To check out photos from our current voyage, please click on the “Catalyst Photo Archive” to the right.
April 8, 2011
Dear Friends and Family,
We have left Kevin off in Belize City to find a taxi to take him to the airport and are now cruising to Alligator Cay where we plan to anchor for the night. We get in around noonish so good light for dodging coral heads and still time to do some snorkeling. We are meeting with Chat-Eau and this will be the first time we are meeting them that neither of us have anyone on board either boat. We will make the anchorage in Placencia tomorrow after about a 30 plus mile sail. It is one of our favorite hang outs in Belize and we are going there so Rob and I can get a visa extension until the end of the month. Steve and Nancy will have done it at the airport in Belize City. They have been traveling the main land for a week and we are eager to hear about their adventures!
We have had a good week, very boat oriented as requested by Rob’s brother Kevin. He felt that if he wanted to see land, he could do that any time but being on a boat was different. We were happy to accommodate him.
He took a shuttle flight in to Cay Caulker instead of the water taxi and we picked him up at the airport and took the golf cart taxi back to where we had our dinghy. After changing in to more comfortable clothes for the weather, we went back in to town to do some shopping, the only chance he would have except for the airport and get a little look at the island of Cay Caulker. We enjoyed dinner in town although, even if I say so myself, I do a better job of cooking on the boat! Belize is not known for great food but Kevin and I had fish, which is nothing we would serve on board because Rob doesn’t enjoy it as much as other foods.
The next morning we took off early for a long 59 mile day sail from Cay Caulker to Light House Reef. We didn’t worry too much about light at the entrance because we had our track from just being there to follow. The trip was going well until we came out from behind the protection of Turneffe and started heading almost directly in to the heavier seas. The bouncing of the boat let Kevin know that he was not a seasoned sailor and after sharing lunch with Davy Jones, he was able to keep a pill down and feel better. A nap also helped. That was pretty easy to recover from but I got a little careless with hatches and first the port side forward hatch blew open depositing several waves worth of water down the hatch. That wasn’t too bad because it was our head (bathroom) and it was made to be wet. Clean up was not difficult. Then, because I had not dogged down (tightened) the hatch on the starboard side, it too flew up, dislodging the circulation fan fixed in to the hole in the hatch. Kevin had just gone below and came up and told us what had happened. Rob was able to recover the fan on the deck. Luckily, it had not blown off thanks to having toe rails on this boat. He capped off the hole and closed the hatch but unfortunately, that room also took on water. Trouble is, it is a berth area but no mattress as the place was full of our “stuff”. Now very wet “stuff.
We cleaned up as best we could while underway but when we got to the anchorage about 4:30, we worked until after sunset cleaning things up. We did finally use my Christmas present which is a clothes ringer and stand we ordered from an Amish company for getting the water out of bigger pieces of fabric. We had a queen sized blanket, an afgan blanket, lots of towels and some cloth bags that had to have the salt water rinsed out of them. Kevin and Rob did most of the clean up and hanging up of the things to dry. What a start to a vacation! The clothes wringer worked great.
At least things had to look up after that. The next day we snorkeled in the morning just off the back of the boat. After lunch, Rob and Kevin took the hookah to one of the dive spots called the Fish Bowl, which was an easy shallower dive from a mooring ball outside the reef. We had been there the week before. The fish must be used to being fed as they come up around you when you get in and there are a lot of fish on the reef and beautiful coral. The guys took some moldy cheese to feed the fish but the fish were so aggressive swarming around, they didn’t give them all the food. Kevin had taken a resort dive training when he was in high school so we weren’t sure how he would do with the hookah but he did fine.
The next morning we took him to the island to meet our friends that live there. We saw Ron the week before but Lindy was now home and invited us in when we called at their house. Luckily, the mosquitoes were not nearly like the last time ashore! We had a nice visit and tour of the island before coming back so that we could take the boat around to Half Moon Cay which is a national park area so no fishing and the sea life is prolific.
We snorkeled right off the back of the boat and saw a lot of really interesting things. Besides nice coral, we saw many queen trigger fish, not so common and not usually so many in one place. They are one of my favorites. Kevin got to see a hog fish change color as they do for camouflage. We enjoyed my favorite colorful parrot fish showing it’s many varieties of size and color. It was fun to see very large conch’s actually moving along the bottom. You can trace where they had been by the path they leave in the sand. So many places are highly fished so seeing them like this is rare elsewhere. We were followed by a curious barracuda who’s teeth can be a little intimidating but we have never had a problem swimming with them. We had the treat of seeing two large southern sting rays right under the boat.
The anchorage was a little rougher that night as we were a ways from the reef and it was the only protection from the breaking seas.
The next morning we went ashore on Half Moon Cay and walked to the west end where we could climb up a platform to be in the tree tops and see the nests of both the red footed boobie and the frigate birds. Both have chicks that are white balls of fuzz though some are now as large as the adults. The frigate birds circled over head. It was really an amazing view point as we were right at eye level with the nests, many of them being quite close. It was worth the trip to come see them.
We didn’t linger there though there was probably good diving to be had but it was easier to find the places where we had been so we took the big boat back and stopped with Catalyst right back at the fish bowl and dove right off the back of the boat. Because we only have weights enough for two of us, I didn’t dive either time but I did get in to take some pictures of the divers. Though it was the same dive spot, Kevin said it was really a different dive as he was much more confident than the first time.
When we returned to the anchorage a friend from 4 years ago named Breck from Capria, came over for a visit and we got some tips from him on being up the Rio in Guatemala which is our final destination for this season. There was still time that night to snorkel one last time and Rob and Kevin swam from the boat to an coral head near Capria. The coral was not good but there was an amazing number of fish, including a lion fish.
Yesterday was the return all day trip and with the seas behind us, it was much more comfortable than our arrival.
Unfortunately, I won’t be able to send pictures for a few days so you will have to come back and look in the photo gallery later. Kevin is a good sailor and crew and said that he had an experience that he was looking for. He said it was worth it to get a prescription mask and enjoyed his time in the water and the land excursions.
It was a great trip for us, our first at hosting Kevin. We enjoyed catching up on things with his family and found out that his son Patrick and wife Alexis will be presenting grandchild number two in late September, about a month after our next grandson will be born. They don’t know if their Annie will be getting a brother or sister yet. In about 10 days, they will be leaving for a visit to daughter Meghan who is teaching English in the Republic of Georgia. What an interesting experience she is having. While in the area, they plan a few days in Turkey. Kevin’s wife LouAnn works for the State Department in D.C. and has done a lot of very interesting world travel so that family is always up to something interesting.
Now we have only a few weeks left to enjoy the rest of Belize and a lot of islands to cover! Over a month before heading home but already we are starting to look to that eventuality. Four months is way too short of a time but we will be back again next year, though not likely to Belize until we head home for good.
Hope your weather there is becoming balmy and you are enjoying the spring. It is getting warmer here and difficult without a breeze. Luckily, The trades are blowing pretty consistently!
Sue and Rob
Heading farther south in Belize