Wednesday, April 2, 2014

South Water Caye to Glovers Reef - At last we sailed in Blue Water!!!

The whole time that we have been in Belize we have wanted to go to one of the three offshore atolls, but the timing or weather was not in our favor.  When we went out to South Water Caye, I had thought about heading out to Glovers Reef for a couple of days.  After we met our friend Mike on s/v Turning Point, our mind was made up! 

We were heading out to Glovers Reef!!!
The night before we left, Mike suggested we leave at the first crack of dawn and head out through the pass.  I usually get up around 5:30, so I thought that it would be plenty of time to get going.  I had a hard time sleeping, as I was excited about the trip in the morning.  I was up around 4:00 and again at 5:00, but fell back to sleep.  Around 5:45 I heard something like a diesel engine next to our boat, so I jumped up and looked out the port hole!  There was Mike, ready to go!!!!  Wow, he is serious about heading out early, as I can barely see light!  The funny thing was the wind was already howling at 20 knots, so the whole idea of getting up early to beat the wind didn't help.  He said that they were heading out, so we would be about an hour behind. 
I had to have a cup of coffee before I attempt to go out our first pass into blue water!  So about an hour later, we raised the anchor and headed out the pass.
Since the wind was blowing at 20 knots, the swells at the pass were pretty large.  As we motored out, directly into the wind and the waves, the bows would dip and spray would come back over the boat.  I was glad that I had that cup of coffee!  We slowly motored out with both engines, watching the depth gage go from 20 feet to almost 200.  Then it started blinking, as we finally entered the deep dark blue water of more than 1000 feet! 
South Water Caye as we head out the pass
I was focused and hanging on!!!
Once we hit the deep water, the swells smoothed out and we raised the sails!  We put a single reef in the main and ran with the full jib in 15 to 20 knot winds.  Since the wind was coming from the east, we ran close hauled, crashing into the large ocean swells.  At first, I was nervous, as we haven't sailed in waves this large before.  After an hour or so, I relaxed, as MokaKat preformed excellent as a blue water cat.  We were running 5 to more than 7.5 knots, so we were moving right along.  Every once in a while a large wave would crash over the bows spraying water in the air. 
We had also rigged our larger 50# fishing rod and a large lure.  We put the line out, hoping for something large, but not gigantic. 
A short video of our sail to Glovers Reef
Mom relaxing on our trip out!
It took us a little over 5 hours and 25 NM to make it Glovers Reef.  I was excited that we finally got to sail in the big, blue water, outside the barrier reef.  As we got closer to Glovers Reef, I went to check the fishing pole, as it had been quiet most of the trip.  The real problem was that it was so loud with the waves that it was hard to hear if we had a hit on the pole.  When I reeled the line in, it was missing the lure and half of a heavy wire leader.  I guess we had a large fish on and he took our expensive lure with him!  It was a small price to pay, and we were excited to be coming into Glovers Reef for the first time. 
Our track files going to Glovers Reef

As we rounded the southern tip of Glovers Reef, we started looking for the pass.  I could see Mike's boat in the anchorage, but there were many reefs between us and Mike.  I finally saw a break in the reefs and headed through the pass.  We then had to dodge several reefs, two groups of snorkelers, a fishing sailboat, and a dive boat to finally make it to the anchorage!  I was ready to anchor and take a break!
We pulled into the anchorage and tried to determine where to anchor.  There was a large power yacht on one side and Mike was in the middle.  On the other side of Mike's boat there was a dock.  We tried to anchor three times, much to the entertainment of the other boats.  Each time I was either too close to one of the boats or directly in front of Mike.  I was getting frustrated, as well as embarrassed, as mom and I usually nail the anchoring.  We finally moved over closer to the dock, and finally the anchor set, and we drifted back away from Mike.  Somebody needed to put a tent over that circus! 
I wasn't totally happy with the way that our anchor was holding, so I put on my snorkel equipment on went to check it out.  It was in turtle grass, but it dug deep enough into the sand that it was holding.  We were also in 8 feet of water, so the 100 feet of chain would help any dragging of the anchor.     
We were both exhausted and hungry, as we left without eating breakfast.  I finished up cleaning up the sails and halyards, while mom made some sandwiches.  They were excellent, and we crashed for an hour or so!  Wow, what a good day sailing!

s/v Turning Point
Dock next to our anchorage with a local fishing boat
Sunset at Glovers Reef
 The next morning, Mike and his guests pulled up anchor and started motoring into the center of Glovers Reef.  The water is very shallow with many reefs, but there was a deeper channel of dark blue water running up the middle.  They planned on heading a mile or two deeper into interior to take some pictures and snorkel.  I decided to take a tour of the Southwest Caye, as the cay in front of us was private, with large dogs lurking around.
I took the dinghy over to the dive shop and talked to Willis, the local manager of Southwest Caye Resort and Dive Shop.  He was super nice, and told me I could walk around and take all of the pictures that I wanted!  He told me not go to on the other cay, as it was private and the dogs were mean.  He also mentioned that there was a part of the island run by a Canadian Company that rented kayaks and small tent dwellings.  I checked them out too, and the little tent cabanas were cool!
Kayakers enjoying the clear shallow water

Beautiful shallow water toward the interior of Glovers Reef

Willis's Cabana

Palm tree lined paths throughout the island


Cool tent cabanas at the Kayak Resort
Neat trampolines over the water for sunbathing.  The osprey is using it for a perch.
SUP rider heading into shore!
The local pelican hangout!
After my sight seeing trip, we went snorkeling close to the pass.  There was a nice drop off, and the water was amazingly clear!  My camera ran out of batteries, but I did manage a few pictures. 

Can you see the flounder? 
I followed this large school of Blue Tangs around, taking photos 
They really liked this coral head, as they were eating something!
After the snorkeling, Mike and s/v Turning Point came back from their day trip and anchored next to us.  We invited them over for some drinks and snacks!  It was nice to catch up with our experiences since we left Guatemala!
Mike and his guests coming over for happy hour!
Sunset at Glovers Reef
We planned on heading back to South Water Caye in the morning.  The weather was supposed to get windy from the South East, and we didn't want to be so far offshore when it hit.  Mike was also going to leave, but very early again, as he was heading north to Water Cay, about 30 NMs away. 
The next morning, Mike came by really early to say good bye!  We hope to meet up with him in the future!
Mike and s/v Turning Point heading out the pass at Glovers Reef
Sunrise at Glovers Reef
The local fishermen heading out to fish
 We also pulled up anchor and headed out the pass.  I was an easy sail back, as the wind was coming behind us, and we were running on a broad reach.  We put in a reef in the main sail, and ran a full jib.  We were running 5 to 7 knots in an easy sail.  Again we put out our large fishing rod, but went the whole trip without a hit! 
Mom enjoying the sail back to South Water Caye
South Water Caye in the distance
As we arrived back in South Water Caye, we dropped our sails and surfed through the cut in large swells.  We then anchored close to South Water Caye among a few other boats. 
Coming through the pass to the anchorage at South Water Caye
It's a bird, it's a it is a dinghy giving a wind surfer a ride back to shore!
At first I thought it was a new style dinghy with wings!
We had a great time sailing to Glover Reef and being in the blue water!  It was one of the challenges that I wanted to do before we end our year of cruising.  I wish that we could have stayed out there a couple more days, but the weather had other thoughts.  Actually, the wind kicked up a day early, and we had to move the next morning to Twin Cays to find some calmer water!  After a day of waiting for calmer wind, we then headed back to Placencia Harbor!
My sister, Kathi, and her husband, Mike are coming on April 4th for 9 days!  We are excited for more company!  I am sure that we will have more photos and adventures to share during their time with us.
Happy Sailing from MokaKat!!!

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