Sailing the Belize Reefs

While in Antigua Guatemala I saw a home made poster with tear off e-mail, Sail along the Belize reefs for 7 days, only $600 from Rio Dulce. Wow, what a bargain! I sent off an email when were they leaving? The company replied with various dates, I did some checking and it all seemed legit, so I sent off my deposit, I would meet them in about a month, how exciting, sailing and snorkeling along the reefs for a whole week!!! Life was grand! I couldn’t wait.

The day we were suppose to head off on the sail boat we were to meet at a particular bar. I was one of the first there. Of course I didn’t know any of the others but as they arrived and I kind of deduced they might be on the same boat and asked and introduced myself. We all looked out in the harbour trying to figure out which boat might be ours, none of us were sure. There were 4 other couples besides myself and another single man about 70 or more. Finally a little motor boat came to collect us, 4 at a time. When I arrived on the catamaran with my back pack they showed my to my sleeping quarters. I looked down the 2′ square hatch, and thought to myself, are you friggin serious!!!!!! It was the size of a coffin! and I am not joking, before I even realized it  I had voiced that thought out loud, the other ladies looked at themselves and then me, and said “Well we were certainly thinking that too, but we weren’t going to say anything”. Thanks, that makes me feel better. Next thought, how am I and my backpack going to fit in there? The crew offered to store my pack else where, but that first night I actually slept with it, don’t ask me how. The space was literally 3-maybe 4 inches wider than my shoulders at that end and by my feet maybe a foot wide and when I laid down if I stretched my arm out and made a fist, that was where the hatch was. It had a maybe 2 inch diameter breathing hole curved so rain water couldn’t get in. Well this was going to be interesting. That first night, I crawled in, managed to change and shut the hatch…….it was getting pretty stuffy in there after about only 5 minutes. Hmmm, I found my flip flop opened the hatch and propped it up with my flip flop. Air!. That was much better. The next night was even better as I did take them up on them storing my back pack else where.
Thankfully the others on the boat were wonderful, they all knew each other except the single elderly gentleman, George or so we called him the first few days. Then he told one of the husbands that that wasn’t his name it was “Charles” I guess someone had miss heard when we introduced each other. At the end of the expedition I asked everyone for their addresses, and he wrote down even another name, so not really sure who he was, but he never complained about sleeping in the other coffin, the pontoonsat the end of the boat.
My side of the boat was also where the solar shower was, and where everyone fished. One day when it was a tad cool, I was laying in my coffin reading as they fished. The cook then motioned to me that they were reeling in a fish and wanted to close my hatch, sure I said that would be fine. I listened from below and heard the slap slap slap of the fish flapping around above and then the thunk as they hit it over the head. Then they opened the hatch, no problem. A few minutes later they were going to bring in another, of course they could close my hatch, same noises, flip, flap, flop, thunk. Only this time someone sat on the hatch and didn’t get up. I waited about half an hour and then knocked on the hatch, please I would like to get out. They did open it no problem, they had just gotten busy and had decided to clean the fish after they caught the last one.
For that whole week we were only on land for about 20 minutes. They landed on one small island and we took a walk around the island and got back on the boat, all of the rest of the time we were anchored at various spots along the reef. The Captain would head off in a wet suite every morning to go spear fishing getting back before noon and heading off again just after. The cook and first mate stayed on board. They would take us out in the small motor boat and drop a few of us off at the reefs. I always wore a life jacket, I felt much safer that way, as we never knew when they were coming back to collect us.
The sail trip was not as I expected but it has definitely left me with a story to tell. The seafood meals were amazing and I got to know the 4 couples quite well, one even invited me to stay with them at their place in Northern Belize if I had the chance at the end of my stay, which I did and it was wonderful. If your looking for a possible retirement place in a gated Community theirs was called Orchid Bay, they were among the first there, it is still being developed. At that time you had to cross one river by a barge like thing that you hand cranked to cross from one side to the other, another experience I had never had before or afterwards.
What would you do if you found out your sleeping accommodations were similar to a coffin? Have you? Where’s the most unique place you have ever slept?

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