Trapped in Belize
We left Guatemala on the 13th March
2020. As yet there had been no signs of the Covid 19 effects.
Everything was open, borders were open to all the countries
around. By the 14th as we sailed into the Placencia
anchorage things were changing. We barely had time to jump over
the side to check our anchor as usual before we noticed everyone
was leaving. Wondering if there was some storm coming and they
were going to a more sheltered spot we shouted across to another
boat who informed us that this was the last chance to get back to
the Rio Dulce before the borders were closed.
Belize had zero cases, bars, restaurants, everything were open and so we carried on, oblivious to the rest of the world’s chaos. By the 24th March we knew a shut-down was coming and had a last drink session at the Paradise bar with the crews of Gypsy Wife and Finte.
So the borders are closed preventing clearing out as well as in and we are stuck next to beautiful beaches and with numerous cays to go anchor at. We got out of Guatemala the day before the borders closed and now have no means to leave other than to sail direct to the UK.
We have been stopped by the coastguard twice now. Once before the borders shut as Mr Atkinson was wearing his usual sailing attire. The coastguard (with much laughter from the ladies on board) left once he had suitable clothing on. The second time the stop was with armed men boarding and ‘you should not be here’. Once we had shown our papers were in order they left. It was a bit scary as they had covered faces as well as sub-machine guns.
Frank Cay was interesting. We had to put out 2 anchors as our CQR doesn’t hold well in grass, but usually the big Bruce does better. We were in very shallow water and surrounded by coral. Our last night, as it became pitch dark, the conversation went along the lines of, Mrs Atkinson, ‘I am sure we are slipping anchor’, Mr Atkinson, ‘everything is fine, it’s just the anchors stretching out’. Repeat, repeat, until Mr Atkinson agreed to jump in to check the anchors. Snorkelling kit on he went over the side and quickly got back out as he could stand next to the boat. We were afloat by about 6 inches!!
Disorientated, in pitch black, we reanchored and reanchored. After 3 attempts the wind dropped and we held, phew. We kept a watch on until 0100 and then just slept – back to Placencia in the morning.
We have had some unbelievably good sails as the reef stops the waves but not the wind.
The restrictions now are bars and restaurants shut and no more than 5 per shop and 1 at the till. A curfew has just come in from 2000-0500 as the country declared a state of emergency on the 31st March, but that’s cruisers’ bed times anyway.
drying fish at Livingston our Guatemalan checkout town
barracuda next to the boat
Social Distancing, Belizean style
juvenile shark daytime napping (about 6 feet long)