Friday, January 31, 2014

Sailing to Wippari Cay, a Dolphin Visit, Snorkling, and back to Placencia Harbor

We stayed at Sittee Point for a couple nights, and then decided to head over to Wippari Cay for a few days.  The weather looked really nice, and I wanted to snorkel a little before heading into Placencia Harbor.  We enjoyed the anchorage at Sittee Point, as it allowed us to plan our next steps in a comfortable anchorage. 
Another beautiful sunset at Sittee Point, Belize
Our mood improved at the thought of heading over to Wippari Cay.  Wippari Cay was the first Cay that we traveled to on our maiden voyage, back in August 2013.  I remembered how difficult the first trip was, as I was leaning about the boat, and it was the first time that I sailed any large catamaran by myself.  Now we have a lot more experience under our belts.  Mom is the expert at running the windlass and anchoring, and I do most of the navigation and sailing.  It has proven to be a good team!  On top of that, Mom is an excellent cook, so we are not exactly suffering out here :)! 
Breakfast, before heading to Wippari Cay
We raised the main sail while on anchor, as this is an easy way to get the mainsail up, without worrying about keeping the boat pointed into the wind.  It also give me more time to raise the sail.  We can only do this if we have a clear anchorage, as once we get the anchor up, we will start to sail. 
We had a very nice sail into Wippari Cay.  It was about 20 NM trip, taking about 4 hours.  We averaged about 5 knots with full sails up.  On the way, we were accompanied by a couple of dolphins, who really liked riding our bows!  This was the first time that we had dolphins actually ride our bows for any amount of time!  It was excellent!  Mom sat in one bow chair and I in the other and we watched the dolphins just a few feet below!  I took a few pictures, and we enjoyed the incredible experience.  At times, they would roll on to their side, looking up at you!  We always enjoy seeing dolphins, but this was memorable. 

We arrived at Wippari Cay, just after lunch!  We had to go around Viper Rocks and a couple of shallow spots that were not on the charts, but made it just fine.  There are two free mooring balls at Wippari Cay, so mom grabbed the banner to one of the balls and tied us up!  It was so easy this time, but the first time, back in August, we were much more nervous! 
Wippari Cay

Small dock and restaurant on Wippary Cay

Google Earth view of Wippari Cay - Look at all of the reefs for us to explore!
We enjoyed the afternoon, relaxing and getting ready for the next day's snorkeling.  I pulled up Google Earth, and saved a screen shot of our area.  It looks like there are many reefs, just east of Wippari that we can explore tomorrow.  I was also on the hunt for lobster, before the season closes next month. 
The next morning, we decided to hit some of the reefs that were north east of Wippari Cay.  We like trying to go to places that are not on the cruising guide, as maybe we will see more lobsters or other animals.  This has proven to be true in other areas that we have travelled. 
Mom and I went to two places, before calling it for lunch.  We were able to catch a couple of lobster at one place, and saw many nice coral reefs and plants.  There were deep drop offs around the shallower reefs, which was a little creepy, not able to see the bottom.  It seemed like most of the animal life and hard coral was on the west side of these reefs, so in the future I will remember that, in my search for lobster!  Mom found a really nice conch, but we ended leaving it there, as we hate killing them.  We also had a couple of lobsters for dinner, so we were good! 
Dale heading back to the dinghy with two lobsters!

Lobster peeking out of his hole!

One lucky and freed Conch  

Spanish Mackerel

Small Reef Crab

Beautiful designs on a jelly fish
After lunch, I headed out on my own and snorkeled a couple other spots.  I was able to catch one really ugly crab, and almost caught another larger one.  The larger one's body was the size of a large dinner plate, with legs and claws even larger.  It was down about 15 feet of water, and when I hooked him with my lobster pole, it drug me and the pole down deeper into his hole.  I had to leave the pole and swim to the surface to get a breath.  I then headed down, but realized, that he was too large to pull out of the hole, and too strong, so I unhooked my pole, and left him alone.  I am not sure that I wanted to meet him face to face, as he was huge!  The hunter could become the hunted, so I left him alone in his hole. 
I found a couple other really nice coral formations, but in both of them there was a large moray eel that came out and greeted me!  They can be aggressive, and these aren't the tame ones that we saw back in Hol Chan Marina Reserve.  They both came out showing their teeth, as I was just a few feet from them, looking for lobsters!  Ok, I will look in other places then!  I didn't get any pictures, as I only had my lobster stick at the time.  I did see a couple of lobsters, but they were small, so I left them to grow up.  I then headed back to the boat with my one reef crab.
An ugly fuzzy, but tasty Reef Cab
We then boiled the lobster and the large reef cab in some spicy water!  We enjoyed an excellent dinner, and the reef crab, although really ugly and fuzzy, had the sweetest taste.  As normal with us eating lobster or crab, there were only some shells left for the fish under the boat!
I was sitting outside after eating dinner, and I saw running lights just behind us!  It had been dark for an hour or so, and no one sails here after dark!  It looked like they were heading over for the south east side of the island, which there is a large reef there, so I tried to call them on the VHF radio.  Since Moorings doesn't allow their boats to travel after dark, I switched over to channel 16 and hailed them, but nothing.  I finally switched back over to channel 74, the one that Moorings uses, and they answered!  Wow, I couldn't believe that a charter boat came out here in the dark, crazy!  I told them that there was an extra mooring ball just ahead of me, and it would be better to tie to the mooring, than try to anchor.  After some discussion, they finally motored over on the port side of me and to the mooring ball.  Wow, I am sure that in the morning they are going to freak out when they see what they traveled through in the dark! 
The next morning I went over and visited with them.  It turned out that it was their first night out, and they got a late start out of the Moorings dock.  They were excited about their week on the boat, and were heading off for Hatchet or Ranquana Cays later in the morning.  They were all from Canada and I will keep the boat name anonymous, as I don't want to get anyone in trouble with the Moorings.  I hope they have a safer week, than their first night!
We stayed another day on Wippari Cay and enjoyed the scenes.  The weather was going to change, and the wind was supposed to come from the north west.  So, we decided to head back into the Placencia Harbor to be in a calm anchorage for the cold front that was supposed to come in. 
We ended up motor sailing most of the way to Placencia.  The seas were calm with very little wind.  We came into the harbor and here were already about 16 boats anchored.  We found a spot, without any close neighbors and set the anchor.  Tonight the wind was supposed to swing around to the north west, so we were in a perfect spot to handle the 180 degree swing. 
Placencia Village
All of the boats facing East!
Paradise Resort and Yoli's Bar in the distance
We then dropped the dinghy and headed into the new dinghy dock!  We went to Mom's favorite Chinese restaurant and ate their Broccoli Chicken!  As always it was excellent!  We were both amazed at how much Placencia had changed in just two months!  The new dock had a dinghy dock added, which was a huge improvement from the old dinghy dock that is falling apart!  This was the dock that the board broke, almost dumping mom into the water!  We also walked down the new sidewalk from the new dock, seeing new restaurants and shops.  The city had come to life since we were here back in November!  We bought a few vegetables and headed back to the boat.
Well, the Belize weather forecasters really missed their forecast this time, as I woke up to south west winds and swells!  The winds were light, but the swells were large, coming directly into the anchorage.  All of the boats were swaying in the swells, and I am sure no one was enjoying the weather!  It was total opposite than the forecast, with sunny skies and wind from the opposite direction! 
The boat with the clanging halyard o the right!

All of these boat are now facing us, total opposite than yesterday!

Finally that night things calmed out, and the anchorage was back to normal.  I felt sorry for the mono hulls anchored, as they really were rolling around.  There was also a boat anchored next to us that didn't have anyone on board.  There was a loose halyard that had pulled a metal plate, and was constantly clanging!  I am sure that they owners will not be happen then they return and find out that their gel coat was beaten up!  They should have someone watch their boat, if they are going to leave it anchored unattended. 
We will probably head down to Monkey Cay to see some new friends that are house sitting at the Stepping Stones Resort!  We will probably return to Placencia Harbor to watch the Super Bowl at the Paradise Resort on Sunday! 
Happy Sailing from MokaKat!!!


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