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Old 18-10-2005, 09:30   #1
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Anyone Sailed into Belize ?

Among other countries, I plan on taking my boat to Belize this winter. Rauscher's cruising guide and info gleaned from the Noonsite website say that among the clearing in papers required by the Belize folks is a list of "boat stuff" (my term). Actually Rauscher specifies "ballast in cargo". Noonsite says "stores list". Does anyone know what they really want? Do they want a TOTAL inventory of all I have on board that is not permanently afixed to the boat? (tools, computer, hand held electronics, EPIRB, spare parts, anchors, cushions, gadjets of all kinds, kitchen stuff, personal items, books, CD's,etc.) Or do they just want a list of provisions such as food, paper products, liquor? I have sent e-mails to the Belize tourism people a couple of times with questions but never got a response. Hope you guys can help out on this. Signed, Puzzled on the Gulf Coast
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Old 18-10-2005, 11:55   #2
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Having followed the saga of the supreme indifference of the authorities in Belize to the elderly gentleman who ran aground there, and their predatory attitude which escalated from inital refusal to help, then refusal to allow a foreign boat to assist, to final looting of the boat, I personally would not go near the place.
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Old 18-10-2005, 12:40   #3
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Talbot, I, too, followed the saga of the fellow who grounded on a reef just south of the Mexican border and how, apparently, the Belizean authorities allowed his situation to get worse by not only not sending out a rescue of their own but even refusing to let anyone from Mexico help him. It seemed they essentially aided and abetted the local "salvagers" in looting his boat. I had considered not going to Belize either. Having said that, Belize lies squarely in the way of places farther south that I wish to visit. I plan to clear-in at San Pedro in the north of the country and then anchor out as much as possible and only take a few days to pass through. Everyone says that sailing inside the barrier reef is a great sailing experience. I plan to not anchor at any of their marine parks where they are ripping off sailors with expensive daily use fees and I plan to not spend any money on provisioning there. I also have no plans to go to Belize City. I can see tropical rain forests in Guatamala and Honduras and I can see Mayan ruins aplenty in the Yucatan. Belize is a poor country and they are trying to milk their outdoor attractions for all they are worth to get the tourist dollar. (But in that regard they are hardly any different from many places all over the world including here in the USA.) But in so doing if they are not careful, they could kill the goose that is laying the golden egg. So yeah, I would totally boycott the place if it were practical but it really isn't considering my overall plans. I just hope the Belize folks only want a list of my provisions and don't require a total inventory. It would probably result in me finding all that "lost stuff" that disappears in that invisible corner of my bilge.
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Old 18-10-2005, 13:59   #4
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Joe, there was a very comprehensive report by Eric & Carol Wood on DRIFTWOOD that was published in a recent issue of the SSCA Bulletin. You no doubt are already a member (or if not, should be given your cruising plans); just enter the Members section at ssca.org and read their report for more info.

In general, it's not like Belize gets all yachties to behave differently than they do everywhere else. The list will most likely only need to be general in nature and include items like "personal effects, foodstuffs for crew only, marine electronics" etc. If the list is in their eyes incomplete, just ask them in what areas they wish you to be more specific. Also, don't forget that, if they get pissy and unreasonable, you have the choice of smiling and stating 'Gosh, this will take me a LOT more time; thank you for your help' and then be on your way to clear in somewhere else.' These small Caribbean nations are unable to monitor and control their own coastlines and you can always take your business somewhere else along the coast where the officials are more reasonable...tho' I doubt it will come to that. If meanwhile a Ranger asks if you've cleared in, just smile and explain 'No, we're on our way there but thought we'd stop and enjoy your beautiful country a bit.'

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Old 18-10-2005, 14:51   #5
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Jack, Thanks again for your input. Sound like a good common sense approach to me. I'll use your comments to come up with something that should satisfy them. I do have an inventory list of practically all "stuff" in and on the boat and listed where said stuff is normally stored. It is several pages long. I just didn't want to get bogged down with making a jillion copies of those several pages. I'll cobble up something that is a combination of provisions, parts, personal items, etc. and add it to the other documents they want and that should make them happy. And I'll not worry about the details. As for being a member of SSCA. I joined this past summer and plan on attending the gam in Melbourne in a few weeks. I hope to get some other good info while there. Cheers, Joe
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Old 16-01-2006, 17:52   #6
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Partial Answer

Alaskadog,

While not actually sailing INTO Belize, my wife, son, and two other couples did charter a catamaran there 2.5 years ago and had a thoroughly wonderful time sailing down the barrier reef. (The charter company, TMM, would not allow us to go outside the reef w/o a paid captain, which we were not willing to pay for. ) Alas, I therefore cannot answer your question about what "boat stuff" they are asking you to itemize.

I would like to address your comment about the marine parks "ripping off" sailors, though. We picked up our 38 foot catamaran in San Pedro and sailed down the reef to Placentia.
Just after we started heading back north to San Pedro, TMM called us on their cell phone and told us not to go any further north because a hurricane was coming toward the northern part of the country. They suggested we try Laughing Bird Cay for a night so we did. That small islet is maybe 1/4 mile long and 30 yards wide. The northern third is restricted because it is a nesting ground for laughing birds. The waters surrounding it are a national park no-fishing zone. The fish seemed to have discovered the security of that area because it was by far the best snorkelling we encountered in our 10 days in Belize. The $4.00 U.S. per person admission fee seemed a very small price to pay for the underwater beauty we experienced. Besides fish, there were many colorful coral heads to snorkel around and a clean sandy beach with picnic benches and barbeque pit on the island itself. We enjoyed the place so much, we spent a second night there - and didn't have to pay for the extra time! We even got to tie off on a mooring buoy in about 60' of water.

Definitely concur with staying away from Belize City but if you are down south, you should stop at Placentia. TMM has a base there and we found several places that served wonderful food. Wendy's [not one of Dave Thomas' chain fast food places] had fresh lobster dinners for B$25.00 ($12.50 US). Yes, the people are poor by U.S. standards, but they we found them very friendly and helpful.

We are very much looking forward to getting back there in a year or so on our own catamaran.
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Old 17-01-2006, 12:58   #7
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Just a brief note to comment on our experience in San Pedro and Ambergris Cay, Belize.

We flew there a few years ago to get our open water certification from "Grumpy & Happy" in San Pedro. People were very friendly, prices were very reasonable, and we had a great experience.

Of course we didn't have to deal with many "officials" and there weren't many opportunities for them to seek extra "fees."
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Old 20-04-2006, 17:00   #8
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Can someone point me to the news story about the elderly man who hit the reef in Belize. Having spent some enjoyable time in the country this story interests me.

Advice to anyone cruising the barrier reef in Belize. Most of it is protected park and poor navigation that results in hitting the reef will also result in a fine. I remember one boat about ten years ago that was severly holed on the reef outside San Pedro. The result was a big fine and loss of the boat.
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Old 20-04-2006, 17:56   #9
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Well, it's been awhile since I sailed into Belize and I imagine things have changed in 12 years but San Pedro is one place I would love to revisit. The people (for the most part) were wonderful and San Pedro unique to any other place I have been.

While anchored there a small private ship (2 helicopters, two large speed boats on rear deck) called "Platinum" that we had also seen in Florida came into the reef entrance and anchored. A squall came through and it swung around and grounded on the reef. In thier successful attempts to exticate themselves from the reef they caused significant damage, and then proceeded to steam straight offshore. I didn't see any ship official go to shore at all. This may have precipitated a harsher attitude to people damaging thier beautiful reefs. After all, the British cleaned out the mahogany and left them poor. They don't have a lot except tourism and that depends on the reefs being pristine (which they were).

By the way, we had no trouble checking in or moving around the country. We had no problem with the officials. We did see evidence of drug use, but that is no different than most places these days.
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Old 21-04-2006, 07:31   #10
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i've never been to belize; but once in dominica i was boarded by the local police? in a big, bright orange u.s. funded inflatable with 6 officers aboard who wanted a complete inventory of my boat. the gentleman with a clipboard asked how many cans of food were aboard and without a moment's deliberation, i answered 122.
he nodded and wrote it down on his clipboard, seemingly quite satisfied.
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Old 21-04-2006, 08:19   #11
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The full story about the gentleman in distress at Belize is at http://netgo4.com/Renegade-Cruisers/...ghlight=belize

There is a bit of data within our forum here, but most of that was snippets from renegade-cruisers
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Old 21-04-2006, 10:22   #12
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Thanks Talbot, It looks pretty lenghty so I will have to check it out later.
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Old 21-04-2006, 16:11   #13
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Boy that was a bad story. Knowing what I know about Belize the loss of the boat , right or wrong aside, was pretty much a given. But to let a person go without rescue is unconscionable.
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Old 22-04-2006, 03:29   #14
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Certainly made me cross Belize of my "to Visit" list.
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Old 22-04-2006, 03:58   #15
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There’s always (at least) two sides to every story, and we’ve only read part of one side. I have no reason to doubt (nor believe) the essentials of the story as presented; but there’s an obvious self-interest & bias at play. I’d prescribe a prophylactic dose of skepticism (tho’ cynicism is contra-indicated) in reading any one-sided account, such as this.

Belize is still on my wish-list.
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