Charter: Belize

Author:
Updated:
Original:
Sunset over Caye Caulker, Belize. Photo courtesy of Samantha Beddoes

Sunset over Caye Caulker, Belize. Photo courtesy of Samantha Beddoes

The first sunset set the tone for the week. I’ve been lucky enough to see dozens of them at sea, in some of the most beautiful places in the world, but that first evening anchored in Belize was nothing short of surreal. The sky turned blood-orange red, and the line of palm-topped cayes to the west seemed to float above the sea, golden rays piercing the palm fronds and turning the water a dappled pink.

In one way, the sunsets were the highlight of our week in terms of natural beauty. Belize’s barrier reef, the longest in the northern hemisphere, is best appreciated when seen from air, where a breathtaking palette of greens and blues and browns dotted with the tiny islands known as cayes spread out beneath you like an aquatic magic carpet.

From the deck of our charter catamaran, all we could see was the sparkling water and the dark blobs of the cayes, many no more than sand spits, some capable of housing small villages, others merely ambitious mangrove clusters digging their roots into sand-and-coral outcrops.

You soon learn the rules of tropic-water sailing here. Go west in the mornings, with the sun high and behind you so you can pick out the water colors that indicate depth. In the afternoons, head east, away from the shoreline where distant mountains thrust jagged peaks skyward. In the evenings, make sure you are anchored snugly in the lee of a caye, watching the easterly trade wind ruffle the palm trees while you sip your sundowner.

Holding can be poor here, where sand is often spread thinly over densely packed coral rock. As we found out on several occasions, two anchors are better than one. For this and other reasons, chartering in Belize is not for greenhorns. There are few navigation aids, and the charts in the cruising guide are hand-drawn. Pilotage is line-of-sight, always with an eye on the water color. Your electronic charts won’t do you any good here. Although we never touched bottom with our cat, which drew 4ft, we came awfully close a few times. Keep your wits about you, and you’ll be well rewarded.

Belize_-_Location_Map_(2013)_-_BLZ_-_UNOCHA

We sailed out of Placencia in the south, a charming little town that makes a perfect spring board for excursions to the Mayan ruins in the interior and to the nearby rainforest where troops of howler monkeys hoot and holler in the treetops and alligators sunbathe on the riverbanks. Further north, the bigger islands and cayes are busier, though still far from crowded. And you’ll enjoy perfect sunsets from any one of them.

CHARTER CHAT

Horizon Yacht Charters is offering a 15 percent discount on bareboats out of its Antigua, Tortola and Grenada bases. horizonyachtcharters.com

The Moorings is offering a 15 percent discount on April charters out of any of its Caribbean bases. moorings.com

April 2016

Related

Screen Shot 2020-09-18 at 1.18.36 PM

Harken Changes Hands, Stays in the Family

. In a video posted yesterday, Peter Harken cheerfully announced that his company, Harken Inc., the trusted hardware brand bearing his last name, which was formerly owned by founders and their families has changed hands. The owners have sold their shares to employees—"passing ...read more

OceanRace

Newport Hosts The Ocean Race Summit on Ocean Health

Hundreds of participants from around the world tuned in yesterday for the latest installment of The Ocean Race's (formerly the Volvo Ocean Race) Summit Series, which aims to bring the best of ocean racing—leadership, resilience, tenacity, collaboration—to solving the ocean’s ...read more

sp360_fs5-024crop (1)

Highfield SPORT 360

The new 2021 SPORT 360 is the next generation of Highfield boats. Highfield is celebrating its 10th year in the market this year and in this relatively short period of time has now delivered over 30,000 boats to happy customers in 38 countries. Highfield is already the ...read more

sp560_drone-028crop

Highfield SPORT 560

The new 2021 SPORT 560 is the next generation of Highfield boats. Highfield is celebrating its 10th year in the market this year and in this relatively short period of time has now delivered over 30,000 boats to happy customers in 38 countries. Highfield is already the ...read more

Three Props 1772x1181

EWOL Propellers

Ewol propellers make maneuvering easier, increase sailing speed and increase cruising speed under power. EWOL adjustable pitch propellers are made of stainless steel alloys that represent the highest technology in terms of marine corrosion and galvanic corrosion resistance, ...read more

leadership-forum-LGBTQ-email-graphic

Tonight: US Sailing’s LGBTQ+ Panel

Tune in to the latest installment in US Sailing’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Series tonight at 7pm EDT. This week Kimball Livingston will moderate a panel of LGBTQ+ sailors who will share their personal and professional experiences as well as strategies for improving ...read more

200910

Find Your People (Virtually)

Social media offers a world of new opportunities for sailors. I regularly see folks meet their next delivery crew in the comments section of Facebook or decide on their next charter based on breathtaking photos posted by a stranger. It’s a great way to connect with other sailors ...read more