GOODBYE RIO DULCE AND HELLO BELIZE
10 February 2014
On the same day that we said goodbye to our friends, Jim and Jeannie Cosgrove, we said adios to our friends at Tortugal Marina and headed down the Rio Dulce to Texan Bay. It was a mad rush to get supplies and fuel up the boat but we managed. The timing was right for the weather and the tide perfect for crossing the shallow Rio Dulce bar at Livingstone. We even had two boats to travel with, Sabin and Scott Free.
By late afternoon we were anchored and enjoying a pretty sunset and a few glasses of wine before dinner. We saw an otter swimming by and many herons. Sabin was tied up at the dock but unfortunately, Scott Free was on the marine ways at Ram Marine, attending to a propeller that was plugged with muscles.
In the morning we met with Raul at customs to check out of Guatemala. By then we were reunited with our friends from Manana, the very same boat that had guided us across the shallows last year. Our afternoon crossing of the bar went very smoothly and the shallowest we saw was 7 feet. We sailed over to Tres Puntas and spent a quiet night.
The following day we sailed to Placencia and the next morning we checked into Belize. As we walked to the Hokey Pokey, the small boat that ferries people back and forth to Big Creek, we were approached by a lady selling freshly made doughnuts. Pretty tasty and only $1.00 Belizian or $0.50 Canadian. Another man had homemade meat pies for sale. Later on that day, after returning from check in, we visited Tutti Frutti for ice cream.
There are lots of boats anchored in Placencia and lots of activities for cruisers. Mexican Train, a dominoes game, is played once or twice a week and happy hour at Yoli┬'s takes place everyday. We have renewed friendships and made new friends all week but now its time to move on and explore the islands and enjoy some snorkelling and diving.
On February 1st we had a wonderful sail to Blue Ground Range and the next day we sailed to Southwater Cay where we would wait for our friends on Contento and Scott Free to arrive. Jim and I went for a shallow dive so that we could try out my new underwater camera housing and our new lenses. The deepest we found was 15 feet but we saw lots of angel fish and a few small rays.
By late afternoon, our friends were anchored safely beside us. Plans were made for an early motor sail to Glover┬'s Reef. The entrance to Glover┬'s is quite tricky. The waters are very shallow and there are coral heads everywhere. We had good light for manoeuvring and before long we were anchored in a nice sandy patch with good holding.
There is a dive lodge at Southwest Cay called Marisol Diving. We opted to join them on their excursion to the outside reef area. The conditions on our first dive were very rough! As we awaited our turn to jump in the water, the big seas would flood the back of the boat and divers had to hold on in order to not be washed overboard! I could hardly believe they would even dive in these conditions. When it came my turn to jump I was feeling a wee bit terrified. The dive guide was yelling ┬"Jump Jump┬" and the sea were towering above, ready to flood the boat again. Finally the guide gave me a gentle shove and in the water I went. As I swam back to the boat to get my camera setup, I could see the twin props turning as it backed up towards me. Camera in hand, I headed down to the bottom. What a dive! The Aquarium was beautiful and the visibility was over 80 feet. Large groupers were swimming lazily about and the corals were abundant and very healthy. We had a great dive!
All good things come to an end, and eventually we had to surface. The seas were still very rough and our dive boat was a long way away, picking up other divers. Our turn came and following the dive master┬'s instructions we all made it aboard. The captain of the dive boat was very skillful. Jim commented that we could of done the dive easy with our little dinghy. I gave him a very dirty look.
Next day we enjoyed two more dives with Marisol. The conditions were much calmer than the first day but still quite rough. We did the Pillars at Long Cay. Here we found towering coral heads and white sand. There were lots of garden eels and huge barrel sponges. The second dive was at Southwest Cay and was a wall dive with lots of crevices. Both Jim and I managed to get some excellent underwater photos. I am loving my new setup- Canon G16, Fantasea Housing, Sea and Sea strobe and fisheye lens. Best of all is the large LCD screen which is 4 times larger than my old camera.
After enjoying Glover┬'s Reef for 4 days it was time to head back to the protected waters of Belize. The weather was changing and Glovers is no place to be when the winds blow from the North. Our trip back to Southwater Cay was a motor and we had frequent heavy rain showers along the way.We saw a waterspout in the distance. Fortunately the showers let up before we went through the Southwater Cut. We continued on to Sapidilla Lagoon which offers great protection in any kind of weather.
Not much has changed at Sanctuary Belize which is located inside Sapidilla Lagoon. John and Lucy of SV Stoneage, and from Ladysmith, BC, are still working there. We got the feeling that they were a bit frustrated with the lack of progress on site. The grounds surrounding the marina are still as ugly as ever. We were not allowed to visit the pool anymore because one of the residents did not like boats travelling in the canal in front of her house. Everything felt a bit depressing there.
After two nights we sailed back to Placencia to stock up on more food and visit our favourite ice cream store.