Emerald Seas Blog Catch-Up
28 April 2016
Procrastination has reached a new level for me! Today it is January 21, 2017 and my intention was to begin our blog for this year's cruising adventures.
However, once I looked at our blog, to my shame, I saw that I had not kept it up last year. I shall now correct that situation with a quick catch up blog for 2016.
Sailing was incredible in 2016. We visited Cay Caulker, Turneffe and Lighthouse Reef with lots of great sails along the way. Its relatively calm behind the Belizean reef system and the winds can be very steady. We made some destination decisions based on wind direction just so that we could have a good sail.
Gladden Cays- beautiful set of cays with a challenging approach. We spent several days there with our friends, Scott and Heather, on Scott Free.
Turneff Islands- great place for scuba diving and snorkelling. Our big adventure there consisted of us following Lapis across the islands on a route which was very narrow. We had done a lot of research on making that trip and our way points were many and all entered into our GPS. The beginning is a very narrow mangrove waterway and then it opens to a very shallow part. As Lapis entered the shallow part, they made a turn to the left and grounded. We were right behind them and the only choice we had was to turn to the right, where we promptly grounded too.
There were two other sailboats following behind us and they had to turn around in the narrow channel and head for deeper waters at South Water Cay.
Lucky for both Lapis and Emerald Seas, Chickcharnie was ahead of us. This is a large powerboat with big diesel engines. They came back and assisted us in getting into deeper waters.
From there, we continued across Turneff. Waters stayed shallow but very passable until we got to the east coast. Oh my God. It was very sunny and the lighting was good but it sure looked tricky. Lapis went ahead of us and eyeballed their way to deep water. They assured us it was ok. We followed them and eyeballed our way out into the deep waters. As we exited, we had a eagle ray jump out of the water in front of us. From there we took a short hop over to Lighthouse Reef.
Lighthouse Reef- Here we stayed for a couple of weeks. The diving was great and we were able to dive on the east side because of the NW winds. We had two other couples diving in their own dinghies which added to the safety of all of us.
Lighthouse is famous for the Blue Hole. Being so close, we made arrangements with a dive shop to go there and see it first hand. The ride out was exciting in their fast boat as they carefully avoided all the reefs. Once we got there, the dive master briefed us on the deep dive.
We descended down the wall to 145 feet. At 125 feet there is a cavern with stalactites which we swam around. Looking out from the cavern I saw three sharks swimming. Looking down, all I saw was darkness.
After a few minutes it was time to make our ascent, doing many stops along the way so that we could decompress. At the end of the dive we used up our air in the shallows looking at the schools of fish and whatever else we could find.
Jacques Cousteau explored the Blue Holes in the 70's with a submersible. To get to the Blue Hole, they had to blow a big hole in the coral reef. At the bottom of the Blue Hole they found another cavern with stalactites at approximately 400 feet.
On April 19th, we left Lighthouse and motor sailed to Southwater Cay. It was time to go back to Placencia and check out of Belize.
On April 21st we sailed to Tom Owen's Cay and anchored for the night. It was an interesting place to be. Jim wanted to go diving but there was a big NE swell. We explored the area and did some snorkelling. Our night at anchorage was very rolly so the next day we headed to Nicholas Cay.
We had to worm our way through the coral in order to get to a sandy area which was recommended for anchoring. Holding was great and it was flat calm! Surroundings were beautiful! We spent several days here. The seas were calm and Jim and I were able to dive on the outer reefs. They were very interesting.
We would anchor our dinghy in about 25 feet of water and then follow a channel out to the drop off. There I would lay a few pieces of white coral in prominent locations so that we would find the correct channel when we finished our dive. This worked great.
During our time out at Nicholas Cay, also known as the Sapidillas, there was a conflict between Belize and Guatemala. We were concerned that things might escalate. Rumour had it that the English were sending a warship to stand by. We talked to the coast guard station in the Sapidillas and they were not concerned.
The time came for us to head to Guatemala. We anchored in Tres Puntas on April 27th and crossed the Rio Dulce Bar at 11:01 AM with a 1.48' tide on the 28th. In Livingston we checked into the country with Raul and then headed to Cayo Camado (Texan Bay) for the night.
In the morning we had an enjoyable downwind sail to Tortugal Marina. Its time to get Emerald Seas ready for hurricane season.
Before returning to Canada, we will spend a few days in La Antigua and then we fly to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where we will board the Nautilus Belle Amie and head to the Socorros for a week of diving with giant manta rays and sharks!
Life is good!