Saturday, May 18, 2013

Lighthouse Reef, Belize

Our boat demons have left us and we are free from the harbor in Placencia, Belize. It is a good feeling to be out in the beautiful waters behind the reef. A perfect day. We are heading north towards Lighthouse Reef, a place we have not visited yet. We will take a few days to get there. We are not in a hurry.
There are lots of small islands between the mainland of Belize and the reef. The reef provides nice protection from the ocean swells. We are traveling with friends Liz and Craig and frequently we are the only two boats anchored by a beautiful small island

Enjoying a little solitude
This is Rendezvous Island. It is beautiful and a favorite place to bring cruise ship passengers. The trick is to come here in the afternoon after the cruise ships depart and you have the whole place to yourself. Ha Ha

A few days later we anchor in one of our favorite places...Caye Caulker 
Island cuisine is great here
Just a great place to hang out and chill 
Sand streets and tropical breezes
From Caye Caulker we sail east over the reef. There are various breaks in the reef where you can exit but it is never very deep and always a bit intimidating to look under the boat and see reef, coral and sand. Even though we have 12 feet of water under us it appears more like inches due to the crystal clear water.
There are three offshore atolls in Belize: Glovers Reef, Turneff Reef and Lighthouse Reef. Lighthouse Reef is the eastern most of the three atolls and is also rumored to be the most beautiful. We will see! This is new cruising ground for us
And we are not disappointed. We arrive at the southern end of the island. The water is stunning. There is not much civilization but a few small lodges try to survive. They are usually very friendly and Itza Lodge is no exception. We can buy internet here via satellite and we pay $9.99 for about 30 MB. That is not much but enough to get into our email and let our family know we are OK 
Steve waiting patiently for his turn to check email.
There is also a dive lodge here and they agree to fill our scuba tanks. The diving here is superb.
French Angelfish
Green Moray Eel

Pristine coral

Porcupine fish

The colors are dazzling

Two lobsters spar over their homestead

More beautiful coral

At the north end of Lighthouse reef we find the remnants of a dive lodge that has closed it's doors. Our friends Terry and Barbara on Wind Whisperer have told us tales of "how it used to be" at this place. It is a sad reality in the tropics. Places that once were alive and humming sit quietly, all alone, as decay from time and elements reclaim them.

The beach is still here and ours to enjoy. Fine Line and Salida in the background.

Craig, Liz and Steve.

On the opposite shore from the closed dive lodge is a thriving coconut oil manufacturer
Getting coconut oil from the coconut is quite a process. Two guys live here along with the lighthouse keeper and they bottle and sell the finished product to a distributor on the mainland. They had none for sale so don't worry, you will not find a bottle of coconut oil under the Christmas Tree from us

The coconut oil industry is very liberal and afternoon naps in the hammocks are allowed

A sandloving very prolific tomato plant

And here is the Lighthouse on Lighthouse Reef. Not very impressive but wait until you see the view from the top
There is reef all around this beautiful atoll. Bringing a boat through the reef and into the anchorage requires good light and the higher you are the better you see
Fine Line and Salida inside the reef.

It is a long way up or a long way down

Lighthouse Reef is another favorite to add to our list. 
The weather man tells us the time is good for heading to Isla Mujeres, Mexico. The trip will take us about 30 hours and it is time to say farewell

The trip to Isla Mujeres begins in the morning. After we get outside the reef we raise our sails and put the poles in the water. Soon we are rewarded with a small dolphin fish (Mahi Mahi)

We also pick up a weary hitchhiker

Sailing through the night we plan to arrive at Isla Mujeres sometime after dawn

And so it is. We have a fabulous sail and with a 2- 3 knot current pushing us, we arrive outside Cancun early in the morning

Stay tuned for our Isla Mujeres story. 
We are now in Key West trying to catch up on some boat chores and story telling. Internet is hard to get on the boat so we are enjoying the beautiful Key West Library internet and air conditioning service.

See You Soon
Anne and Steve
S/V Fine Line