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Old 11-07-2013, 14:46   #1
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Chartering in Belize

Hello. Booked for a charter in Belize at the end of October 2013. We are used to chartering in the Pacific Northwest so this should be a bit of a change. Our charter leaves from Placencia and we are out for 6 days. Any recommendations for places to visit or things to see? What do my sailing comrades think about visiting the outer atolls. Glover's, Lighthouse Reef, or Turneffe?

Thanks very much!
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Old 11-07-2013, 15:16   #2
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Re: Chartering in Belize

Unless this has changed, you are not permitted to go outside the reef without paying a captain. I think this is the law.

We went from San Pedro down to South Water - which is about as far north as you are likely to go. We loved South Water.

The biggest problem in Belize is that you are in the middle of nowhere. Be conservative on your water, ice and diesel.
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Old 11-07-2013, 15:24   #3
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I would see what belizesailor has to say... If anyone knows it would be him.
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Old 11-07-2013, 15:35   #4
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Re: Chartering in Belize

Maybe pay a visit to Active Captain to see what other cruisers are doing.

https://activecaptain.com/X.php
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Old 11-07-2013, 16:05   #5
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Re: Chartering in Belize

Pivo, I used to live in Belize and worked in the charter industry there for many years. Over the years I put together notes intended to be supplemental to Freya Rauchers excellent cruising guide. The forum wont let me attach a document file so PM me your email and I will send a copy to you (what format do you need? ODF, MS WORD, RTF, HTML....). They are still in rough format, but have lots of good info.

Also, be happy to answer any questions you have her on the forum.

The Moorings used to include a copy of Freya's guide with their charter bookings. If so, that's great. If not, pick one up. It will help a great deal in planning your trip and it is the best navigation reference for Belize once you are there.

What sort of activities interest your group? Lots of great snorkeling and undeveloped islands in Belize, but limited night life etc.

Options for routes and stops in Belize approach infinity. There are lots of good options for a 6 day trip out of Placencia. I describe a few good routes for a week long charter in my notes.

I always suggest that charter groups hire a local captain for several reasons. One, Belizean waters are very complex and there is no substitute for having local knowledge aboard (there are no completely accurate charts...most electronic ones are especially useless...Freya's guide is the best nav info for Belize). Two, you are prohibited from venturing outside the barrier reef unless you have a local captain aboard...this means you will miss the true crown jewels of coastal Belize...3 of the 4 atolls in the Western Hemisphere are in Belizean waters. Three, in addition there are routes and stops inside the reef which the charter companies discourage you from taking (with good cause) without a local captain aboard. Four, with a local aboard you will have an introduction to local culture you will likely miss if you are just a bunch of foreigners on a sail boat.

Two big differences from the Pacific NW: the water is warm and tidal variance is only about 1 foot!

Again, PM me your email and I will send you my notes and be happy to discuss any specific questions you have.
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Old 11-07-2013, 16:06   #6
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Yes, I suspected the restriction to within the reef. I will confirm with the charter company. I've been to Tobacco Cay which is close to South Water. Will definitely check it out. Not sure we will be able to get north of Belize city in three days with the prevailing winds. Thanks for the info!
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Old 11-07-2013, 17:15   #7
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Re: Chartering in Belize

Yes, all the charter companies have this restriction. The issue is that if you make a navigation error outside of the reef (like when attempting to enter a cut from offshore) then the result is likely to be catastrophic. And of course you are much further away from them for support.

Re N of Belize City. The cruising grounds are better in central to southern Belize -- starting from south of Belize City. N of Belize City the water gets shallow and your options fewer (although I do like Caye Caulker and St. Georges Caye).

Tobacco Caye is one of my favorite places. Funky little Garifuna village on a very small island. Couple of bars ashore and the lodges ashore can sometimes accommodate you for dinner with advanced notice (if they have guests already). Assuming you are chartering a cat (shoal draft) then you can anchor a bit north of the caye on the sand flats (gets a bit shallow close to the caye) in about 6 ft of water right behind the reef...waves crashing on the reef just in front of you and water like a swimming pool where you are anchored. Great snorkeling just to the south of the caye along the edge of Tobacco Cut. Only 14nm from Tobacco Cut to Glovers Atoll. Most days someone will be running in a skiff between Tobacco and Dangriga so you may can get them to pick stuff up for you in Dangriga if needed.

Southwater Caye is a bit like Tobacco's slightly larger and more sophisticated older brother. Nicer lodges there, who may also accommodate you for dinner with advanced notice. Blue Marlin Lodge has a bar too. Also, they are friendly and helpful...you can sometimes buy ice, water, and small amounts of fuel if they can spare it. Good snorkeling just south of Southwater too and across the cut at Carie Bow Caye as well.

Great short sail between Tobacco and S'Water, just inside the reef, going either direction in prevailing winds.

Usually when running out of Placencia on a week long charter, I don't go any further north than Tobacco. Remember, you are going against prevailing winds and current to get there from Placencia (do this in the early AM... the inner channel can get a bit rough after the afternoon sea breeze picks up...or hop your way up over a couple of days...plenty of stops along the way: Lark Cay Range, Wippari Caye, Pelican Cayes, Lagoon Caye...). Then you can turn around and go with prevailing winds and current to return to Placencia...pic attached...barreling back into the N cut into Placencia Harbor after a charter (a route discouraged by Moorings...common spot for boats to go aground).
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Old 11-07-2013, 18:14   #8
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Thanks very much! This is awesome information and will really help with trip planning. We r in a monohull so draft issues are even more significant than with a cat. Knowing that Tobacco Cay is the furthest north we can expect to go is very important. Looking forward to reviewing the HTML document. Thanks!
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Old 11-07-2013, 18:47   #9
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Re: Chartering in Belize

belizesailor,

Your notes are great.
Thank you for writing them up for us. These will make our cruise much nicer.
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Old 11-07-2013, 18:50   #10
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I would say as a general rule of thumb... If you need advice in that part of the world Belizesailor is your go to guy. He gave me advice about where to go, where to stay, and what to do for a recent survey in rio dulce.

Stand up guy with a wealth of knowledge on the region.
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Old 11-07-2013, 19:40   #11
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Re: Chartering in Belize

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pivo View Post
Thanks very much! This is awesome information and will really help with trip planning. We r in a monohull so draft issues are even more significant than with a cat. Knowing that Tobacco Cay is the furthest north we can expect to go is very important. Looking forward to reviewing the HTML document. Thanks!
You're welcome.

In Central to Southern Belize draft is really not a big constraint (more of an issue further north). There are a few anchorages and cuts that wont work for you, but there is plenty of deep water, and plenty of shallow, all intermixed....you just have to know where the deep parts are....follow the major routes in Freya's guide and you will be fine.

Moorings also does a good chart briefing that will help.

I used to run a couple of monohulls in Belize drawing about 6' and we went all over Belize...no problem.
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Old 11-07-2013, 19:42   #12
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Re: Chartering in Belize

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Originally Posted by Cotemar View Post
belizesailor,

Your notes are great.
Thank you for writing them up for us. These will make our cruise much nicer.
You're welcome. Glad they are useful to you.
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Old 11-07-2013, 19:49   #13
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Re: Chartering in Belize

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Originally Posted by FLLCatsailor View Post
I would say as a general rule of thumb... If you need advice in that part of the world Belizesailor is your go to guy. He gave me advice about where to go, where to stay, and what to do for a recent survey in rio dulce.

Stand up guy with a wealth of knowledge on the region.

Wow, thanks much.

Hope the trip to the Rio went well for you. I should be back on the Rio before the end of August if you need anything there.
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Old 11-07-2013, 19:56   #14
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Re: Chartering in Belize

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Maybe pay a visit to Active Captain to see what other cruisers are doing.

https://activecaptain.com/X.php

I looked at Active Captain. Cool interface with lots of potential, but it appeared rather sparse on Belize info (unless I'm missing something).
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Old 11-07-2013, 20:21   #15
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Re: Chartering in Belize

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Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
I looked at Active Captain. Cool interface with lots of potential, but it appeared rather sparse on Belize info (unless I'm missing something).
If you click on a green number icon then > Review > scroll down to see what cruisers have wrote.

You can add more comment to any of those if you wanted to.
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