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Published: March 31st 2012
We have just returned from a weeks sailing trip around the Sapodillas Cayes in Southern Belize. After travelling for almost a year and experiencing so many wonderful places and meeting so many great people sometimes it is difficult for things to really stand out as being extra special, although our week in Belize proved to be exactly that. We were aboard the 46 foot Catermaran ‘Las Sirenas’ which operates out of Rio Dulce in Guatemala. The week long trip started by taking us down the gorgeous canyon of the Rio Dulce (Sweet River) abundant with wildlife and scenes of traditional life such as fisherman casting their nets from small wooden canoes. Aboard the boat was ourselves, Dan from Alaska, Justin & Mackenzie from Washington, Saskia from California, Sarah, Jess & Kristine from UK. Our crew was Captain Raul (The Boss!), first mate Zach and our excellent chef Melvin. Melvin is a young guy and has only been working on the boat for four months but wow what a great cook he is!
After spending our first night on the River, we headed to the port of Livingston to obtain our exit stamps from Guatemala and stock up on a few
bottles of rum. Once immigration was cleared we sailed out into the Caribbean and towards the islands of Belize. Our first day at sea proved to be rougher than expected and there was a couple of casualties to seasickness. Our captain decided that the journey of 35 miles or so was too far to try and accomplish in one days sailing so we spent the night anchored near a beach which was the last point of Guatemala before reaching Belize territory but which was also only an hour or two’s sail from Honduras. Our group spent the first night at sea getting to know one another and the first few bottles of rum and many beers disappeared quickly. Hours into darkness when the boys were fishing we discovered that the water was full of phosphorous, a plankton which glows and lights up illuminous yellow when disturbed. Some of the boys dived in to swim amongst the plankton and the sight was truly beautiful. The trip had begun!
The next morning we woke early to a few hangovers as the boat lifted anchor at 5am for a days sailing towards the islands of Belize. Within a few hours of the
journey Benn (who can’t go anywhere without fishing!) had the first decent fish on the boat, a Sierra Mackeral which provided an excellent lunch for everyone. Soon after lunch we arrived at our first island of Belize, Hunting Caye where we had to clear immigration. Once the formalities were cleared which took no time at all we were free to sail around the largely uninhabited islands of the Sapodillas Cayes. Our days were truly magical, the boat would set sail at 6-7am each morning and everyone would wake with the sound of the ocean and the crew working the boat. We spent the next four days sailing between different Cayes (Islands) and managed to visit Hunting Caye, Seal Caye, Nicholas Caye and White Reef.
Our days consisted of lots of snorkeling stops, scuba diving, beautiful lunches and dinners, long conversations, amazing sunsets, dice games, jungle fruit punch sessions, chocolate rituals and lots of rum and beers at night. Benn felt like he was in heaven! A week on the water, it seemed as if he fished from the moment he woke up in the morning until way after the sun had gone down. He caught some nice fish, Red
Snapper, Devilfish, Yellow Snapper, Sierra Mackeral, Bonefish, Permit, Barracuda, Travelly, Boxfish and managed to lose some huge fish – one day getting his line snapped by a huge tarpon estimated at 100-200lbs! The boys on the boat, Dan, Justin and Benn managed to make friends quickly and shared the enjoyment of fishing for the entire trip. The snorkeling was some of the best that everyone on the boat had ever experienced, the coral in some places was amazing and the fish plentiful. One day myself and the girls found a huge Nurse shark whilst snorkeling, which once I realized was not going to eat me, was great to see!
A very comical moment from the trip was when everyone was out snorkeling and you need to imagine that we are TOTALLY in the middle of nowhere with no other people or boats in sight when the sound of a girl screaming could be heard. Zach our boatman quickly rushed out to some of the girls who were snorkelling, that were totally shit scared as they felt they were being attacked by a Barracuda! Our boatman was the hero of the day as he clearly saved the girls lives by
hauling them into the boat just before the jaws of the now monstrous barracuda could manage to snap at their flippers.
Back on the boat the girls were relaying their close encounter with the rest of the gang and how the savage barracuda had spared their lives just moments before. Not five minutes had passed and Benn was shouting from the back of the boat, he was fishing and was in battle with a huge Barracuda. The girls rushed to the back of the boat and identified the Barracuda as the suspect for the previous attack. The battle lasted for the next ten minutes before ‘Barry the Barracuda’ was finally beaten and hauled aboard. As a victory celebration for the capture of the attacker, Rum was poured for all and Barry was on the menu for tomorrows lunch!
Back to the snorkeling, we seen sting rays and eagle rays almost every day of the trip. One of the trip highlights was during our last night at sea when everyone was sat around enjoying a relaxing evening with beers and the sound of the ocean when we spotted some eagle rays close to the boat. Around 30-40 eagle rays
came towards us and then spent the whole night circling our boat, it was truly magical as we sat watching them for a couple of hours glide past us so gracefully.
If the episode with the eagle rays the previous evening was not enough, as we headed back towards Guatemala the following day we entered into a pod of Dolphins. We have seen Dolphins many times before but our boat the ‘Las Sirenas’ had a great design in that at the front of the boat there are two hammock like nets which you can lie on, we lay on the nets and watched the dolphins literally inches away from us as they played around at the front of the boat. The dolphins stayed with us for maybe 15-20 minutes which was a real treat as there was quite a few baby dolphins included which were amazingly cute, dancing about as they stayed close to their mothers side. Amazing!
Our week sailing around southern Belize stands out as one of the most relaxing times during the last year of travelling. We made friends with some great people during the trip who we hope to visit one day. We were
sad to return to dry land and leave the ocean behind but we now know that we share a fondness for this type of trip and will make sure that we do another someday soon. Our next country El Salvador now beckons and we will update on that soon!
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