palm tree at Cay Caulker

Throwback Thursday: Caye Caulker…Go Slow

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

Getting ourselves out of Guatemala after five months there, we had our sights set on Belize.  Knowing we’d only be quickly passing through the area on our way to Mexico, we aimed our bow for the outer cayes, and after one overnight on the water we were finding ourselves anchored in a private bay just in front of the Colson Cays.  Letting ourselves relax there a few days as well as wait out strong NE winds, we then took one of the few channels outside of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef before cutting back in to a beautiful spot in front of St. George’s Cay.  It was another few days of bad weather there, but once the rain did let up we followed the inside paths to our next destination.  Complete with a dolphin escort for the first few hours of our journey.

Navigating through a few very shallow channels where we thought we’d for sure kiss bottom, we ended up in at Cay Caulker in the early afternoon.  Dropping our anchor we prepped ourselves for our first time of touching land in 7 days.  What we found on this little island just off the coast of Belize was a perfect mix of friendly people and a light Caribbean flair.

Find the original post here.

Wednesday December 11, 2013

palm tree at Cay Caulker

I love when a place has it’s own catchphrase.  Normally you might see it for a whole country or even just a large providence, but we’ve stumbled upon a little island that has it’s own catchphrase.  Everywhere you go on the island you’ll see it posted on boards, painted across buildings, and imprinted on tee shirts.  Cay Caulker…Go Slow.

Today we decided to follow just those rules, to go slow.  In our dinghy that is.  Now that we’ve gotten rid of our Johnson 9.9 hp, all we’re left with is our Mercrury 3.3, which is normally just fine for us.  Before we even sold the Johnson though and had the chance to slip those crisp hundred dollar bills in our pockets, we thought to ourselves, ‘If only we could keep it long enough for Belize’.  The reason being that Belize has a lot of great snorkeling sights, but none of them are usually near anchorages.  Which leaves one with two options. Take your dinghy out there, or pay a fairly hefty price to hop on a tour boat and have them take you the 3-6 miles to a decent dive/snorkel site.  We decided against the latter since we’re cheap and would kick ourselves later for paying money for something we could get to on our own.  Maybe not here, but in general.  Which left us with the dinghy and our little 3.3 hp engine. Oh, and only about two gallons of gasoline.

We never really communicated between each other what the plan was when we left Serendipity, sitting in the west bay of the island.  All I knew is that we had our snorkel gear, the dinghy anchor, a nalgene bottle full of water, and our two gallons of gasoline.  Puttering out through the dinghy cut to the east side of the island and the barrier reef lying a mile out, we passed a popular restaurant situated right on the cut full of already tipsy backpackers and vacationers which were probably wondering where these two people were going in a 9 ft inflatable boat.  Due to the non-communication between the two of us, I assumed that we were planning on motoring the one mile directly out to the barrier reef to see what kind of diving we could find out there.  It’s not like we wouldn’t be able to find it, the thing stretches for hundreds of miles with very few breaks in it.  The reason I assumed this is because all the dedicated snorkeling sites on our charts were at the north and south tips of the island, and we were somewhere in the middle.  Which would have meant about a six mile round trip in the dinghy to get there and back.

Not only was I not sure if we would have time or fuel, for some reason I had a distinct feeling that if we went that far away, something would go terribly wrong and either the dinghy would become untied from the anchor leaving us stranded in the water, or worse, we’d be carried out to sea with it.  Don’t ask me how these thoughts make their way into my head, but once they’re there, it’s 100% certain that it will happen.  I can see into the future, trust me.  So when Matt asked which way he had to turn to make it to the marked snorkeling site, I violently shook my head back and forth.  Not that he usually believes in my fortune telling (although I have frightened him before by being eerily accurate) I told him the more logical reason, that it was a six mile trip, we were moving at about three miles an hour, and it was already mid afternoon.  He bought it, and we continued on a direct path to the barrier reef instead.

Motoring out until we were only about a hundred feet from the reef, we dropped the anchor for t/t ‘Dip in about ten feet of water with a sandy bottom.  It’s surprising how much eel grass is all the way out here even, trying to find a spot to anchor the dinghy was a challenge in itself.  Slipping our gear on and dropping into the water, we were greeted with a large head of brain coral.  Score!  The two of us absently bumped into each other as we tried to explore the one piece of coral together, before finally taking opposite sides.  It definitely wasn’t as impressive as some of the diving we’d seen in the Bahamas or Grand Cayman, but again, we weren’t in a designated snorkeling spot.  We just dropped anchor on the first thing we found.

Dolphin kicking our way to the bottom, we’d drop further in the water and try to get a close up view of the coral without doing anything to disturb it.  When I came to the surface again, Matt was pointing to something off to our side, a few barracuda keeping their eye on us.  The first few times I’d swum with these things I used to get really nervous, but quickly learned they want nothing to do with you.  They may float there with that evil look that says “Watch your back because I’ll devour you in three bites”, but I’ve never actually seen one follow through on that promise.  We went back to our diving until Matt once more motioned for my attention.  Kicking over to his area he pointed at a little opening in the coral and mimed for me to do down and check it out.  Pumping my way down through the water I saw it was a lobster that had caught his attention.  Dinner?  Getting back to the surface, I asked Matt what he was waiting for, go catch it!  Luckily he had brought his diving gloves with him so his hands wouldn’t be sliced open by the shell, and now the chase was on.

Over the next 20 minutes he’d dive down and stick his hand in little nooks trying to capture the crustacean, but it was quick and always ducked just out of reach.  Then we’d both go on scouting missions, trying to find it’s new hiding spot, turning it into an adult version, with very high difficulty, of whac-a-mole.  We never did catch it but instead went back to our business of just admiring the coral and fish.  Matt only took one more opportunity to point something out to me, a lion fish that was lingering near a jagged edge of coral.  As many of these suckers as I’ve enjoyed for dinner after Matt or Brian would spear them, I’d never actually seen one in the water before, and honestly, it kind of scared the hell out of me.  All of it’s stingers were on full guard, and for as small as these things are, it looked pretty damn menacing.  Maybe only because I’ve heard a few first hand accounts of people that had been stung by them, but I knew that with no barrier between my skin and this predator, I didn’t want to get too close.

It was shortly after this that I thought we’d seen enough of that coral head and we went to move on to the next.  Swimming in large circles we discovered that we’d plopped down next to the only decent piece around, and turned our sights to the actual barrier reef to see what it had to offer.  Turns out, not a whole lot.  Once we got up close to it we found that it was literally just one large shelf of coral with no fish floating around it.  The top was only a foot or two under water, with large breakers constantly crashing over them, which meant no snorkeling.  Unless you wanted to put yourself in a human washing machine full of sharp bits to tear you to shreds.  Maybe tomorrow?  I don’t know, I’m just not in the mood for that today.

Once again proving ourselves to be the worst cruisers ever, we decided to throw in the towel.  Sure, we could probably motor around a little longer trying to find more coral heads to dive on, but neither of us were very much in the mood.  We came, we saw, we conquered.  One piece of coral.  Good enough for us.  Now it’s time to get back to Serendipity where there’s beer and sunsets.  That kind of puts us back into the cruiser category, right?  Maybe just a little?

dive shop on Cay Caulker

I’m starting to think forking over the dough might have been worth a real dive tour.

La Cubana restaurant, Cay Caulker, Belize

Hiding out the rain while eating lunch.

inside La Cubana, Cay Caulker, Belize

Serendipity, West Bay, Cay Caulker, Belize

 Serendipity, sitting pretty where we left her.

rain showers, Cay Caulker, Belize

spray foam insulation

Mission Demolition: Pilot House Part II

Sunday October 25, 2015

spray foam insulation

The chaos continues.  If we ever thought there was maybe one area inside this boat we’re living on while reconstructing it that was still in decent shape or any kind of *livable*….well that’s now long gone.

Today we continued the process of ripping apart the pilot house to use up the rest of the spray foam insulation before it has the opportunity to expire on us.  A few days ago we completed the port side and now it was time to take care of starboard.  The good news was at least this side did not have as much built in cabinets and shelves to take apart.  Instead of having to work our way town through two layers of storage before we could reach the floor, this side only required taking all the drawers out of the navigation station and pulling it out a few inches so we could get to the cabinets against the hull.

It’s crazy to really take a good look at how many items we actually store up in that area.  All of our personal items other than our clothes, as well as numerous parts for the boat that aren’t sitting in our storage unit up the road (which is also full).  How did we gather so much crap?  Sorry, not *crap*.  Items to rebuild the boat.  At this point I’m not sure what I’ll be more joyous about when we finish this project.  The ability to go cruising again, or not living in a construction zone!

I’m kind of surprised that Georgie is putting up with this as well as she is too.  I should really give her more treats every day for not complaining.  Unless you count the eye rolling.

mess in salon

Matt clearing pilot house

pushing junk to port side

Georgie in the mess

Once everything had been disassembled and moved to the other side of the boat it was time to clean the hull to make sure there was no debris left in the frame to become stuck in the foam once it was sprayed.  I didn’t even get the chance to crawl into any of the tiny spaces with the vacuum before Matt was already in there and getting it prepped.

Since we knew there would be no more need for the spray foam insulation after this area was finished, it became a case of use as much as possible.  There was no skimping on cracks and crevices and Matt even made sure to spray deep in the cracks first before going on to the areas between the framing. When one coat had settled in and filled out it was time to begin the second coat, letting the foam expand all the way out to the frame and beyond.  Why not?  It all had to be used up and we could use the dremel to take off any extra that would get in the way of the framing.

All in all it was a very simple project and a fairly productive day.  I had of course initially wanted to put everything back the way it had been so there was no trace of the destruction any place further than the pilot house, but at the same time we figured that we may as well leave it open so we can begin to template and frame at least the starboard side.  With a repaired radiator on our Kia now, we’re able to get back to our storage unit and all of our wood and tools.

No more time off for us.  T-minus one month until my parents come and we’d like to show off as much progress as we can.  A completed head and galley?  Not even close.  But I’d like to get us as close to that point as I can.  Ha, I’m sorry.  I should say Matt will get us as close to that point as he can.  Man does he work so hard on this boat.  He deserves a medal or a cuddle or something.

pulling apart pilot house

Matt insulating hull

Matt installing spray foam

spray insulation on aluminum hull

spray foam insulation

At least to keep me entertained during this process and put a little smile on my face, we had a few visitors in the form of Lynx and Cairo.  They’ve been sneaking up into our cockpit a lot more lately, but this time since we had the doors out they thought they’d peak their heads inside and see what kind of digs we have.  Everyone in the yard tells me I’m in danger of having at least two new pets on our hands soon, but Georgie helps keep that at bay.  She’s very good at letting us know that even though she’ll tolerate living in this mess, she will not tolerate having furry siblings.

Lynx & Cairo