For those who track our progress through the Delorme Inreach link, you already know we have made it through Belize and are now anchored safely in Rio Dulce, Guatemala. Here is the update from our travels in Belize. On May 3rd, 2015 at around 1400 we made it through San Pedro Pass, making our first landfall in San Pedro, Belize. It is the largest city on Ambergris Cay, and near the northern end of the Belizean reef, which runs all the way down the coast of the country. I was nervous about navigating Winnie through the reef break, as it is fairly narrow, and not marked on our electronic or paper charts. Luckily, we received good advice and a cruising guide, and spotted a yellow buoy that marks the break. Thus far, we did not have much experience with reef breaks, so we were unsure how difficult it would be to spot them. We made our way in just fine, anchored in 7 feet, and rowed about 200 yards to shore. Our anchorage was inside the reef, which protected us from ocean swells but didn’t provide protection from the wind.
We stayed in San Pedro for 1 week, doing boat projects, eating cheap tacos, and walking the 3 main streets that make up the town. Tourist season in San Pedro was basically over, so the atmosphere was a lot more relaxed and enjoyable. Our first main concern was getting the outboard back up and running. We located a good mechanic named Cesar R. who disassembled the engine, cleaned it up, and had it back up and running in one day. We also had some good opportunities to explore the mangrove lined canals through the back lagoon.
Time slowed down a bit as entire days slipped by without doing much of anything. We would complete one small boat project each day, such as refilling our small propane tanks off of our main tank, replacing a reef line, planing our routes further south, organizing paper charts, fixing our hot water system, etc. The rest of the day was spent finding cheap tacos and fry jacks at a place called “Neri’s”(about $2-3 for a big meal), drinking banana smoothies at another place, and enjoying free refills on iced tea while using wifi at “Melt”. Although a small island town, it was still abuzz with tons of golf carts, who fought with pedestrians for narrow road space.
Once we had our fill in San Pedro, we checked out with customs and immigration (despite continuing to cruise Belize’s islands) and sailed down to Cay Caulker. It only took a few hours to sail to Cay Caulker, and we spent the afternoon and evening exploring the quiet town. There were only a few golf carts, and lots of backpackers. At this island, Ansley had made plans to head back to mainland Belize, so we had to part ways in the morning. She will be backpacking through Mexico for a while, and then who knows. She spent a month on Winnie with us as a trusted helmsman, good cook, tidy sailor, and good friend. And then we were back to just the three of us.
We weighed anchor and continued south through the narrow “Port-O-Stuck” channel, passed by the Drowned Cays, and made our way to an anchorage just off of Colson Cays, just before sunset.
The following morning we did some snorkeling around some blue holes, just to the west of the north island of Colson Cays. The landscape was interesting and Dylan caught a glimpse of a nurse shark. He is getting really good at holding his breath for long periods of time. After a good dip, we headed south before noon, towards Tobacco Cay.
Tobacco Cay is an island about the size of a soccer field, with 6 families living on it. As we approached the dock via dinghy, we watched a Garifuna man harvesting conch, and feeding about a dozen large stingrays. Each stingray was about 3-4 foot in diameter, hovering on top of each other in shallow water to catch bits of conch that the fisherman cut away. After a quick lap of the island, we rowed back, pulled anchor, and motored south for an hour to South Water Cay, which provided a more sheltered anchorage for the night. South Water Cay had a bit more going on, including a fairly large research station called IZE, which had a group of students who were studying the makeup of the reef systems. Aside from this group, the rest of the island just seemed like an empty resort, waiting for more tourists who won’t come until next season.
The next day of really good sailing lead us to Placencia, which is on the mainland of Belize. We anchored near a group of 9 sailboats on the leeward side of a small island, and went ashore. The town seemed nice, although we were tired and ready to get back on the boat just after dusk.
The following morning we dinghied to shore for a quick breakfast, then sailed south to an uninhabited bay named New Haven. We were able to sail nicely all day, and made our way deep into the bay to drop anchor without the use of our engine. Dylan and I wandered the beach and jungle for a couple of hours, spotting a spotted stingray, monkey, and a tall bamboo forest.
From New Haven, our next landfall was Livingston, Guatemala. The Belizean islands treated us well, providing beautiful water, scenery, and weather throughout our passages. The reef provides such a unique environment for wildlife, and an easy cruising experience with consistent trade wind breezes, without the large ocean swells. From San Pedro all the way to Livingston, Guatemala, we stayed inside the main reef, in fairly protected waters. The next post will include our travels in Guatemala, and plans from here!
Posted by: Kyle
Hey Guys and Gals, Thanks so much for the update!! Still ruting for you!! The Belize Reef area sounds very beautiful. I have been to Belize City, but hot out on the reef. Sad to hear that Ansley decided on other adventures. She seemed very nice. I have a great niece named Ansley, and she is very adventurous as well. Happy to hear you have had smooth, and uneventful sailing so far, and to hear you have made it to Guatemala. I have not been to the seaside in Guatemala, only to Flores, Guatemala City, Antiqua, and the surrounding area. The Guatemala people are very friendly, helpful, and accomodating to visitors. I am sure you will enjoy you stay. Looking forward to the next update. Still quite a jorney to Panama. Bon Voyage Howard, from Islamorada
Hey Howard, we made it to Panama and finally wrote about it. Hope you are doing great! Thanks for following along with our travels.
Love seeing those 3 wonderful smiles. Glad you’re all looking so healthy and happy!!
That last comment was from mom Dwyer. Lotawana misses you all for Memorial Day weekend. Take Care and of course be safe!
Interesting travels! I could taste those greasy fry jacks!! Can’t wait to hear about your visit in Guatemala—I’ve actually been there myself!
Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us. Stay safe and enjoy every minute. P.S take care of my niece and treat her like a queen. Kass let me know if I need to break any bones.