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Old 04-01-2009, 20:58   #1
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Advice on Monohull vs Catamaran Bareboat Charter in Belize

We are going to do a bareboat charter in Belize in May, in doing some initial research I noticed the catamarans available greatly outnumber the monohulls available for charter. I assume this has something to do with the water conditions of belize with a large amount of charter boats being privately owned the type of boats available usually reflects the cruising grounds.

I had a conversation with a friend of a friend who is an experienced bareboater and he made mention that cats were the way to go in belize due to the amount of coral heads and shallow water depths, noting that keel depth would be of great concern.

His opinion is that a monohull with it's deeper keel depth would become such an issue that it would greatly effect our enjoyment if not outright ruin it.

For some background I own a 26 foot sailboat and do a lot of lake sailing on a regular basis. Last year I got my ASA bareboating certificates in the BVI. This will be our first bareboat without a captain.

Can anyone comment on this issue of a mono hull bareboat charter in Belize being such a bad idea?

Thanks
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Old 04-01-2009, 22:15   #2
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Monohull charter will depend on the type and depth of keel.

Cat charter for dedicated monohullers is a bad idea, as their wives tend to like the space and freedom that a cat provides!
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Old 05-01-2009, 17:01   #3
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Without getting TOO into this discussion...

We chartered a cat in Belize a few years ago. The primary reasons we went to Belize, was because we wanted to try a cat (this was before the purchase of our current boat), and we knew that Belize is really a place where a cat's advantages really shine. To make a long story short, this not only made us decide not to consider a cat purchase, but it made us dedicated monohullers. It also made us not anxious to return to Belize.

HOWEVER, with all that being said... IF I were to return to Belize on a charter... I'd choose a cat. The skinny water and fluky air (read anchoring and therefore running aground when the wind shifts) makes a cat a better choice.
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Old 05-01-2009, 17:05   #4
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You hit on it in the opening question. Belize is too shallow for monohulls. Or should I say it's a tricky place to sail in a monohull with an experienced sailor. Bare boat charterers on the other hand..........?
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Old 05-01-2009, 17:41   #5
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I don't know belize, but have chartered cats in BVI. We go with two other couples and the gals love to sun themselves, read, chat on the trampoline while we're sailing and admiring the view.
They love the room, the showers, the fact that you can put a drink down and it's still there when you return. If they are Happy and Comfortable, it makes the whole trip better......

If Belize has thin water...all the more reason for the cat.
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Old 15-01-2009, 19:30   #6
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I just finished a weeklong charter in a monohull with a 5 foot draft out of Placencia. We had a great time and I am not sure a cat would necessarily have been easier. The cays in Belize in the south are mostly very steep to. That is, the channels are 40-80 ft. right up to the reefs and cays where the depth goes suddenly to almost nothing. There werent many places that a monohull would run aground that a cat wouldnt also want to avoid, at least where we were in a rough triangle between Placencia, S. Water Cay and Ranguana. That said, I am sure that with less draft there would have been fewer times when things got close, but really, you would be foolish to sail ANYTHING in Belize without keeping a very sharp lookout for the color of the water, and if it looks shoal you should avoid it regardless of the boat you are in because there isnt going to be much warning between deep water and trouble.
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Old 17-01-2009, 23:20   #7
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I too, will be chartering, (test driving), in Belize this spring. I was wondering if Bstreep would mind providing details of the reasons for his opinions. I would like to avoid a mistake if possible. Thank you
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Old 04-02-2010, 15:39   #8
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To answer mfinley, Yes a cat is probably preferable because of the skinny water. But then I am a cat guy. I have chartered both for the last twenty years from the Med to the South Pacific. We even owned a 40' mono in charter with Sunsail in the BVI's but usually upgraded to a cat. Great boat but still prefer cats, it's what I learned on. As for a first time solo charter experience, I would probably have to say the BVI's are preferable, if only for the fact that you are somewhat familiar with the area and in more of a comfort zone. A helping hand is always readily available.
For ejlindahl:We spent two weeks sailing from San Pedro in the north to Placencia in the south and back aboard a 43' cat last March. Spent another 4 days exploring the mainland. Belize is a third world country. If you are looking for the BVI experience of sailing from beach bar to beach bar, finding moorings at every stop and eating dinner ashore most nights don't go to Belize. On the other hand if you like near deserted anchorages next to unihabited islands and eating aboard most nights Belize is the place. Finding water is an issue. Provisioning is an issue. Good anchoring skills are a must. Polaroid sunglasses are a must. The navigation was tricky. But the sailing was fantastic. Since most travel is either north or south, the trades made the cat shine. Even with baggy ragged out charter sails we were able to average 8-10 knots on the gps on flat reef protected water. Didnt spill a drop of the Beliken. We were loaded down with eight adults and three kids each week. We swapped crews in Placencia at the half way point. My hand held GPS and the cruising guide were the primary nav tools. Even a poorly maintained old boat with a laundry list of problems couldn't ruin the experience. I have to say the we were very disappointed by the boat condition and the support that TMM provided. But we liked Belize so much we are going back at the end of this March. Sailing a Moorings 4600 out of Placencia. Again, four couples, but no kids, can't wait.
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Old 04-02-2010, 16:03   #9
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I have chartered cats for the last 5 of 20 years of chartering. Sailed in BVI, St. Lucia, ST. Vincent and the Grenedines. If you are going with friends and are looking for space to socialize. The cat is the bomb. Easy to sail. Lots of privacy. Lots of room. If you are going to cross an ocean, get a mono.

Just my thoughts.

Bob
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Old 04-02-2010, 16:11   #10
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Wow. We really didn't like Belize at all - so much so that I'm not sure we'd stop there, in our planned future circumnavigation of the Caribbean. As you experienced, our experience with TMM, with a 5 month old boat, was not good at all - by far the worst in 10 or 12 charters. Shoot, 20 years ago we had a battered old CSY 44 in St. Martin that had less problems.
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Old 04-02-2010, 16:33   #11
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bstreep, did you get to fill out an after charter review and did you get any acknowledgement of your review? It's disappointing when a company gives such lip service to customer satisfaction then doesn't even respond when issues are brought to their attention.
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Old 06-02-2010, 13:32   #12
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Perfect!!! This is the post I am specifically interested in as we are chartering a 41.3 Monohaul with Moorings out of Placentia for the whole month of December 2010. I have read that there are no navigational aides...is this true? We just returned from a month in the French Polynesia area and even with great nav. aides you had to have someone on the bow at many places. I keep checking in and as I have additional questions that aren't being asked I'll pipe in.
One ? is ...are there plenty of places to drop anchor close to the mainland to let our crew off to explore the ruins etc....?
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Old 06-02-2010, 14:35   #13
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Hey you might well have exactly the same boat we had last year. Yes, you need someone in the bow to look out since there are no aids to navigation anywhere out in the keys. Make sure they have polarized glasses! the chartplotters are pretty much worthless since the charts they are based on are way off and in some places date from the 1840's. But there are several channels where you can sail for hours without worrying - you only need to look out when you are closing in on cays. The cruising guide is excellent. The sketch charts were spot on as were the waypoints. We had a great time - the best cays are the ones along the barrier reef. Spectacular snorkeling and you feel like you are on the edge of the earth. Not very many other boats out there either.

As for ruins, the ones to see are actually in Guatemala, a half day drive from Belize City. Tikal's ruins are among the best anywhere in the hemisphere and are not to be missed. We went there after our charter - The hotel in the ruins itself (Tikal Inn) sent a car to the airport to pick us up when we landed from Placencia and then drove us back a few days later for not all that much money. If you go to Tikal all of the other ruins will seem pretty tame. Doesnt work to sail there from Placencia though - too far and why sail into the main commercial port of the country anyway? You have to go through Belize City to get in and out of the country anyway so that is how we did it.
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Old 07-02-2010, 02:55   #14
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SCK5, thanks for the advice on the Tikal ruins and Tikal Inn. We just may add that to our plans. Did you use Rausche's (sp?) cruising guide....if not what guide did you use?
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Old 07-02-2010, 07:12   #15
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Rauscher's guide is the one. The Moorings base also had some useful waypoints for particular anchorages which they will give you in the chart briefing. One other thing - If I were doing this again I would get there a half day early and do the provisioning myself. There is only one grocery store in town and you might as well go there yourself instead of hiring them to do it. You can get a taxi (they hang out at the end of the main drag which is at the waterfront) to help lug it back if you want. I might use the provisioning service for water and other drinks since I hate lugging hundreds of pounds of liquids. One thing to remember - There is NO water out in the islands. Bring plenty with you.

If you are into paper charts the Brit Admiralty ones are the best (not a high bar to get over). I liked them but given how out of date even they were I think the Moorings ones might well have been just as good.
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