Escape from Placencia

After many different things that kept us still anchored off the village of Placencia… including no wind… waiting on a friend that was waiting on a fax… and, most exciting of all, an interview with a charter company who has a base here (fingers crossed!!)… we finally managed to pry ourselves away from Placencia (it’s really quite amazing how easy it is to use the days up in a place where there is truly almost nothing to do… we seem to spend most of our time buying food!). Once Tadd had to go rescue a boat load of kids getting swept out to sea by the tide and wind.

Placencia shop

Sadly, our final delay with the charter company, meant that our friend Englebert had already left for Punta Gorda, by land, the day before and didn’t get to sail with us south and show us his family’s island – Middle Snake Cay. Unperturbed by the light winds we hauled the anchor from it’s cozy spot in the thick, sticky mud and headed southwards.

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Delightfully the wind picked up as we picked our way between the shoals until we reached East Snake Cay and then on to Middle Snake Cay. With no sign of the promised moorings off the Cay and no Englebert to offer guidance on anchoring, we decided to abandon the tiny spit of land, that offered next to no shelter from the NE winds and head to the next cay.

West Snake Cay… as a rule we tend to shy away from places with names you shouldn’t waste much time pondering their origin! (feel free to ask Tadd about Thunder Bay) But the guidebook claimed that the cays were named for the resident boa constrictors, which tend to be on the very chill, rather lazy side of the serpents and not any threat, and we heard later that no one actually knows how they got there, and so it’s believed that they floated there on some flotsam and now hang out high up in the mangroves waiting for an unsuspecting sea bird to land.

So we cautiously dodged around the sandbar to the NW of the island and came in towards what we thought would be a reasonable anchorage. We’d seen a couple of boats on the shore and people swimming, and as we approached one of the guys jumped out of the water, threw on some clothes and whizzed out in his official boat to let us know we were in the Honduras Bay Marine Park and could happily stay for the price of 10 Belize dollars (USD$5). As he gave us some advice on anchoring we felt it fair to pay and spend the night.

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As directed, we motored all they way in to the pale green water over the sandbar, beyond the deep coral heads we couldn’t even make out through the murky green water (not so enticing for snorkeling as the clear, blue waters further north). With the anchors set, we set about relaxing and enjoying the cocktail hour… until the rolling back and forth of the boat got to us, after a short period of time. The waves coming around the sandbar to the north and around the south end of the island were crisscrossing the wind coming from the northeast were making for some pretty uncomfortable conditions, and that’s without even trying to cook!

A handy trick from the Annapolis Book of Seamanship (apparently THE book to end all books on handy boat stuff) and Tadd had us literally back on an even keel and we settled in for the night… knowing that if we did slip anchor we’d simply float towards Guatemala and would be awake long before we hit anything….

So it was quite a shock to wake up and see greenery and palm trees off the back of the boat!!!

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