It is now mid December, I did most up-grade that I wanted to do on Ete Infini, and a lot more, The budget is blown as usual, but she is ready.
Guatemala is a great place not only to keep her, but also to have a home base. I just love the people here. But now it is time to go sailing, after all it is the purpose of a sailboat 🙂 This year Guatemala is enforcing the rules about the amount of time anyone can spend here, that rule was established in 1994 in agreement with the C4 countries, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. The rule has always been 3 months when entering the C4 countries, then a renewal of 12 months, for a total of 15 months, but after that you need to get the boat out for 3 months before coming back, those are the rules, but as most countries the rule was somewhat followed, but this year they applied it, no big deal for Me, Canada and the US have the exact same rules, but some boaters in Guatemala took offense to this. I guess they think they are special and above the law, oh well you meet those all over the world, especially from a certain country, that I will not mention, but they think the whole world belongs to them, and they can do what ever they want, and the world should kiss their butt.
Any who, it is Mid December, so I am heading for Placencia Belize. It is always a joy to get there so friendly ( like every countries I go to). First stop is Livingston to see Raoul to get My exit papers, passport stamped, zarpe in hand, I body boat with “le Notre” I normally do not body boat, I hate the idea of being attached at the hip to and other boat, I usually do what I do, when I want to do it, I do not like to have to consult with anyone to decide of the next move, that way, if I screw up, I have only one person to blame. So We leave Livingston (late) and We are going to have to anchor near Monkey Bay. We arrive late, it is almost dark, and I hate it, rule #1 never pull in an unknown anchorage in the dark (did I mentioned I hate body boating). The anchorage is ok, a few reefs, but fairly easy to navigate with a chart plotter, and there is an other boat there already. We anchor at about 7 PM and it is dark, But it has good holding, and it is calm. After We spend the night there, We make our way to Placencia, and easy 4 to 5 hours sail. I anchor in My favorite spot, not far from “YULI” YULI is a lovely palapa bar owned by a couple He is from Vancouver she is from Belize, this is where most boaters go to mingle, and shoot the breeze, Yolanda hence the name YULI, and her husband will always bend over backward to help you out, they have so many friends and contact in Belize, that they have a solution for every problems, it is a great place to have a beer, and ask questions.
But My first stop, has to go and get “legal” and do the paper work. A short water taxi ride to “Big Creek” on the Hokey Pokey, $6.00 BZ each way, and $25.00 BZ for the land taxi. Immigration, custom and the port Captain are very close to each others, they are so friendly and efficient, it is unbelievable. $45.00 BZ for Immigration, $20.BZ for Customs, and $5.00 BZ a day for the port Captain, so a month in Belize will set you back about $175.00 US Quite in line with most countries.
A beer a yuli’s will set you back $2.00 US and there delicious Sunday BBQ ( a must for locals and boaters) is about $10.00 US and worth every pennies.
So now I am at anchor, and decide to stay there for about a month, Placencia is a very nice place to be, nice white sand beaches, great people, and fairly affordable. Good swimming and descent snorkeling, but if you decide to sail to near by islands, the snorkeling and diving becomes outstanding. Just ask locals or seasoned boaters to ask for the best places to go, We all have our different favorite spots, so you might get 10 different suggestions from 10 different people. This year I did not do anything exciting in Placencia, but it is just fine with Me, lay back and relax, is just an other part of sailing.
So after a month there, and the constant pestering from the crew I picked up in the Rio, I decide to go to Roatan Honduras.
The exit papers from “Big Creek” is a snap as usual Fast and efficient has always been My experience in Belize (so far ) 🙂
So now it is mid January, raise the sails and set to Roatan via Utila, Utila is a good place to do the entry paper work in Honduras ( more details later). I have two choice, I decide to take a southern way, Sapicio pass, It is a bit out of the way, but I know it well, plus the wind is with us. I actually do over 9 knots for a while, and the wave are less then 2 feet, as sailing goes, it cannot get any better than this, this is what sailing should be. We round up Sapicio pass at about 5;30 PM the way I like to plan this, lots of day light. Sapicio pass can be busy, because the cargo ships from Puerto Barillio used it to either go tom the US, or south to Panama. The pass is busy as usual but easy to navigate, but the problem is once you take the turn, you go straight west, usually right against the trade winds, so once across the reef, the waves picks up, and the wind is in your face, but it is not a surprise, and We all have to deal with it, the best thing you can do is either plot a course that is away from your destination in order to be able to sail, or just loose the sails and motor all the way. I decide to use the motor, after all Ete Infini has an over-sized prop, she does almost 5 knots at idle, a bit less against the wind and the waves that at this time are between 5 to 10 feet. Ete Infini is fairly heavy and strongly built, she does well in those seas, and the fuel is not an issue, I can get a whole season out of 60 gallons, and I have 110 gallons tank. Lets see a motor boat do the LOL.
Over night, the seas get a bit bigger, not a huge issues when every thing goes well, but this is sailing, and Murphy is always present. This year I decided to trash the dinghy, it was getting old, and the glue they used in those days, tend to deteriorate over time, today’s glue i fairly better, so instead of the dinghy, I take the lancha with Me, it is a great lancha, solid fiberglass, very easy on gas and the engine compare to the dinghy, only problem… it is fiberglass, and the best way to bring it with Me is to tow it, because I do not want it to band against Ete Infini, and it would if it was on the davits, so as mentioned Murphy is alive and well, at 2 o’clock in the morning, 10 foot seas, Peggy Sue( the lancha) brakes a line, and float free. ( I broke the golden rule, always tie 2 lines just in case). Fortunately, I heard it break the cable, so I have it in line of sight at all time, and it is a full moon, so the bad situation could be worst, I yell to My crew, I won’t go into details, but she embellished her sailing resume, and a sailor she is not, normally I could live with it, but now I need a sailor with a sailor’s brain, I have neither. I circle around, aim for the lancha, ( I always have a line in the lancha for just such a situation) I have a grapple hook, I tell the crew what to do, I’ll go along side slowly, you grab the line with the hook, and tie it quickly and I will do the rest. Well the first pass is perfect, she hooks the line, but does not know what to do with it, so after having a hold of it for 5 minutes, she loses it, Not a big deal, I can make an other pass, I have a good line of sight on it. I am getting ready for the second pass, now she is sitting in the back looking at the stars, when the lancha is forward, now I know I am going to have to do every thing if I want it done right, again a perfect pass, I grab the line Myself, run it to the back but the line is too small for the seas, the good one broke, so I grab a bigger line, the seas are 10 feet, too too bad, but not a great situation either, Having more balls then brains, I jump in the lancha, it is bobbing like crazy, in a hurry I tie the second line to the lancha’s tow eye, and secure it to Ete Infini. it is a bit of a night mare, but the job gets done. After the commotion I am thinking the whole thing over, 1 should have had a second line on the lancha, 2 should have made a better choice in picking the crew, 3 I should never have jump in the lancha without a life vest and a harness ( I wore neither). It came out ok, but if something had gone wrong, the clueless crew would have been alone on the boat, and I would have been bobbing slowly for day in the lancha. Lesson learned here, do as I say, not as I do.