Cay Caulker, Belize (2016)

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

017-44.453 N
088-1.800 W
Marine forecast for this location

Ahoy from the crew of the BlueJacket!

Cay CaulkerWe're currently located at Lighthouse Reef, but before coming here we spent several very pleasant days at Cay Caulker, Belize. Cay Caulker is a town filled with 20-something tourists from around the world have come to Belize to explore the beautiful waters. It's behind the fringing reef, which makes for a beautiful, protected location and the waters are filled with great places to snorkel and dive. For the cruiser it offers a good place to provision and has some nice restaurants in case you're tired of cooking on board.

Best Day EverWe came here from the S end of Turneff island. John Terry and his girlfriend, Cay, were following on Best Day Ever which draws 6'8". This was John's introduction to Belizean reef crossings and the shallow water that permeates the interior of the fringing reef. Luckily Sue & I have been here many times and have lots of good notes and waypoints, so we were able to get all of us through the reef and to Cay Caulker without any issues. The photo to the left is Best Day Ever crossing the reef at the Long Cay pass on a very calm day.

The next day we took the water taxi to San Pedro on Ambergris Cay to clear in. You're supposed to take the boat there, which will allow them to inspect it, but we've been lucky and they've never asked to do that in San Pedro. Clearing in at Belize is ridiculously complex and time consuming. Immigrations was easy as we only had to talk to 1 person. Customs was crazy with us having to talk to 4 different people, each of whom handled a specific task and needed separate copies of our documents, that they kept mixing up with other boats. They also have long forms that require us to provide detailed stores reports: How many bottles of salad dressing do you have? Ketchup? Soda, beef, eggs, etc? No other country that we've been in asks for this information and you have to wonder who, if anyone, ever looks at it. At least they didn't ask us how many rats we had aboard or how many people died (of the plague) while underway (we've been asked this)!

Approaching cold frontAfter running the Customs gauntlet we were told that we needed to go to the Port Authority to get a cruising permit. This was something new to us. We had to take a taxi for a 15 minute ride to lagoon located at the southern end of Ambergris Cay. We then found out that a cruising permit costs $100BZ ($50 US) for the first 48 hours and then $5BZ for each additional day! The boat used to be free, but now it's $75-$125 US per month to have your boat in Belize. This makes Belize the most expensive cruising destination that I know of.

Before heading to San Pedro we had moved the boats towards the front of the bay in order to get as much protection from the forecast NW winds as possible. Towards sunset we could see the a cold front approaching from the W and as evening progressed we were presented with one of the most intense lightening storms that I've ever seen. The cloud-to-cloud lightening was almost constant and was accompanied very potent cloud-to-ground strikes. I watched a boat in front of us get struck, sending an arc of glowing material flying from the rigging. We had intense rain squalls with 33+ kts of wind, making for an exciting evening.

The next day was beautiful and we spent it enjoying Cay Caulker and picking up last minute fresh provisions before heading to Lighthouse Reef.

-- Geoff & Sue

For the cruiser:

Street sceneHere are the waypoints that we use to cross the reef at Long Cay which provide much deeper water than the route that Rauscher shows:

Long Cay Waypoints - We had at least 8.5' between Cay Caulker and Long Cay

17-38.96N 88-03.81W North of Long Cay
17-38.55N 88-03.20W West of 5' section N of Long Cay
17-38.40N 88-02.50W East of N end of Long Cay
17-38.137N 88-01.666W Low spot in reef. We saw no less than 18.5' Breaking reef to N

Anchor in 10-13' in bright sand spots to west of Cay Caulker. If you anchor in grass, you'll probably drag. The power plant is located by radio towers, so it can be loud depending upon wind direction.

We leave our dinghy by the fisherman's co-op, which is located near the radio towers. You can also use the dock behind the fuel station shed which is located just N of the fisherman's co-op.

Cold air punching in from NThere are lots of small grocery stores at Cay Caulker, but the best that we've found is Chan's market, which is on a corner about a block up from the dinghy dock.

There are some good veggie stores located on the main drag in Cay Caulker.

There's a self-serve laundry located in a yellow building on the left a couple of blocks from the dinghy dock. You can also have your laundry done by Ruby, who is located just before the laundry in a pink building on the right hand side. She did a great job and was very reasonable.

Habaneros has provided excellent food for years.
Pelicanos was very good, but expensive

Cay CaulkerSan Pedro:

Immigration/Customs info:

Offices are located on 2nd floor of building S of Tropic Air building overlooking the runway.

Immigrations: $0 - will be charged $20US/each when clearing out
Customs: $0
Agriculture Inspector: $25US
Port Authority: $20US round trip taxi ride. $50US for first 48 hours + $2.50US/each additional day - max of 90 days. Bring cash as there's no place to get cash anywhere around there.

Go to the Green House on Middle St for veggies.
SuperBuy is a large US style grocery store on Back Street
We had lunch at Mesa, which was excellent.

e main road W of the commercial dock. Rates were extremely cheap.

Log ID: 2280

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