Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Nick and Silke's Visit - Part 2 Cary Cay, Excellent Snorkeling, and Returning to Steppingstones

The next morning after the Super Bowl, maybe not so Super this year, we decided to head out to Cary Cay.  I hadn't been there before and it looked like a nice place to spend a couple of days.  We really wanted to go to Ranguana Cay, but decided the 20 NM plus journey against the wind might be too much for Nick and Silke's first sail to one of the offshore cays.  So we pulled up anchor and headed out of Placencia Harbor toward Cary Cay.
We had an excellent sail out to Cary Cay.  We sailed close hauled most of the time, as the wind was coming from the east.  We did have to run the motors a little when we arrived close to Wippari Cay, as we had boat traffic, and a couple of reefs to miss!  We arrived at Cary Cay and was happy that there was a mooring ball there that looked in good condition.  We had to follow the dark blue water between a couple of shallow reefs to finally get to the mooring ball.  The mooring ball was in 50 to 60 feet of water, but the reefs were on both sides of the boat!  For safety, I dropped our main anchor and almost 100 feet of chain straight down under the boat. 
Cary Cay

Beautiful anchorage at Cary Cay
Once we ate lunch, we took the dinghy over to the island to explore.  We pulled up the dinghy on a small sandy beach, and headed over to the east side of the island to check it out.  We had to hike through some brush, but we made it just fine.
Nick and Silke


Nick saying:  Step on that stick, and then this rock...while I was watching for snakes from a perch on a large log!
Lucky, there are no poisonous snakes on the cays. 
Once we got over to the east side of the cay, we were totally disappointed!  Not in the beauty of the island, but in all of the trash that was washed ashore.  There was tons of plastic bottles and flip flops.  It was truly a shame the amount of trash that was on the island.  If you wondered where your plastic bottle goes when you throw one away, or what happens when you lose a flip flop, I think I can tell you!  One day maybe they can do some cay clean up day and a whole bunch of us can clean up the cays!  I think we could have filled MokaKat up to the brim just with lost flip flops!

MokaKat on anchor
After our hike, we decided to snorkel on the reef close to the boat.  It was Nick and Silke's first time to snorkel, so it was easier to go straight from the boat.  They did excellent and Silke was able to try out her new rough and waterproof camera.  We enjoyed a nice snorkel and then returned back to the boat. 

Cow Fish

Elusive Hog fish!

Queen Triggerfish

We had BBQ chicken for dinner and split a bottle of wine and enjoyed the sunset!
After dinner, we decided to play Rummy, German Rule Rummy!  Mom and I thought that we knew how to play Rummy, but the German version is really different!  Of course Silke, being from Germany, was the expert, and set the rules. After a few hands and uncovering a few more rules, we really enjoyed the game.  It got a little cut throat, but no money or blood was lost, and we all had a great time!  Thanks Silke!!!!
The next morning, after coffee and breakfast, we headed out in search of lobsters.  We decided to go on the north east side of the island to see if we can find some spots that are less hunted.  Well, we didn't find any lobsters, but we found the most beautiful snorkeling spot that I had snorkeled on since we arrived in Belize!  The water was very clear and hard and soft coral was outstanding!  We were able to see lots of different tropical fish, and it was a perfect place for Nick and Silke to continue their snorkeling experience.  I saw a small moray eel, and two large barracudas.  Silke said that she was happy she didn't see the barracudas, but they are always curious, but usually ignore snorkelers.  For some reason, my underwater camera was having a bad day, and the lens fogged up, so my pictures were not as good as I had hoped.  Silke took some excellent underwater pictures with her new camera.

Silke selfy


Dale and Nick on the hunt for lobsters

Dale showing Silke a live sand dollar (it was returned to live another day)
We then headed back to the boat without lobsters, but with many beautiful images in our minds.  There is so much to see in just one coral head, it is amazing. 
We then had a great dinner of fried eggplant, and charcoal grilled Wahoo!  Another bottle of wine was shared and we enjoyed the sunset. Everyone was exhausted, so we all crashed early.  I wasn't able to teach them Texas 42 with dominoes, maybe next time!
We watched the stars for a few minutes, and then everyone turned in.  We had to leave around 7:00 am in order to get back to Steppingstones before their hired caretaker left at 1:30. 
Another excellent day on MokaKat!
Our last sunset with Nick and Silke (beautiful photo Silke!)
We all rose early on our last day with Nick and Silke.  After a quick cup of coffee, we headed out on our way back to Steppingstones.  The wind started out strong, but fell off and we had to motor most of the way. 
We had minimal success fishing, catching seaweed and reef fish. 
Another ugly Lizard Fish

Wait, Nick has one!!!

Just more seaweed!
Then the reel started to sing!  FISH ON!!!  The fish took almost all of the line out before Nick was able to stop it!  Wow, it must be a huge fish.  I slowed down the motors, and Nick fought the monster!  After about 15 minutes of reeling and fighting, we started to see a silver flash behind the boat.  I was thinking that the boat record was just about to beaten, and everyone crowded to the back of the boat to see the monster that had been so hard to fight.  As Nick continued to bring the fish in, we noticed that it looked a little small for a monster.  It turned out that it was a two pound Cero Mackerel that had been hooked right behind the head.  So much for breaking the boat record, but it was dinner for Nick and Silke!   
Wow, this is a monster!

What????  The monster turned out to be a foul hooked Cero Mackerel
We arrived early back at the anchorage to Monkey Cay.  I then took Nick and Silke over to Steppingstones by dinghy.  It was sad to say goodbye, but hopefully, we will meet up again before we leave Belize! 
Happy Sailing from MokaKat!

New Friends for Life!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Nick and Silke's Visit - Part 1 - Monkey Cay, Stepping Stones Resort, Placencia, and the Super Bowl

It was a month or so ago with I received a comment on our blog from Nick and Silke, that they were going to be the new caretakers for the Steppingstones Resort.  They had their own blog www.jagerfoods.com, and had a similar passion for adventure.  We hoped that we could match up our schedule and meet them one day.  We had really enjoyed our time with Phil and Julie, who were the prior caretakers, and went with us to Guatemala last fall. 
After some email coordinating, we decided that we would sail  down to Monkey Cay, and meet Nick and Silke, and finalize our plans.
Mom and I had an easy three hour sail down to Monkey Cay.  This was the place where we struggled trying to grab a mooring ball, back in September last year, when we picked up Phil and Julie.  We determined that if the mooring balls were in the same shape, we would just anchor.  As expected, the mooring balls did not have any new banners on them, so we anchored close to the mangroves on the leeward side of the shore.  There was another boat already anchored there, so we gave them plenty of space.  It was nice to be in calm water, as the Placencia Harbor had become very rolly.  We decided that we would spend the night here and go meet Nick and Silke the next morning.  We enjoyed the quiet water and had a nice evening.
Anchorage at Monkey Cay

s/v TIKA
The  next morning, as we were heading to Steppingstones Resort, we stopped by the other boat anchored next to us, s/v TIKA.  They were just coming up from Rio Dulce, and were from Germany.  It was a small world, as they new many of our friends in Rio Dulce. 
We then headed over to Steppingstones Resort, dodging the coral heads and shallow water.  We arrive at the Resort to the barking dogs and Nick and Silke!  It was nice to finally meet them, and we had to pose for some pictures and we headed up stairs for a quick lunch.  It turns out that Silke is originally from Germany, and Nick is from Minnesota!  They have been living in the US, before coming to Belize.
Nick and Silke

I was also happy that the dogs remembered me and both of them came running up!  The female was a little apprehensive, but finally came over for some scratching!  I am sure that Phil and Julie miss these two dogs a lot!

It seems that the Steppingstones is for sale!  If you are interested in owning a fishing resort, this one is available!  If you are interested, you can contact Nick and Silke on their website, www.jagerfoods.com or if you are in the neighborhood of Monkey River, then just stop by!

After a quick lunch, our plan was settled!  It turns out that neither Nick or Silke had been on a catamaran before, so this was a first.  We decided that we would spend the night, anchored in the calm water of the Monkey Cay, and would sail to Placencia the next day and watch the Super Bowl at the Paradise Resort.  So off to the boat we went!
Mom ended up cooking her famous Pork Chops smothered with onions, peppers and a tomato sauce.  We opened a bottle of red wine, and had a great dinner! 
Mom, with a plate of her famous smothered port chops
The next morning, after coffee and some light breakfast, we headed to Placencia.  Both Nick and Silke jumped right in, and helped with the raising the anchor, and later raising the sails.  It was nice to have extra hands on the boat!  We had a nice south east breeze so we quickly headed north toward Placencia. 
Raising the main sail
The happy crew!
We had also put out the fishing pole, hoping for some fresh fish.  It wasn't very long, and the fishing line started screaming!  Nick, quick, grab the pole!  Nick ran over and grabbed the rod, while I tried to slow down the boat.  I finally turned the boat into the wind, slowing it down, while Nick was trying to slow down the fish from taking all of the fishing line out!  After a long fight, Nick finally reeled in our first grouper!  It was very beautiful, and an excellent eating fish!
Nice grouper!
Cleaning our dinner!

We had a very enjoyable sail to Placencia.  We were just a few miles south when the fishing line started to sing again!  Fish on!!  There is always a fire drill when a fish hits, as someone has to grab the pole and I need to slow the boat down!  Once the boat was slowed down, I took over the pole and started to fight the fish.  It was crazy, as the fish was swimming toward the boat, so I reeled in as fast as I could to catch up!  Finally when the fish got closer to the boat it started to run the other way!  I handed the pole back to Nick, so that I could make sure that the boat was in control.  It then took another 15 minutes to finally get the fish in, as it fought really hard.  It turned out to be our fist Wahoo! 

We arrived in Placencia Harbor, and anchored the boat.  We enjoyed a swim and then headed into town for some shopping.  We were able to buy some needed vegetables, chicken, and drinks.  Then Nick, Silke, and I headed over to the Paradise Resort to watch the Super Bowl.  The game turned out to be a one sided affair, and Denver lost.  We enjoyed talking to some of the cruisers and met a family, Brian, Anna, and their 15 year old son, that were sailing around the world.  They started in Florida, and were heading down to Panama, so they are just getting started.  They were sailing an older Privilege catamaran, s/v Stray Cat, which they have upgraded.  Their blog is www.4strangebyrds.com, if you want to follow their adventure. 

We then headed back to where we had tied up the dinghy, and discovered that the cable and lock had slid down the pole on the dock and was sitting on the bottom!  We tried everything to pull up the cable, but it looked like someone was going to get wet!  Well, the buck stops with the captain, so I took off my shirt, and jumped in.  Luckily, the water was only about three feet deep, so I was able to use my foot to drag the lock up enough to grab.  Nothing like returning back to the boat with wet clothes! 

The rest of the night was uneventful, and we enjoyed another night on MokaKat!  Tomorrow we plan on heading out to one of the cays! 

Happy Sailing from MokaKat!