granola bars for a treat.  I think they mostly eat rice and probably some fish!

Speaking of eating, I had gotten some fresh produce before leaving but mostly things that will last a long time, luckily as we need that.  I bought a celery that is probably locally grown.  It is the biggest head I have ever seen!  Unfortunately, it tastes green and quite peppery compared to our celery at home.

As we returned to our more protected spot behind water Cay for the night, we met the two cruise ships that were just leaving.  No chance of a collision as we were in water too shallow for them.  Nancy and Steve pick up their son Scott today and hopefully we will meet up with them at least by Thursday.

Hope all is going well with all of you at home.  I am finally feeling like we are on the vacation part of the program rather than just moving the boat!

Fair Winds,
Sue and Rob

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