To check out photos from our current voyage, please click on the “Catalyst Photo Archive” to the right.
April 16, 2011
Dear Friends and Family,
This will be another log without my own pictures. I hope you were able to access the photo gallery as pictures were sent in after the last log was published. Craig, my blog master, did a great job of putting in fish pictures. He may find some stock photo’s for this as well. It is so great to have willing talent available to help out.
We made it to Placencia on schedule and spent several days enjoying that location. I will write more about Placencia when we return to Belize mainland as I would like to be able to send pictures at that time as well and we will have internet access there. We could get it here but it is too slow to send pictures.
We are currently at Glover’s Reef which is the last of the three Atolls that are off shore of Belize. This is Chat-Eau’s first visit to an Atoll. It is probably the closest one to access and took us only about 4 hours to reach once we left the mainland’s reef. Each of the Atolls has it’s own look and feel and reason for a visit but we do really like this one. Maybe it is the beautiful sand beach with palm trees that we are anchored in front of.
We first sailed to Tobacco Cay on our way here. It is a barrier island right along the reef on one side of the pass out in to the open water. We walked around ashore there. It is an eclectic mix of very small resorts, each owned by someone else. It is difficult to tell where one property ends and one begins. It is a small island and fully built upon. Places rent from $25 per night including 3 meals a day and up but still very reasonable. Of course don’t look for many stars by the resorts ratings. If you want a very laid back, friendly but isolated place to stay, you would love this place. Good snorkeling and diving are abundant along with undisturbed hours in a hammock overlooking the water.
The next morning we had a wonderful snorkel. The fish were very interesting along with the coral. We saw a flounder on the bottom. Rob spotted two but lost one to show me as when they stop moving, their skin turns the color and texture of the surface they land on, causing them to be difficult to spot. They are the funniest looking fish as they have both eyes on one side and the eyes work independently of each other.
Actually, there are a lot of fish that do the color change thing and it is always interesting when we get to observe it.
We have snorkeled here at Glovers today and may check out some more places tomorrow. One reason we are not in a hurry is that we paid to be in this park for a week so are likely to hang here for at least a day or two more.
Yesterday we went in to shore. We are anchored off of a sand beach island that has a deserted resort on it. You could tell that it was nicer at one time. It was deserted 4 years ago, and still is.
Around the corner on an island next to it is another resort. The island is owned by the Usher family and the 3rd generation grandchildren are running it now. The resort is called Isla Marisol. We met someone working on a water maker. We didn’t know at first that he was an owner as he could have been a technician. Rob and Steve had lots of questions about water and power production for the resort as they deal with the same thing on a smaller scale for the boat. The man and his two daughter’s age 4 and 6 let us join them for lunch at the resort, which we had already reserved and paid for. It was interesting to hear about the development of the island and how it is run today. As we finished our meal, the divers who are current guests at the resort, came in and shared stories about their experiences that morning. Belize is really a prime place for diving and a dive boat or resort are perfect as they are located where the best diving is. The whale shark season is upon us with the full moon and so things will be picking up with dives for that opportunity.
Four years ago, I had the chance to dive and see the sharks. It was great but I don’t think we will try it this year.
At the far end of the island, the Usher family leases land to another resort though this one is a little more rustic. While the Usher resort is wooden cabins with bathrooms and air conditioning, the other resort is all tents on cement pads with regular beds and one table inside with an oil lamp for light. There are a couple of bathroom facilities available in the camp. There is an outdoor kitchen and meals are served in a screened in room raised on stilts with hammocks and chairs below that make up the social room. There are lots of kayaks available and of course both resorts have diving and snorkel and fishing trips available.
The main resort has a family style dining room with one choice of a meal served buffet style. We enjoyed our lunch there and there were enough choices that most anyone could have something they enjoyed.
We had dinner aboard Chat-Eau that night with two other catamarans that came in that evening. One was a couple we got to know in Placencia when Chat-Eau hosted a party there and the other was a single hander that we had met in Grenada 3 years ago. He organizes different people as crew and this time has taken on a 17 year old British girl who is doing this for the first time. She said her parents are concerned for her, but they are just glad she didn’t sign up for a boat in Somalia as she has originally planned! She is pretty mature but glad my girls didn’t choose that life! The single hander is Irish and old enough to be her father or possibly grandfather so we are hoping he has that kind of feeling toward her. She only just recently arrived. Rob remembers him having another, slightly older, attractive girl with him as crew in Grenada. So, it must work out OK.
One big event of note makes me think of a song by Eileen Quinn, our favorite cruiser/composer/singer. She writes songs about the cruising life and they are so right on to what we see and experience. One is about losing your husband’s affections because he has become obsessed with the Single Side Band Radio and has even become “Net Control.” I think the song is called Radio Widow. Well it happened. There are many radio nets in areas where cruisers are. In large anchorages with lots of boats, there is often a morning radio net on the VHF radio which is a radio boaters use when within about 15 miles of each other. Because we have boaters spread out over several hundred miles in this area, there is a northwest Caribbean net each morning on the single side band radio. It covers up to Florida down to off the coast of Nicaragua. Boaters can check in to let people know they are underway and the net control tracks their progress, making sure they get to where they are going. Security information is passed on or if there is a boat missing you can hear to watch out for it. Mostly though, you just check in and let people know where you are and it is a good time to talk to your friends who may not be close by. You can also ask boater questions about anchorages, check in or out procedures, different services, etc. You also have someone who is a weather person who volunteers to give the weather for that broad area. Unfortunately, the guy who does it most of the time is out for awhile.
The job of the net control person is to moderate and control what happens when and take notes about boaters underway. This is at 8:00 a.m. local time and there is a check in for boaters underway at 5 p.m. as well. When you volunteer, you usually do it for one day a week both morning and evening of that day. Rob volunteered to take Friday but will be only available for 2 Fridays so it is short lived. The 15th was Rob’s debut as Net Control and he did a great job. Our radio is usually very good, having a strong signal and we often help as a relay when the other net control people can’t hear someone. Well, this time, it was a little different. We had three large power boats out of Guatemala rafted a short distance from our boat. They were running generators and other electrical items and their close proximity caused major interference with our radio. We had trouble hearing people calling us over the radio to check in. By 5 p.m. they had left and it was much easier to hear the boats checking in. Oh well, hopefully, it will be better Friday next week and they will find someone to take it after that. I don’t know what happens here in the summer because it seems like every day, the Rio swallows more Gringos! One of these days soon, we will be digested as well. You can’t get good radio communication up the Rio so it seems like people just disappear!
(the Rio is the Rio Dulce which, is a river that goes in to Guatemala and where we will travel to leave our boat for the summer.)
To prepare to be both Net Controller and Weather Forecaster, Rob got up at 5AM on both Thursday and Friday to listen to Chris Parker give the weather plus go over lots of weather info he had requested for over the e-mail. Being net control would be easy if someone else handles the weather. It is a job for sure but we may still volunteer to help out next year, at least some of the time. As we travel south, there is another net for those in the southwest Caribbean.
We will be napping, reading, snorkeling and just being lazy for a few more days. More about Placencia when we get back there. Chat-Eau is making reservations for their time in Guatemala and we will be thinking of getting to Guatemala the week after Easter. Hope your upcoming Easter plans are getting settled and you are enjoying a wonderful spring.
Rob and Sue
Aboard Catalyst at Glover’s Reef