Snorkelling and Visiting to Start the New year
03 January 2016 | Pelican Cays, Belize
Beth/ high 20's,
We had a rollicking sail from Placencia to Pelican Cays on Dec 30. When we first came out of the harbour and into the wind and waves, we exclaimed, “What were we thinking?” There was both chop and swell in those waves, and the ENE wind was stronger than we had anticipated, 18 kt with gusts to 20, but we were going only 15 miles, and we decided to see how it would settle out. We motor sailed the first hour but were then able to sail with main and staysail, doing our “northing” first and then tacking over to the East, as we got closer to our destination.
I called Hideaway Cay on VHF 74 to see if there was a mooring ball available and sure enough, Kim replied that all three were empty. (Not for long though – two Sunsail catamarans arrived within an hour.)
The wind had been blowing strongly from the East for a few days so we opted to snorkel on the west side of Northeast Cay. While the coral didn’t seem as colourful nor the fish as plentiful as last year, and the water was quite stirred up with sand, we still had a lovely hour or so there. The next day, when it calmed, we went out to the east side of a southern cay where we had so many excellent times with Peter and Mary (Rendezvous) on our last visit. (It is a really good idea to ask Dustin or Kim where the best spots are – it would be a shame to come here and miss those.)
Of course, a visit to Hideaway Cay (when the Open sign is on the dock) is an essential part of being in the Pelicans. The dogs bark loudly to announce our presence and Dustin and Ama come down to the dock to welcome us. Little Ama is 3 now and a whole lot bigger. Kim still cooks delicious dinners and bakes beautiful French bread and rolls, and Dustin catches fish and pours out killer Rum Punches. These folks are so interesting to talk with. They bought the island about 15 years ago and moved here to build their home, the bar/restaurant and a cabana for visiting tourists 7 years ago. At the time they thought it would be a simple life, but the addition of mooring balls and word of mouth recommendations among cruisers, means that there are often 4 or 5 boats in the harbour and lots of folks wanting drinks or dinner ashore. Moorings Charters in Placencia installed the mooring balls, and while they are primarily for their use, other cruisers are welcome to use them too. Dustin maintains them so we know they are safe, and since the harbour is mostly 50 feet deep, we would rather tie to a ball than put our all our chain.
We enjoyed our lobster dinners (broiled lobster tails with rice and beans and salad) on New Year’s Eve, as we sat at the bar chatting with Kim, Dustin and Ama, and were home in bed by 8. Sigh. Not much life in the old fogies! A skiff came alongside about 10:30 though and that got us up. The folks in it were asking, “Where are we?” At Jim’s reply, “Pelican Cays – and that is Dustin and Kim’s place right over there,” the fellow at the tiller said, “Oh, we are way south!” and they headed off again into the dark – with no lights, but many “Sorry’s” and laughs from a girl in a party dress. Most of the folks who fish in these cays can find their way anywhere in pitch black so we think they were probably from father north, and looking for a party. They weren’t stealthy and they made lots of noise so we weren’t unduly concerned, but the call on the radio from Dustin asking if everything was ok was reassuring. He said he had heard their motor and saw our lights on – nice to know someone was keeping an eye on us!
New Years Day was a perfect beginning to 2016. We snorkeled both morning and afternoon, looked for shells on the tiny sandy beaches, enjoyed sundowners at Hideaway Cay and came home to a light pasta dinner. We could pick up an intermittent signal from the cell tower at Hopkins on the mainland, so we even had bits of conversation with family.
Happy 2016, everyone!