First time sailors off shore!
12 July 2021 | Ambergris Cay, Belize
Gail Gordon | continually sunny
July 9, 2021
Viento Azul departs Marina Del Isla Mujeres for an overnight stop in Cozumel, Mexico as we head to Belize. On board, we have some first-time sailors, a delightful family of six with the youngest being six years old. While leaving the harbor, I hear, "Mommy, this is the prettiest water," and that is such a true statement. The clear turquoise water with the white sandy bottom reflects the beauty of God's creation.
Our first day out, and it was a good ride. The wind was on our beam at 10-15. If you have never sailed off shore before, it can rock your world a bit. I love adventurous parents! Both who love sailing and have some experience which they wanted to share with their four children. And so here we are with our final destination as Guatemala. Day one was a little rough as the ocean was doing what the ocean does. Relief came as we stopped for the night off of Cozumel just before the sun set. At 5:33 p.m., the anchor was down, and all of us jumped into the water. The children were enjoying their new skill of snorkeling. Just the day before, we had practiced in the pool, and the children took to it quickly. Now they were exploring all the mysterious sea life around the boat.
Dramamine was not to be an optional remedy on Day Two. We set out in the morning around 9:00 a.m. The wind lessened slightly as a few whitecaps were still dancing on the water. Flying the spinnaker, we were on a port tack. The sound of the rushing water on our hulls was music to our ears, especially without the sound of a motor. Our speed over the ground was 6-7, but unfortunately it did not last long. We were fighting the current all day, dropping our speed down to 4-5, which makes for a very long trip. Every so often, we would slam down from a wave and it snapped our spinnaker line twice, making it go out of control. You never know what will happen when you are sailing. We had the slow boat to Mexico after leaving Florida; now we have the slow boat to Belize.
Day Two was peaceful with a mahi- mahi on the line, better than the two bonitas of yesterday. Two porpoise came to play for a short time, and a grand turtle was seen hanging out on the surface. Porpoise bring so much joy, and sea turtles are always a delight. We would see flying fish skim across the surface and dive down as quickly as they appeared. All of these beautiful creatures of God's creation we had prayed to see. His timing is perfect, and that is what makes sailing so fun.
Soon night came upon us, and it was extremely dark. No sign of a moon, plus a haze was over the sky. Night watch was on. I find night watch difficult when it is so dark. Looking up high, you were able to see some of the stars, but looking out it was pitch black. Fortunately, it was a calm, quiet night without any ships on the radar. A rainstorm or two formed but fell apart. We have had no rain on this trip as of yet. We always reef our sails before dark for safety purposes. To be hit by a squall in the night and have to make sail adjustments in the dark is stressful, especially on a pitch black night.
In the wee hours of the morning, we were passing by Banco Chinchorro, Mexico, which was shielding us from the sea for a few hours. The water was flat calm, giving us a break from rocking and rolling. As the day progressed, we left the protected waters,but the wind subsided down to 10, calming the seas and making for a very comfortable day. The current had also let up, and our speed picked back up to 7 plus. These are the sailing days that you dream of.
Sailing on and on, just prior to cutting inside the reef off of Ambergris Cay, Belize, a pod of porpoise came to play off our bow. They were jumping and showing off. It was a wonderful way to end the day. Leaving the the deep blue of the rocking sea at 4;30 p.m., we dropped our sails to motor through the narrow channel with waves breaking on both sides from the shallows of the reef. The water is crystal clear, calm and shallow. Here we will rest for the night.