Ranguana Cay to Laughing Bird Cay to South Long Cocoa Cay
18 February 2018
So we needed to get out of Placencia, just to see something new and continue our Belize experiences. So we chose Ranguana Cay some 17 mile east south east of Placencia. We pulled the anchor around 0900 and after rounding the bar south off Placencia Cay we set sail. Not to bad, sailing close hauled, 30 - 50 degrees apparent at 5 knots we would be in during highest sun light.
Well the winds played games, up a little, down a little but we persevered. I set a way point just off the Cay giving us room to navigate the coral by sight. There were three catamarans already there, charterers from the Moorings. We furled sails and went in slowly under power hoping to find 12 – 15 feet with good holding. Yup, we found a spot not too far from one of the cats and dropped the hook. By now Alice and I are getting very, very good at setting the anchor. We have a procedure, a process that we use each tine. Together we pick a spot where went want LB to settle, then we head into the wind a sufficient distance to provide for lots of chain. Once there I lower the anchor, flukes facing backward, Alice stops the boat, then starts backing slowly. Once backing, I lower the anchor to the bottom and start letting out some chain. About 50 feet of chain, I snub it to try and get it aligned properly. One it bites I let out more chain and have Alice back LB some more. Then with about 100 feet out I snub it again slightly to see if the hook will pull chain or skip. If it pulls chain I let out more to about 150 feet and have Alice repeat the backing down. This time I really snub it hard and put my hand on the chain. If it comes up hard and pulls more chain WE ARE HOOKED, if not, well it's time to start again. I usually like to have at least 150 feet of chain unless the water depth is 30 or more then it's 200 + feet.
In Ranguana, the anchor process worked . We got in the dinghy and went exploring. A BEAUTIFUL BEACH!!, we swam and swam, then off to the bar; yup on this tiny Cay there is a restaurant with a bar. We met the charterers, booked a dinner slot and went back swimming. Lots of good conversation with 4 couples from Idaho, 4 guys from Germany and a family from Mexico. Can you believe all this on a tiny speck of land out in nowhere.
Now as you might guess a squall came through just as we were thinking of going back in for dinner. Should we go? Should we stay with LB? I said we are HOOKED WELL so lets go. Dinner was an unanticipated treat. The drinks were perfect, the meals, Lobster for Alice and BBQ Chicken for me were delicious. Back to LB in the dark with high winds and bumpy water. Just a little sense of anxiousness but once back on board all was well.
We've initiated a process of hauling the dinghy out of the water on the starboard side for the evenings and overnight. Can't be too careful down here and loosing our brand new Highfield to a thief would really piss us off.
The next morning we decide to move on. We set course to Laughing Bird Cay only 7 miles away with no wind so we powered. When we arrived we judged it wouldn't be a safe anchorage for N, NE winds so we continued on toward South Long Cocoa Cay and Mosquito Cay.
Here's where things became a little dicey. The guide book suggested a course that the chart plotter showed less than 6 feet of water. OOPS!! So Captain Bob decided to take the long way around staying in deeper water until we could round the bottom of the Cays and head to a possible anchorage. That very conservative plan worked and I'm sure my mate appreciated the extra time it took to sneak into the preferred anchorage. But all is not so easy here in Belize, nope!! In we went, 90, 80, 50, 30, 20 and then 12, stop! Go real slow, then 15, 18, 30, 42, OMG, gosh, a blue hole. We passed over the hole back to 12 feet and started looking for sandy patches. After three failed anchoring attempts using the Captain Bob method, I found a patch and had Alice drive us to it, slowly. Down with the hook, follow the procedure and yes, hooked at last. Out with lots of chain and watching to make sure we were set. Now to end this story on a down and then up beat, we went ashore to swim and walk the island. The swimming was ideal, 80 + degree water, beautiful sand, just perfect. Then we walked ashore and you can not believe the trash. Everywhere, I mean you couldn't walk but to step on plastic, old flip flops, bottle caps, bottles, the list of stuff went on and on. This was unbelievable, here on an island was a dump site. Not only by locals dumping stuff on the land but along the Caribbean side where trash washes up from the sea. How incredibly discouraging. This is reality, instead of the light brown color of the sand and white of the coral it was red, blue, green, black as far as we walked along the shore line.
Alice and I were appalled, here we were in “paradise” and it was a mess of garbage. Too bad for all of us.
On a more upbeat note, there was a blue hole right next to where we anchored and a group of 6 or more porpoises spent 15 minutes diving into the hole feeding. Quite entertaining. Then at about 0500 the next morning Mother Nature sent 27 knot winds at us, here's another Argg! The anchor held but the location wasn't tenable so at first light we pulled the hook and headed back to Placencia.