Sunday, March 30, 2014

South Water Caye - Rescue of a Rastaman and meeting old friends

Since we haven't been to South Water Caye before, we decided to head there, after leaving Pelican Cay.  The wind was perfect, and we sailed up the channel and into the Blue Range Cays.  At Blue Range Cays, we have to go through a narrow cut and then maneuver through the shallow protected bay and then on to South Water Caye!

Small resort on Blue Range Cays 
A fisherman fishing for bonefish with a local guide
We then passed Twin Cays, an all weather anchorage, that we stayed for one night back in November.  It is nice to have a safe all weather anchorage so close.  The water  between Blue Range Cays and South Water Caye is very shallow, so we were dodging coral reefs and watching for shallow spots.  Mom was on the bow directing me away from any dangers.  When we were almost to South Water Caye this power catamaran zoomed by us!  I think they were doing day trips out to dive or snorkel on the barrier reef.

We finally arrived after a very nice sail!  We used our motors through the pass, but was able to keep the main flying the rest of the way.  There was two sailboats already anchored, so we anchored to the left, leaving plenty of room.  The water was very blue with the clear sand.  It reminded us of San Pedro, but without the boat wakes and craziness!  After anchoring, we enjoyed lunch and watched the activities and beauty of this cay.
 South Water Caye
 4 Star Resort and Dive Shop
Our new friends Margaret and Rich on Dance Aweigh
Mike on Turning Point
After eating lunch, I was day dreaming, and looking back at the clear blue water.  For some reason, I noticed a little black spot on the horizon.  Thinking it could be a dolphin or something interesting, I grabbed the binoculars to check it out.  Instead of it being a floating coconut or weed line, it was a guy swimming around!  What????  The tourist are crazy to be swimming way out there!  I watched a little more concerned that this guy may be in trouble.  As a boat came in his direction, he started waving a kayak paddle to get their attention, but no one was noticing.  At that point, I realize that this guy was in trouble and needed some help. 
I dropped the dinghy and had mom spot the guy for me.  He was hard to see, as we lost him in the waves.  Once I started heading in his direction, he started waving the paddle.  You could almost see the relief, as I waved back and headed in his direction.  As I pulled up close, I realized that this was a local and not a tourist.  I was a little nervous, as I didn't want this to be a scam and him just want to steal my dinghy or something.  After seeing him, I could tell that he was confused and disoriented, really in need of some help.  His hand was bleeding a little too, and I was glad there wasn't any sharks around.  I managed to help him climb into my dinghy, so that he could relax.  He was on a kayak that had capsized and was full of water.  It looked like the little flotation was barely keeping the kayak afloat.  He said that he had been in the water for 4 hours, and he was very happy to see me!  We both said that God must have been watching over him for me to see him so far out to sea.  I then used my dinghy bailer to bail out the water in the kayak.  This took about 15 minutes and mom, who was watching, was getting worried that something had happened to me.  Once I had the kayak empty of water I towed it toward the shore.  It turns out that this guy was a Rastaman, with dreads down past his waist, and very religious.  He was also very proud of his seamanship, and was totally embarrassed that he needed help from a gringo.  I explain that God helps in the ways that he sees fit, and not be worry that it was a gringo had helped him.  I still can't believe I actually saw him, as he was more than a mile offshore, someone was watching over him!  I excluded his name from this account, as I didn't want him to be more embarrassed.  I then took him to the kayak rental place, and he swam the kayak back to shore.  Later we met his wife, and she expressed her gratitude that we helped him out.  When you are at sea, you help your fellow seaman in anyway possible! 
Picture of me and my new Rastaman friend parting
(picture courtesy of Margaret and Rich on Dance Aweigh)
Margaret and Rich came over to MokaKat in their dinghy and introduced themselves.  They had taken a photo of me bringing the Rastaman and kayak back to the dock.  I was very happy to have a photo of this event, as during the rescue, no one thought about taking photos!  They also said that the sailboat next to them was heading to Glovers Reef the next day, so we decided to head into shore around dinner time to see if we can tag along with them!
That night we headed into shore to locate the people on the other sailboat.  We met a couple, but the captain was in the other room on his laptop.  We sat down and started talking with them about their plans and where they were going.  The couple kept talking about Mike, their captain, so I headed into the next room to meet him.  I couldn't believe my eyes, but Mike was the guy that had his sailboat across from us at Mar Marine in Rio Dulce Guatemala!  We had helped each other out on a few boat projects.  I ran over and gave him a hug, while he was still trying to figure out who I was!  We then caught up on things and agreed to leave the next morning, early, to Glovers Reef.
We did leave the next day to Glovers Reef, and returned a couple days later.  When we returned, I was able to snorkel on the pass, taking a beautiful photo of a barracuda.  Unfortunately, my camera ran out of batteries after the single picture, and I was unable to take anymore pictures. 
The nastiest, meanest, largest barracuda that I have seen!
There were strong winds predicted for a couple of days away.  We thought that we had a couple of days to stay at South Water Caye, but the wind hit a day early out there.  We watched a few local fisherman sail by at fast speeds, so we decided to pull up anchor and head back to Twin Cays, a safe weather anchorage.

 We stayed in Twin Cays one night before returning to Placencia Harbor.  The first day that we arrived, there was a tourist boat looking for manatees and asked if we saw any.  At that time we haven't seen any manatees anywhere around Twin Cays.  Within 5 minutes of them motoring on, a manatee surfaced just behind the boat!  I whistled at the tour boat, and they came zooming back over, catching a quick glimpse of one of the manatees.  We ended up seeing several of them, as the area quieted down from the boat engines.

Happy Sailing from MokaKat!!!!

Pelican Cays - Revisit and Hideaway Caye

It was sad when my wife left to go back to Arkansas.  I enjoyed the two mile walk back from the airport to reflect on the past week and how my adventure was going.  It was fun sharing my adventure with her and to let her see another way to live your life.  Of course, it was just 10 days, so it was more like a vacation than a life changing visit!  She actually did very well adapting to living on a boat.  She won't admit it, but I think that she really enjoyed it a lot!
Well, the best thing for me to break out of any 'glooms', is to go sailing!  So once I returned back to MokaKat, we got it ready to head back out to one of the cays!  First of all, we needed to fill our water tanks, as we used at least a full tank when Maria Paula was here.  Something about long hair and nervous to take baths in the salt water, one tank of 100 gallons was missing....just saying...:).  It was a small price to pay for beautiful long hair!!!
Maria Paula with her beautiful long hair
In the past, we usually pulled into a marina somewhere and filled the water tanks with a hose.  This was easy, but I was always stressed out about docking the boat in the marina.  The plan this morning was to head over to Robert Grove Marina and fill the diesel tanks and water at the same time.  I took the dinghy over to check if they have diesel.  I sat there and watched a pickup truck load 300 gallons of diesel into a rear external tank in the bed.  Once this guy was finished I asked if they had about 50 gallons for my catamaran, but he said that he was out and that guy bought the last of it.  Welcome to Belize!
Diesel was not a major concern, as we were only down a quarter tank, but water was!  So, I decided that we would use the 1 gallon containers that we had from our drinking water, and use them to get water from the Moorings Marina to the boat.  I know many cruisers that do the same, but they use 5 or 6 gallon containers, but we don't have any of those, as they are almost impossible to find down here. 
So, we dumped all of our 1 gallon containers into the tank, filling almost half of it.  We then took all 64 containers to the Mooring Marina and slowly filled them up.  It took almost an hour to fill and replace the containers with water!  It ended taking two trips, but we filled both of our tanks, and had all 64 containers filled and stowed in our front locker.  We use that water for drinking and it is our emergency water if we run out of our tanks! 
It was definitely hot and hard work!  Mom and I worked as a team to get all of this done.  We have a better appreciation of our water, after working so hard to fill the tanks!

Where is mom going to sit????
After stocking up on some food from Placencia, we were off toward Hatchet Caye, one of our favorite places!  We wanted to go out and spend a few more days there because last time we had to leave early, as the weather turned bad.  We had a good sail, but was having to tack, as Hatchet Caye is always directly into the wind.  We had just cleared Wippari Cay and on a good line to hit Hatchet Caye, when our friends Chuck and Deb on s/v Neytiri hailed us on the radio.  They were heading over to Pelican Cays and wanted us to join them!  We discussed it for a minute, then then decided to join them at Pelican, as the last time that we were there was in November, and the wind was blowing 30 knots, and it was cold!  We didn't even snorkel or explore, as we stayed there for three days.
So I turned the boat north, and we headed to Pelican Cays!  We were also lucky to finally catch another fish!  We didn't catch any fish when Maria Paula was here, so we were happy to finally catch one again.  It wasn't any boat record, but did provide a meal later that night!
Cero Mackerel
We arrived to Pelican Cay after a series of tacks, sailing almost all of the way!  When we arrived, we noticed that there were three new mooring balls installed just in the past week!  This was excellent, as the depth here is about 50 feet, and it can be hard to anchor in such deep waters.  We only have 200 feet of chain, so a 1 to 4 anchoring ratio is not good.  Fortunately for us, there was an available mooring ball, so we took it! 
Of course this is Pelican Cay, and I had take some photos of the pelicans and falcons flying around!

 Fishing Camp

Diving for fish! 

Osprey taking a break
We then met up with Chuck, Deb, and their guests for a little snorkeling.  We enjoyed a nice snorkel, seeing lots of beautiful coral and fish.  This was a big change from our last visit, as it was cold and windy. 
Chuck, Deb, and company

After snorkeling, we headed over to Hideaway Caye for snacks and drinks!  The last time that we were here we didn't know about Hideaway Caye, so we really missed out!  Dustin and Kim, with their toddler Ama (short for Biama, the local name for strong storms coming out of the south) built and run the restaurant and lodge.  He catches most of the conch, lobster, and fish used in the restaurant from the local waters.  They use solar and catch rain water, so they are very Eco friendly.  We enjoyed talking to our friends, and headed back to the boat for our fish dinner!
The next day, Chuck, Deb and company headed off for South Water Cays, but we decided to spend another day exploring Pelican Cays.  We decided to snorkel in another area that looked good, so off we went. 
We had a great snorkel and I spotted a sleeping 6 foot nurse shark under one of the reefs.  I quickly found mom and asked her if she wanted to see a shark.  Her eyes got big, but when I told her it was a nurse shark, she willingly followed me back to the shark.  He was sleeping, so we took a few pictures and left him alone.  Something about 'letting a sleeping dog lie' came to mind.

For some reason, I took a lot of pictures of starfish with their different designs and colors.  I know it is a little boring, but they are easy to take pictures of, as they don't move around as much as the little tropical fish I keep trying to photograph!

After taking some pictures, I started hunting for some conch.  Dustin had shown the guys the correct way to clean the conch, and I wanted to try it out.  I hit the jackpot with conch, and found six large ones in a small area.  There were many more, but we only needed six to have a couple of dinners, so that is all that we took. 
I also remembered seeing a large male reef crab in the other snorkeling area from the day before, so I headed over there with my spear gun to see if I could find him.  The males have large white claws, and it wasn't too long before I shot my first large reef crab!  I saw another large one, but it was a female.
Male reef crab
We did improve our cleaning of conch, but still they are time consuming and slimy!  But, they are so good!  Mom did an amazing job on cooking conch steaks and we enjoyed an excellent dinner of conch.  We also cooked the crab, but for some reason, the meat was soft and shrunken.  It may have been molting, which seems to affect the flavor.
The next day I went back to Hideaway Caye to take some photos for the blog.  We also like to advertise for them, as they work hard for their clients and have a very unique resort.  All of the structures are built over the mangrove swamps, with only large posts for support.  There is no visible land on Hideaway Caye! 
Unfortunately, Dustin had run to the mainland, so I didn't get any photos of him.  Kim and Ama showed me around the resort with Caye leading the way.  I had a great time taking pictures and playing with Caye, their large dog, who likes to take your hand in his mouth, as he leads you around the place!  He is very intimidating, but really just a little puppy at heart!  I miss my little schnauzer, Pepper.
My welcome committee!  I was glad that I was friends with Caye already! 

I wasn't sure what he was chasing, but he was getting all wet and muddy!!!
Swing over the swamp!
Residence of Dustin and Kim
Resort cottage

Caye after chasing something in the swamp! 
Kim and Ama
They lived above the bar before they built their own cottage

Personal Residence of Dustin and Kim
Dinghy dock 
They put all of the solar path lights in the sun for charging
Well, we really enjoyed our few days at Pelican Cay and Hideaway Caye.  Our option really changed from our last visit, as the weather was perfect.  We will add this Cay to one of our favorite ones!  We also have new friends at Hideaway Caye!
Next stop, South Water Caye!
Happy Sailing from MokaKat!