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Old 18-03-2011, 03:14   #1
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Sailing in Belize for Beginners

Hello

I would appreciate some advice, please, about whether Belize is suitable for very novice sailors.

My husband and I have spent just two weeks sailing in Turkey. This was last October. We had one week with an instructor on board, followed by one week on our own - though bad weather reduced that to only 4 days actually sailing on our own. We were part of a flotilla, so everything was arranged for us. For what it's worth, we got our RYA competent crew certificates and covered quite a lot of the day skipper course.

We are keen to continue sailing and are now thinking of hiring a catamaran in Belize so that we can explore the cays. We thought of hiring a skipper for the first two days, or maybe longer, to refresh our knowledge, learn how to sail a catamaran and get general advice on sailing these waters.

However, I wonder if we are being too ambitious. For example, I read that navigating around the cays is quite difficult (no or few accurate charts and lots of coral).

Some sites seem to suggest that sailing in Belize is fairly "easy", whereas another says:

"Belize is not -- and never will be -- a big chartering center like the British Virgin Islands. It's really an "experts only" sailing area, as the stiff winds, strong currents and the barrier reef with its hidden coral heads can make navigation dicey, even for sailors who know local waters."

Any advice you can give would be very much appreciated.

With many thanks,

Sue
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Old 22-03-2011, 09:51   #2
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Re: Sailing in Belize for beginners

We charted there for a couple of weeks a few years ago. Very nice. Inside the reef very shallow and not many aids. Very nice diving. It is similar to the Bahamas as far as reading the water.
Good idea to get a captain for a few days. Reading the water is important.
We enjoyed the cays very much.
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Old 22-03-2011, 11:50   #3
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Re: Sailing in Belize for beginners

You'll also need to be good at provisioning or have the charter co provision for you.....very few services.
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Old 22-03-2011, 12:02   #4
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Re: Sailing in Belize for beginners

As mentioned above I would think your navigation skills would have to be top notch.
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Old 24-03-2011, 02:43   #5
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Re: Sailing in Belize for beginners

Many thanks for those helpful replies. It looks like we should play safe and hire a skipper for the whole time.

At least that way we'll learn a lot and be able to enjoy the holiday at the same time.

Thanks again. I'm really glad I stumbled across this forum. It's a great resource!

Sue
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Old 24-03-2011, 20:23   #6
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Re: Sailing in Belize for beginners

Well, I'll somewhat disagree. While the waters ARE shallow, it's not hard to navigate. It's all behind the reef (you can not go outside the reef without a paid captain). A cat will go just about anywhere.

That being said, we were NOT at all fond of Belize. Nothing to do, the snorkeling wasn't all that great.

Whatever you do, go with The Moorings, not TMM.
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Old 24-03-2011, 21:05   #7
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Re: Sailing in Belize for beginners

Go to the Grenadines...
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Old 25-03-2011, 10:25   #8
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Re: Sailing in Belize for beginners

All this Belize hating.......The reason you hate it is the reason I love it. No population, serene, undisturbed. We found it easy to navigate too, but have never had problems with TMM. The only difficult thing about the whole place is knowing what to buy before you leave san pedro or placencia. Not easy to get gorceries otherwise. There are little restaurants on a few of the cays too.
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Old 28-03-2011, 18:06   #9
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Re: Sailing in Belize for beginners

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Originally Posted by Sailmonkey View Post
All this Belize hating.......The reason you hate it is the reason I love it. No population, serene, undisturbed. We found it easy to navigate too, but have never had problems with TMM. The only difficult thing about the whole place is knowing what to buy before you leave san pedro or placencia. Not easy to get gorceries otherwise. There are little restaurants on a few of the cays too.
I found TMM to be great. Used them over in ST Vincent. Very professional.
The boats are all different but well maintained. I wanted to try as many different boats before I purchased one.
The diving in Belize is just great. Local knowledge is advised.
The cruising grounds inside the reef are quiet. Not many restaurants, but a few.
Belize City is a different story. Old with poverty but many very nice spots if you look.
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Old 28-03-2011, 22:08   #10
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Re: Sailing in Belize for beginners

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I found TMM to be great. Used them over in ST Vincent. Very professional.
An old boss of mine once said: "what distinguishes the good companies from the great companies, are how they respond when it hits the fan".

From our experiences (over a dozen charters):

The great ones:

The Moorings
BVI Yacht Charters

The not-so-good-ones:

TMM
Sunsail (from prior to the merger)

Our experience with TMM is, now a couple of years later, sort of funny. It wasn't at the time. Just... Not at all professional OR at all helpful.
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Old 29-03-2011, 19:24   #11
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Re: Sailing in Belize for beginners

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Originally Posted by bstreep View Post
An old boss of mine once said: "what distinguishes the good companies from the great companies, are how they respond when it hits the fan".

From our experiences (over a dozen charters):

The great ones:

The Moorings
BVI Yacht Charters

The not-so-good-ones:

TMM
Sunsail (from prior to the merger)

Our experience with TMM is, now a couple of years later, sort of funny. It wasn't at the time. Just... Not at all professional OR at all helpful.
With Sunsail have you had issues post merger? I know at least in the BVI, its the same support staff so you'd get the same service as a moorings customer. My experience both with Moorings and Sunsail has been top notch as far as service. It's nice not to have issues at all, but when you do its great to have it dealt with quickly and conveniently.
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Old 29-03-2011, 19:51   #12
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Re: Sailing in Belize for beginners

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With Sunsail have you had issues post merger? I know at least in the BVI, its the same support staff so you'd get the same service as a moorings customer. My experience both with Moorings and Sunsail has been top notch as far as service. It's nice not to have issues at all, but when you do its great to have it dealt with quickly and conveniently.
No. But we haven't used them, either. I just can't bring myself to do it. Yeah, I know that they and the Moorings are the same company. However, Sunsail did us SO wrong about 10 years ago. Making a long story short, we chartered with them, and then they changed our charter dates on us. And didn't bother to even ask us. Well AFTER we had made airline reservations. Apparently, it suited THEIR schedule better if they changed our dates. That was when we found BVI Yacht Charters. They are just plain wonderful.
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Old 03-04-2011, 14:51   #13
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Re: Sailing in Belize for beginners

Belize is not the place to start as a beginner -- you have to read the water plan and simple as the charts, all charts, are just plan wrong - our electronic charts had us anchored on land more than once - it is a beautiful place as long as you are chartering - but bring your own boat in is a different animal - a lot of cruisers are now skipping belize due to graft and corrpution from port captains and customs -

if you run into trouble there are not a lot of people to get you out of trouble -- the current cruising guide everyone is using is ok but has some issues -- we went bumped bottom in what was suppose to be 15' of water - but generally the guide is ok --
the cays and the water are incredible and the people are really nice everywhere we went - but if you can not read the water extremely well and some days it is hard to read if the wind is blowing 15 to 20 then you may be in for a long trip -

as for moorings - we can only say that we met and sailed with one couple who chartered from moorings and they way overstocked the boat with food at an incredible price and the boat was full of cockroaches -- it did not have a wind insturment -- another moorings boat had 2 of the 4 bolts pop out of the windlass - they lost a couple of days waiting on moorings to bring them a new boat and when they did it's windlass did not work and they had to go below and do some wiring to get it to work --

suggestion may be to charter in south fla and sail the bahamas on the first time out - it is safer and if you get into trouble there are lots of folks to help you out -

we would like to go back will only do so if the customs changes -- it is a beautiful cruising grounds
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Old 11-04-2011, 10:25   #14
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Re: Sailing in Belize for beginners

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suggestion may be to charter in south fla and sail the bahamas on the first time out - it is safer and if you get into trouble there are lots of folks to help you out -
I'd recommend the BVI over Florida. There's a ton to do, its great for beginners and there's a ton of information making trip planning a breeze.

I've been 3 times and will be going back many more since there's always new places to see.
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Old 29-07-2011, 12:25   #15
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Re: Sailing in Belize for Beginners

Why not go with TMM and use Moorings (Sunsail?)
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