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Old 12-01-2013, 17:26   #1
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Belize

Hey there one and all,

I'll be chartering a boat with the Moorings out of Placencia in March, we'd like to take care of our own provisioning but are wondering about what's available in Placencia.

Can anyone give us some ideas?

Many thanks

Emery
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Old 13-01-2013, 13:23   #2
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Re: Belize

Pretty small town last time I was there. Very basic stuff. In the intervening years it has grown a little more yachty but you won't find Whole Foods or Nordstroms there yet. Not even walmart lol. Rice, beans, pigtail, and rum, they got. Belikin and Coke they got. Plantain, bananas, soursop, fish, they got. What else ya need? Really!

If you are the road less traveled type, and don't mind an hour and change of walking, check out Seine Bight, a Garifuna village up the peninsula toward Stann Creek. It was pretty undeveloped, tourism wise, last time I was there but I see on google that they have a hotel now. There was a bar there called the Wesebahari or something like that with a pretty friendly bunch hanging out there. Don't know if it is still there. A fellow named Mr Cas (probably short for Castillo) who was also the mayor and postmaster was the owner. Total lack of problems or hassles. Crash on the beach in good weather unless someone invites you to stay the night at their house. The houses in the village are rather basic, to be charitable about it, but the hospitality is genuine.

In Placencia check out BJ's. I believe it is owned by cousins of my ex wife so tell them that Margaret's American ex husband sent you. Plenty other places to full your belly or wet your whistle.
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Old 13-01-2013, 15:45   #3
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Re: Belize

Emery, You can pretty much find everything you need, although not at the same place. It will take some time and looking to fill the lockers but not that difficult. There is a couple of small stores, a fresh fruit and veggie shop and what you can't find in the stores, one of the local restaurants will sell to you. have a great trip. Chuck
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Old 14-01-2013, 12:05   #4
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Re: Belize

A few years ago, provisioning was a real challenge in Placencia. Wallens was the only real grocery store (and is still a good option) -- if Wallen's was out then you were done. Now, things have exploded, the Chinese have moved into the grocery biz there and there must half-a-dozen large (by Placencia standards) grocery stores. Not sure who is buying all the groceries, but there sure are a lot more options now. A couple of good vegetable stands too.

However, it is still not going to be like provisioning in developed country. You are not likely to see your favorite brands on the shelf and if you do they will likely be relatively expensive. So, if you treat it as a learning experience it could be fun and educational. Go with the flow and buy local/regional products -- these are more likely to be available and less expensive.

Keep in mind too that Taxi's are reasonable and the cabbies are almost all good honest guys. Hiring a cab for the duration of your provisioning effort is worthwhile. He can advise you on where to shop and what to buy too. Just deposit your grocery bags in the cab while you shop.

The fishermen's co-op, which many years ago was a bustling business, is now just a trickle but you can still buy fish there and get ice from their ice house. Red/Yellow snapper is the most common type of fish you will be served in Belize, but there may be others available too. Try Hog Fish if you can get it...delicious.

A few suggestions for things uniquely Belizean.

1. Marie Sharps hot sauce...several tasty variations. Carrot based, not vinegar based, so a smoother hotness.

2. John "The Baker Man" bread (fresh made, no preservatives so use it fast)

3. Belikin beer is a standard provisioning requirement (try Premium and/or Stout for an upgrade)

4. Local cooking. Maybe get "Ms. Brenda" by the old fuel dock, or another local cook, to make up your first meal to go...handy if you want to munch while making your way to your first anchorage (likely Lark Caye Range).

5. Canned Butter from New Zealand. Yummy stuff and having it in a tin can makes it handy in the tropics (no big deal if it gets soft in the heat).

6. Squash. Various flavors of fruit juice concentrate (dilute to taste). Handy for mixing up flavored water and cocktails. Pick up a few bottles of various flavors. The lime and pineapple are popular choices.

7. Mango Tango Sauce. On those rare occasions when I drew galley duty (normally ran crewed charters with crew who actually new how to cook), Mango Tango Sauce fooled many a guest into thinking I could cook. Delicious for basting chicken or fish on the grill.

Coffee will likely be a disappointment...they don't typically allow the good stuff over the border from Guatemala (ditto for Rum...although some folks do like One Barrel and it is 100% Belizean).

If you want a truly uniquely Belizean meal ashore then find out who is serving "Gibnut" and/or "Cow Foot Soup". Wth Rice & Beans and a cold Belikin of course...


Enjoy!
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Old 16-01-2013, 21:57   #5
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Re: Belize

Gee Wiz, Belize sailor, awesome information, thank you, truly. Hoping this finds you well.
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Old 17-01-2013, 09:19   #6
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Re: Belize

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Originally Posted by NommadSoul View Post
Gee Wiz, Belize sailor, awesome information, thank you, truly. Hoping this finds you well.
You're welcome.

As it works out I am heading up to Belize is a few days. I'm officially on a sabbatical from the charter biz, but it is peak season and a buddy in the business asked me to cover a charter for him.
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Old 17-01-2013, 09:35   #7
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Re: Belize

Hey Belize Sailor,

Hope it goes well and that your guests are "all they should be"...

PS, should we bring our own fishing gear or can we rent in Placencia, rods, spears, etc.

Maybe we'll cross paths if you're in Belize in March.

Best regards
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Old 17-01-2013, 12:48   #8
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Re: Belize

I've had guests who were seriously into fishing bring their own, but otherwise it is much more convenient just to rent some gear. Moorings normally has some available. I suggest you send them an email to confirm.

We plan to return to Panama in mid-Feb, so won't be in Belize in March, but hope you have a great charter.

In the interim, will be happy to answer any Belize questions you have.
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Old 18-01-2013, 09:02   #9
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Re: Belize

Hey again Belize Sailor,

We're getting our itinerary together and at this point the southern end of the Cayes are getting our attention, as they seemed less visited. less touristy, and better water visibility.

In our 10 days we were thinking of a loop, stopping to drop anchor or pick up a mooring at these places;
Wippari-Southwater-Queen-Tom Owen's-Hunting Cay(Sapodillas).

What are your thoughts or suggestions for the "road less traveled" and totally low maintenance kind of skipper and crew. Fishing, snorkeling, diving, paddling and generally gawking at the beauty around.

I've also been told that the marine reserves are off limits without a local tour guide but it's not totally clear to me what's possible. Can we anchor close and paddle in, is it ok to sail there but not to go to the cayes themselves? etc.

Also been told of garbage washing up on the southern cayes, making the cayes not as sexy a destination as one might hope.

Any wisdom and suggestion would be greatly appreciated.

Best Regards
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Old 18-01-2013, 09:17   #10
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Re: Belize

We were in Belize last summer for 6 weeks. Didn't see trash washing around did have some great snorkling near Tobacco Caye and South Water Caye. Found some coral degradation as would be expected since our last trip there was 2006.

Agree there is very good provisioning in Placencia. We even replaced a microwave for about the same price as in the states.

The only marine reserve that we found needed a licensed tour guide is Hol Chan.

Check our blog for waypoints and other information. S/V WAHOO

We'll be back in April or May as Wahoo is on the Rio Dulce for the winter while we enjoy our New Orleans life.
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Old 18-01-2013, 14:32   #11
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Re: Belize

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Originally Posted by NommadSoul View Post
Hey again Belize Sailor,

We're getting our itinerary together and at this point the southern end of the Cayes are getting our attention, as they seemed less visited. less touristy, and better water visibility.

In our 10 days we were thinking of a loop, stopping to drop anchor or pick up a mooring at these places;
Wippari-Southwater-Queen-Tom Owen's-Hunting Cay(Sapodillas).

What are your thoughts or suggestions for the "road less traveled" and totally low maintenance kind of skipper and crew. Fishing, snorkeling, diving, paddling and generally gawking at the beauty around.

I've also been told that the marine reserves are off limits without a local tour guide but it's not totally clear to me what's possible. Can we anchor close and paddle in, is it ok to sail there but not to go to the cayes themselves? etc.

Also been told of garbage washing up on the southern cayes, making the cayes not as sexy a destination as one might hope.

Any wisdom and suggestion would be greatly appreciated.

Best Regards
The cayes to the east and south of Placencia are a fine cruising ground and a good choice of route. With 10 days I suggest working your way north to Tobacco Caye, then south down the Sapodillas, and then finish with a nice sail back into Placencia Harbor. In prevailing winds, you have a very easy sailing angle back from about Ranguana Caye, maybe from further south depending upon the wind, and a straight shot back into Placencia Harbor. Sail back in the the day before your charter end and have a relaxing evening hanging out in the harbor rather than rushing back in on your end date.

A couple of notes:

Tom Owens is a pretty place, but Moorings used to (and probably still does) prohibit overnight anchoring there with good reason. The problem is that the usual anchorage at Tom Owens is surrounded by reef. If you drag, or need to go walk-about, during the night...you've got a real problem...as have a few charter boats -- thus the prohibition. Always think about an escape route when choosing an anchorage....and lay down a track in your chart plotter.

Routes: There are some "inside" (as in inside the cayes) routes which make this round trip a bit more convenient and interesting. Moorings does (or did) prohibit bareboaters from using most of these routes (again, with good reason, local knowledge is very important). See if Moorings will provide you information on their currently prohibited routes and anchorages so you can use this in planning.

Re marine parks/reserves. Short answer, with just a couple of exceptions, no they are not off-limits, but there maybe some restrictions on what you can do there. Better answer: there are many areas in Belize which are declared "marine parks" (Moorings will discuss the details with you during their chart briefing). In these areas the rangers may, or may not, approach you and ask you to pay a "park fee" this is legitimate and they will provide you a receipt/tickets). One frustration in Belize, is that each "marine park" is administered independently and thus the rules and procedures may vary....ask the ranger...some areas have a brochure with this info. There are a couple of places in Northern Belize which can only be entered aboard a boat licensed for entry into the area and with a licensed guide. Hol Chan is one such place. There are no such places in Southern Belize (unless something has changed very recently).

Re garbage. Most people have never been to a natural unmaintained beach...they have trash on the windward side..the pretty white sand ones in the magazines/resorts have staff who maintain them. The windward side of islands and coastlines world wide are being deluged with plastic garbage. Belize is no exception. For the most part this is not a big issue, but yes sometimes when there is cold front (changing the wind direction...like right now) or heavy rain (washing trash out of the coastal rivers) you may see more trash than usual. There is no more at the southern cayes than anywhere else. They are still a beautiful destination.

I have some more Belize notes which are a bit long for a post. If you would like a copy then PM me your email address and I will send them to you.

Re "road less traveled". Once you leave Placencia the only significant development you will find from Tobacco all the way south to the Sapodillas, excluding a couple of small private resorts like Hatchet Caye, are Tobacco Caye and Southwater Caye. And, both of those are enjoyable places. Almost all of the many dozens of other cayes are not developed, or even regularly inhabited, at all.


Fair Winds!
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Old 20-01-2013, 14:13   #12
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Re: Belize

Hey there,

I've been using the Rauscher cruising guide to plan my itinerary. I also have the BA charts (although the info seems more up to date and precise in the cruising guide)

Are there other maps/charts out there, electronic or otherwise I should/could be looking at?

Regards
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Old 21-01-2013, 07:08   #13
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Re: Belize

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Originally Posted by NommadSoul View Post
Hey there,

I've been using the Rauscher cruising guide to plan my itinerary. I also have the BA charts (although the info seems more up to date and precise in the cruising guide)

Are there other maps/charts out there, electronic or otherwise I should/could be looking at?

Regards
Rauscher's guide is THE reference for Belize. I've cruised and run charters for many years in Belize and have only found a few inaccuracies -- pretty impressive work for such large and complex waters.

For example, there is a small island missing from their chart of the Pelican Cayes, it does not effect the accuracy of their plotted approach routes, but it can be visually confusing on your first approach.

One important note on Freya's guide is that they chose to leave out some hydrographic details which are not navigation hazards to cruising boats. So, there are areas of relatively deep water which lack detail, but practically it is not an issue.

Re other charts. You can of course get paper charts, but keep in mind that most of these charts are still based upon old British surveys except for the areas right around Belize City (due to commercial traffic which enters the BC areas). For paper charts I recommend Bluewater Books and Charts of Ft. Lauderdale (they have a web site also), you can order xerox copies of NOAA/DMA charts which dramatically reduces the costs. They can also do print-on-demand charts for you.

Electronic Charts. I've used C-MAP and Navionics in BZ. C-MAP is a joke, like a Sunday comics version of Belize (complete with rectangular islands...huh????). Navionics are pretty good, but I still suggest cross referencing versus Freya.

(...sent from Cucumber Beach Marina, Belize City...)
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Old 23-01-2013, 11:54   #14
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Re: Belize

If you would like to see what the charts of Belize look like, go to the Navionics web site. Click on the web store and you will see the Navioncs viewer of the world. You can zoom in and see the charts for Belize. Here is the link WebApp | Navionics
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Old 24-01-2013, 18:13   #15
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Re: Belize

I chartered there a few years ago and Rauscher's guide was always spot on. I brought the Admiralty charts with me - But check the notes on those charts - Some parts of them are based on hand-line surveys from the 1840's. Yes, the 1840's. I found that my most important navigational equipment was a good pair of polarized sunglasses.
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