Charter area advice - Belize or ?? - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 03-16-2014
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Charter area advice - Belize or ??

My husband and I are experienced bluewater sailors, having taken a 32' boat from CA to New Zealand and back, also a 40' boat from CA as far as Australia.

We are planning a bareboat charter with our sons (who were with us on the 40' boat) and their wives. We all agree that crowded anchorages, bars, restaurants and shopping are not our idea of a good time.

Belize looks like a good choice as we are not at all bothered by navigation in coral waters (we used to love to poke around in the shallows on the backside of Bora Bora) and the area sounds relatively undeveloped.

I'd love to hear other options/suggestions, also comments about Belize.

Thanks
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Old 03-16-2014
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Re: Charter area advice - Belize or ??

Belize has some great upsides (fantastic diving and interesting atolls) and some downsides (mangrove swamps and mosquitoes that will carry you away.) The language is English, the people are nice, and Belize City does not have a well developed cruise ship infrastructure (a blessing in my humble opinion.) As of two years ago Rauscer's guide
Cruising Guide to Belize and Mexico's Caribbean Coast, Including Guatemala's Rio Dulce: Freya Rauscher: 9780975575314: Amazon.com: Books Cruising Guide to Belize and Mexico's Caribbean Coast, Including Guatemala's Rio Dulce: Freya Rauscher: 9780975575314: Amazon.com: Books


was still the standard. I would opt for a catamaran as the waters are very skinny. You can sail it in a monohull but you will find that may interesting places will be precluded by your draft.

As of March 2012 there was some crime problem - Sailing - Reboot (USA 60493): Belize - Glad I didn't go but as you know this is old news. Conditions change year to year and sometimes month to month.

This is a link to my blog from my time in Belize. Sailing - Reboot (USA 60493): Belize There are several entries - you need to page toward the later dates to get the entire trip.

There was also a (maybe) scam going on with the port captains where I was there. You had to purchase a permit from them. There was a great deal of question about the legitimacy of the permits. Since I was on an open ended cruise I purchased a permit for more days than I stayed. I was told that there were no refunds.

Finally - If you are from the US look at flying to Canada and then to Belize (not on a single itinerary.) For some reason flights from Montreal and Toronto to Belize City were very cheap compared to flights from the US - we are talking $1,000 less per flight. It was much cheaper to fly to Canada and then pick up a new flight to Belize then fly direct from the US. I don't know if this is still true but it is worth a look.

Fair winds and following seas.
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Re: Charter area advice - Belize or ??

Chartered there once, probably about 10 years ago so consider that when evaluating the quality of this advice.

It's shallow, agree with zephyr, we chartered a cat. Lots of time in 10 feet, had to get used to the thought that 10 feet is plenty. Mangrove islands. Some beautiful dive spots. Lots of quiet places. Not your BVI beach bar to beach bar trip.

IMHO it's not really a great place to "sail", not bad, but not great. You are mostly reaching in shallow, calm waters, behind the reef. Great bone fishing, hire a guide if you're into it. Not like the bonefish in the Florida keys that seem to be smarter than I am Scenic in a "mangrovie" kinda way, not a mountainous island kinda way. By saying it's not a great place to sail, I mean if you're looking for a rollicking sail between mountainous Caribbean islands, this ain't it, but no one's getting sea sick. I suspect you're not susceptible given your experience anyway!

Wow, a 32' boat to New Zealand, good for you. Belize would be a piece of cake.
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Re: Charter area advice - Belize or ??

Quote:
Originally Posted by svzephyr44 View Post

There was also a (maybe) scam going on with the port captains where I was there. You had to purchase a permit from them. There was a great deal of question about the legitimacy of the permits. Since I was on an open ended cruise I purchased a permit for more days than I stayed. I was told that there were no refunds.

.
A friend who goes down there a lot, and used to live in Belize for many years, was telling me about this permit thing for boat down there a few weeks ago, but I really wasn't listening well enough to repeat the details.
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Re: Charter area advice - Belize or ??

Thank you all. I really appreciate the input. We agree that the lack of cruise-ship infrastructure is absolutely a plus.

As for seasickness,
all of us (with the exception of one cat on the first trip and one son on the second) got seasick on every crossing. Fortunately, seasickness doesn't last more than a day or two. Lots of long-distance cruisers get seasick, we all had our preferred meds, it's not a big deal.
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Re: Charter area advice - Belize or ??

One other question: we are talking about doing this trip end of July into August for about a week, maybe a bit longer. Sounds like it will be hot, humid but with breezes. I suppose the mosquitoes will also be out in force, at least on the mainland but what about the areas where we will be sailing inside the reef?
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Re: Charter area advice - Belize or ??

No experience that time of year. We usually stay out of the Caribbean because of hurricane risk. The upside is charter prices are better, if you don't get one. Check this out, I think a lot of early season storms end out in the gulf.

ww.nhc.noaa.gov/climo/
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Re: Charter area advice - Belize or ??

We spent 2 weeks in Belize in July, 2012; one week on a sailboat charter and one week on Amebergris Caye. We encountered no mosquitos while on the boat, but thousands of them when we ventured inland. As mentioned, scuba/snorkeling is tremendous. Inside the reef is shallow, so shorted keels are preferred. We had a 50' ketch with a 5' draft and touched bottom a couple of times. You need to have someone on the bow watching for coral heads when in shallow water but the sailing is wonderful. The reefs break up the waves, so most of the time you are sailing in 15-20 knots of breeze on flat water, on a beam reach. Lobster and conch are plentiful, as long as someone aboard can free dive to fetch them (in season).

I'll check my notes and see if I can recommand some of the anchorages we stayed at along with some of the restaurants at various islands. All in all, it was one of our best sailing trips, third only to chartering in the Virgin Islands and sailing to Hawaii in the Pacific Cup.

HTH,

Capt. Downer
captdowner at gmail dot com
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Re: Charter area advice - Belize or ??

Thanks so much. I've got husband and kids saying to me: and what will we be doing?
That sounds great. We spent time in the Society Islands and Tonga where you also have to watch for coral heads. We liked to go to the shallow areas in Bora Bora, even snuck thru a sort of pass to get around the point where Hotel Bora Bora is located.

Which sailboat charter outfit did you use? I've looked at Moorings and SunSail. Our experience is with monohulls, but I am sure we can manage a catamaran.

You mentioned the Virgin Islands -- what do you prefer about that area over Belize?
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Smile Re: Charter area advice - Belize or ??

Correction, the year was 2010. We chartered a 50' ketch that I located by searching the internet (hence no 20% broker commission).

The name of the boat is "La Gaviota". Contact: Luis Nunez
email: lagaviotacharters at yahoo cot com

The good: Luis Nunez was a great and fun captain as well as a great chef. Prices may have changed in 4 years, but we were able to charter his boat for $300 a day for 5 of us. We did pay extra for fuel and we paid ~$220 for provisions (he took us shopping to his local market on Ambergris Caye). Our charter started off sailing 60 miles from Ambergris Caye to South Water Caye and working our way back from there.

He had 2 local boys as crew who handled all of the boat duties. I could take the helm whenever I wanted to. The crew and captain were excellent free divers, and supplied us with conch, lobster and barracuda (which turned out to be an excellent fish to eat). They knew all of the best sites, and we scuba dove off of the boat at some of the shallow coral reefs (mostly 25-30' deep).
They took us to Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley where they chummed for shark, and eagle rays while we snorkeled with about 25 nurse sharks all around us.

The bad: The boat is a ketch which Capt Louis salvaged off the reef. He personally added tons of lead to the keel, and did major repairs to the hull. She is a bit older, and was missing a boom vang when we chartered (which deprived the mainsail of some extra power).

In spite of the age of the boat and the missing boom vang, she sailed fine, and was quite sea worthy. We felt we got a great deal and were very fortunate to have someone with such great local knowledge to guide us on our charter.

All in all, it was a great sailing adventures, with warm water, flat sailing and great food. If you're interested, I can find more links for La Gaviota and Belize on my computer. You should be able to reach Luis Nunez at the above email address.

Fair Winds,

Capt. Downer
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