Atolls & beyond 1/23-2/2

We left Belize city and headed out to sea for the first atoll, Turneffe Island, but got distracted and decided to spend the night near the reef and do some snorkeling. We dropped one or the other anchor in total about 10 times at three different islands before we got it to hold. By that time a dinghy ride to good snorkeling was out , so we meandered through the mangroves at Water Cay checking out the wildlife.
The next morning we took off across the sea about 14 miles. By the time we got to Turneffe Island, it was pouring. Even with our lousy electronic charts from Garmin we found the entrance through Blue Creek, and went inside the atoll. With some difficulty we were able to get an anchor to hold in an unprotected area. It’s called Turneffe Island, but it’s not really an island. It’s actually a coral reef that’s surrounded on the outside by 300+ feet deep ocean, but on the inside it’s not more than about 30 feet deep and most of it is not more than 7 feet with islands sticking up here and there. It’s about 10 miles long and 1 mile wide. The winds did not die down, so fearing another Cozumel, we pulled anchor and headed into the mangroves where we were protected from the winds and swells and had a very peaceful night.
The next day with the winds still blowing we went down to anchor near good snorkeling, but on the way we (I) ran aground in the mud/sand. We sat there for almost 5 hours trying to get free on our own. Another cruising boat SEA SHARP (our heroes) came to our rescue and with there help we were freed. Too late to do anything fun.
1/26 We went snorkeling first thing in the morning. Anna spotted an octopus. We tried to pick it up, but it wouldn’t let go of the rock.

Our little 8 legged friend

Our little 8 legged friend

Coming into the next atoll, Lighthouse Reef, the water was so clear we could see the bottom no problem in 60′, and we were watching and identifying fish in 20′. Amazing. It was like looking into an aquarium. We anchored near Half Moon Cay which is a bird sanctuary. The next two days we enjoyed some great snorkeling and more. The island of Half Moon Cay is swarming with huge hermit crabs. So many, it’s hard to walk without stepping on them. Besides crabs, we saw geckos, iguanas, frigate birds and lots of boobys. That’s the Red Footed Booby for those of you who might have been thinking something else.

One of many

One of many

If you look close, you'll see a baby.

If you look close, you’ll see a baby.

Kylan and friend

Kylan and friend

If you look you can see the males with their throats blown up

If you look you can see the males with their throats blown up

From there we went to the famous Blue Hole which is much smaller in person than it seemed in pictures. Kylan had to jump in the water to hook us to a mooring ball. Shortly after he was back on the boat, we took this picture off the transom.

Blue Hole welcoming committee.

Blue Hole welcoming committee.

There were 4 sharks total swimming around us.
After talking to a tour guide who was swimming nearby, he assured us that the sharks wouldn’t attack, so we enjoyed some good snorkeling around the rim. Here are some shots from the mast to prove we were there.

From the mast of Stray Catz

From the mast of Stray Catz

Another shot

Another shot

Later we anchored for the night near a coral head where Kylan and I went hunting with our pole spear and Hawaiian sling, but we’re not very good yet so we ate store-bought food for dinner.
Because of generator issues we didn’t go to Glovers Reef, which is the third of three atolls off the coast of Belize. On our way to Placencia we stopped at S. Water Cay and did some snorkeling. We saw 2 more lionfish for a total of 4. It seemed like a lot for an invasive species. For those who don’t know, lionfish are native to Indonesia. They have no predators here in the Atlantic and Caribbean Sea. They eat the juvenile reef fish and reproduce every 4 days. They’re pretty, but they are destroying the ecosystem.

Lionfish

Lionfish

We also found a nurse shark’s tail sticking out of a cave. I dared Kylan to grab it and see if it was attached, but he wanted me to go first.

Nurse shark's tale

Nurse shark’s tale

Thursday evening the 30th we made it to Placencia. That night we met another cruiser headed to Seattle who offered to pick up the parts we needed for the generator. Only stipulation is she doesn’t return till 2/5. So we’re here in Placencia enjoying this neat little town.

2 responses to “Atolls & beyond 1/23-2/2

  1. angela wimbish

    LOVE to get the updates!! Please keep them coming! we love and miss y’all a ton! xoxo

  2. So fun to read about all of your adventures. Love the pictures. Can you take a picture of your boat? How large is it?

    Karen

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