Ahoy from the crew of the BlueJacket,
It's a rainy Sunday morning in the barrier cays off of Belize and I'm taking advantage of the time to write a blog. Being sealed inside a boat with all of the hatches and portholes closed in the Caribbean is typically unpleasant, but we have our generator running which is charging the batteries, running the AC and making waffles. All in all, a very pleasant morning.
Anyhow, we're now located at Rendezvous Cay, which is located to the E of Placencia. This is not be be confused with the other Rendezvous cays, which are located elsewhere. It's amazing how many names they reuse. For example, there are multiple Long cays, Mosquito cays, Round cays, etc. You would think that they could come up with unique names, but noooo, they reuse them just to confuse the cruisers.
We were last hear in 2002 when a delightful gentleman from London owned the cay. He had 2 full time gardeners who maintain the property and it was just lovely. The picture shown on the right is from 2002 and unfortunately is now just a mere shadow of itself. The owner used my photos to sell the cay to (reportedly) Ringo Star who then sold it to a gentleman from Belize who was going to develop the cay. He started putting up very nice houses, but then went bankrupt and all of the houses are sitting there in various stages of completion. He had many other large projects on the mainland in similar condition. Rumors swirl about the government shutting him down due to money laundering. I have no idea, but it sounds very plausible.
We feel very sorry for the 2 caretakers who are stuck on the island with virtually nothing to support them. They live in a shack with no screens, there's no power and they have no form of transportation other than a dilapidated paddle board. They paddled out to the boat and asked if we could charge their cell phones as they don't even have a solar panel to do that. What's humorous is that they've been given rechargeable flashlights, but have no ability to charge them! We're going to give them a solar/hand-crank rechargable radio/flashlight so that they have some entertainment and a flashlight.
The first night that we were here we went over to s/v Wahoo for sundowners and watched a massive thunderstorm system work its way towards us. As dark approached we headed back to BlueJacket to secure the boat should it pass over us. I fired up the radar and watched it get closer and closer. The amount of lightening that it was generating was impressive. Most of it was cloud to cloud, but there was a fair amount of cloud to ground strikes in there too. When the lightning flashed, you could see the low, dark rolling clouds approaching. I hate those as you know there's a lot of wind under them.
Some time after 9 PM the wind suddenly turned to the west and turned cold. That's a clear sign that you're about to get heavy wind and the wind went from being still to 30+ kts and with it came torrential downpours. BlueJacket yanked back against its anchor and on the chart plotter I could watch our track swing back and forth at the end of our chain, but we were holding. The top wind speed that I saw was 43 kts (50 MPH), but I wasn't paying close attention. Wahoo's anchor had dragged and unbeknownst to me, he was driving back and forth across the reef lined anchorage trying to keep away from the reef, BlueJacket and another charter boat. Suddenly I could see that we were dragging. I was powering forward to reduce the load on the anchor and eventually the anchor caught, which was good as BlueJacket was less than 100' from the beach. Doing this in the pitch dark with rain pouring across your face only makes it more exciting and the time that you could see anything was when the lightning flashed, which was often.
If you look at the photo which appears to be a bad Etcha-Sketch rendition of the southern part of the US, you can see us swinging back and forth at the start of the storm in the right hand side. Then you can see us dragging on the line that goes from Florida to Texas. We then caught and swung in an arc from the new position. Although the track doesn't show it (too many points in the track?), we swung 360 degrees before the storm ended an hour later. After the storm had subsided we took our dinghy over to Wahoo and helped them get re-anchored. At 11 PM we were back on BlueJacket having a glass of wine and taking showers trying to warm up.
We've been having lots of storms around here due to a low pressure system that has been festering off of the coast of Nicaragua for weeks. It finally moved northward and may form into a tropical storm/hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. Despite of it moving N, there's still a lot of moisture hanging around here which is leading to this instability. This is the 3rd time we've been through storms like this. The first time was in 2002 at the West End of Roatan where we had 74 kts winds and the other time was at Glover's Reef where 2 of the boats that we were traveling with went aground. Each time we're gotten thru it unscathed. Lets hope that we keep up that record!
The next day we headed to South Long Coco only to find that there's only room for 1 boat to anchor without dropping an anchor among coral, and a boat was already there. Plus a 1-2' swell was coming in from the SW which would have made it untenable. So we turned around and came back to Rendezvous, where we had a calm, uneventful evening.
From here we're going to work ourselves S and on June 1st will cross into Guatemala. Then it's 8 non-stop work days to get the boat ready to store and on the 10th we'll fly home.
-- Geoff & Sue
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