We left Key West 2 days ago. Currently on a 700 mile passage to Belize. First night out we had 20-25 knots and a speedy passage. We use a weather router, Susan Gannett out of Rhode Island. So far her forecast has been spot on. We have been tinkering with our new Hydrovane. So far it's a bit frustrating but this piece of equipment is highly acclaimed by many blue water sailors. So I'm sure it's us and not the unit. We plan to get it figured out though. We have been on a 4 hour watch schedule and this has been working well. It's nice to again be on a passage, we are assimilating into the groove. The water is a deep blue as we are on the outside edge of the Gulf Stream off the western end of Cuba, Belize bound. Weather is perfect. (*If the last update you read was Nov, check out 2015 Jan updates and 2014 Dec updates our link on the home page wasn't pointing to latest updates--woops)
February 2, 2015 What a difference a day makes. Yesterday we were getting the crap kicked out of us. 25-28 knots while trying to find our way out of a 2 knot counter current off the west coast of Cuba. Dark, forbidding night brings dark thoughts. All I could think about, after of course keeping the yacht safe, was missing out on all the activities this time of year brought in all my past years. Working in the OR, running business, playing old men's hockey, making sure kids were getting homework done, etc etc. I was missing the comfort of the routine. Why am I out here on this dark windy night? Fast forward to this morning, smooth seas, 15 knots, cumulus clouds, cobalt blue sea, 80 degrees, French toast breakfast with bananas, sharing the day with the women I love. Adventure on the horizon, every day different, every day a new challenge, lows in this life are lower, but the highs are much higher. Ya I remember what I'm after.
February 7, 2015 We arrived in Belize and quickly took care of all the formalities for checking into a country with a boat. We had to first visit customs and immigration, then the dept of agriculture, finally port authority. They made the process easy but costly. We stayed in San Pedro, Ambergris Cay just long enough to both get our scuba PADI license. I was renewing mine as I have not been diving frequently and Jess is getting hers for the first time. We went to Ambergris divers and in two days were done. We did 4 dives with our instructor, Lallo who was a gem. Basically breath and don't panic. Got it.
San Pedro is a crazy busy little harbor town. Mostly golf carts scooters and motor bikes but all moving at a hectic pace. It's a dusty run down little city that attracts 50% of the Belize tourist. We can't wait to get out of here and find the solitude we have read about. We had a busy few days, PADI license, re provision food stores, and a lot of laundry. At least the weather and water is spectacular.
We sailed to Cay Caulker on Friday the 6th. Only 12 miles away and with 25 knot winds dead astern we rolled out the Genoa and plowed our way there. We sailed between the island and the reef in water that was from 5.6 to 9 feet deep. It's all sand and turtle grass but we definitely hit bottom and plowed a trench for a lot of the passage. Cadence had such momentum that she just dug a ditch in the areas that were too shallow. Kind of alarming but all our guide books claimed this passage to be deep enough.
We found a little bar with open mic live music that was packed and half the place dancing. Just so happens that the lead rock and roll hall of famer from the Kingsmen, you know the famous song Louie Louie, was on stage. He brought the house down. What a blast. We will be back to this pub. Cay Caulker is a small island that has become a haven for the young backpacker crowd going down the Gringo Trail which is a popular trek for 20 something's traveling down Central America.
I unfortunately have to attend a meeting in Tampa so I will be leaving here Saturday. Cadence is well anchored in a safe harbor close to town and Jess will be manning the ship. Looking forward to returning Tuesday and we will take off for Turnereffe atolls. Just offshore where the famous Blue Hole is.
February 16, 2015 We left Cay Caulker for Turnereffe he day after I returned from Tampa. We had a pleasant half day sail and entered the reef fringed island in the south opening. There is about a 100 yard opening between two exposed reefs with breaking water over them. We are always apprehensive about these approaches and make sure to arrive in good light so we can see the different depths. As we are both new to eyeball coral navigation we get a bit nervous.
We use a guidebook that gives us GPS waypoints for entries and then compass course directions after the waypoint. The electronic charts we have are totally off. We stop paying attention the the electronic charts whenever we are in shallow water. It's very common for them to show us on the reef or in super shallow water when we are not. Once inside the lagoon we tried to follow the compass directions but soon found ourselves in 5 feet of water and stuck on the sand. We raised our sails to heel the boat and used the engine to power ourselves off. Once in deep water we anchored, put down the skiff and then used the skiff as the go forward boat with a depth sounder. We found deep water and made our way further into the lagoon to anchor. Phew. Anchor down, water under the keel and beer out.
We met several fellows from a little fish camp around the corner from where we set anchor. They were keen to sell us some lobster which we were excited to stock up on. It's pricey at $10 US per pound but you only get the tail and not the whole body so 4 pounds gave us about 16 lobster tails of good size. They weighed them for us then threw in a few extras. They had a pretty special little place they lived in, called Coco Beach. They had cleared all the land around the house and lived a pretty simple existence living off their catch and grown vegetable garden. Jess wanted to do a painting of their place so we asked permission to return the next day and spend some time there. When we returned we learned that their engine on the skiff was having carburetor issues and not all cylinders were firing.
While Jess painted I returned to the boat with a couple of the guys to get tools for them to fix the engine. Within a few minutes they had the carbs off and were cleaning them all out. They were intimately familiar with this older than dirt Yamaha engine and had it running in about an hour.
We signed up to do two dives with Turnereffe Island Resort the next day. This exclusive all inclusive resort agreed to have us as there were two other cruising boats, Neko and Pegasus, looking to dive as well and the resort probably needed the extra business. We did two rather unimpressive dives and were over charged and somewhat disappointed. We did get some valuable info from these folks who have both been traveling through the area for the last several months though. We have some new Must See places and most importantly gained some valuable SSB information from Peter on Neko. We know have our SSB radio up and running. In the morning we listen to Chris Parkers free weather reports and then listen in on the north west Caribbean net which is a loosely organized group of yachties that are traveling the area. They do a role call and discuss weather or any safety issues. We have found this a great resource for the area.
February 18, 2015 We left Turnereffe to back to the Cays inside the reef closer to the mainland as we have heard there is some approaching weather. We stopped once inside the break at South Water Cay and anchored in crystal clear water just off the beach. There was two little beach bars that we had happy hour at and enjoyed the relaxed seen. There is a little marine research center on the island and they get visiting marine biology college students so there were about 10 visiting students. Also a group that was on a paddle board vacation tour and two other yachts visiting so the little beach bar was full.
On Wednesday we woke to building winds and waves and moved Cadence into a protected little lagoon. We are completely surrounded by mangroves. There are supposed to be many crocodiles too so swimming is out. We are going to wait this weather out than go back offshore to Glovers reef, about 15 miles east of our current location. For our northeast readers we though you would appreciate a temperature update, air is 83 degrees and the water about 81
February 28, 2015 We left twin cays once the wind settled and made our way out of the reef heading for Glovers. Once outside the reef we had significant seas and wind on the nose so we changed plans and headed for Tobacco Cay. This tiny little cay had two beach bars and filled in with a few other cruising boats. We first met Harry and Melinda on Sea Schell. A Midwest American couple that were in their 14th year of Caribbean cruising. We joined them for beers and they both unloaded large amounts of wisdom on Jess and I. This couple is your typical Midwest American couple, super friendly and willing to give you the shirt off their back. They too were heading to Glovers reef the next day. The other boats were all Germans who had also been out cruising for the last decade plus. After meeting up at the bar that evening we learned that everyone was heading to Glovers so we looked forward to the company.