January 9 to 12 Placencia, Belize
Yesterday was disgusting. I would have been tough anytime, but even more so after 9 months up an airless river. At least after the big squall I had some dolphins, larger than normal, which always makes me feel better. They are just what I need after a rough interlude, but also they are not daft enough to come up, or even into this shallow water, if it is going to be bad weather; so I know the worst is over.
The peaceful anchorage was very welcome.
Today was much better, the wind did not go over 15 knots and most of the time was less. The wind direction was very close to sail to hold the required course. The water is 30-40 feet deed, going either side of that as it pleases. Not having been here before I was very keen to stay on my course of 55 degrees. I had to hand steer for the first few hours to pinch what I could close hauled. I didn’t quite make the 55, but good enough. After rounding the point the course changed to 25 degrees and that was easy. Again I got a few dolphins, but these were smaller and just came along to say hello. I motor sailed, because otherwise I would not have made it in daylight, the wind was very light and I did not want to put the main fully out in case I could not get it back in. I have to sort the main out when I am in calm water as I can go up and pull it out but I cannot winch it out. The track was very stiff when I put the sail on and I probably need to work it to loosen it. I anchored at Placencia at 3pm.
Now it was time to tidy the boat which was still suffering from yesterday’s battering. I had a dream catcher which was made of hundreds of tiny beads and this had broken, I got what I could off the seats and the floor and out of the bilges, but I will be finding them for a while yet.
The chart plotter did not fare well on the TV arm, can I complain it is not fit for purpose or is it not meant to be thrashed about? I have given it extra support with a pole and a bungy cord, but something more permanent is required for long term use, difficult on a boat with a thin fiberglass inner shell. I am still extremely pleased with it, the little extra angle towards the companionway is great.
This morning we went to the bank and obtained some Belize $. Then we went to the Hoki Poki water taxi to Independence, the larger town. We had to take a taxi to check in at Big Creek. The entire operation has been moved to Big Creek, so that all 4 offices are together. The boat is supposed to be taken in so that the authorities can board, but they are dredging and we are not allowed to take the boat in. There is also the story that we are not going to be allowed back in because some boats anchored in the turning circle for the freighters.
First stop Immigration, very nice, no problem, no $.
Second was Port Authority, ok except you now have to pay the daily rate up front for how long you are going to stay. When you check out you pay any extra days, but don’t get a refund. This has been brought in because people have not been checking out properly and not paying the daily rate, however I would expect that people who were not going to pay would not bother to check in. Some people stay in the many outer islands of the reef and never check in. B$160 for 2 weeks.
Thirdly it was Customs, again no problem.
The last stop was BAHA, Agriculture. This was not so good. I had gone ahead of Stan so that we could get the noon water taxi back to Placencia. The man wanted a form, which we should have had from Guatamala, but could not find me an example on the computer, nor a hard copy in a file. If everyone else supplies these forms it seemed more than a little surprising that he could not come up with anything. We had wasted half an hour and were risking not catching the water taxi and when we tried to move things along he got a little techy. He was only trying to help, it was our responsibility to supply him with the form, but this was difficult as we didn’t know what it had to say. He said that he should visit the boats, we were happy for him to come to Placencia, except it was at our expense; unfair as we had been refused entry to where he was. Eventually he settled for us writing out a fourth crew list, which seems odd as quarantine should have been about our stores.
We held our cool and did get out. The taxi driver phoned the water taxi to ask them to wait 5 minutes for us, which was very nice of him.
I managed to sort out lots of little items on the boat that had come to light on the way here and that made me feel much better, generally just tidying up ropes and how the dinghy was tied down. The wind generator will not work most of the time, but I can’t do much about that, somewhere it has been bent out of alignment, I will try bringing back new cogs for it from the UK. The main I can pull in and out at the mast, but still make no progress with the winch. I ran the watermaker for the first time since it was pickled in April. I do not need the water yet, so just ran it for a short while and used the 200ppm product to back flush it.
I went into the bar that evening and when I asked a few other cruisers their experience of Agriculture they hadn’t gone there. Understandable, but risky if you get caught without the certificate; even though it was hard won, not to mention the B$50. Over half the cash I had taken out of the bank had gone already.
Today we went into town and walked the tourist path up the beach. It still surprises me that there is sand, I had forgotten about beaches and sand while up the Rio. I bought a new anklet, a beaded iguana with a long tail, a tin of butter and an ice cream; which doesn’t seem much for over 4 hours walking.
Back to town for more tinned butter, although the use by date is not too good it should last for years.
I got on the internet for the first time with the computer and we might be heading up the coast in the morning.