In late January we said goodbye to Jamaica and started to make the journey to Belize. This would be our longest passage yet at 570NM. With weather approaching we decided to go with just a one day notice. Our first day of the passage, we were able to go about 70NM due west following the coast of Jamaica and actually spend the night in a little bay at the west tip of Jamaica. At day break, we hit the open water and headed for Belize.
The wind was coming from behind us at from 5-20mph, so it was the perfect time to try out the wingaker, a sail made especially for down wind sailing. It is a complicated sail with four lines coming back to the helm and can be tricky to get down if you do not adjust the boat before you try to snuff it, but it is so worth it when you have it up!!!! It is an amazing sail and we made good use of it the first two days of our journey.
After two days and nights we were able to stop at a small Honduran Island in the middle of the ocean called Isla Santanilla. We anchored in 25ft of water that was loaded with beautiful coral that we could see because the water was so clear. It took a while to find a safe spot to anchor away from the coral. We did not go ashore but we were able to make dinner and sleep for the night.
During those first two days, we chaffed through reef line 1 on the main sail which broke it and made it tricky to bring the main sail down. The jack line that holds the sail bag up, snapped and was no longer doing it’s job. In addition, we got two small tears in the wingaker making us super cautious about using it in winds over 15mph. All things that make the adventure so memorable!
We enjoyed nice calm seas on our last night sailing. Addie is a master at Dominos.
After a week at sea, we are all still smiling. Life is good.
As we entered the waters around Belize the sky and seas were very unsettled. A water spout formed just ahead of us, with several others all around!
Coming into Placencia, Belize – a beautiful sight, other boaters, fresh food and cold beer!
Even more amazing was the Placencia Yacht Club, where we spent many a nights and enjoyed numerous great meals and cold drinks while in Belize over the next two months.
It did not take long to find the local rum!
Our first boat project upon arrival was to fix the main sail. Ashley went up the mast – no worries, Shannon had full control of the line.
Made it down safe!
We make an awesome team!
All that boat work made us thirsty! Time for a little day drinkin!
Time for an island tour. We were promised macraws and monkeys – just had to walk through the jungle a bit.
We met our guide at 5:30am so that we could drive the hour and a half and still be there early because that is when the animals are more active.
We hiked up into the mountains, where we waited and waited. Then down again to the river, where we waited and waited some more. The coolest thing we saw was the start of this palm tree…..
No worries though because we did find one of only two breweries in Belize.
We were ready to start venturing out by boat – sails fixed, fridge packed and gas tank full.
In hunt of the only sea glass in Belize, we headed south to Punta Gorda.
Not many boaters make there way here, as you can see because we are the only boat in the bay.
But it was worth it! We found goodies for Ashley to make into sea treasures!
And a neat place to get some yummy lunch and cold drinks.
Nature is so giving to us sharing a bright rainbow
And then and incredible sunset
Back to Placencia we go!
So many fun bars and restaurants to check out!
Don’t let this scare you. Took the Jamaican braids out……
We then took off to explore the many islands of Belize – over 400!
Date night, sunset dinghy, ride cocktails in hand exploring the little islands we are anchored around.
The dogs were more than ready to go for a run and play on the beach.
We found King Lewey’s Island. This cute little island has 3 cabins you can stay in, a bar, a restaurant, fun water toys and great water to swim and snorkel in.
Did I mention BIG portions…..
We got to start celebrating Kathy’s Birthday!
And Beautiful Place!
Next stop Hideaway Caye, a really neat little island the owners built from scratch themselves. While living on their sailboat in Placencia, they used a small boat with a good motor to bring materials over and build a simple house. Their family of three are the only people living on the island. There are a few mooring balls to accommodate overnight guests, because you can only get here by boat.
As the years have passed, they added a tree house restaurant and bar, where we continued Kathy’s birthday celebrations.
As we decide where to go next, we reference the best local charts we can, even if they are 20 years old.
Incredible next stop, South Water Caye!
Time for a beach day!
We then headed back to Placencia because our big kids are coming down to Belize to visit. Wind was blowing a nice 5-10 from behind, so we are used “Big Blue Bayou” to carry us.
Addie in her spot for travel. Definitely need to do some cleaning before company. The scuba diving at South Water was amazing.
Ashley has been crafting again.
Back on land, there was more rum to be enjoyed!
The calm before “Spring Break Week!”
Makenzie, Gavin, Ella and Sarah finally here after a long flight and a 3 hour taxi ride.
We sailed off for an adventure around the islands. Time to swim! Caper is of course the first one in the water!
Mak and Gavin are off on the paddleboard to explore.
Everything stops for sunset!
The dogs are helping Shannon secure the toys, so we can make our way to our next stop.
Notice the dogs are no where to be found when Ashley needs to raise the anchor!
There they are, helping Shannon drive the boat.
And sunning with Mak!
We made it to King Lewey’s with kids!
Toes in the sand and drinks in our hands!
The trampoline was a ton of fun for all!
Enjoyed just hanging out!
More fun water toys to play on.
All that fun wiped Ashley out!
Next stop was South Water Caye where we pulled up really close and anchored in about 8 feet of water.
Awesome spot for hanging behind the boat and watching the rays swim by.
Some took advantage of the sunning.
And others enjoyed the shade.
Took a break from playing pool at the island bar to appreciate the amazing sunset.
Next day – time to snorkel,
time to play,
time to relax,
and time for family swim behind Aventis.
The next day we sailed back to Placencia Yacht Club. If Shannon and Ashley ever go missing be sure to check here as it is very likely you will find them.
Last stop for the week with the kids – Placencia Beach Club!
It was a super fun week!
We were sad to say goodbye to the big kids, but it was time for them to get back to school.
We did some laundry, bought some groceries, replenished the beer and got moving. A lot more of Belize to see before we head to Mexico.
Lighthouse Reef was a must-stop for us. We spent our first night just off of Long Caye.
Aventis and Wind Ensemble seeing new things together.
Dinghy ride to shore to check out the wild life.
Found sharks and rays
An osprey nest with mom and babies
even a gorilla or two…
Life is better with good friends.
Next stop, the famous Blue Hole! We had to creep through about 6-8 feet of water for 2 hours at a speed of 4kn per hour. The only way to describe the water is think swimming pool with conch shells everywhere. It went on for miles to the Blue Hole. Jacques Cousteau did a lot of scientific work in the blue hole. The old videos showing how they got their big boat there and how they explored this bottomless hole is really neat.
We stopped at the Blue Hole and snorkeled the sides of the hole.
Then made our way back through the shallows to Half Moon Caye to spend the night.
The swimming here was awesome!
We went over to land to check things out. No one spends the night on this island. It is for day use only for people who have come to Lighthouse Reef to dive. It was late afternoon and we had the island to ourselves.
The wild life here roam freely.
Holidays are celebrated even in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, thanks to Kathy’s sister Barb! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Next and last stop in Belize, Caye Caulker.
Time to check things out…
Caye Caulker use to be twice as long, but Hurricane Hattie in 1961 split the island apart. In the late 70’s the government decided it would be better for the fishing community to dredge it out even more and make it so boats with motors could pass through the split.
Not sure it is a good idea to buy property from these people…
We had amazing sunsets here with our back always facing west and no one behind us.
Time for another tour. This time it is a snorkeling expedition.
We had great success. We swam with manatees,
A giant moray eel
And hundreds of nurse sharks and string rays. It was a super cool experience.
Next adventure was a trip to see the Mayan Temples. We took a 45 minute ferry ride over to the main land of Belize. If we had gone by our boat it would have taken us about 4 hours to get there.
The second part of our adventure was a pontoon boat ride down the Belize River.
Everything was so lush and green.
We even saw a few black howler monkeys hanging in the trees.
The wood work and conch shell art in Belize was amazing to look at and very inspirational to Ashley’s creative spirit.
Belize was full of surprises, like these seahorses that were truly a hidden gem.
But at last it was time to see new things. As we prepared to leave, the dogs got a haircut.
We traveled by ferry from Caye Caulker to Ambergris Caye and checked out of Belize in the town of San Pedro.
We had a great time in Belize. We will never forget the beauty of the water and all the sea creatures that it shared with us while sailing, swimming, scuba diving and snorkeling. In addition, the exquisite wonders we found on land including the abundance of local produce, intricate woodwork, unique shell crafts, and fascinating ancient ruins just to name a few.
It was such an incredible experience to be able to spend 2 months is such a lovely place. The best part was being able to share the adventure with each other!
At last, we said good bye to Belize. Think it was windy the 2 months we were in Belize?
Before day break we pulled the anchor and began our pleasant trip around Caye Caulker to the open ocean, but the weather had other plans for us. What was supposed to be an easy exit from Belize, turned into one of the most harrowing sails of our time on Aventis. With falling rain and little light, we slowly made our way through very shallow water (the depth gauge reading -2), scraping our bottom on the sand along the way. Creeping toward the narrow cut that would allow us to avoid the barrier reef surrounding Caye Caulker, we watched as the waves got larger and larger. The waters at the cut were especially rough with waves upward of 8-10 feet. But there was no turning back. Just as we had entered Belize with a tremendous show from nature, we were exiting in the same fashion. Just when it seems as if you can not take another wave, the rain faded, the waters calmed and we began to see the sun. Aventis with her courageous crew has carried us safely into the big blue ocean and we are on our way to Cozumel, Mexico.