Thursday, March 3, 2011

Turneffe to Lighthouse Reef

I spent an interesting couple of days at Turneffe Atoll. There is a beautiful private resort on Big Cay Bokel. They were very gracious to me but were not really set up to provide services to passing boats. Turneffe Island Lodge is apparently a very small (36 guests) resort for diving and fishing. When I left this morning they had about 6 fishing boats out on the west side - each with a single fisherman. So you get the idea. They were kind enough to let me use the bar for a sundowner when I came in but as an all inclusive resort just paying for my drinks required me to go check with the management. It is a very beautiful place.

I had come into Turneffe via the Blue Creek pass. This takes one over a very shallow reef. I was in the general company of CARIBBEAN SOUL II and WAYWARD SUN. They both drew too much to attempt the passage. A good thing, as I only had 3 inches of water under REBOOT. Once over the reef it got quite comfortably deep again until at the end of the creek I once again went thru a very thin area. The next morning (yesterday) I decided to leave as the mosquitos and flies were terrible. I followed the guide book to the southern passage and could not find my way out. Every attempt resulted in shoaling and depths that were too shallow. So I decided to head back out the way I had come.

The short story is that I was on a falling tide and when I reached the first thin area I once again had no where to go. I subsequently got in the dinghy and rowed around to find that the actual deep water of the marked channel was not in the marked channel but off to the east. But at this point I had no where to go until the rising tide. So I settled down for the tide to finish going down and come back up again enough to get thru. Which it did at about 6 PM local time. This meant that I had to navigate back out of the river in fading daylight or wait until morning. Knowing that I still had to pass over the reef I decided that the light was OK for me to try so that I could pass over on the rising tide. Not to mention that inside the channel it was dead calm and I was being attacked by swarms of mosquitos. I made it with about 6 inches to spare, turned South and made anchorage near where CARIBBEAN SOUL II and WAYWARD SUN had dropped the hook the day before.

This morning we all got underway to Lighthouse Reef, the site of the "Blue Hole" that you see in all of the tour books about Belize and Central America. On Half Moon Cay inside the reef there is a colony of over 4,000 red-footed boobies. February and March are when the new babies hatch so it should be extra fun. There are also sea turtles and frigate birds. Unfortunately the advice is to bring your insect repellant. Hopefully I will be able to find an anchorage that will be OK and only have to deal with the mosquitoes when touring the shore.

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