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Sail to the Mainland
Doug Mayle
13-May-2005, Belize City, Belize

It was time to pull up anchor. Back to Belize City, so that Sheryl and I could take a flight home on Saturday. In order to take the sting out of this unfortunate situation, we decided to motor out to Rendezvous Cay for one last bit of beach combing and snorkeling. Once again, our timing coincided perfectly with the arrival of large groups of tourists. Fortunately, though, the organizers were keeping the snorkelers and divers together and protecting the reef. And, the advantage proved to be the availability of some cold beer on the beach after some truly remarkable snorkeling. The only disadvantage to the snorkeling experience was the presence of small, quarter-sized jellyfish in the water. Although very disconcerting at first, the only problem they posed was an occasional mild sting on very thin areas of the skin, like the lips. Analogous to touching a 9-volt battery to the tongue, for those of you who have used this test to determine a good from a bad battery.

Several of the neighboring cruisers from Blue Field Range showed up at Rendezvous Cay after a particularly rough dinghy ride. We assured them that it was not too bad to swim with the jellies, and congratulated ourselves for not trying to dinghy ourselves out the day before.

By early afternoon, the time had come to weigh anchor and head for the marina in Belize City. Our course put us on a beautiful beam reach, and all took turns at the helm. My turn came in the last hour before arrival at the marina. I am proud to say I sailed her straight on course, until the jetties drew near and it was time to pull down the sails, switch on the motor and give the helm to the captain. I made a request for very specific instructions as we headed into a marina full of boats, for the first time. I wanted to make certain that Bruno understood that this was our first opportunity to dock the boat, as we had been at anchor since our departure from Ambergris Cay nine days earlier. Bruno gave very explicit instructions, including suggestions regarding how to toss the line out to the dockhands which were to be there to help us. Bruno swung Artemesia into position with apparent ease, and we tied up like we had done this a hundred times before. As the sun set over the horizon, thoughts turned to showers and food.

A long, hot shower was the only thing I truly missed during the time at sea. It was a true luxury to stand beneath the drizzle of warm water and emerge feeling truly clean. I even put a razor to my face for the first time while in Belize. We took turns at the showers, we met at the bar, we had dinner, and then back to the bar. Following that an evening stroll along the docks, Bruno identifying different types of sailboats as we walked along, and it is time to retire.

I had taken for granted the sea breeze we had flowing through the yacht while at anchor each night. It was hot, and there was no air movement. In addition, mosquitoes were not a problem thus far in the trip. During the night, we were all eaten alive. By 4 am, I gave up the futile attempt to sleep and went topside. Sheryl joined me soon thereafter, and we went for an early morning walk and watched the sun rise. When the hour was a bit more decent, we returned to the boat to find Stephanie beginning the process of marina chores, including cleaning, laundry, etc. The time for our departure was drawing near. I delayed the taking of yet another glorious shower until the last minute.

The guy two slips down lived aboard and not only took charter groups out, but he owned a car and acted as the Marina taxi. Steph and Bruno decided to share the ride so they could do some provisioning after dropping us at the airport. The goodbyes were sad all around, but we promised to stay in touch as they worked their way down the coast to their eventual destination for the boat, a popular hurricane hole known as the Rio Dulce, in Guatemala.

z05_OUR FIRST CRUISE: BELIZE

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