Several good yards to choose from. RAM Marina is a full on USA style boat
yard. More details below.
With 7.2 draft
you will almost certainly need to be careened to cross the bar (controlling depth
about 6'). More details below.
More details copied from my Notes:
Rio Dulce Boatyards
The 3 boat
yards are Nana Juana, RAM Marine
, and Abel's.
Nana Juana has an articulated trailer
which can accommodate most recreational vessels including larger catamarans. This is a distinct advantage because it means larger cats can avoid the potentially nerve wracking transit under the bridge and power lines to get to Abel's (I cover the details of making this transit in my “Belize & Guatemala
Cruising Notes” also available on Amazon).
is large full service
boat yard complete with a travel lift
shed, dry storage
lot, fuel dock
, restaurant, West Marine distributor (effectively the same thing as a West Marine store), and restaurant. The one thing missing at RAM is the ability to haul larger cats, but there are plans to add an articulated trailer
is even built for it).
Abel's is a family
run yard which has been in operation for decades. They have a marine railway system and a relatively recently added travel lift
. Competition from the new yards has forced them to up their game
by adding things like the travel lift, but unfortunately that necessitated increasing their rates too. As mentioned, they are upstream of the bridge. This is not an issue for smaller vessels, but is a significant consideration for larger vessels with tall masts.
Rio Dulce Bar Crossing
I have lived on the Rio for many years and I have run my boat and many boats from the charter
fleet in Belize
across the bar. I've discussed crossing the bar with many cruisers who are worried about crossing the bar and way over think it. Its an easy bar crossing crossing if you draw under 6'. Don't sweat it. Six feet or over will require a little more planning.
Regardless of what you may hear or read elsewhere, the controlling depth
over the bar is about 6'. Any vessel which runs aground drawing less than 6' was off course. Follow the route
described in Freya Rauscher's guide and you will be spot on. I've had cruisers drawing as little as 4.5' tell me they ran aground...they were way off course.
The mistake many boaters make is that they tend to want to favor the Livingston side (roughly N side) of the mouth of the Rio. This of course is exactly where you don't want to be since there are shoals on that side. Where Freya's chart incorrectly states "Rip Current" is the most pronounced area of shoals ...not actually a rip current
but rather seas breaking on the shoals. Stay down near the middle of the mouth (heading of 225T from the sea buoy position) and hold that course at least until abeam of the municipal dock
in Livingston. You can then carry 6' minimum all the e way from mid channel to the municipal dock.
Note that the sea buoy itself is sometimes re-positioned and sometimes missing all together (not sure where it goes?), but the way-point given in Freya's guide for its position is good for this route
I used to run a couple of monohulls from the charter
fleet in Belize
, which drew just under 6', over the bar on a regular basis and never touched bottom regardless of tide height.
If you draw 6' or more then you will need to do a bit more planning. Up to about 7' you can probably get over on a high tide. More than 7' is probably going to require careening your boat. Some of the local fishermen provide this service
. Ask Raul for a current
Once over the bar, you have plenty of depth (controlling depth about 12') all the way to Lago Izabal except for a few isolated hazards.