After dropping Sid off at the Belize airport, Dona and I headed back to Placencia. Along the way, we stopped at a place called the Blue Hole. Many people have heard of the Blue Hole in Belize, but usually the reference it to an under water blue hole located out at Lighthouse Reef. The term "blue hole" refers to a sinkhole which may be either an inland cave or an underwater cave. The blue hole we visited is a sinkhole on the mainland of Belize.
There is a cave at the park, with a boardwalk / path that goes a few hundred feet into the cave. There are some stalactites and stalagmites you can see along the way.
|Blue Hole Cave Entrance|
|Inside the Cave||Inside the Cave|
|Inside the Cave||Inside the Cave|
The actual blue hole is downstream of the cave. We stopped but didn't go in for a swim.
|Blue Hole||Blue Hole|
When we made it back to Placencia, we waited around for the rental car guy to show up to pick up the car. He didn't. We spent the whole next day trying to get him; he finally showed up at 7:00 p.m., a full day late.
Then we tracked down Babe to get the part for the steering mechanism for the boat which he was supposed to weld. But, of course, he hadn't done it yet. Dona had an upset stomach all night, and finally decided it was best if she just go home. Dona hadn't been feeling well the whole trip with Sid, although she had tried to put a good face on things. So she flew from Placencia to Belize City, where she rearranged tickets and flew home. It turns out she was having a bad reaction to the anti-malarial drugs she was taking.
I sailed down to Big Creek and motored up the channel to the port, where I checked out with the Port Captain and then rented the guard's bicycle and rode over to the Customs and the Immigration offices to finish up. Then I sailed back to Placencia, where I hitched a ride up to Siene Bight to find Babe and I picked up the part for the steering mechanism.
I got the steering mechanism put back together, and the next day headed out to return to Guatemala. I sailed out to Ranguana Cay, where for once I had a clear evening. I could see south far enough to see the high peak in Cusuco National Park (2241 m high) in Honduras, and also the one in Merendon National Park (1748 m).
There was some cool bioluminescence in the water that evening; I have no idea what was causing it except a "planktony sort of thing." The wind picked up and I took off the headsail and stowed it to reduce windage up in the bow; then I set a riding sail off the backstay. There was a lot of lightning to the southwest, and a cold front was coming down from Texas.
I spent the next day taking it easy and doing some odd fix-up jobs. I removed some unused rope clutches from the cabin top and filled the holes with epoxy. I also moved the mount for the dinghy on the davits in about 10" so it will ride better. Then I moved the boat in a little closer to the cay, dove the anchor to make sure it was set well.
The next day it was blowing harder, about 30+ knots. I couldn't do much so I just took it easy and did odd-jobs. About 15:30 the Belize Coast Guard, who had been doing something on the island, came over and checked my papers and asked about equipment on the boat, although they didn't really check it out. I suppose they could have cited me for out-of-date flares.
Whew! I spent several hours, probably more counting the previous night, fretting over whether or not to set another anchor. I had the CQR down and it was well set, but I worried about the link connecting the 5/16" chain to the 1/4" chain. I don't think it's nearly as strong as the chain or the rode. Eventually decided against setting another hook. Then I spent more time trying to figure out how to get out of Ranguana with the one hook I had down. The wind was blowing pretty good and the waves were 2'-3' at least, sometimes 4', and that was in the lee of the island, and I wasn't that far away. If the hook pulled out before I was on top of it I would blow onto the shoal behind me, maybe 50 yards away, max. Once the hook was off, the autopilot couldn't keep us on course with the wind blowing like it was, and if we bow first towards the island we had no maneuvering room & would be blown aground. The forcast was for worse weather the next day, so I really wanted to leave. I started to pull in the anchor once but it the wind picked up so I quit. Finally it calmed a little and I put the engine in gear, idling, and was able to pull the chain in. Fortunately everything went as it was supposed to and all the chain dropped down the chain pipe smoothly. It took a bit of a pull to break the CQR loose and then it came up and into the anchor roller. I quickly tied it off and boogied back to the cockpit. Phew! It sure would have been easier with two people! Then I sailed down to New Haven for the night.
The next day as I was approaching Livingston I noticed a big oil slick on the water. I'm pretty sure it was from one of the tankers or container ships that go into Puerto Barrios. It was ugly and discouraging, but also a good demonstration of how oil calms water by reducing surface tension.
After checking in, I sailed part way up the river and anchored for the night off the mouth of the creek near the Ak-Tenamit clinic. Across the river and up a ways is a church that worships, or at least has a hell of a sing-a-long, on Saturdays. Boy, could they use a lead singer. Every song except the last two started out with a beat like Ob-La-Di-Ob-La-Da ...
The next morning dawned quiet and peaceful, the way I always think of "The River." I could hear the wind in the wings of the flocks of cormorants flying over, headed out for a day of fishing. There wasn't much wind, but I managed to sail the rest of the way home. It was a bit of a challenge, and I had to put up the big #1 foresail.
Then I spent a few days cleaning up and headed home.