Lördag 19 april 2014 Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Tripp: 310 nm Totalt: 11810 nm
Från Rio Dulce i Guatemala har vi motorgång i motvind och motsjö norrut till Belize. Vi lyssnar på Chris Parkers väderrapport på kortvågen varje morgon. Han utlovar fortsatta motvindar i flera dagar. Under vår färd norrut förvånas vi över att vi inte ser några båtar och mycket litet bebyggelse.
|Fripassagerare / Extra passenger|
|Seglande fiskebåt / Sailing fishing vessel|
Inklareringen blir en ny upplevelse. Först en halvtimmes färd med båttaxi till grannsamhället, därpå taxifärd till myndigheterna. För första gången under vår resa skall även jordbruksmyndigheten uppsökas. Frågor om vi har frukt och grönsaker ombord och flugor besvaras givetvis nekande och vi får tillstånd att fortsätta seglatsen.
|Taxibåt / Watertaxi|
|Mayaindianer säljer sitt hantverk / Mayans selling their handicraft|
|Jollen tycks sväva i det klara vattnet|
The dinghy seems to fly in the crystal clear water
Fiskarhydda / Fishermans hut
|Skiftande vattenfärger / Shifting water colours|
|Dykbåtar på rad / Dive boats|
|Mangroveviken före kulingen / The mangrove inlet before the gale|
|Det kan regna även i paradiset / Even paradise can get some rain|
Saturday 19 April, 2014 Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Trip: 310 nm Total: 11810 nm
Motoring from Rio Dulce in Guatemala northwards towards Belize with wind and sea on the nose. We are listening to Chris Parkers weather reports on the shortwave every morning. He says there will be continuous headwinds for several days. During our sail northwards we are astonished not to see any yachts and very few houses.
Belize, former British Honduras, is a small country with few inhabitants. Both Mexico and Guatemala have long claimed the right of Belize. There has been a long time border conflict with Guatemala and periodically British soldiers have been based along the border. Opposite to most of the Central American countries Belize has never been a dictatorship but a democracy based upon British law and order. Tourism is the most important way of income followed by farming and fishing. Everybody speaks both English and Spanish and literacy is on the highest level of whole Central America.
Punta Gorda is the first possible place of clearance in Belize. As there is no harbour, you have to anchor totally unprotected, why we continue to Placencia. Again we see several yachts from previous anchorages, all at anchor in lee of an island. Placencia is a strange place, totally laid back after its heydays. Now there are coffee shops and small simple restaurants along the seafront run by left behind middle age hippies. The locals seem to be waiting for a new tourist invasion. As some brokers do, trying to sell high priced lots and houses.
The clearing in procedure is a new experience. First a half hour ride with watertaxi followed by a cab ride to the authorities. For the first time during our travel we also have to deal with the agriculture authority. Questions about us having fruit and vegetables onboard and flies are of course answered negative and we are granted permission to continue our sail.
Belize has the second largest coral reef in the world, only the Great Barrier Reef in Australia is larger and longer. The three reefs lie outside each other and parallel to the coast with some hours distance in between. This has made Belize a diver’s paradise. We experience the most crystal clear water so far when sailing along the reef with only a meter under the keel. Small sand islets and mangrove islands lie along our way. The fishermen’s simple overnight huts is the only witness of human presence. Some larger islands have resorts and restaurants, but they seem to lack guests.
A good pilot book, radar and sharp look out are essential as the charts are not detailed enough and often incorrect. At some occasions at narrow passages we are stuck in the sand, but are easily coming afloat again. The colour of the water shifts from cobalt and purple to turquoise and emerald. We have the best snorkeling so far with lots of fish and many types of corals.
Chris warns of a coming cold front with gale force winds so we abstain from visiting the outer reefs.
Instead we go for a mangrove inlet as shelter for the coming northerlies. We hit the bottom underway but drop the anchor in 3 meter of water in the uninhabited inlet with shelter for all wind directions. The anchor is pulled hard while two more yachts come for shelter in the inlet. A nice dinner in the cock pit ends the day while waiting. The wind is picking up quickly, from calm to 20 knots in a minute. Only the half-moon lits the inlet when Xavita is riding for the anchor in the shifting gusts. Suddenly a spotlight is shine upon us and somebody is shouting. Until then we discover the anchor is dragging and we are coming close to the other yachts. The engine is fired up quickly and with full throttle we move away, the anchor is pulled up in heavy rain squalls and complete darkness, up to 35 knots. We maneuver as close to the mangroves as we dare and reanchor in the narrow inlet. Luckily the anchor holds and we can relax. One of us stays awake the whole night as anchor watch, while lightning is seen over the mainland. Later when the anchor is weighed it can be seen that the bottom consists of very fine sand, more like flour than sand.
The following days come with headwind and more running under engine when going northwards along the reef. Some night stops and some close encounters with Mother Earth. Next bigger settlement is San Pedro close to the Mexican border. It shows up as one more strange place that has seen its heydays. Several new hotels are built in the surroundings and the narrow streets are crowded with tourists in rented golf carts. The anchorage is rolly when dive boats are passing close at full speed underway to the reef. The clearing out procedure is quick and smooth. Waiting one day more to allow the sea to settle down before going out through the shallow reef cut.