Wednesday, March 21, 2012

South Water Caye

We headed to South Water Caye to drop anchor for the evening after a lovely morning at Rendezvous Caye.  We arrived with the sun heading down around 4 pm, making it a little hard to see the coral in the water, but we did okay.

In the morning David spent time working on one of our generator’s that was having a problem, and after the kids got a good amount of school work done, Suzie and I took the kids to the beach for a bit. South Water Caye has a 2 or 3 small resorts on it. The island is about 1/2 mile long. There were 5 other boats anchored there overnight, but most had left by 9am. As we were headed to the beach, the reserve rangers showed up asking for their $5 USD per adult to visit the South Water Reserve Area. Many of the good or prettiest islands are contained in “reserves” It is just a way for the government to make some money and pay for patrols in the area. I kind of look at it as a camping fee.

While on the beach we chatted with some people staying at the resort on the island and they told us they had heard about some boat crimes this week. This was news to us. After giving me some rough details, I relayed to David what I had heard.  Before leaving the area, we connected to the internet to find out what was going on.  Exact Details were scarce but news reports stated that 2 families and friends were aboard a rented sail catamaran anchored in a secluded area for the night.  After dark they were approached by a skiff boat (mostly used by locals) with 4 men.  The men came aboard.  6 of the passengers hid in the cabins below.  A husband and wife in their 50’s stayed up top to talk with the men who stabbed them and robbed the boat.  One of the passengers below had sent out a mayday call over the VHF radio and so help soon came.  The injured couple were taken to the hospital and have since been release.  There are lots of rumors circulating that worse things happened, but I think these are the more accurate details.  A few days before that there was another incident of a boat traveling at night by a charter captain.  They were boarded by men on a skiff and knocked unconscious and robbed.

This incident made us rethink our plans.  We decided to alter our anchoring plans to stay at the more popular anchorages, that we know of, so that we don’t end up anchoring somewhere alone for the night.  We are hoping to minimize our risk by spending the night anchored near other boats.  There are not a lot of boats here, so it makes this a little more difficult trying to figure out where others are staying.  We are also making sure all windows and doors are closed and locked for the night.and that our dinghy and swim ladder are pulled up to make boarding less easy.  We also now sleep with a handheld VHF in our room along with a SPOT beacon that has an SOS button on it that is monitored by a GPS company. We are still enjoying Belize, but this has made us a little more cautious of the locals which is sad, because we would like to think that those we encounter are all friendly and have an opportunity to get to know more locals.

After David had his projects wrapped up it was time to leave and head south again.  We rethought were we would anchor and decided to head to Wippari Caye, but after arriving there, the winds had shifted directions and made the anchorage their very rolly, so we didn’t stay.  It was getting late and we needed to get  somewhere for the night.  We decided to head to the nearby Lark Cayes.  We were very happy to see another sail boat anchored there for the night.  We had great protection from the north and east winds for the night.  David was excited because this was a deep anchorage, the deepest we have ever anchored in. 

We dropped the anchor in 50 feet of water and put out all the chain we had—300 feet. When we pulled back on the anchor to check its set, we felt the boat drag.  So we pulled up the anchor to reset and found mud.  We had been anchoring in sand, which our anchor always just digs into, but mud is a little different—it takes time for the anchor to sink in the mud and set.  So with this new info we dropped the anchor again, put out all our chain and then waited a bit.  We didn’t use as much force as usual to check our anchor knowing that it would only sink deeper with time.  So if it holds with just a little force we’d be fine later after it sunk more.  We typically put a lot of force on our anchor to check it’s set, we think more than most people, but it gives us peace of mind at night that if the winds pick up and a storm starts to blow really hard, we aren’t going to get blown away.  We will only need to worry about the boats around us getting blown into us.

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