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Old 10-10-2014, 13:16   #1
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Bare Boat Sailing in Belieze

My friends and I have Bare Boated the BVI and are now considering sailing in Belieze. What can we expect? Are their any major concerns? How is it to provision the boat? I understand that we are not allowed to sail the open side of the reefs, that requires a certified captain. Any thoughts would be helpful.



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Old 10-10-2014, 13:59   #2
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Re: Bare Boat Sailing in Belieze

Belize — Noonsite
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Old 10-10-2014, 14:17   #3
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Re: Bare Boat Sailing in Belieze

Thanks, I will check it out.


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Old 10-10-2014, 16:13   #4
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Re: Bare Boat Sailing in Belieze

We chartered for a week in mid/late February in 2007. It is a different speed down there. It was some of the most beautiful water and conditions though. The boat was out of Placentia. There is a Moorings, but we chartered from the next tier down.

Pros -
- It was beautiful
- Crystal clear water
- No crowds even at near peak time

Cons -
- Cockroaches. We had a lot on our boat. Apparently the top tier outfits did as well but maybe not so many.
- Many anchorages were deeper than expected.
- Hard to replenish supplies - little or no fresh water or ice. We got by though.
- March is better. We had a couple of days of fairly cool and strong northerlies. There were also big winds many nights.
- I might also go far a cat next time. There were some very shallow areas that we could have gotten to, though the 4 foot draft on our boat didn't really short change us at all.


I'd go back, but go for a top tier charter company. I'd also highly recommend adding some sort of inland adventure as part of the trip. We did a night at a place just outside the Belize zoo and got to go into the zoo at night which was pretty cool. I regret that we didn't have enough time to do a more ambitious trip into the tropical jungle.

You should look further along the Leeward Islands too.
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Old 10-10-2014, 19:06   #5
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Re: Bare Boat Sailing in Belieze

Rick,

I lived, cruised, and worked as a charter captain in Belize for many years...still do some sailing there (be there in November in fact).

Great cruising ground, but much more complex waters than the BVI. Due to the complexity, I encourage charter guests to hire a local captain/guide. Due to accidents involving bareboat charters the Belizean Govt has often grumbled about making a local captain a requirement, but have not as yet. It is still a good idea though and allows you to go places off-limits to bareboats...like the outer atolls...the crown jewels of Belize.

For bareboat, TMM (San Pedro) or Moorings/Sunsail (Placencia) are the only real options. You might find some other sub par old boats to rent, but why risk it. Warning: you will find a few brokers on the net posing as being Belizean based. Stick with the major companies that actually operate in Belize.

Provisioning. Easiest route is to have the charter company provision for you. This way you don't waste vacation time grocery shopping in an unfamiliar place. You can still run out and pick up a few specialty items just for fun. Lots of options for provisioning in either San Pedro or Placencia, but you probably won't find the brands or range of selections you are accustomed to in more developed countries. But, lots easier than it used to be.
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Old 10-10-2014, 19:23   #6
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Re: Bare Boat Sailing in Belieze

Quote:
Originally Posted by hlev00 View Post
....
- Many anchorages were deeper than expected.
- Hard to replenish supplies - little or no fresh water or ice. We got by though.
- March is better. We had a couple of days of fairly cool and strong northerlies. There were also big winds many nights.
- I might also go far a cat next time. There were some very shallow areas that we could have gotten to, though the 4 foot draft on our boat didn't really short change us at all.

...
Anchorage depths. Many associate Belize with shallow water and there is plenty of that, but plenty of deep too...as you discovered. Some popular anchorages, like Lark Caye and the Pelicans, are up to 65' deep! Most are much shallower though.

Re-provisioning. Once you leave San Pedro, Placencia, or Belize City the options to take on any supplies, including fuel/water, are very limited. There are a few resorts where you may can strike a deal if they are in a position to spare some, but not reliably.

Weather. Spring is the most stable & fair weather. Winter months can bring strong cold fronts.

Shoal draft can be convenient in Belize, but is not essential...with local knowledge aboard you can still cruise most of Belize even with deeper draft. I used to captain a couple of monos in Belize w 6' draft. Of course, there are very few monos in the charter fleet now days so its almost a moot point.


Just for grins, do you recall the name of the boat you chartered?
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Old 11-10-2014, 13:56   #7
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Re: Bare Boat Sailing in Belieze

Totally agree with belizesailor's comments, I only have a couple more things to add.

THE LACK OF CROWDED ANCHORAGES, after the East Caribbean, it is a joy,

San Pedro, Caye Caulker and Placencia are probably the only places you will see 12 or more boats in an anchorage.

If you ask want a beef burger, that is what you ask for. If you ask for a hamburger, it may be made with SPAM

Hideaway Caye in the Pelican Cayes now has 3 moorings and a very nice little bar/restaurant
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Old 11-10-2014, 14:41   #8
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Re: Bare Boat Sailing in Belieze

After you have read this horror story you might want to go to the Grenadines!

www.travelbelize.co/the-whole-story/
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Old 11-10-2014, 14:42   #9
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Re: Bare Boat Sailing in Belieze

Hola Triumphant, will be back in Guate/Belize most of Nov-Dec. Helping the Wilson's with the charter/teaching schedule out of Belize City for a couple of weeks. Where are you staying mostly on the Rio these days?

Low boat density is definately one of the positives of Belize. Still plenty of anchorages you can have all to yourself most of the time.

Glad to hear Hideaway has put out some moorings. Very handy there in the Pelicans.

What does your boat draw?
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Old 11-10-2014, 15:12   #10
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Re: Bare Boat Sailing in Belieze

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Originally Posted by s/v Moondancer View Post
After you have read this horror story you might want to go to the Grenadines!

www.travelbelize.co/the-whole-story/
A case in point for why hiring a local captain/guide is a good idea in Belize.

When a foreign vessel (as all the charter boats are) with foreign operators hits the reef or has an accident, the officials tend to over react. With a local captain aboard, not only are you unlikely to have a serious grounding, but official reaction is much less likely to get out of hand, as it did in this case.

Removes a lot of stress from a vacation charter.
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Old 12-10-2014, 03:08   #11
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Re: Bare Boat Sailing in Belieze

Thanks for all of the information. In 2012, our boat was Annie's Toy, 38' or 40' cat and this summer we had the Kia Ora, a 42' cat.
Did you ever have any concerns for safety?


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Old 12-10-2014, 03:46   #12
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Re: Bare Boat Sailing in Belieze

The whole story really makes you appreciate the U.S. Wow what an experience to go through. And I was worried about (illegal pirates)


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Old 12-10-2014, 05:51   #13
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Re: Bare Boat Sailing in Belize

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Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
A case in point for why hiring a local captain/guide is a good idea in Belize.

When a foreign vessel (as all the charter boats are) with foreign operators hits the reef or has an accident, the officials tend to over react. With a local captain aboard, not only are you unlikely to have a serious grounding, but official reaction is much less likely to get out of hand, as it did in this case.

Removes a lot of stress from a vacation charter.
This was not an official's overreaction. This was corruption, or rather official or private extortion. Maybe the money would go to the Government, maybe not, but it is very wrong. I can't see any other explanation that makes sense.

When or why else might it happen that a government official, backed up by the Court system would lock a presumed rich foreign tourist for bumping into a reef and breaking a few bits of coral and not reporting it promptly. For this 'crime' he was locked in some dingy third world jail and had his passport removed until he coughed up the variable and negotiable 'fine' in the totally disproportionate amount of $50,000?

It's a real shame stories like this keep coming up. There was a similar one on a thread about the DR recently. I was hoping to come over to take a look at Belize, but this reduces the attraction a lot.
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Old 12-10-2014, 07:52   #14
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Re: Bare Boat Sailing in Belize

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This was not an official's overreaction. This was corruption, or rather official or private extortion. Maybe the money would go to the Government, maybe not, but it is very wrong. I can't see any other explanation that makes sense.

When or why else might it happen that a government official, backed up by the Court system would lock a presumed rich foreign tourist for bumping into a reef and breaking a few bits of coral and not reporting it promptly. For this 'crime' he was locked in some dingy third world jail and had his passport removed until he coughed up the variable and negotiable 'fine' in the totally disproportionate amount of $50,000?

It's a real shame stories like this keep coming up. There was a similar one on a thread about the DR recently. I was hoping to come over to take a look at Belize, but this reduces the attraction a lot.
"Overreaction" in this case DOES refer to getting over excited about potential profit. I've seen it happen many times both ashore and afloat in Belize. An unfortunate negative of the culture.

However, to put it in perspective, if you "bump" a reef in the Florida Keys...that's going to be very expensive and inconvenient too, likely more so...though much less likely to be impossed upon you by corrupt officials. Case in point, I have a friend who now has a felony conviction for drifting into a restricted area in the Keys with fishing gear/spearguns aboard (not in the water, not in use) while drifting along taking a break. They were just relaxing aboard and officials watched them drift over the boundary so knew they were not actually engaging in illegal actvity. Another form of "overreaction".

One difference in Belize, and many other countries, is that the officials (especially the corrupt ones) are rather "flexible" and you can "negotiate" your way out of such situations. I think in this case the folks took actions which were very naive and exacerbated their situation...they went loudly public with the matter right away...bad move...negotiate quietly and quickly in private.

There is another such story on the 'net somewhere about an attorney who had a similar problem in Belize. Being an attorney, maybe he was a bit more astute. He negotiated privately, paid a small "fine" and left with little delay.
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Old 12-10-2014, 10:54   #15
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Re: Bare Boat Sailing in Belize

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Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post

One difference in Belize, and many other countries, is that the officials (especially the corrupt ones) are rather "flexible" and you can "negotiate" your way out of such situations. I think in this case the folks took actions which were very naive and exacerbated their situation...they went loudly public with the matter right away...bad move...negotiate quietly and quickly in private.

There is another such story on the 'net somewhere about an attorney who had a similar problem in Belize. Being an attorney, maybe he was a bit more astute. He negotiated privately, paid a small "fine" and left with little delay.
Another example of needing to carry a few Ben Franklin's around. Old Ben was known as a diplomat too.
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