|HEART OF GOLD, a 31' Island Packet Sailboat||Currently in Key West, Florida|
Detailed information on provisioning, checking in, marinas/anchorages, etc. is available at our SaltySailors.com website.
June 29 - 30, 2004: San Pedro, Belize
Got up bright and early and headed into San Pedro to check in. Went to customs and then immigration. No charges to get into Belize. When Blue Sky & Necessity came in at about 4:00 pm, they were both charged overtime charges of $20.00 per boat at both customs and immigration (free for us $40 for them). Breeze & Debbie left San Pedro for Cay Caulker that evening.
David from Necessity stuck around and we explored San Pedro. Can't really say much for the town. 3 main dirt roads with many connecting streets, but lot of traffic. You feel like you could be run down any minute. It's very dusty. Funny they even have so many cars to get around such a small town. It drove me crazy to see all the clean laundry hanging out and getting covered with a fine dusting of street dirt.
We found a restaurant, Carumbas, and ate grilled snapper. Tasted our first Biliken Beer, the national beer of Belize. Rumor mill says that Biliken put the only other brewery in Belize out of business by offering a free beer for any of their competitors empty glass beer bottles. Apparently you could not replace these glass bottles at the time so when people brought in the competitors bottles, the competitor could no longer bottle his beer, hence only Biliken. Also rumored that the owner of Biliken is a Senator in Belize. All this was just talk from the bartenders & waiters, so who knows.
We found a nice little bakery and a couple of grocery stores. This is our first grocery experience in Belize. All the meat is frozen. The vegetables are in sad shape. This is when canned goods come in handy ... or being able to catch your dinner. If you drink wine, buy it in Mexico or bring it from home. Wine is extremely expensive here ($6.00 US for a glass of wine ... $35 US for a bottle of Carlo Rossi ... ugh, even I can't drink that). It is this way throughout Belize. I am stuck drinking beer or rum, neither of which I like. Good for the waistline I guess.
We went on a search for water as our tanks are very low. The only place we could find any was at the yacht club's water faucet. So we hauled three jerry jugs over to the yacht club and hoped we'd find more water in Cay Caulker.
July 1 - 3, 2004: Cay Caulker, Belize
We motor-sailed to Cay Caulker. It was only about a 2 hour trip. It was nice to be inside the reef instead of wallowing around in the Yucatan Channel. The depth was a little un-nerving as it was 4.9 - 9' all the way. We only draw 4' (well probably 4.5 with all the crap we have on board) so we were okay, but I can sure see how people with a 6' draft would sweat it in Belize.
The anchorage in Cay Caulker is nice. We had no problem with holding, but I have heard tales of others who have. There is a main dinghy dock right by the Beverage Distributor and the town's main source of power, a generator plant. If you anchor too close you can hear the generator running all the time, but after awhile you tune it out. When you walk into town and pass by the generator plant it is very loud, but once you get into town you can't hear it at all.
Pretty much all dirt roads again, but not nearly as much traffic and just seemed much more interesting to us. We didn't really encounter many black Belizians in San Pedro, but we met several here. Very interesting; they speak their own language which is a mixture of English and other languages. They call it Creole.
Chan's is the main grocery in town. Again frozen meat and questionable veggies. Canned goods are pricey in Belize, but I've never been much for eating out of a can so we are adjusting. They sell Chinese food out of a side window and I've heard it's pretty good, although we didn't try it.
We have arrived in time for Lobster Fest. They put out a lot of barbeque grills and cook the lobster on the grill. We had a lobster kabob & a lobster burrito, but we were not impressed. The chicken was better (and we LOVE lobster). A lobster dinner was $25 BZ ($14.50 US which was a lot to spend after being in Mexico) and since we didn't really like the samples we had so we didn't buy one. The vendors at Lobster Fest and a lot of the stores here in Cay Caulker look like they bought their merchandise out of the Gypsy Rose catalog (we used to sell this stuff in our store back in Port A).
A Guatemalan carnival is in town so we spent a night out at the carnival. We ate dinner at the Herbal Tribe. It was not very good and they gave slow service a new meaning so I wouldn't recommend it. We left there and went to the carnival. It was fun to watch the kids.
For lunch one day we ate at Rasta Pasta which is on the beach. It was a nice setting and the burrito we ordered was huge. Enough to feed both of us.
We have still not found a source for water. The only place we can get it in Cay Caulker is at the beverage distributors in 5 gallon jugs. However, we have screwed around and now it is Sunday and they are closed. We want to leave first thing in the morning. Thane called the resort at English Cay and asked if we could get water there and they said yes so we figure we can get some tomorrow. Blue Sky and Necessity both need water too.
(We returned to Cay Caulker in 2005 and explored a great deal more ... found a really good bar ... so keep reading!)
July 4, 2004: Cay Caulker to English Cay:
We went over to English Cay and all filled up with water (thank you guys at English Cay). Since we had the boat with the least draft, we lead the way thru Porto Stuck. We planned it so we went thru at high tide & it was still pretty shallow. We all made it thru fine & then after we were thru Porto Stuck we got a little lax ... markers in Belize are just sticks sticking up out of the water ... we got too far away from the markers, bumped ground a little, but didn't get stuck.
Anchored at English Cay. It was a picturesque little island. I wanted to go ashore and meet the lighthouse keeper and snorkel the really shallow reef, but the wind was beginning to kick up a storm and we were due at Blue Sky for a 4th of July BBQ. We had BBQ chicken, corn on the cob & all the fixings.
It was one of the worst nights we have ever spent at anchor. The wind was howling and I was terrified we would drag either into Necessity who was anchored near us or the reef. I slept in the cock pit. Since I knew I wasn't going to be able to sleep (I cannot sleep when it is windy ... even when I'm in a marina) I laid in the cockpit so I could just open my eyes, look at Necessity's mast and see if I was dragging or not.
July 5, 2004: English Cay to Placencia:
We are supposed to all go hunting for lobster & fish this morning, but we are tired from no sleep and decide to leave at first light for Placencia. Turns out that Thane's not really excited about killing the lobster or fish, he'd rather let someone else do the killing and then he'll do the eating.
Motor-sailed to Placencia. A large portion of the anchorage is taken up by the charter company The Moorings . The center of the anchorage is around 20' which is too deep for us. We pulled in fairly close to Placencia Cay and found water around 8' which works. Arrived about 4:00 pm and took a long solar shower so we would be presentable when we went to town in the morning.
July 6 - 11, 2004: Placencia:
Went on the tour of Placencia. They have a nice dinghy dock available. A town official was hanging around on the dinghy dock waiting for us to come in so he could tell us we must go pay $2.50 US for each bag of garbage we deposited into the cans at the end of the dock. We had two small bags. We have been told by others that it is supposed to be a one time charge, not a per bag charge, but they were adamant that we pay for each bag. We certainly don't mind paying a fair amount to dispose of our trash, but $2.50 per bag seemed a little much. For the rest of our stay, we brought our trash in when we came in the evenings.
There is a bird aviary right up from the dinghy dock that has parrots, cockatiels, & parakeets and we had fun watching them for awhile. We then took the tour of the famous Placencia mile long sidewalk. There are shops, restaurants, hotels along the walk and a lot of nice foliage. Several sand pathways lead off of the sidewalk to one side that will take you to the other side of town, the other side takes you to the beach. We walked the entire sidewalk and then took a sand pathway to the other side of town which features the only paved road.
We stopped and checked out the grocery stores and I was having a real craving for potato chips so we bought a can of Pringles. We then found a guy selling vegetables out of the back of his truck so we stocked up. We carried our finds back to the dinghy and dropped them off. We then searched out John the Bakerman's place (he's off the sand path) and bought a loaf of bread. Then to the fish coop to buy some lobster meat. You can buy lobster tails for $7.00 US ea. or lobster head meat for $3.00 US a lb. We bought a couple of pounds of the head meat. Went over to the Pickled Parrot for a drink and then to the bar beside the dinghy dock. Went to go back to the boat and discovered someone had stolen my Pringles! They left the veggies though. They probably had the munchies ... I get the feeling that's a common occurrence in these parts.
We spent the evening listening to a compilation CD of Texas songs that our friend Larry from Port Aransas had made for us. We both are feeling a little homesick and miss our friends & family.
Went to lunch at the Purple Space Monkey. They have good hamburgers. We then took a ride around the lagoon in our dinghy. There is a very pretty spa in the lagoon that has some great little palapas and beautiful palms. Took a walk around and met Brenda, a local lady that swears she cooks better than anyone and the proof that's true is because she is fat. She fixes dinner for tourists in her home. I don't know how good she really cooks. Thane did buy some conch fritters from her one day, but she must have forgotten to add the conch and they were very, very greasy.
We made a daily ritual of going for a drink at the Pickled Parrot at about 3:00 pm. The bartender, Cassie, is very nice. We have stocked up the freezer with lobster & fish from the coop and, of course, the freezer is beginning to give us a little trouble now.
There has been a boat named Skye anchored beside us since we got here, but no one has been aboard. Today while I was sitting in the cockpit I noticed the cutest little puppy up on deck chewing on some lines. We later met Ron & Mac and the cute little dog is Nemo.
We went to breakfast at de Thatch. I had the fry jack. It is a huge burrito filled with egg, bacon, cheese & more & then deep fried. Yum. Later we visited the Purple Space Monkey for a drink.
July 12, 2004: Placencia to Big Creek and then Monkey Bay:
We left Placencia and headed toward Big Creek to check out of Belize. Skye was already in the Big Creek anchorage and we got a call on the VHF from Mac who asked us to stop by his boat and pick up his wallet. Turns out you have to go into Mango Creek to immigration before you can check out of customs in Big Creek. The trash officer from Placencia was at customs and gave all four of us a ride into Mango Creek for $7.00 US. We checked out at immigration and started walking back to Big Creek. It's about a 2+ mile walk. Checked out of Belize. There was no cost for checking out.
We followed Skye to Monkey Bay where we all anchored for the night. Went over and had some really good frozen drinks on Skye.
July 13, 2004: Back to Placencia
We got up and started to leave for Livingston, Guatemala when the alternator belt broke. We had put a new, larger alternator on our boat while we were in Florida and this is the second time the belt has broken. We have no more belts so Thane put our old alternator back on and we headed back to Placencia so we can try and find some belts. Skye proceeded on to Guatemala.
Blue Sky and Necessity arrived in Placencia that evening. They had spent the last week out in the different Cays. We made plans to show them around Placencia in the morning and then went over and bought some lobster tails from the coop. Boy were they good.
On Wednesday we met Breeze, Debbie & David & toured the town. We ate at the Cozy Inn and drank at the Pickled Parrot. We had a really nice day.
We had to have the belts for the alternator flown in from Belize City. We caught a cab to the airport to pick them up. It was very reasonable, only an extra $5.00 shipping to have them flown in. It cost more for the cab to the airport.
We hate to leave as there is going to be a revival at the soccer field this weekend with a casting out of demons. Would love to see that! But we are anxious to get to Guatemala as we are still in the box where our boat is not covered by insurance during a named storm.
July 15, 2004: Placencia to Livingston, Guatemala
We motored all the way to Livingston as there was no wind at all. Took us about 8 1/2 hours. Continued in next log.