Monday, September 10, 2012

Best Of Belize

I am going to back track just a little bit. Before Meghan and Joe's visit we needed to officially check into Belize. It is not a simple matter here. We sailed to Ambergris Caye and then anchored by the very charming town of San Pedro. Steve went ashore and returned a while later with a boatful of guests: Mr. Customs man, Mr. Port Captain and Mr. Agriculture. Our boat got a thorough inspection and we were finally deemed OK to remain in the country. 

Ambergris Caye is a busy island with lots of tourists. At anchor your boat is rocked to and fro from passing tour boats...busy, busy, busy. Ashore there are lots of shops and you can find some good provisions. Eating out is tempting with many good restaurants. This was one of our favorites. They call the cuisine Mayan but how would we know?? It was good so we were happy.
Nice fire house.

Good local beers

You can only take so much boat traffic and after two days at Ambergris Caye we were ready for calmer waters. We would be back soon, however, because we had arranged for Meghan and Joe to fly to San Pedro from Belize City. No problem. There was a great Caye a short 1-2 hour sail away that we knew would be a wonderful respite. Tally Ho to Caye Caulker. Here life was slow and laid back. Great small restaurants

Local food here is fish and more fish. If you like fish this is the place for you if you don't like fish

You can try some Dragon Fruit. The strong color would suggest a strong taste, sweet maybe? Not so, it is very bland but it is supposed to be very good for you!

The streets in Caye Caulker are made of shoes required.

Favorite local beach and hangout. You can see the reef in the distance. There is good snorkeling along the reef.

Once anchored we do a few checks. We check for our stow away. He has been with us since Roatan, Honduras and we are getting somewhat attached to him  :). He (or maybe she) is a Remora. They have a suction cup type structure on their topside and attach themselves to fish, boats or anything else that is passing by. Our Remora is showing off hanging upside down.
We also like to check our anchor and when it looks like this we are very happy. Not going anywhere tonight!
The animal life under and near our boat is pretty impressive

Here at Caye Caulker there is lots of turtle grass and lots of turtles



Coral is a good hiding place for these Grunts


We found this seahorse in an aquarium onshore


Porcupine Fish

Big bad eel

Another Grouper

There is only one marina in Belize. Located near Belize City on the mainland, Cucumber Beach Marina is not a bad place to dock for a few days. Belize City has very little to offer tourists but there are some great land excursions to enjoy.

Joe left us after a week and with Meghan onboard we left the marina and followed our friends, Paul and Mary on Roam About, south.
June is the beginning of hurricane season and it was time for us to head towards the Rio Dulce River in Guatemala. We enjoyed some beautiful small cayes on the way south.
Great weather

Meghan getting into Steve's rum....missing Joe alot!

Cruising around

There a lots of small retreats in Belize for underwater studies. A bit pricey but you get college credits.....please Mom and Dad!!!

So far so good, the weather was great, no storms, but it was hot.
Off in the distance we saw lots of clouds and lightning is a nightly occurrence. From June to December, boaters fear lightning strikes almost as much as they fear pirates.

Last night in Belize.

 We arrived in Livingston, Guatemala on June 25th (which happened to be our 35th Wedding Anniversary). We spent 3 weeks prepping the boat and arrived back in San Diego on July 18th. We have lots of great pictures of Guatemala we will post soon. Stay tuned.

Steve, Anne and Meghan

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Welcome to Belize

Guest post by Joe....

When I was invited to join Anne and Steve on Fine Line in Belize a few thoughts went through my head.  Either I was being invited because I'm a fine young man that they're proud their daughter is dating or I'm walking a fine line and they had other intentions for me out in the middle of the the sea.  Nonetheless, Meghan and I boarded the boat and began our adventure.

First things first.  We had to prepare ourselves for my week long vacation and Meghan's month long sabbatical.  This was my first time sailing and visiting the Caribbean; I was delighted and relieved that Steve didn't even put me through any hazing rituals or training programs.

We got right down to the activity we'd spend a lot of our time doing...floating behind the boat in the 80 + degree water.  Of course, Steve and Anne were great hosts and we embarked on many other activities to enjoy all that Belize had to offer.... 

First, they accustomed me to the Island food.  The local man above spent his day roasting this pig...I liked the steering wheel he attached to the rotating post, myself.

As we were floating, Meghan nabbed a coconut drifting in the sea and opened it up for all to taste.  It was sweet and warm...not the ideal refreshing beverage.

We took a snorkeling tour to Hol Chan Marine Park.  This was my first time snorkeling with any real views.  I quickly realized that I didn't need to take a deep breath every time I ducked my head and we swam with a huge variety of fish, sharks and rays.

To top off the tour, we swam with a manatee that can be seen above barreling toward Steve.  It was a day long tour and Anne said we saw more than she can typically see in a full month of snorkeling elsewhere.  Don't worry, Steve didn't incur any manatee related injuries in a sacrifice to get this shot.

As part of the adventure we sailed to many different islands around Belize including Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker, and St. George's Caye.  As you can see above, I figured I'd direct Steve where to sail and give him a few pointers.

That didn't work out so he put me to work, instead.  Who knew there was physical labor involved in this deal?  In the end, though,  most of the sailing consisted of us relaxing on the trampoline and watching the waves go by.

Once we got to the mainland, we ziplined through the jungle of Belize (as you can see, they didn't dump me at Sea!) 

And took a relaxing tube ride through the Mayan Caves.  It's very interesting to see and think about how the Mayans must have viewed their surroundings and used the resources they had at hand. 

Lastly, I was told it's tradition to jump off the bow of the vessel.  So, naturally I did a full out belly flop to take full advantage of the tradition. I'm starting to think maybe there was a hazing ritual involved here, because Anne conveniently didn't get the shot the first time I jumped and made me complete the painful flop twice.

We had a wonderful vacation and it's sad to leave.  Now I wish I could be a fly on the wall after I depart to see if they'll even consider inviting me back!  Thanks to the Fine Line crew for an amazing vacation and wonderful hospitality..... until next time! 
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Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Leaving Honduras

We had intended to leave Honduras awhile ago but due to weather we are still here. The local marine park hosted a lion fish roundup and local restaurants prepare what they hope is a winning lion fish dish. Hosted at a local eatery, we could not resist sampling some of the creations.

 This is a very local presentation, whole fish on a plate but with a very gourmet touch of a strawberry vinaigrette sauce. There is also last years winner, the lion fish fritter. Delicious.

Lion fish diablo, great presentation but a bit spicy. Is that habaneros we taste?
 The winner. It does not look like much. Served on a saltine! It is amazing . 
We tried everything and we were not disappointed with any of the 6 entries. Lion fish is a very mild white fish. It does have a lot of bones, however, so eat with caution.

Another must do before we leave is visiting the Iguana farm. 

Where there are lots of Iguanas...This farm did not start out to collect Iguanas but once you start feeding them they invite all their friends and relatives to move in so beware.

From Roatan we went west to Utila. Here we met up with our new friends on sailing vessel Romabout and Nauti Nauti. Cruising is like that, you get new friends wherever you go. What's not to love about that.
Utila is a cool little island with lots of scooters, bikes, golf carts and other small vehicles that can fit on the narrow roads. You have to be a cautious pedestrian here.

Locals selling you anything you might need

Some great eateries

We leave Utila for Glovers Reef Belize around midnight. The next morning we are still underway and we have a few squalls.
Nothing serious

 And we are in good company

Once the squalls go away we are presented with a vision of beauty.

Glovers Reef is one of three atolls in Belize. The water is crystal clear and these atolls have very few inhabitants. A few lodges, research stations and boaters like us make this place paradise.

Fine Line in the distance.

Stay tuned for more Belize stories.

Anne and Steve
S/V Fine Line