Sunday, February 20, 2011

San Pedro, Belize

This is a town my brother would love. He is to airplanes what I am to boats. What to do?
1. Build a 2600 foot airstrip in the center of the island (Ambergris Cay - (pronounced Key as in Florida.))
2. Widen one end for a ramp area.
3 Build a couple of hangers and a shed for baggage, mail and cargo (no doors or windows needed.)
4. Put some chain link fence about 100 feet from the runway, etc. Yes, only 100 feet!
5. Build the entire town around the runway. Keep buildings 3 stories and under so as not to interfere with the glide slope.
I know that Ace has flown his plane to Canada but I think he needs to experience Island aviation!
My friend Jim went to Belize City via commuter plane to meet a friend ($80 round trip, about 15 minutes vs 1 1/2 wet hours by ferry.) He asked about a seat for his scheduled departure. "Oh, we have 88 people booked for your flight sir." "How big is the plane?" "13 seats sir. We just keep flying back and forth until everyone gets to their destination."
I am anchored with several other boats behind the reef. I joined up with CARIBBEAN SOUL and WAYWARD SUN in Xcalak for the trip down. HOBO II had departed Xcalak two days earlier so I caught back up to Jim here. This is truly the eastern trades. The wind blows day and night without stopping. Of course it comes from the east which means that the entire coast is a lee shore. Sitting behind the barrier reef there is some relief from the rollers but the wind and some sea action is always present. The water here is shallow, I have been anchoring since Mexico with 2.5 to 4 feet under the keel. The bottom is a shallow layer of sand with limestone underneath. The Delta will not catch at all in the limestone. but with 150 feet of chain it holds in the sand. It does not help that every ferry and resort boat drives through the anchorage at full speed night and day.
I had noticed that the lifelines were a bit slack so I spent an hour yesterday going over them. I found a couple of places where fittings had become unscrewed. So I cleaned up the corrosion, applied locktite, and screwed it all back together. It took me back to the original REBOOT, a Catalina 30 that at the time was in Lake St Claire. Trevor and Spencer were visiting for the weekend (they were both very little) and when Trevor opened the lifeline gate it fell off into the water. He was mortified and I didn't want it to ruin the weekend. I tried to dive down and get it but the bottom was mud and the water opaque. I am sure it is still there. Anything I drop here would be easy to find, the water is crystal clear all the way to the bottom. (Spencer, stand by for the broom story at the appropriate moment!)
I plan to do some more food shopping today and walk around and get some pictures of town. i also need to run up to the fuel dock with the dinghy and refill the diesel jugs. It is the nature of these ports that there is not enough water at the fuel docks for sailboats, usually just a foot or two which the launches with outboards can negotiate.
I am trying to decide if I should stay an extra day and pay for a snorkeling trip ($42 US) or take REBOOT down to Cay Caulker and then dinghy back up to the dive/snorkeling spots. The advantage of the first is to get the lay of the land without having to park an 11 ton sailboat. Also I don't like dropping the hook in these conditions and then immediately getting off the boat. I like having a couple of hours to know that i have a good set and that I will not be watching REBOOT drag from shore.
Speaking of shore - one of course absolutely has to have a dinghy. But it is not advisable to tow it with anything in or on it (like the engine.) as they tend to flip upside down with some regularity while being towed. So each stop requires getting the dinghy set up - about a 1/2 hour task - and then putting it away - another 1/2 hour task. The most difficult part of course is getting the outboard engine on and off without dropping it in the water. Then of course everything that you put in the dinghy gets wet - including yourself. Salt water does dry but the clothing becomes very uncomfortable. I have taken to wearing a bathing suit during the trips and carrying a dry shirt in my "wet bag" (that keeps things dry - go figure) for when I get to shore. Finally, anything you bring (including the dinghy) can be stolen when it is on shore so you have to truck anything of value around with you when you go ashore. You also need to truck back anything you purchase. Your purchases will get soaked on the way back to the boat. Such fun.
On that note - The sun is out, the air temperature is 77 F, the water temperature is 76 F, and I am making French Toast for breakfast while enjoying my morning coffee. Life is tough.

1 comment:

  1. Heard you checkin a few times on the MMSN, so I decided to checkout your blog. Hope to be doing the same sometime soon.