First exploration of the Cayes of Belize

Posted By: Geoff & Iza Prower on Sep 14th 2015

North Long Cocoa Cay
North Long Cocoa Cay

We have now covered close to 350 miles and visited 35 islands, locally known as cayes, of this exciting new cruising ground and still many more to see. It’s a huge area.

The islands here are like little gems floating on every shade of blue and turquoise water imaginable.

It can be quite challenging. First of all, there are no “official” charts of the area. All boats in the area use a very comprehensive publication written by Freya and Tom Rauscher. This is THE only guide to the area. All the charts are hand drawn and with so many small islands, reefs, sand bars around, it must have been a monumental task to produce such a book. However, some errors have crept in and most areas are not surveyed in detail. There is confusion on the names and actual location and orientation of some cayes which makes life interesting. Also many cayes have the same name! Some cayes were there when the charts were drawn but have since been wiped out by hurricanes. So navigating here is concentrated eyeball the whole time and often a bow lookout. Take your eyes off the water for a moment and the water depth can have changed from 100’ to 5’!

Moho Cay
Moho Cay

Because of the number of potential navigational hazards, it takes a while to become confident enough to sail some of the channels, but we are making our own chart notes as we go and archiving safe waypoints and tracks. We often use the dinghy with a portable depth sounder and GPS to check some areas out before taking Dreaming On into questionable waters.

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