Just back from a week long charter
out of Placencia. GREAT sailing and absolutely beautiful little islands to visit with nobody anywhere around. One thing to bear in mind - THE CHARTPLOTTERS ARE NOT ACCURATE. If you try to rely on them for more than approximate location you will end up on a reef. Waypoints in the Rauscher guide worked fine but the only real way to go is to look where you are going and stick to the deep blue water
. It is easy enough to do this if you sail with the sun behind you or in the middle of the day. Admiralty charts
were better than US charts
but still only of limited help since they arent updated too often (Some parts
of the charts were stated to rely on surveys from the 1840's. Yes, the 1840's - the chartplotters are based at least in part on these charts so there is no substitute for your eyes). The Moorings boat had a Raymarine
plotter and I had my Garmin
handheld 76 map and neither of them were accurate though the Garmin
seemed a bit better.
The cayes and islands are mostly very steep to. The channels have 40-80 feet right up to a stones throw from the cays. But it is well worth it for some of the most unspoiled places I have ever been. Great sailing too.
We were chartering with Moorings so didnt go outside the reef - but still had some of the best diving
and snorkeling anywhere at some of the islands right on the barrier reef. Especially good were the Queen Cays and Ranguana. The Queen cays (also called silk cays) are in a national park where the guy will come out and charge $10 per person but you can stay as long as you like. No fishing
in the park though.
A note on provisioning
in Placencia - Do it yourself. If you tell the charter
companies to provision for you they take your shopping
list to the very same grocery store that you would have to go to yourself (there is only one good one) and then mark everything up. You can get a taxi at the gas station to take your stuff to the dock
for not too much.