Archive for: ‘January 2014’

Felicity and Karmic Debt

January 18, 2014 Posted by Deb

The folks on a charter boat named Felicity dinghied over to the Bluefield Range from Middle Caye in rough weather to get help and to see if we had enough cell phone coverage to call TMM up in San Pedro and inform them that they were aground. They had been holed up at Cucumber Marina for days during the storm and had come out just that morning. We had zero cell coverage but used the Iridium to call Simon, the head guy at TMM who we first met in the Rio Dulce. Simon was sick, it was late in the day, and he had another boat aground to deal with. He said it was too dark to get help all the way down there. We had two hours before high tide and if we were going to get that boat off, it had to be soon.

Help!

Help!

Michael and I put on our cold/wet weather gear, grabbed two long lines, checked with the fisherman to see if they knew anything about that reef, and we took off in our dinghy for a violently rough ride over to Middle Caye. We circled their boat, probing with an oar. It was shallow everywhere. The waves and wind had moved them further aground and they weren’t bouncing anymore. Bad news. Their starboard engine was not happy either.

We hooked up the lines, got two 15 hp dinghies lined up, along with the two diesels in Felicity and we pulled. We had a kedging Plan B but damned if we didn’t get the cat to budge. After we freed up Felicity, we didn’t think it was a good idea to try again to go behind Middle Caye in bad light and conditions. We had a track for Bluefield so they moved over there, we grabbed our Samsung Galaxy notepad, and we came through that reef mostly blind at around 5:15, way too late to be doing that but we knew the track was good. We ran into Felicity again at Colson and they brought over a bottle of rum … naval tradition is great. Those of you familiar with our Mississippi adventures last summer understand the Karmic Debt reference.

Felicity Safe at Anchor and Enjoying a Family Swim

Felicity Safe at Anchor and Enjoying a Family Swim

Watching for Coral

Watching for Coral

Tobacco Caye for Lunch

Took three hours for the restaurant to come up with something for us to eat and we were starving.

One Choice Could Have been Conch

One Choice Could Have been Conch

Someone Had Temporarily Stored a Baracuda Overnight in the Freezer But it Was Confiscated for Our Lunch

Someone Had Temporarily Stored a Baracuda Overnight in the Freezer Until It Was Confiscated for Our Lunch

Not for Lunch

Not for Lunch

South Water Caye

Jelly Fish Protection

Jelly Fish Protection

Dinghy_Chuck

Off for Some "Superb" Snorkeling

Off for Some “Superb” Snorkeling

Island Exploration

Island Exploration

SouthWaterCayeBar

Exit Birthday Crew

Placencia_DinghyEnter

PlacenciaTipsyTuna

It’s been 30 hours since the boat got empty again. They saw every different kind of weather, island, and beach, and we drank five different kinds of rum. They completed their lap by flying Tropic Air from Placencia back to Belize City and made it home to 28 degrees and snow.

Birthday Boy

Birthday Boy

Better Weather and Pretty Islands

January 12, 2014 Posted by Deb

This group of guests wasn’t going to take bad weather lying down so we just added four days to their stay and kept with the plan.

A Good Hair Day

A Good Hair Day

Dinghy Women

Dinghy Women

Stormy Day

Stormy Day

PalmTreeIsland

Sailboat Antics

Sailboat Antics

Yoga Antics

Yoga Antics

On the final day of the storm, we tucked into the Bluefield Range again, right next to a fishing boat with seven or eight guys all piled up inside waiting out the norther. I don’t think it was much fun in there but we heard music from time to time.

8 Guys Living in Belize

8 Guys Living in Belize

Deb’s Swim

January 10, 2014 Posted by Deb

The day before the norther in Caye Caulker was right out of the brochure. Deb stayed behind while the rest of the crew went ashore.

Belize_HammocksDock

CayeCaulker_BarScene

CayeCaulker_Lady

The dinghy ride from the southern anchorage was two or three miles and Neytiri and Deb were quite alone. For Deb that’s skinny dipping time.

While the rest of us were pounding down Belikin Stouts and watching backpacker babes interact with backpacker guys and old men, Deb finished her dip, showered, and was washing her sandals when one fell in. She took a few seconds to put her bottoms on, lower the swim ladder, and dove in after the sandal. The currents are strong in that cut and when she reached the shoe, she was a bit surprised at how far the boat was away from her. She tried her two best strokes (back and side) and every strategy to go sideways and get out of the current and got no closer to Neytiri. After more than an hour, possibly as long as two, she was still swimming well and not admitting danger when a ferry boat saw her and stopped.

water-taxi-caye-caulker

So, we have a mostly naked woman in the water with a ferry boat full of mostly black guys and a few backpacker dudes. Deb said the black guys were wide-eyed and not saying or doing much but one of the backpacker dudes jumped in, brought her a line, and gave her his t-shirt. It was hard to keep from fouling the props with the line and to keep out of the prop wash. It was also impossible to do all that and put the t-shirt on so the backpacker dude jumped in again and helped. They towed her back to Neytiri, she climbed aboard and yelled “I’m alive!” She also yelled “I still have your t-shirt” and the backpacker dude told her to keep it. It was around that time that she realized how tired she was and had a bout of the shakes. She also found out what happens to soup when you go for a two-hour swim and leave the propane burner on.

Most of her fellow crewmates knew how differently that story could have ended so we brought back wine, shrimp, and celebrated a bit. Then we got hit by the norther and Deb did the 3:00-6:00 a.m. anchor watch.

Tough lady.

Getting a New T-Shirt the Hard Way

A Lap Around Belize

January 6, 2014 Posted by Deb

After a two-day layover at Cucumber Beach Marina (and water park of all things), the birthday crowd flew in for Chuck’s 66th. Sister Barb, her partner Michael, and Michael’s sister Lynne came from St. Louis, Missouri, and McLean, Virginia. They had a one evening crash course in Head and Shower 101, and we cast off the following morning for points north.

Blue Water Grill: Welcome to San Pedro

Blue Water Grill: Welcome to San Pedro

Brother Sister Tour: Chuck & Barb

Brother Sister Tour: Chuck & Barb

Brother Sister Tour: Michael & Lynne

Brother Sister Tour: Michael & Lynne

Provisioning in San Pedro

Provisioning in San Pedro

Street Girls in San Pedro

Gator Day in San Pedro: Not Quite the Same as the ones in Marion County, Iowa

Gator Day in San Pedro? Not Quite the Same as in Marion County, Iowa

Going to be Eating Healthy on This Trip!

Going to be Eating Healthy on This Trip!

Off to Caye Caulker to Wait Out the Norther

We were moving into the teeth of a small norther but it could have been worse. Worse happened three islands later as the strongest norther of the year pinned us south of Caye Caulker for 2 days.

First Time for Foul Weather Gear on Neytiri

First Time for Foul Weather Gear on Neytiri

Closing Out 2013 with a Cast Iron Canoe Delegation

January 2, 2014 Posted by Deb

Mark and Phyllis drew the short straw and flew down from the U.S. so we would not be alone for Christmas. That’s a dedicated canoeing club. We picked San Pedro as a pick up point and they texted me (I don’t read them) that they were coming by ferry rather than the puddle jumper. Having not read their text, we got a bit nervous as 5:00 p.m. rolled around and there were rumors of cancelled flights out of the north country due to a storm. I dinked in and checked flight manifests for Tropic and Maya Air and found zip. I then strolled the beach to the ferry dock and heard Phyllis call my name. I guess you don’t need a smartphone if you’re lucky.

We did the Caye Caulker, St. Georges, Bluefield Range, Tobacco Caye, Rendezvous Caye, and Cucumber Beach Marina loop with them and had everything from great to lousy weather. We ran into Zia and Caper each on two different occasions (both neighbors in the Rio Dulce). Both boats were entertaining holiday guests as well.

Rasta Boat Caye Caulker

Rasta Boat Caye Caulker

Mark's Old Favorite Bar on Caye Caulker from Years Past with Nazdrovie

Mark’s Old Favorite Bar on Caye Caulker from Years Past with Nazdrovie

Tobacco Caye: Proper Storage for All Jet Skiis

Tobacco Caye: Proper Storage for All Jet Skis

Off to Explore the Reef

Off to Explore the Reef

Turnaround Point: Tobacco Caye Local Restaurant Building Piles of Conch

Turnaround Point: Tobacco Caye Local Restaurant Building Piles of Conch

Bluefield Range

The Bluefield Range is kind of sacred ground for us. It started in 1995 when a semi-sober Norwegian former merchant marine cook named Finn hailed us as “Bayfield Bayfield” (our boat type back then). It was rumored he knew almost every boat made. How he recognized our boat from over a mile out is/was impressive. He said, “I know what guide you’re using and don’t come in that way.” We didn’t listen and he was right.

Over the years we visited Finn when we chartered in Belize and he always remembered “Long-Legged Deb” and always had his log book open to our page when we came ashore. He cooked some fabulous meals for us over the years, and sometimes we had marginal raw materials. He was hard on our booze supplies but we took it in stride as we heard various chapters of his life story, some with a bit of crying and leaning on long-legged Deb’s shoulder.

Bluefield Range As It Was Then

Bluefield Range As It Was Then

All That's Left

All That’s Left

Finn drowned in the Bluefield Range lagoon. Many of us guess that it was alcohol related but no one was there when it happened. Ricardo, the owner, tried bringing the resort back to life on at least one occasion but the shots above show the current state of the famous Bluefield Range Resort. Here’s a link from Boat U.S. with a story titled, Finn’s World, Where Dogs Eat Dinghies and People Eat Well, that will bring a tear to your eye.

Rendezvous Cay

We took Neytiri out to Rendezvous, another famous stop in Belize … advertised as a perfect South Pacific island with great snorkeling. We made many trips to that island and always had it all to ourselves. Our favorite little island is buried somewhere under this private cruise ship leased commercial paradise now and it costs from $10 to $20 U.S. per person to go there now if the cruise ships aren’t in town. We talked the guy down to zero but the snorkeling was a fraction of what we remember.

Deb on Rendezvous

Deb on Rendezvous

Rendezvous Caye Turned into Cruise Ship Park

Rendezvous Caye Turned into Cruise Ship Park

Wild Man Snorkeler

Wild Man Snorkeler