Sunday, March 27, 2011

Pelican Caye in Belize

Bruce got out the maps and charts and the book on Belize. He charted out a course, altering our original itinerary. “Okay, everyone, listen. After last night, I think it would be good to change our plans and head to Pelican Caye. It will be protected from the Northerly.”

We nodded our heads with the exception of Winnie and Sheila, who still sat in a corner, nursing their seasickness. Although I hadn’t been ill, it was exhausting trying to stay still on the bed when the boat tried its hardest to toss me across the mattress.

We stowed the breakfast dishes and weighed anchor(s), motoring north, through 20 to 26 knot winds. We rode up swells and down troughs, up more swells. It was like an “E” ride at Disneyland. I sat in the bow, spreading my arms wide, enjoying the up and down motion like a carousel ride. The sun peeked out of the cloud-dotted sky. The brilliant blue of the water would change with the depth and there were times we’d see a dark spot and think it was a coral reef trying to lure us to scuttle the boat. We’d veer to starboard or port, only to realize it was a cloud shadow.

We were the first to put in to Pelican Caye. We dropped the main anchor and then sent Nelson and Ryan out in the dinghy with the secondary anchor.

While some of the crew jumped into the dinghy to go explore the island, I sat on the deck of the bow and shot birds. Well, I attempted to shoot birds. Mostly all I got were pictures of the sky, of the sparkling waters of the Caribbean, of the coconut palms, but very few birds stuck around long enough for the delayed reaction of the digital shutter. Sometimes there’d be a wing in the corner, or a head at the bottom. Sometimes there’d just be a blur. Besides the movement of the birds, the vessel continued a gentle rocking and the more I zoomed in on my targets, the more the rocking mattered.

Another catamaran glided in, flying the flapping banners of sickness in the form of bed sheets. They had even hauled up the mattress and tied it on deck. Unfortunately, a gust of wind sent if flying into the water and they had to jump in their dinghy and fish it out.

A man paddled his kayak out from a nearby caye and invited us to have drinks at his little bar. We declined. He chatted with Bruce for a while. “Where’d you spend last night during the Northerly?”

“Whipray Caye,” Bruce answered.

His eyes widened. “Well, I guess you got pretty beat-up.”

“Yeah, that’s why we’re here tonight.”

The man scanned the sky. “We’re in the lull. It should be pretty good tonight and tomorrow, but the northerly should hit again the next night,” he advised.

Black clouds gathered overhead, but a rainbow cheered us. When everyone returned to the boat, the bar on board opened. It was rum and Coke night. Becky and Nelson made lasagna, warmed bread and tossed a salad.

Nelson, Bruce and Dennis jumped off the stern and swam, but the water was still a little rough and they climbed back aboard, washed their hair in the stern shower and settled in to a warm, 86 degree evening. Below, and in the salon, the air conditioner kicked in to make sleeping more like the Pacific Northwest. Even a downpour in the middle of the night felt like home, except Dennis left his hatch open and got soaked. Tsk, tsk. Honestly, these lubbers don’t know to close the hatch for those sudden, middle-of-the-night downpours?


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