Saturday, June 15, 2013


Tobacco Caye, Belize

s/v Niki Wiki at Tobacco Caye, Belize
We found a piece of heaven and its name is Tobacco Caye, Belize.

If you are ever looking for a quiet, tropical location this is one place you should consider. What you see in the photo is what you get, that's the whole island in the photo! There are a few guest cabins and rooms available on this tiny bit of land which is tucked into a curve in the great reef. The waves from the strong tradewinds break onto the reef and are a constant roar, but other than that all you can hear are the birds and the whispering of the palm tree fronds. The visitors this day (besides us) were groups of what looked like high school seniors who were staying in the bungalows. We watched them get their snorkel lessons - lucky kids.

We anchored here only for a few hours so we could explore the island and go snorkeling. Our short time here is one of the highlights of our cruising this season and well worth the extra effort!

Tobacco Caye, Belize
There was a large variety of sea life to see in shallow water. Because it was shallow (about 10 feet) you could really see the COLORS of the sponges, corals and fish. I spotted two different types of ray and hovered while one of them settled down on the sandy bottom and flipped sand up over itself as camouflage. Within seconds only it's beady little eyes showed! I saw angel fish, butterfly fish, parrot fish and even a scrolled filefish – simply lovely. 

Here's a photo John and Diane from m/v JASDIP and Jonesy standing on Tobacco Caye with a couple of the guest houses. We walked the whole circumference of this place in about 15 minutes –
Conch Shells on Tobacco Caye, Belize
it's that small.

And the conch shells! Goodness – there were so many conch shells that they used them to line the walking paths and as breakwaters along the shore. The older shells were bleached out by the sun and were beginning to break down into the little particles that make up the sand. The newer shells on top of the piles were still lovely.

Too bad we didn't have time to stay for to enjoy some delicious cracked conch to eat. But we had to hustle to a more protected anchorage for the overnight stay.

Yes. I did sneak one shell into my snorkel bag. I think I should be commended that I only took one. All the shells have the small opening cut into the top of the shell where the fishermen have cut the muscle of the animal to harvest it for good eating. Later, I complained to Jonesy that I smelled something disqusting and the smell kept following me – all the way to the boat. Oops – it was my pilfered conch shell!

So I scrubbed it with bleach and it's now out on deck in a basket getting "de-stinked" naturally over time. She's a beauty isn't she?

Jonesy was not pleased that I brought the shell back to the boat. Years ago he was attacked by one of my shell treasures on the boat and suffered a nasty cut. But I'm sure this one will behave - and it makes me happy so I get to keep it. Life is good.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Sailed and Bounced to Belize

Sailing away from Isla Mujeres, Cancun Mexico
We're in Belize again! It was another rough passage from Mexico south but then we knew it would be. It was simply time to go.

On the Pacific Ocean side of Central America we didn't have as much wind during the night hours as we did during the day. Thus, my night watch duties at the helm were usually pleasant and uneventful allowing for plenty of star gazing, reading, and of course knitting.

New Red Socks Teaser
But the nights in the Caribbean Sea are so very different! Night is when the squalls come up and the winds howl. Getting my knitting done (and Jonesy getting some sleep) is a lot more complicated these past few years in the Caribbean. This trip, the winds made my thin, red sock yarn swirl around my head and hands, constantly getting tangled around my toothpick-sized needles. The boat bounced and lurched as it was knocked by the waves from several directions causing my concentration to falter from my knit 1, purl 2, cross the cable, etc. pattern execution.

But with my trusty headlamp glowing Cyclops style from my forehead, and safely snapped into my inflatable life jacket and snatch hooked by cable onto the helm seat I was able to knit several inches down the foot and finish the toe of a new sock design.
Niki Wiki at anchor Blue Ground Range, Belize

During my night watch, I heard something slap the deck behind me…what was it? I looked around (still safely hooked to my seat, but on a leash) but saw nothing. Hmmm…maybe I imagined it. I returned to my knitting. But a few minutes later Jonesy's head popped up behind me out of the hatch over our bed and he bellow that a flying fish had landed on my pillow and was flopping around in our bed waking him up from a deep sleep. Eventually he managed to catch the fish (still alive) and came up on deck to toss it over the side. Well, our berth was quite fishy for the rest of the passage and was only habitable on one end due to the fish scales and stink. No, flying fish are not good for eating. If they were, I would have considered this a fishing success story.

We took a pit stop at Bahia de la Ascension, a safe natural harbor in southern Mexico to rest for one night. That broke the trip into 2 separate overnight passages and made a huge different in how we felt by the time we dropped the hook behind the reef in San Pedro Town, (Ambergris Caye) Belize at daylight following another night at sea. We actually felt pretty good, like humans, not zombies because we both had a complete night of sleep in that remote and quiet Mexican harbor.

Bow Candy: Terry watching the depth on approach to Tobacco Caye
Since arriving in Belize, most of our passages have been day-trips over VERY shallow water behind the reef – like in about 6 feet of water!! We draft 5 ½ feet so there was very little water under the keel at times. That's just how it is to cruise between the islands of Belize – nerve wracking for us sailboats and our traveling companion m/v JASDIP (Just Another Sh**ty Day In Paradise) which is a trawler. Over these areas, I was on bow-watch to make sure we didn't run aground. Sure, we have depth sounders, but they only tell you the depth where you are at the moment – not what it is a few feet in front of you so you can take evasive action if needed. At least these on these trips I remembered my hat and sunscreen on my lips so I didn't get fried like on the trip north. I'm always relieved when I see deep water – deep as in 12 feet – and I can go relax in the cockpit and knit again.
:Local art at a restaurant in Caye Caulker, Belize

We spent quite a bit of time on Caye Caulker again as we enjoy hanging out there. The island is beautiful and the people are just so dang nice. Jonesy forgot his wallet when we took a golf cart taxi down island to get our propane tank refilled (I cook a lot). The taxi driver PAID for our propane and took us back to the dock where our dinghy was tied so Jonesy could go back to our boat and get his wallet to pay him back and for the taxi/wait fare plus grateful tip. No worries – no complaints from the taxi driver. Thanks Clifton!

Fish art Caye Caulker, Belize
We both had noticed that Jonesy needed a haircut. So he left me at a restaurant where I could surf the internet and reconnect with my fiber friends while he walked over to the barber. I waited…and waited. After about an hour and a half I was really getting worried. Eventually he came back well-shorn. See, at the barber shop he not only had to wait his turn, but then all the dudes there were hanging about watching a funny movie about inner-city life in Los Angeles. Jonesy verified that yes, they really do have low-rider cars that hump up and down at the red lights. Soon he was just one of the dudes spending an afternoon in the slow pace of an island barber. The dudes (except Jonesy) enjoyed some ganja, and the barber took his time trimming Jonesy's mop. He certainly enjoyed this barbering experience!

Lollipop Ornament to knit
Let's talk knitting! Here's just another little knit ornament for our 24 ornaments for the Advent Calendar. It is nothing more than a simple I-cord rolled up with a stick in it! This LOLLIPOP ORNAMENT is easy and cute for your holiday tree, package decoration or even in a group as "décor". I used Knit Picks Palette fingering weight yarn with 2 strands held together for this photo sample, but you can use any yarn and needle combination that you want. This will be available first on the Holiday Mystery Gifts Yahoo group sometime soon, then on Ravelry of course.

Zig Zag Toddler Mittens
And I've been continuing on the mitten kick. Below is a photo of my latest little pattern, the ZIG ZAG TODDLER MITTENS. This is a really easy-to-memorize stranded knitting pattern. Again, I used one of my favorite yarns which is Knit Picks Palette fingering weight wool. It is so soft and comes in many colors. Yes, I have a few more ideas already charted out for more mittens. And my test knitter for the Zig Zag mittens has asked for a matching hat. Why not? I have the yarn and the time!

I can't show you my latest work on some new sock designs which doesn't make me happy. I love to share! But then they wouldn't be a surprise to the folks on the groups who receive new sock patterns periodically. But working on these has kept me out of trouble as I've had my nose to the Excel grindstone these past few weeks.

Also on the needles is a Bi-Colored Slouch Hat which is an old design of mine. I've been aware that there is an error in the crown decrease section and finally I am getting myself motivated to correct the pattern. I tried to reason it out in Excel, but with the brioche stitch work, double decreases, and instructions for both circular as well as flat-knitting methods, well, my brain got overheated. So I had to resort to yarn and needles. I'm using Caron Super Soft acrylic and will be donating the hat to the Sacramento Knitting Guild's collection of chemo caps for the cancer center patients.

That's all for now.

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