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Old 14-03-2020, 00:48   #1
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Rio dulce

I'm leaving key west in may headed to the rio dulce Guatemala can any tell me is that as good as time as any to head there for hurricane season, and what would be the best route and is it legal to stop in Cuba for supplies if needed, any info on the trip would be appreciated, my first trip there, thanks
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Old 14-03-2020, 03:48   #2
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Re: Rio dulce

The only supply stop in Cuba would be Havana, which is out of the way. Plus, it's only a day or so at most from K W, where you'll have stocked up to the locker rims.
Isla Mujeres is a good first stop from KW--only 2-3 days away normally. Cozumel has the best big grocery stores as you head south. Belize is very pleasant to wander south along the inner reef. Check with others what the ckecking in/ anchoring situation is currently: there was a time when random "you're anchored in a preserved zone" fines were rampant.
If you get there early and don't want to fester in the Rio, Roatan and Guanaja have some decent cruising. Don't know what the security situation on mainland Honduras is just now.
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Old 14-03-2020, 05:24   #3
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Re: Rio dulce

You may be interested in reading this recent post (#481) https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...229710-33.html

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ecos View Post
Guatemala has stopped letting European cruisers return to the RioDulce even though they have been on their boat for months in Belize.
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Old 14-03-2020, 05:48   #4
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Re: Rio dulce

Most people are heading back to the Rio by June. Summers in the Rio are hot with high humidity, after all your in a jungle. Depending on how long you wish to make your trip down last you can choose to enter the protected waters in Belize or simply stay on the outside and keep sailing.
Your fighting an adverse current enroute so after Isla Mujeres you want to stick close to shore as its possible to reduce the effects of the current and often find counter currents that may help you.
If your heading straight to the Rio then I'd suggest not checking in to Belize as it's very expensive if your just passing thru. Leave that until next year when you can at least get some value for your money.
You'll love the Rio, almost everyone does. Safe sailing and above all, enjoy yourself. R
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Old 14-03-2020, 05:48   #5
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Re: Rio dulce

Cold front season typically winds down in March. April-May brings the most stable weather to the region. Summer months are squallier and of course more likely to have Tropical Weather activity.

The usual route, as posted above, is KW to Isla Mujeres, maybe another stop or two in Mexico, then Belize, then the Rio.

Alternatively you can sail it in one run from Florida to the Rio. Run close along the N coast of Cuba to get out of the Florida Current, round the W tip of Cuba then head SSW to avoid the worst of the Yucatan Current (which you must cross if going to Isla Mujeres).

There are loads of threads on the Rio and routes to and from so give those a search too.

The Rio was my home base for many years, happy to answer any questions.
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Old 14-03-2020, 06:37   #6
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Re: Rio dulce

Quote:
Originally Posted by Benz View Post
... Belize is very pleasant to wander south along the inner reef. Check with others what the ckecking in/ anchoring situation is currently: there was a time when random "you're anchored in a preserved zone" fines were rampant.
...
What I think you are referring to above are Marine Reserve fees. These are no fines for anchoring in Belize unless you have dropped your hook in the middle of the reef. Anchoring is prohibited in some small protected areas such as Hol Chan and Queens/Silk Cayes where moorings have been installed.

There is a lot of confusion and annoyance among cruisers over Marine Reserve fees. I wrote a section in my "Belize and Guatemala Cruising Notes" to help clarify. Excerpt below:


"
Marine Reserves

Much confusion & consternation exists among cruisers regarding the multitude of Marine Reserves in Belize and the fees charged by them. Hopefully this section will clear that up a bit.

Part of the confusion comes from not having a good understanding of where the marine reserves are located. A map showing the location and boundaries of each reserve would be a big help. Fortunately, such a map exists.

The best map of all the protected areas that I know of, including the Marine Reserves, is by PACT (Protected Areas Conservation Trust). When you clear out of Belize, part of your fees will be a PACT fee. PACT in turn grants money to the myriad of protected areas. Each of these protected areas, on land & sea, is typically managed by a separate entity (though some manage more than one). You can find the map on the PACT web site at www.pactbelize.org. A copy of the map is shown below.


(See attached image)

Another factor which contributes to the confusion is that each marine reserve area is administered independently and sets their own policies & fees for each reserve.

Consistency is not Belize's strong suite. Cruisers get frustrated over this, but its just the way it is...go with the flow...it works better for you that way, if you fuss & fight it just makes it worse. Cruisers in the past have gone as far as writing letters of complaint to higher ranking officials, after they left the country of course, which just made it worse for the rest of us, but only temporarily of course...its still Belize.

The fees only apply inside a reserve, there are many square miles of great cruising grounds outside of reserves. So unless you plan to spend your entire time inside a reserve, and near the ranger station, you wont be paying those fees every day.

Actual collection of the fees is another inconsistency. For example, the fees in Southwater Caye Reserve are BZ$10 (US$5)/person/day (legal residents/citizens of Belize excluded), but collection is inconsistent. If you are anchored near Southwater Caye, then the ranger will almost certainly collect because the ranger station is at nearby Twin Cayes and most tourist traffic comes into Southwater Caye. Even at Southwater I've never had them collect for more than one day (though I was often there as a known charter captain and may have been treated differently), but I've usually not spent more than a couple of nights there either. Away from Southwater Caye, but still inside the reserve, I've never had fees collected. I've spent many days holed up in the S end of Tobacco Range, inside the reserve, waiting out weather and never even seen a ranger.

Similar experience out at Glover's atoll. Have spent many wonderful nights there and only been collected from for one day of any given stay, sometimes not even the one day.

Ditto down in Port Honduras reserve, I've spent many nights anchored in New Haven Bay over almost a decade and only been collected from once. Usually I was the only boat there, but the time they collected a few other cruising boats had come in. I think when they saw multiple boats it made it worthwhile to run up and collect. I've also discussed with the rangers there the maximum they would collect if you were there for an extended period. It amounted to just a few nights in fees even if you were there for a month.

However, while they are permitted to charge a fee to be in the reserve area they are not permitted to charge a separate fee for anchoring. Any legitimate park ranger will have a receipt book and will normally issue a receipt without being asked. He should also have ID. No receipt, don't pay.

The fees in the reserves were not implemented with cruisers in mind, but with mainstream tourism in mind. When boat loads of tourists are brought from the mainland, they all pay those same fees...generating way more revenue than the occasional cruiser. The rules just happen to apply to any boat visiting the reserve.

Due to these and other hassles and expenses, some cruisers choose not to visit Belize. That's unfortunate because it is a great cruising ground...shame to miss it...especially since your financial protest will have no affect. Because, in Belize, cruisers aren't a significant economic consideration. Even if no cruisers came to Belize, it really would not matter (except maybe to a couple of bars). Mainstream tourism and cruise ships bring in more dollars in a day than all cruisers combined would bring in in many years.
"

You can find the full document at the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/aut...sin=B072Y2S8JS


Click image for larger version

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Old 14-03-2020, 07:12   #7
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Re: Rio dulce

Right now theres a lot changing due to Corona virus. Supposedly starting Monday, Americans, (I'm assuming Canadians) and Europeans will be denied entry or will be subject to quarantine. I'll try and post more as I get more info. I also don't see this blowing over by May.
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Old 14-03-2020, 07:20   #8
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Re: Rio dulce

Sounds like quarantine will be for Guatemalans and others will be denied entry or be deported upon arrival. Yikes.
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Old 15-03-2020, 04:50   #9
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Re: Rio dulce

Quote:
Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
What I think you are referring to above are Marine Reserve fees. These are no fines for anchoring in Belize unless you have dropped your hook in the middle of the reef. Anchoring is prohibited in some small protected areas such as Hol Chan and Queens/Silk Cayes where moorings have been installed.

There is a lot of confusion and annoyance among cruisers over Marine Reserve fees. I wrote a section in my "Belize and Guatemala Cruising Notes" to help clarify. Excerpt below:


"
Marine Reserves

Much confusion & consternation exists among cruisers regarding the multitude of Marine Reserves in Belize and the fees charged by them. Hopefully this section will clear that up a bit.

Part of the confusion comes from not having a good understanding of where the marine reserves are located. A map showing the location and boundaries of each reserve would be a big help. Fortunately, such a map exists.

The best map of all the protected areas that I know of, including the Marine Reserves, is by PACT (Protected Areas Conservation Trust). When you clear out of Belize, part of your fees will be a PACT fee. PACT in turn grants money to the myriad of protected areas. Each of these protected areas, on land & sea, is typically managed by a separate entity (though some manage more than one). You can find the map on the PACT web site at www.pactbelize.org. A copy of the map is shown below.


(See attached image)

Another factor which contributes to the confusion is that each marine reserve area is administered independently and sets their own policies & fees for each reserve.

Consistency is not Belize's strong suite. Cruisers get frustrated over this, but its just the way it is...go with the flow...it works better for you that way, if you fuss & fight it just makes it worse. Cruisers in the past have gone as far as writing letters of complaint to higher ranking officials, after they left the country of course, which just made it worse for the rest of us, but only temporarily of course...its still Belize.

The fees only apply inside a reserve, there are many square miles of great cruising grounds outside of reserves. So unless you plan to spend your entire time inside a reserve, and near the ranger station, you wont be paying those fees every day.

Actual collection of the fees is another inconsistency. For example, the fees in Southwater Caye Reserve are BZ$10 (US$5)/person/day (legal residents/citizens of Belize excluded), but collection is inconsistent. If you are anchored near Southwater Caye, then the ranger will almost certainly collect because the ranger station is at nearby Twin Cayes and most tourist traffic comes into Southwater Caye. Even at Southwater I've never had them collect for more than one day (though I was often there as a known charter captain and may have been treated differently), but I've usually not spent more than a couple of nights there either. Away from Southwater Caye, but still inside the reserve, I've never had fees collected. I've spent many days holed up in the S end of Tobacco Range, inside the reserve, waiting out weather and never even seen a ranger.

Similar experience out at Glover's atoll. Have spent many wonderful nights there and only been collected from for one day of any given stay, sometimes not even the one day.

Ditto down in Port Honduras reserve, I've spent many nights anchored in New Haven Bay over almost a decade and only been collected from once. Usually I was the only boat there, but the time they collected a few other cruising boats had come in. I think when they saw multiple boats it made it worthwhile to run up and collect. I've also discussed with the rangers there the maximum they would collect if you were there for an extended period. It amounted to just a few nights in fees even if you were there for a month.

However, while they are permitted to charge a fee to be in the reserve area they are not permitted to charge a separate fee for anchoring. Any legitimate park ranger will have a receipt book and will normally issue a receipt without being asked. He should also have ID. No receipt, don't pay.

The fees in the reserves were not implemented with cruisers in mind, but with mainstream tourism in mind. When boat loads of tourists are brought from the mainland, they all pay those same fees...generating way more revenue than the occasional cruiser. The rules just happen to apply to any boat visiting the reserve.

Due to these and other hassles and expenses, some cruisers choose not to visit Belize. That's unfortunate because it is a great cruising ground...shame to miss it...especially since your financial protest will have no affect. Because, in Belize, cruisers aren't a significant economic consideration. Even if no cruisers came to Belize, it really would not matter (except maybe to a couple of bars). Mainstream tourism and cruise ships bring in more dollars in a day than all cruisers combined would bring in in many years.
"

You can find the full document at the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/aut...sin=B072Y2S8JS


Attachment 210593
This is helpful, thanks. The first two times I cruised Belize there was none of this going on, and it was most lovely. The next time I passed by, it was probably in the early implementation stages, and there was a lot of confusion and no map of preserved areas available: just a sudden arrival of officials looking for money.
It sounds like there's still a lot of inconsistency and randomness, though, from your post.
The reason I try to avoid fees like this is not to deprive the government of revenue in hopes that they'll stop charging--it's simply because I'm a legitimately low-budget cruiser for whom $5/person/day takes a good chunk from the budget. This was also a problem when I cruised San Blas in Panama, and various fees applied in various random places. Fortunately there the guidebook had it pretty well sorted, and I could avoid most of them and not be astonished at the unavoidable ones. Perhaps with your map in hand I will again cruise Belize and at least be warned where I'll get hit up for fees.
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Old 15-03-2020, 05:55   #10
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Re: Rio dulce

Quote:
Originally Posted by Benz View Post
This is helpful, thanks. The first two times I cruised Belize there was none of this going on, and it was most lovely. The next time I passed by, it was probably in the early implementation stages, and there was a lot of confusion and no map of preserved areas available: just a sudden arrival of officials looking for money.
It sounds like there's still a lot of inconsistency and randomness, though, from your post.
The reason I try to avoid fees like this is not to deprive the government of revenue in hopes that they'll stop charging--it's simply because I'm a legitimately low-budget cruiser for whom $5/person/day takes a good chunk from the budget. This was also a problem when I cruised San Blas in Panama, and various fees applied in various random places. Fortunately there the guidebook had it pretty well sorted, and I could avoid most of them and not be astonished at the unavoidable ones. Perhaps with your map in hand I will again cruise Belize and at least be warned where I'll get hit up for fees.
Consistencey and Belize are mutually exclusive.

Sometimes this works to your advantage. In the Marine Reserves the rangers often dont collect if you are not very near a ranger station. When they do collect from cruising boats there for multiple days they typically only collect once.

Example: The Southwater Caye Reserve covers a big area. The ranger station is in the S end of Twin Cayes, very near Southwater Caye. Ive had rangers collect fees many times at Southwater (as a resident/known charter captain at the time, they only collected for the guests aboard, not me), but never at Tobacco Caye (which is in the reserve area, but far from the ranger station). Ive never had the rangers in this reserve, or others, collect for multiple days.

All rangers have IDs and receipt books. If anyone approaches you asking to collect fees, dont pay if they dont have an official ID and write you a receipt on preprinted carbon copy forms.

Related note: no one in Belize can legally charge you for use of a mooring. Because at the moment it is installed it becomes public property. The entity that installed it has "priotity use" (not defined), but they can't charge you. They can ask for a donation to assist with maintenance cost, but its voluntary.

The fees in the San Blas are of two types. 1: The Congreso (Kuna ruling body) charges an entrance fee and monthly fee for being in the San Blas. 2: Many communities also charge for anchoring in their waters. However, they only normally charge once and they issue receipts. So, if you are moving around a lot in the San Blas then keep your receipts. Show the receipt the next time you anchor in a given commumities waters and they wont expect you to pay again. This is not any form of written law, but Ive been all over the San Blas and never had a community try to collect twice. There is no official expiration date on these anchoring fees, but the convention seems to be that its good for one season. We sailed all over the San Blas one season (almost the entire length of the Kuna territory, and back again), visited many communities, accumulated a stack of anchoring receipts...not once did anyone anywhere try to collect again for the entire season. A few communities also collect a small fee for coming ashore...the Kuna are very enterprising.
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Old 15-03-2020, 18:07   #11
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Re: Rio dulce

Quote:
Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
Consistencey and Belize are mutually exclusive.

Sometimes this works to your advantage. In the Marine Reserves the rangers often dont collect if you are not very near a ranger station. When they do collect from cruising boats there for multiple days they typically only collect once.

Example: The Southwater Caye Reserve covers a big area. The ranger station is in the S end of Twin Cayes, very near Southwater Caye. Ive had rangers collect fees many times at Southwater (as a resident/known charter captain at the time, they only collected for the guests aboard, not me), but never at Tobacco Caye (which is in the reserve area, but far from the ranger station). Ive never had the rangers in this reserve, or others, collect for multiple days.

All rangers have IDs and receipt books. If anyone approaches you asking to collect fees, dont pay if they dont have an official ID and write you a receipt on preprinted carbon copy forms.

Related note: no one in Belize can legally charge you for use of a mooring. Because at the moment it is installed it becomes public property. The entity that installed it has "priotity use" (not defined), but they can't charge you. They can ask for a donation to assist with maintenance cost, but its voluntary.

The fees in the San Blas are of two types. 1: The Congreso (Kuna ruling body) charges an entrance fee and monthly fee for being in the San Blas. 2: Many communities also charge for anchoring in their waters. However, they only normally charge once and they issue receipts. So, if you are moving around a lot in the San Blas then keep your receipts. Show the receipt the next time you anchor in a given commumities waters and they wont expect you to pay again. This is not any form of written law, but Ive been all over the San Blas and never had a community try to collect twice. There is no official expiration date on these anchoring fees, but the convention seems to be that its good for one season. We sailed all over the San Blas one season (almost the entire length of the Kuna territory, and back again), visited many communities, accumulated a stack of anchoring receipts...not once did anyone anywhere try to collect again for the entire season. A few communities also collect a small fee for coming ashore...the Kuna are very enterprising.
I'm very familiar with the San Blas method; what rubbed me wrong was that when I got my cruising permit from the Congreso in Porvenir, they told me I could anchor freely anywhere in the comarca without paying any further fees. When I spoke of this to the sahila in Snug Harbor, and showed them the document from Porvenir, they concocted some cock-and-bull story about regions "A" and "B". Now I get it--it's their water and they're entitled to make a buck, and I'm free to avoid those places--but the dishonesty: first of the Porvenir folk who knew full well that I was going to get charged further down, and of the Snug harbor folk who prevaricated about 'regions', bums me out. Any country should charge whatever they want, but they should be up-front about it. Financially each one is not a big deal (though they add up), but the principle is sickening.
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