30 March 2013 | 16 43'N:87 51'W, Belize Glover's reef
I am back on the boat now, having returned 11 days ago after enjoying a short ski season in Steamboat and visiting with family and friends. Generally all is well with Hekla, other than the failed refrigerator, again! No explanation there. I invested the first several days after returning to taking dive lessons with Robert's Grove Resort, very convenient as the dive shop was just steps away from where Hekla was docked. The instructions went smoothly and I completed 4 open water dives on the great Belizian barrier reef, and now can take my certification to any dive shop world wide and go have a dip. While convenient, life in a marina is not for me or Hekla, I could have continued to dive with Robert's Grove but wanted to be out on the hook, not sweltering in a windless marina that was rapidly filling with power boats from Guatemala on Easter holiday. I was also torn with indecision on where to go next, this being not a small issue as I have to check out of the country by the end of the month (custom's permission is expired) and tell them where I am going. The issue is that it is time to get the boat hauled out of the water for new antifouling paint on the bottom and there are just not very many places in the world that can handle a 28' wide catamaran. Two are nearby: up the Rio Dulce in Guatemala, and on the Honduran island of Roatan. I'll shorten this long boring story to say that I expect to be in Guatemala on April 1st, updated as I go along.
So I said farewell to Robert's Grove, with a little bit of sadness. They are a great organization and treated me well. They are selling small building lots around the marina, each of which come with a permanent docking space for a boat, and I have to admit I am tempted. While at this point I would most consider retirement from long-haul sailing in Belize, there is much of the world to see before then, and it is illogical to invest there now. Other opportunities will arise if wanted.
So I set my short term target on Glover's reef, the offshore atoll of stunning beauty I first saw in January, but had to leave hastily. Unfortunately another cold front dropping off of the states was to make things difficult, and I had to hole up at Garbutt Cay, exactly the same place I anchored during the frontal passage mentioned in the previous post. I weathered a couple days there and then could move on, but not before I met the entertaining Harry Garbutt, caretaker of the island. I am not exactly sure how his family name became associated with the island group some generations ago, but he did fill me in on lots of local history, and provided a bucket of small fish and one lobster for me, and did a cursory cleaning of Hekla's bottom, which he noticed was quite hairy. I left him with some Chilean wine, a couple of books, and cash.
Life at Glover's reef has been idyllic. There is a charming dive resort here, Isla Marisol, and so far I have jumped on 5 dives with them, including two looking for whale sharks, the largest fish in the ocean, which visit nearby Gladden Spit during the spring full moons feeding on grouper spawn. No whale sharks sighted :-(. Saturday being the client changeover day, on Friday a little party is thrown. After dark I went into the resort bar, where shortly thereafter the drums were pulled out, two congas and a pair of shaking gourds. ÊThere were about 6 young men, I believe staff of the resort and of Garafuna culture, drumming, dancing, and chanting with lots of energy. ÊThe over the water bar-on-stilts was literally swaying. ÊLots of fun.
My time in Belize is drawing to a close, Easter Sunday being an all-day sail to the end of the country, for Monday morning checkout. I will happily trade my lack of a chocolate bunny for a nice dorado or tuna along the way; I am newly armed with fishing gear but hardly dangerous. The image above is one of the enchantments of this island. Other than the resort complex tucked into palm trees off of the left of the frame, the remainder of the panorama here is open water, turquoise within the walls of the atoll, and deep blue beyond.