Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lighthouse Reef – Belize - N17.13.08 W087.35.97 - Aug 5 – Sept 3 2009

We really enjoyed our time spent with Ron and Lindy. They are one of only two couples living on this remote island. They are part of a larger development of some 600 lots of which we are told 80% are sold. It is interesting that of all those buyers, only two are year round residents.

Just a quick note here, our first sighting of a lion fish in the coral reef on the west side of Long Cay. They are a beautiful creature, but there is controversy over their inhabiting the waters of Belize.

We took the boat over to Half Moon Cay one Saturday with Lindy and two of her guests, Doug and Kaye from Seattle. We had a fun time dodging the coral heads and it was helpful to have the local knowledge that Lindy brought along. As it was, we managed to hit the only coral head in the anchorage within a hundred feet. While the rest went to enjoy Half Moon and its Red Footed Booby Bird population, Gary and Doc stayed with KS and enjoyed swimming and cleaning the bottom waiting for the tide to rise us off. In due course, it all came to pass and a fun day was had ending in laughing and libation at sunset in the anchorage.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Placentia – Belize – N16.30 – W88.21 – May 30 – August 1, 2009

This is a return trip to one of our favorite stops. We checked in at Big Creek with our friends Doug & Rayene s/v Kristiana and renewed acquaintances Vicky and Jim s/v Allegro and with Barb & Torry s/v Litbe. Barb and Torry are now Captain and Mate working for Moorings Charters on the sailing catamaran Double Eagle.

After enjoying a few days of all the amenities the this once sleepy little fishing village turned enterprising small town which offers, including our favorites, Wendy’s for Fried Stuff Jacks, TuttiFruiti for homemade Gelato (some of the best Ice cream on the planet), we departed June 8 for Wipari Cay, Cary Cay, Queen Cays and Little Water Cay. These small islands mostly offer mooring balls for easy anchoring and lovely places to snorkel. Queen Cay is in the reserve and there is a charge of $10 per person per stay. During our visit here we met ‘Kate’ a charterer on the Tradewinds Catamaran who enjoyed spending time with Doc.

After a few days out on the reef joined by our friends Barb and Torrey, we returned to Placentia preparing Kaija for her annual trek home (to the land of stuff) to visit family and friends and bring back boat parts.

During Kaija’s absence, Gary and Doc made fast friends with the owners of a newly constructed home on Placentia island with its own private dock and a thatched palapa (cabana) with two wonderful easy back chairs where Gary spent a couple of hours each morning and afternoon reading while Doc frolicked in the water with the dolphin family resident in the anchorage. The property manager, Pepe (given name Solomon) along with Cotton (given name Linden) and workers Mark and John made us feel right at home and soon we were joined by Pepe’s 6 year old son Roger and Rottweiler puppy Oso. Neither Roger nor Oso could swim so the lessons began. With the aid of a long yellow noodle which Roger named ‘Champs’ it wasn’t long before he & Oso were busy swimming and treading water.

For those of you lucky enough to visit Placentia we highly recommend the following, Tommy’s for Chinese food, Wallen’s for wholesale case lots as well as regular groceries and in particular, canned New Zealand Butter, and concentrated fruit juice Squash (they accept credit cards), TuttiFruiti (Tizy & Lorenzo for the best Italian Ice cream made daily), Placentia Office Supply for high-speed internet and other office needs, Boson’s Chair, Paul and Lisa offer laundry service and internet as well. There is also a Swiss Baker on the ‘sidewalk’ along with The Barefoot Bar for excellent live music, and Le Thatch for a variety of excellent meals. The ‘veggie’ truck comes three times a week and offers a great selection of veggies, fruits, pork chops and cheese. Placentia is also the home to Marie Sharp’s famous hot sauce which comes in many levels of heat and we do mean ‘HEAT’.

For those who may be interested in original Belizean wood carving in either Rosewood or Mahogany there are many artisans here in Placentia. Kaija found a lovely carved turtle bowl she had been seeking for some time from Leo the Carver on located across from Sunrise on the Sidewalk.

The anchorage is quite large and now that the Moorings have moved there base and fleet around to the Lagoon, removing some 30 boats, there is ample parking for all. Due to an earthquake centered just north of Roatan Honduras on May 27th registering 7.4, the fuel dock here was damaged beyond repair, however one can still jury jug from the adjacent Shell station or go into the canal by Hokey Pokey taxi or to Roberts Grove Marina back in the lagoon.

Belize is a cruisers paradise as well as a backpackers haven. Having the second longest barrier reef in the world makes for wonderful isolated cruising stops and there are many inland places to see

Lime Cay, Sapodilla Cays & NE Sapodilla Cay – Belize – N16.05 – W88.17 – May 27 – May 30

These cays are part of the marine reserve park and Lime Cay houses a number of small cottages. Unfortunately the anchorage was somewhat rolly due to north winds and as it was out of season, the cottages and facilities were closed. However we did enjoy watching a beautiful pair of Osprey but did not enjoy the many thousands of sand fleas/noseeums…so cruisers beware!

The next morning we motored the short distance SW to Sapodilla Cay which is a very small uninhabited island but did provide dinner on the hook with a nice Cero. After an hour or two of gunk holing we ventured north to NE Sapodilla Cay and finding a small sandy patch dropped our hook and enjoyed a couple of wonderful days of good snorkeling on the south east side of this island where you can see many many good sized fish that are cruiser friendly as they are in protected waters.

Puerto Escondido – Honduras – N15.54 – W87.37 – May 22 – May 27 2009

This is a 40 mile sail west from Utila and brings you to mainland Honduras to a protected anchorage. This is some of nature at its best with excellent walking trails and is part of a national park. To view the Howler Monkeys requires an early morning walk as they tend to bring guided tours throughout the day encouraging the monkeys to find alternate hangouts (no pun intended). There are no fees to anchor and in very rough weather it is easy to tuck around the corner into Laguana El Diamante which is an excellent hurricane hole in time of need. This a shallow body of water completely surrounded by high hills and mangrove trees.

Isle of Utila – East Bay and West Cays – N16.05 – W86.53 – May 12 – May 22

Utila is the dive capitol of Honduras with one of the many dive shop claiming more than 4000 dive certifications in a single year. Needless to say the diving is spectacular. Also, a certain times throughout the year one may even be lucky enough to encounter one of our planets largest creatures, the awesome Whale shark.

This is a very laid back little island on the west end of the Bay Islands of Honduras. We were warmly greeted by an old friend Rob, s/v Carmelita who has taken us roots in this quaint little island. He has made friends with many of the locals and is a helpful source of information to any and all cruisers that come his way.

Another friend we met in Roatan, Vern, has found a niche market by providing a ‘water taxi’ service on his catamaran to and from West End Roatan to Utila daily. This enables a direct trip to and fro reducing travel time and expense that would normally require you to take the ferry to La Ceiba from Utila and then back to Roatan and vice versa.

We enjoyed some wonderful days down at the Western Cays and happy to report that our young pelican (see previous Utila entry) was now flying but still working on his takeoffs and landings. We particularly enjoyed the small island that he called home along with his momma and papa and couple of aunts and uncles. We highly recommend a stop here for any cruisers who seek good snorkeling rest and relaxation.