Belize City, Belize – Getting our Alternator Fix!
22 April 2009 | View of City from Kikuyu
We got up early on Wednesday and got underway toward Belize City at 5AM. We were hoping to clear customs quickly and take our alternator to an expert that had received great reviews from cruisers on the Western Caribbean SSB Net to which we listened in the mornings. The 35 nautical mile trip was short with one event - we caught a fish that we could not indentify. At first we thought it looked like a small shark and it seemed to behave like one as it fought fiercely to get off the hook. Kim brought it in slowly, pulled it up and we still could not identify it. We hesitated long enough for it to shake himself violently and off the hook -it took with him the hook and bait - it was a heavy fish. Later we showed a movie of it to a local fisherman who identified it as one of their best eating fish - a Cobia.
Arriving at 11AM to Belize City we spent some time contacting marinas listed on our cruisers' guide only to find out that they were too shallow for us to go into. We decided to anchor off Fort George Radisson Marina, an old marina taken over by the Radisson hotel that catered more to locals and dive boats. We were told that there were 7 feet of water at the dock so we picked up our anchor and tried to go into the marina but Kikuyu hit bottom (thankfully sand) twice in our attempts. So we re-anchored in 6.5 feet of water only to swing into the bottom - a final anchoring gave us 8 feet, facing the expanse bay formed by the Belize Great Barrier reef on the east and the land on the west. Once again, Kikuyu was the only boat at anchor, facing the incoming north wind which picked up to over 20 knots for two of the three days we were there. Nonetheless, we were able to sleep well as the wind was steady and Kikuyu was not rolling.
Clearing was indeed painful and expensive. Customs & health officials came to the marina and charged us not only for country entry fees but, also, for very expensive cab rides - this was their commission, we figured. However, besides these officials, the people in Belize City were very hospitable, friendly and helpful. We were asked if we needed help by several people who guessed that we had questions when we were trying to find the alternator guy - they were genuine in trying to help us. The alternator guy was very decent and charged a very modest amount for several hours of work rebuilding our generator - he did a great job at rebuilding it. And the guy running the Fort George marina was a wonderful and helpful man - he was surprised when we gave him a good tip upon departure.
Our stay in Belize City was occupied getting the alternator fixed, taking buses to a marine store, the supermarket and getting our laundry done. Daniel had a great place from which to do his schooling online - the lobby of the Radisson hotel. Though the city itself was run-down looking and not attractive, we left Belize City with a wonderful feel for the people. They were very nice to us and made our stay very comfortable.