Log #56e Roatan to Belize

January 19, 2013 in Log Series 50-59, Logs by Series, Series 56, The Logs

Sapodilla Lagoon, Belize

Jan. 19, 2013

Hi Folks,

We are anchored for a couple of days here in well-sheltered Sapodilla Lagoon after a rolly night in Placencia. Linda left us two days ago from Placencia which is usually a good anchorage. However a cold front came through with a northerly wind causing an uncomfortable swell in Placencia. We will return there tomorrow and send this off before heading back to Roatan.

We were in Sapodilla Lagoon last year on our way down (see Log #54j on my website at www.veledaiv.ca) where a new resort/marina is being built. Unfortunately they are not as far along as planned. I hope the project does not fall through.

It is grey and still a northerly wind is blowing. We suspect the swell in Placencia is still making that anchorage uncomfortable and so will stay here tonight hoping to head back tomorrow.

All the best,

Aubrey

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Log #56e Roatan to Belize

Sapodilla Lagoon, Belize

Jan. 19, 2013

In Roatan we did a wall dive with Wayne and Elly for an economical $40.00 each, including scuba gear. The water was warm enough that we didn’t bother with wet suits and were quite comfortable for an hour’s dive along the reef wall down to 65 feet. This is a living reef, in good condition, with abundant sea life. It was beautiful, seeing many colourful tropical fish as well as a large crab (at least a two foot span from claw to claw), a moray eel, its green head glaring out from its crevice with menacing eyes and deadly opening jaws, a lion fish wafting its long toxin poisoned fins, and a few wandering barracuda eyeing us as we passed through their territories. I am always amazed at the vibrant purple colours of the sea fans undulating like the veils of an Arabian dancer (See attached picture of a dried out purple sea fan ashore).

Log_56e_Purple_sea_fan

The formations of staghorn, brain, and pipe coral have a variety of ornate rough textures and solid colours from drab grey and rusty yellow to vivid scarlet, highlighted by the colourful tropical fish flashing around and feeding off this life-giving reef.

About 25 miles south of Roatan lie a group of coral islands known as Los Cochinos (the pigs), part of a marine park with good diving and snorkelling. January 12 we motored down to Cochino Grande and picked up a mooring buoy (15 58.159N, 086 28.858W). No anchoring is allowed in the park due to the damage that could be done to the fragile reef system. Shortly after securing to the mooring buoy, a police/park ranger came over to collect a park fee. We could have had a day, a week or a year permit at $10.00, $20.00 or $40.00 dollars respectively. We took the year’s pass as we hope to be down here a few times while at Roatan. They did not seem to be the best organized officials, and both Judy and I noted the sloppy way in which a modern rifle was left in the bottom of their boat with water sloshing over it. They then went over to Nauti Nauti who moored shortly after us.

Next day we went ashore with Terry and Barbara to the resort bar to get information on the island and dive or snorkelling sites. The manager was quite pleasant and co-operative. Next time we are over we will probably arrange for a meal ashore with them. We went for a hike up to the lighthouse, a long walk through dense tropical forest to see the view, only to be disappointed as the lighthouse tower is now surrounded by heavy foliage, with no opening to see the shoreline (See attached picture). Oh well, it was a good hike. The snorkelling around the island was good.

Log_56d_Tropical_foliage_on_Cachino_Grande                             Log_56e_Light_tower_in_jungle_foliage

A fisherman came by and sold us a nice yellowtail for supper. We asked if he could bring us a lobster next day, which he did. Mmmmm!

I dinghied around a couple of the other islands to see the local huts and open boats used here. The waters were shallow far from the shore even for me in the dinghy. We will have to be very careful when we return to these islands in Veleda, but we plan to do so as they are only a few hours from Roatan for a pleasant change of scenery. Two days later we returned to Roatan.

The week before Christmas I decorated Veleda with several strings of multicoloured lights. One long one went from the bow up the forestay to the mast head and back aft down the aft stay into the cockpit. I had another two strings, one going along each side on the lifelines. I had one white rope of lights that I coiled around the sail cover from the mast to the cockpit. In the aft end of the cockpit I hung a small artificial tree festooned with multicoloured lights. I turned them on each night from sunset, about 1730, to 2030, while running our Honda generator to power the lights and charge our batteries. Inside the cabin I just had some tree ornaments and red ribbons festooning our small coal stove.

Log_56d_Veledas_Christmas_lights
Log_56e_Christmas_tree_in_cockpit                            Log_56e_Christmas_tree_in_cockpit_2

Incidentally, in the picture above you can see the 1000 watt Honda Generator we use to charge the batteries. When at anchor we leave it locked on the cockpit coaming with it plugged in to the 110 shore power connection powering the boat’s 30 amp battery charger, as well as another 12 volt connection direct to the battery bank. We put it on for a couple of hours each evening to keep the batteries charged, and to power the Christmas lights.We have a small 750 watt invertor hard wired to our 12 volt battery bank to power 110 appliances such as an electric drill, or our Sailrite sewing machine, as well as to charge up the battreries for our laptop computers, electric tooth brush when not using the Honda generator.

Christmas eve we had a few friends from Nauti Nauti, Argo and Engenium over for refreshments.

Log_56l_Friends_over_on_Christmas_Eve_in_Roatan

Christmas Day Brooksy Point Marina put on a turkey and ham dinner while each boat brought a side dish or desert to share.

.Log_56l_Christmas_Day_at_Breesey_Point_Marina_Roatan
Gathering at Brooksey Point before Christmas Dinner

We had a good time with a lively gift exchange. Each person was asked to bring a small wrapped gift off their boat. Each person was given a number to be drawn after the meal. The basic rule was that when a person’s number was drawn, that person could go up to the table of gifts

Log_56e_Christmas_gift_table             Log_56l_Terry_choosing_a_gift_from_the_table

and select one (no shaking, lifting, or touching any gift before selecting it). However subsequent people, when their number was drawn, could choose a gift from the table or take an earlier gift opened, and then the taken-from person would pick another gift from the table or take one from someone else, and so on. Any one gift could not be seized more than twice. A couple of the gifts were bottles of whiskey, which were seized whenever possible, as were a few other useful gifts such as solar lights, drink holders, and duct tape repair kits. One husky young man from a Danish tall ship opened his present to find a pair of red bikini lady’s underwear. A good time was had by all.

There was a New Year’s Eve party at Fantasy Island, but we opted not to go. On New Year’s Day, I co-ordinated a chili and bread-baking cook-off. It went quite well, with six boats making chili, and another five baking breads. Mmmm!

Log_56l_Aubrey_comgratulating_winner_of_Bread_baking_contest
Aubrey congratulating the winner of the Bread Baking contest

Jan. 2, I took down our Christmas lights in preparation for our departure for Belize. Our friend Linda Burman from Toronto was to join us in Belize City on Jan. 8, and we didn’t want to risk bad weather holding us up, so we left Roatan on Jan. 3 for the 136 mile passage to Belize City, to Cucumber Beach Marina. We left at noon in order to arrive in daylight the next day. The winds were light easterly to northeast causing us to motorsail most of the day. In the evening we put a single reef in the main just in case the wind picked up at night. Throughout the night we were able to sail and motorsail for varying periods of time as we went through a few rain squalls. In the morning I caught a little tunny, a small tuna sufficient for a meal for the two of us. Mmmm!

We arrived at Cucumber Beach Marina (17 28.357N, 088 14.966W) by 1350 the next day, having completed 136 nautical miles to Belize in 25 hours. The marina arranged for the officials to come to check us in, a relatively expensive procedure. The first to arrive was the health inspector filling out a few forms and charging $20.00 US, with no receipt or statement that he was ever here. The next were from customs, immigration and the harbour authority with a myriad of forms causing us to go three times to the marina office to photocopy our ship’s papers, crew list and a copy of the Ship’s Report. At least we got some forms from them to verify our entry. The cost was $50.00 US for the entry and two days stay, plus another $35.00 for two more weeks. (There is a cruising charge of $5.00 Belize ($2.50 US) per day.) However in addition to that, we had to pay the taxi fares for the three individuals, each in their own taxi (they didn’t share their costs) of $30.00, $30.00 and $25.00, again with no receipts. I am not sure if this was a rip off or not, but we paid it. Thus the total we paid in US dollars was $20+50+ 35+30+30+25 = $190.00 for a 16 day stay in Belize. We will have to pay more if we are beyond the 16 days paid for. We plan to head back to Roatan shortly after Linda leaves. The entry into Honduran waters is less than $6.00 US for three months.

We left next day (Jan. 5) to go 10 miles across the bay to Drowned Cays (17 29.897N, 086 05.411W) for a couple of days before returning to Cucumber Beach to await Linda’s arrival on Jan. 8. The cays are low but well sheltered mangrove islands, a pleasant isolated anchorage. The entrance to them has a raft of barges used to ferry supplies from ships anchored offshore to the mainland. Otherwise the cays are uninhabited. We saw Marysol, a Canadian boat we met a couple of days earlier there. We returned to Cucumber Beach
Marina on Jan. 7 in preparation for Linda’s arrival on the 8th. We were moored beside a defunct condo project that has been partially completed but left empty for the past six years.

Log_56l_Abandoned_Condo_in_Cucumber_Marina_Belize
Veleda moored in front of abandoned condo in Cucumber Marina

Linda arrived a bit later than anticipated; her luggage had to be checked as it arrived at the airport opened. Nothing was missing, but it delayed her over an hour. Unfortunately when we were ready to leave next morning, she realized she did not have her passport! After frantically searching through all her belongings she determined she must have left it in the taxi. A call to the airport Lost and Found located it (actually, it had been at the ATM in the airport) and it was taxied out to her at Cucumber Beach. As a result it was almost noon before we left. The wind was up to force 5 (20 knots) and so rather than heading down to some keys 25 miles away, we pounded into the wind and six foot waves back to Drowned Cays. When we arrived we found another small world situation in that Paco, another Canadian boat we have not seen since the Rio Dulce, was anchored there as well. It was a good get together with Georges and Lizette.

More about our travels in Belize in my next log.