|Snorkelling the Belize barrier reef.|
|Trying not to let the waves bounce us off the coral.|
The sail up to San Pedro was fantastic. We had another 15 to 17 knots of wind on the beam, and were moving an easy 7.5 knots the whole way. We left Cay Caulker at the same time as a bigger catamaran (I think it was a 47 footer). We followed the well known rule that any two sail boats on the same body of water heading in the same direction are automatically racing. I think they knew the rule too. Anyway, we were really happy how our boat sailed against them. Despite the fact that they were bigger, and had full sails out, while we had a reef in the main, we managed to catch and pass them en route. I think the difference was Sara, who is our secret weapon when it comes to sailboat racing. Once she smells a contest, she is on the sails full time, trimming them to perfection, and getting our boat moving as fast as it will go.
It was pretty exhilarating, and showed why Belize is famous for it’s protected sailing behind the reef. The only unnerving part was the fact that we were in 5 to 8 foot deep water the whole way. You definitely don’t want to hit a coral head moving that fast. Fortunately, we didn’t.
|Katie, setting her sights on the competition...|
|... and staying focussed, as we close the gap.|
The anchorage was behind the reef, but on the exposed front side of the island, so it was fully open to the prevailing wind. The reef cut down the waves a lot, but with the strong winds, they were still breaking over the reef a bit, so things were pretty bouncy. That wasn’t helped by the fact that the dive boats and water taxis came by the few anchored boats at full throttle. They would pass within a few feet of us, creating a huge wake that rocked us all. The monohulls had it quite a bit worse than the cats. It wasn’t like we could have anchored any more out of the way, either, since the anchorage was shallow all around, and there was only a small area deep enough in which to drop the hook. I know, the comfort of cruising sailors is probably pretty low on a ferry captain’s list of priorities, but it sure can’t do much for cruising tourism in San Pedro.
|Cloudy, windy, wavy and rainy. Not a great night to anchor off San Pedro.|
The next morning, we headed out through the San Pedro cut in the reef at about 8 a.m. The wind was still up, but was forecast to drop sometime in the night. Getting through the cut was a challenge. There were still 6 foot waves rolling in off the open ocean, and breaking heavily on the reef on either side of the cut. We had to point our nose directly into them to make it through, and throttle the engines up to maintain enough steerage so that we didn’t get pushed off onto the reef on either side. Once we were through the reef, we turned north, putting the waves on our starboard side, which was a bit more comfortable, although things stayed boisterous throughout the day.
|If you have ever questioned why anyone would take a sabbatical and go sailing with their kids, the answer is in this picture.|
Instead of the wind dropping though, it picked up, and by 9 p.m. was back up to around 20 knots. Then we hit the current. Our speed, which had been pretty solid at around 7 knots all day picked up to 8.5, then to 9.0 The fastest we have ever had this boat moving before was around 9.0 knots.
The current wasn’t done yet, though. Eventually, we saw several bursts of speed over 10 knots, up to 10.2 at the peak. Alexander, who was up doing a watch with me at the time, commented that it felt like being on a speedboat. It was certainly fast. In the dark, it was probably faster than we were totally comfortable with.
|9.7 knots, in 17.8 knots of wind. Between 2 to 3 knots of this speed is probably from the current. It still felt really fast.|
It turns out we left one long weekend in Belize for another one here in Mexico. It is, of course, Cinco de Mayo weekend, and the marina is celebrating with a fishing tournament. Right now, the slips are all full of fishing boats blasting music at each other as they celebrate the day’s catch. After being up sailing all of last night, we're hoping things don’t go on too late tonight.
|One of the fishing boats in the marina, displaying an impressive catch of the day.|