We are now in Belize, after a total journey of over 2,000 nautical miles from the BVI, via The Bahamas and Florida. Yes, we did take the long way around! The final leg, Key West, non-stop, 650 nautical miles.
The Gulfstream that runs north along the east coast of Florida, is made up of several tributary currents from the Gulf of Mexico, the Yucatan Channel along the east coast of Mexico and running north east into the channel between Mexico and Cuba.
As we were basically heading in the opposite direction, we had to pick a route which used the counter currents that run in the opposite direction just outside of the main north easterly flow. We managed that and had a positive current for 75% of the way and only a half knot adverse current for a short time. The rest was neutral current, so we did not lose too much time.
Our trip down from Key West was much calmer than the trip to Florida. In fact, too calm. There was no wind. The first time that we have seen our wind instrument showing 0.0 wind speed!
When we say calm, it was like a mirror, only disturbed by the tracks on the surface as flying fish escaped our path. There was also a heat haze, so at times, with such a calm sea, it was difficult to differentiate sea and sky at the horizon. And huge rafts of Sargassum weed floating everywhere. Although we had the main sail up all the way, it really was only used for perhaps 12 hours of the trip, so we motored 90% of the way.
We had a few visitors along the way. Birds that stopped for a rest. One spent all night sleeping on the genoa lines. We also enjoyed a pod of adolescent dolphins playing with us for a while.
Our first stop in Belize was to anchor out at Lighthouse Reef, an offshore atoll famous for its superb diving and The Blue Hole. We rested up and then headed for mainland Belize through the barrier reef and outer cays.
We arrived at The Placencia Resort Marina in Placencia to a great welcome and assistance in clearing in to Belize and sorting local communications. Our plan is to base our charter program at the resort, which is only a few miles from the local airport.
South from Fort Lauderdale to Key West
Posted By: Geoff & Iza Prower on Aug 20th 2015
Our primary task in Fort Lauderdale was preventative work on Dreaming On. Trying to premeditate all the work that might be required over the next year in Belize, either by doing the job now, or in finding the spares we might need later. All this on the basis that it will be far more difficult and expensive to find bits and fix things in Belize.
So after 4 weeks of very intense work on Dreaming On, we finally left Ft. Lauderdale on 13th August, heading for Key West (170NM) and then on to Belize, another 600NM.
We stayed close to shore heading down past Miami to stay out of the northerly flow of the Gulfstream and found wind and quite a good southerly counter current to help us.
The trip down to the Keys is always a choice between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea! The Devil being the thousands of crab trap markers, (small, multi-coloured floats attached to baskets on the sea floor), which are everywhere in the Hawks Channel, which runs between the shore and the outer reef in about 20’-30’ of water. Each line of a particular colour of floats belonging to one fisherman may be 150’ apart or so, but then there are other colours criss crossing that line. So it’s like navigating through a minefield. Great concentration, observation and a lot of hand-steering required, especially while sailing.
The Deep Blue Sea is the water outside the outer reef, which has no fish trap markers, but is in the northerly flow of the Gulfstream. We chose the Devil and sailed the Hawk Channel in daylight only.
Now we have had many types of bird visitors finding their way on board in our various journeys. All looking for rest and water, but the most amazing visitor so far came aboard on this trip. A bright green baby Iguana! Iza opened the anchor locker as we were about to leave our overnight stop at Newfound Bay heading to Key West and there he was lying on the anchor chain! Iguanas swim very well, so we can only assume that he came up the anchor chain. There were very strong currents where we were anchored, so maybe he stopped for a rest.
As we were too far offshore to drop him off, we took him with us the Key West, then dropped him off at an uninhabited island there. Hope he has a happy new life!
Now we are almost ready to leave for our 600NM hop to Belize, but keeping a close eye on Tropical Storm Danny, out there in the Atlantic, but maybe heading through west Cuba next week. Our route takes us around western Cuba!