25 November 2012 | Belize barrier reef
Briefly, we have arrived in Belize, enjoying the gentle breeze, modest sea state, vibrant coral, and picturesque tiny islands. A little bit on the journey:
Passing between the Honduran mainland and the bay islands (Roatan, etc.) we encountered unusual strong west winds and short, choppy seas which made for quite an uncomfortable passage. The origin of these west winds is still a mystery, while at the same time the whole of the Caribbean was seeing N to NE winds. Perhaps we should have done a longer route in the deeper water north of Roatan... Whatever, we approached the southern tip of the Belzian barrier reef where there is an immigration post at Hunting Cay. I choose to bypass this island stop because of the conditions, the anchorage being unsafe in west winds and the total overcast sky making shallow water visual navigation difficult and necessary around the reef. So we pushed on to the mainland settlement of Punta Gorda, arriving late afternoon. The port captain hailed us on the radio, we exchanged boat details and I said “we have arrived direct from Colombia.” Being late in the work day, immigration services were about to close, and we were required to spend the night on board, which was really unfortunate as we could see a raging community celebration happening on shore, which turns out to be the Belize cultural diversity national holiday. Next morning, we were boarded by eight big, armed guys wanting to inspect “the boat from Columbia.” “No, no! We are an American boat coming from the Columbian island of Providencia, and Panama before that!” I suppose hearing “we have just arrived from Columbia” tingles the nerves of law enforcement officials, and they tore through every cabinet, hatch, and bilge compartment of the boat looking for guns, ammo, and drugs. We having nothing to hide, the tone of the meeting became friendly as we talked about the best restaurants and bars in town. Papers were stamped and fees paid and we were welcomed into the country, but being a bit jangled from the welcoming party, we grabbed lunch and a Belikin, and beat it for the cays.
We visited uninhabited Bird, Seal, and Sapodilla Cays before rushing to store the boat on Sunday, Nov 18 at Robert’s Grove Marina in Placencia while I attended important family issues. Robert’s Grove is a well managed place, I am happy to have the boat there and will return on Dec 28 to continue the exploration!