Thursday, April 25, 2013


Parting shots of Life in Belize


Our new dinghy engine carburator finally flew in to the tiny island of Caye Caulker! We sure were getting a lot of exercise walking out to the airfield everyday in anticipation. But we know nothing happens fast in this part of the world so we weren't overly anxious. But it was a tremendous relief when we finally had that little 2 pound package in our hands. I say "our", but the truth is Jonesy coveted it and I never even touched the box.

Within an hour, Jonesy had the new carburator installed. He was that fast because it was the 9th time that he had taken that section of the engine apart in the last few weeks and he had really come down the learning curve on how to do it. Very soon after he was racing our power-loaded dinghy around the anchorage and zooming a circle around our friend's catamaran Blue Water Cat.

Captain Jimmy reported that Jonesy had a wide
Drinking IS FUN until you get the gout
grin on his face as he sped around on his victory lap. Our little dinghy now moves so fast over the water that Jonesy has to wear his ballcap backwards to prevent it from blowing off his head! Cool.

That inflatable little boat is our prmary mode of transportation and thus is very important to us. Without a well-functioning engine we are practically marooned on the big boat way out at anchor. The waters of Belize are very shallow (we saw extended 6 foot depths on our trip to Caye Caulker from Robinson Island!). This means that they get too shallow for our 5 1/2 foot keel anywhere near land. We have to anchor way, way, way off of the beach. So getting to shore is either a long swim (and then you're all salty-wet and risk getting run over by a speedboat), a long paddle (and inflatables don't paddle well because of the windage) or a short trip in with a good dinghy engine.

NIKI WIKI at anchor way, way offshore of Caye Caulker
You can see how far offshore we are in this photo. Can you even see us out there? We are that tiny dot on the horizon framed by this funky party boat.

So it was HAPPY TIME. We knew what we were supposed to do as the signs told us.."Drinking IS FUN". We could relax and enjoy our last few days in Belize knowing that we could continue with our plans to sail to Mexico.

We spent the next few days wandering the island with friends, shopping for provisions, and taking care of the business of offically checking out of the country of Belize.
Ferry in Belize Caye Caulker/San Pedro/Belize City

There are no Immigration, Customs, Port Authority, norTreasury officials on Caye Caulker so it meant that one of us needed to ride the shuttle ferry over to the town of San Pedro on Ambergris Caye. That someone was me (Terry). I'll take every opportunity to go-see-do something new.

The ferry was very comfortable. These are fully-enclosed speed boats which they pack folks into like sardines in a tin can. The ride only takes about 45 minutes dock to dock as we zoom along first the shoreline of Caye Cualker, and then the shoreline of the southern end of Ambergris Caye.  The winds were still blowing pretty hard. The forecast was for the winds to lie down overnight so we were going to take this weather-window opportunity to sail north. The whole trip takes place behind the big barrier reef so there are no big ocean swells to rock the boat, just stiff and smaller wind waves.


SAN PEDRO TOWN, BELIZE is like Caye Caulker on steroids. There are beautiful hotels which sit on the white sand and palm tree lined beach fronts and many restaurants and small cafes. I'll bet one could even find live music here at night which is a rarity on smaller Caye Caulker. The primary means of transportation are gasoline powered golf carts which tourists can also rent.

My cha-cha dance to check out of Belize went smooth until the very last part when I was in the Immigration office for the final offical exit stamping of our passports. Suddenly the office was
Ambergris Caye, San Pedro Town
deserted except for only one offical of the three that were working just minutes before (it wasn't even lunchtime yet) and me - no other customers. A local woman came in carrying a box of costume jewelry and waltzed behind the counter chatting with the official and obviously they were friends. The female official held our passports in one hand and her stamp in the other and then announced that I would have to pay her $40Belize. What? Why? I had already paid my fees directly to the Treasury office in the next building and had the receipts. Also, right above this woman's head was a big sign which said that NO PAYMENTS were to be made in this office.

I removed a $50B from my wallet, still questioning the new fee and asked if I should go back to the Treasury office. "No" she said, I was to pay it directly to her. She turned to the jewelry lady who whipped out and handed me my $10B change. What's that all about? So I guessed that I had just paid our second bribe to an official in our 7 years of cruising to 9 different countries. I hope she enjoys her new jewelry. I got our passports stamped, a little peeved (that's a lot of yarn money), but glad to be able to legally continue our travels.
"Better Not Litter" sign on Caye Caulker, Belize

We had 24-hours to get out of the country and start our long passage up to Isla Mujeres, Mexico. We'd be on the boat for 3 days so we took our final opportunity to walk on the dirt. This would also be our last shot at getting some internet service for about a week until we got settled in Mexico.

Yep, the road crosses the runway of the Caye Caulker airfield
We snagged our final scoop of ice cream, our last meal of "Stew Chicken" served with coconut rice and red beans and cole slaw, and the last of the bright white coral dust from the roads. Then it was time to get on the boat and wait for the winds to calm down.

Amazingly they did exactly that  and almost to the hour that it was forecasted. So we hoisted the anchor and worked our way through the shallow waters towards Amergris Caye, and then out thru the narrow San Pedro cut in the reef.

Next blog post soon (I promise): Knitting and Isla Mujeres Mexico!!

Monday, April 01, 2013


Waiting in Paradise

Caye Caulker, Belize Airport
We're kinda stuck here in paradise waiting for our new carburator for the dinghy engine. what? It just means we'll spend less time up in Isla Mujeres, Mexico...or maybe not. We really don't have a schedule and no guests have committed to come aboard so we can just hang here until our limit of 90 days in Belize has been reached or we decide to go elsewhere.

Here's Jonesy standing at the Caye Caulker, Belize "airport" waiting for his part to arrive. Maybe tomorrow they say. After all it was Easter week last week and everyone is sleeping off the big partying that's been going on today. We know from tracking data that the part has been through the FedEx hub in Memphis and is now in Florida so it'll get here soon.

So we've been happily tromping about the island checking everything out. Other than that, we've simply been living on the boat reading, knitting, and watching movies and TV shows in the evening.
"Middle Street" Caye Caulker and Jonesy
This past weekend we didn't even have to play our own music - it was blasting from the beach party out to our boat! Actually, some of it was pretty good stuff. Of course, like other places we've anchored in over the years, there were plenty of jet-skis blasting about making a racket and causing waves. That's just part of life on a sailboat during Easter Week anyplace warm.


Finally it is April 1st and I can share TWO new knitting patterns of mine that are released today. First up are Carol's Garden Socks . These socks were inspired by my friend Carol's beautiful and abundant organic garden in Oregon. I had fun adding the chickens to the
Carol's Garden Socks
design - that's because they are a big part of the ambiance of her place even though she only has 4 egg-laying hens. Their portable coop is rolled across the lawns to give them access to fresh earth and keep them safe from predators.

Anyway, these socks start with tiny scallops on the  1x1 ribbed cuff, then the knitter can choose whatever colors they want for the different motifs. The pattern will be available for free only during the months of April and May 2013. After that, it will be on Ravelry for purchase.

Then, on the Holiday Mystery Gifts Yahoo group they are releasing the Snowflake Biscornu Ornament. This little 3 1/2" diameter stuffed ornament is knit in stranded color work like the socks in two pieces from the outside to the centers. Then the two pieces are joined with a 3-needle bind off. The center is pulled in with a button. Just another fun little project for the
Advent Calendar of Ornaments project.

Snowflake Biscornu Ornament 
The current knitting projects are socks (duh). I'm working another pair of my Yaneris pattern this time in a plain kettle-dyed yarn to show the pattern stitch better. Also, there's a pair of grey ribbed socks that are my mindless knitting for when we are watching our movie or TV shows for the evening.

Snowflake Biscornu side view
Jonesy has once again tackled the problem of our weak transmission signal on our sideband radio. He dug under our bunk again and this time he found some serious corrosion on our 3" wide thin copper grounding strips. The damage was so extensive that he had to cut a slice out of one band and splice it to the bad one. The good news is that the next day when he joined the 8am Northwest Caribbean Cruiser's Net he was heard! So we're on the right track. Now, replacement copper bands have been added to the boat part purchasing list (which has never been empty).
The Homemade Ice Cream shack, Caye Caulker Belize

Oh! We found the homemade ice cream stand here on Caye Caulker! Yummy. Jonesy had Rocky Road with the marshmallows being those pastel fruit flavored ones. Plain white marshmallows are a rarity down in this part of the world and usually all we can find are those fruity ones too. I had Blueberry Cheesecake because it's been way too long since I tasted a blueberry (up at Carol's house in Oregon).

Tomorrow is another day and we may just receive our carburetor. Or we may have to simply sign and pay duties then get the dang part later. We've been warned by other cruisers that that's sometimes how it works.  Speaking of
Jonesy manages the sunset in Caye Caulker, Belize
the workings of Belize. We had a visit from the Port Authority on Easter Sunday on our boat. They were going around to all of the boats and checking their paperwork. On Easter Sunday? Yep. Of course we were current with our documents. But we told him that we'd have to renew our cruising permit a few more days because of the part situation. He had the paperwork to do that right then and there for us! That saved me a trip on the ferry to San Pedro Town on Ambergris Caye to do the renewal. Sure, I love to ride the ferry, but it does cost money. So we're all legal now to stay in the country until April 12th if we need to stay that long. Only cost another $150 Belize dollars ($75 US) for the privilege. Worth every penny to enjoy these sunsets and the good life here in Belize.

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