A bareboat sail off Belize

Belize is a Central American country in the western Caribbean,

bordering Guatemala and Mexico.

We and two other couples -- the DiCaros from Bonsall and the

Sanduskys from Fremont -- chartered a 47-foot catamaran out of

Placentia, Belize, for a bareboat sail inside the world's

second-largest barrier reef.

Diving, fishing and sailing are the chief activities in these

waters. It was hot and humid, but not unbearable.

The Moorings boat was new, with many amenities and provisioned to

our specifications. John DiCaro, by far the most experienced sailor,

had the dubious distinction of being captain.

The water was clear, all shades of blue and warm, which was

perfect for our main activity -- snorkeling.

Meals were simple, usually grilled, and included lots of fruit.

Beverages ranged from bottled water to Jack Daniels. Each private

stateroom included a shower, but going over the side with dish soap

was a common practice.

We had T-shirts named after characters from Jimmy Buffett's book

"A Salty Piece of Land." Buffett's music dominated, but we also

enjoyed country, Copland and Mozart.

Off Belize, there are many small islands -- called cays -- which

were our targeted destinations. Most are uninhabited.

Our favorite, however, was Ranguana, which had three huts, a

three-seat bar and a caretaker, who cooked dinners of fresh conch and


For the first four days, there were only four of us. This made the

actual sailing, trimming and raising of the sails more difficult --

particularly in 25-knot winds. The boat, with its undersized winches,

sometimes seemed too big for the not-so-buff, 60-year-old-plus males.

Wind conditions varied from small-craft warnings, whitecaps, six-foot

swells and hide-if-you-can radio alerts -- to total doldrums, zero

air and water like glass.

An automatic windlass made anchoring a snap, although we set out a

secondary hook twice for added security.

Sunset cocktails, dinner and the day's final cigar -- when the

world's problems were solved -- preceded bedtime, which was typically

by 9 or 10 p.m. We literally "crashed." Then it was up at sunrise for

fresh coffee and a repeat of the previous day.

Things go wrong on boats. Ours, named Cigam -- magic spelled

backward -- consistently had alternator/generator problems.

This was very inconvenient, particularly at 2:30 a.m.

After 10 days on the water, we were very happy to relax for four

days at Robert's Grove -- a classy resort by Belize standards.

There, the major activity was moving from one hammock to another

with a pina colada.

o7-- Dan and Mari Ann Haight are residents of Newport Beach.f7

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