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Old 28-04-2013, 13:39   #1
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Question Cruising in Belize

Hi, I have just joined the CF and I am looking for some info regarding cruising Belizean waters. I own a 40.5 Hunter which has a 4'11" draft; it is currently anchored up at Rock Hall in the Chesapeake. I am trying to decide if I should take it to Belize where I recently bought a condo up on Ambergris Caye. I realize much of the water is relatively shallow, especially on the western side Ambergris Caye. For practical concerns can one sail up to and along the eastern shore of AC inside the reef safely? What are the most reliable charts charts for all of the waters off Belize. Sincere thanks for any guidance you can provide.
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Old 28-04-2013, 14:43   #2
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Hi, I have just joined the CF and I am looking for some info regarding cruising Belizean waters. I own a 40.5 Hunter which has a 4'11" draft; it is currently anchored up at Rock Hall in the Chesapeake. I am trying to decide if I should take it to Belize where I recently bought a condo up on Ambergris Caye. I realize much of the water is relatively shallow, especially on the western side Ambergris Caye. For practical concerns can one sail up to and along the eastern shore of AC inside the reef safely? What are the most reliable charts charts for all of the waters off Belize. Sincere thanks for any guidance you can provide.
With local knowledge, sure. Most of N Belize is rather shallow but w less than 5' draft you can still cover a lot of ground.

Most survey data for Belize is quite old except for the area around Belize City. Any paper or digital charts you buy are based upon this same old survey data. That said, CMAP is a joke in Belize (not sure WHAT they based their charts on) Navionics is much better. But, the most accurate navigation information for Belize is contained in Freya Raucher's cruising guide -- this is the bible for cruising Belize -- at a minimum you should have a copy aboard.

While you get to know the area around AC, I suggest you sail w local knowledge aboard...because this is an eyeball navigation and local knowledge kind of area if you really want to explore it. Freya's charts will show the main routes through the area.

Also there are a couple of popular snorkel sites which vessels must have permits to enter: Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley. Normally these permits are issued to tourist industry boats...not sure if you can get one for a private vessel...I only ever see snorkel tour/charter boats there.
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Old 29-04-2013, 19:14   #3
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Re: Cruising in Belize

We have your draft. Ran aground right away in Belize. A fisherman comes up and says you should be over about 20' that way. He helped us get it sorted out and I gave him a cold beer. After that we were more careful and had no more problems. Inside the reef the water is murky and you cannot see the bottom and the nav aids are minimal.
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Old 29-04-2013, 19:43   #4
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Re: Cruising in Belize

We had no problems with our 6 foot draft. From our blog...Voyages of Sea Trek: Belize Begs For Exploration
Voyages of Sea Trek: Placencia Belize
Voyages of Sea Trek: Wandering through Belize
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Old 30-04-2013, 06:21   #5
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Re: Cruising in Belize

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Celtic1.
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Old 30-04-2013, 18:01   #6
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Re: Cruising in Belize

Thanks to all for the great info. All of the information fits with my limited experience of the area. I will certainly proceed cautiously. Really looking forward to getting down there!
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Old 30-04-2013, 18:28   #7
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Re: Cruising in Belize

Whoa! Looked for that book on Amazon

$198....used. Then nearly $700, then $1,750?

All used.

What am I doing wrong?

Landfall has it for $40.
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Old 30-04-2013, 18:53   #8
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Re: Cruising in Belize

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Whoa! Looked for that book on Amazon

$198....used. Then nearly $700, then $1,750?

All used.

What am I doing wrong?

Landfall has it for $40.
Landfall is a great resource.

I have that book and its info was quite dated 6 or 7 years ago when we chartered there. You should not trust it, but it's better than nothing. Just put the word "might be" or "may be" or "used to be" in front of each bit of info in it.

My favorite stop there was Cay Caulker. Would love to go back and spend a week there, or a month.

Take a look at the satellite images of the area. You'll see lots of groves in the bottom from boats dragging keels, especially zoom in the area of the passage west of Long Cay, for example.
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Old 30-04-2013, 18:56   #9
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Re: Cruising in Belize

One other thing: Don't swim in the turbid (muddy) water near the mangroves. Salt water crocs.
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Old 01-05-2013, 06:31   #10
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Landfall is a great resource.

I have that book and its info was quite dated 6 or 7 years ago when we chartered there. You should not trust it, but it's better than nothing. Just put the word "might be" or "may be" or "used to be" in front of each bit of info in it.

My favorite stop there was Cay Caulker. Would love to go back and spend a week there, or a month.

Take a look at the satellite images of the area. You'll see lots of groves in the bottom from boats dragging keels, especially zoom in the area of the passage west of Long Cay, for example.
There are two editions of Freyas guide...the original from about '96 as I recall and then a revised version a few years ago. Either one is still the best nav info available for Belize, but shore side information may be dated.

Ive also notice the crazy pricing on Amazon. It appears to happen on out of print or hard to find books. You can also get Freyas guide direct from the publisher. Probably at Bluewater Books & Charts too.

Lots of cool views of Belize from Google Earth....look at Port O Stuck and you can see where it gets its name...loads of prop and keel tracks there.

I run Fugawi and it has the ability to overlay Google Earth image on charts...very handy for comfirming chart data.

+1on Caye Caulker. It has grown a lot over the past few decades, but has still kept its funky laid back vibe. If your draft permits you can anchor up on the sand flats in the middle of the anchorage for excellent holding and less traffic. Dont anchor in the approach to the municipal docks...the supply barge comes in here and boats have been hit.
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