welcome to our blog!

This blog tells the story of our 22-month sailing journey from Oakland, California, to Bristol, Rhode Island, aboard our beloved Bristol 32 sailboat, Ute. Please feel free to browse through the archives (partway down the sidebar to your left) to see pics and read stories of our adventures in North America and Central America . (Sorry the first 3 months of the trip are missing - they vanished somewhere in an internet cafe in Mexico - but all you're missing is CA, Baja and Western Mex).

If you're trying to track us down now that we're landlubbers, try us at uteatlarge at yahoo dot com. Thanks!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

So unless you've seen a detailed map of Belize lately, you may not realize that Belize includes literally hundreds of little cays and islands tucked behind a thriving barrier reef (the second longest in the world) plus a trio of offshore atolls. We'd heard so many superlatives about Belize that we feared it might not live up to our expectations, but it was SPECTACULAR! lots of cruisers we've talked to strongly preferred the atolls and outer islands, but the found the inner islands to be just as compelling as the outer reefs. The best part was, every island was a little different: some were inhabited, some weren't; some were mostly mangroves, some were calendar-ready palm-fringed white-sand islets; some reefs were long, wave-battered fringes of growth and others bejeweled fields of huge coral heads.

The underwater topography was as tantalizingly varied as what we saw above the surface...another surprise for us. In some places the seafloor would gradually shoal up or fall off into the ocean's depths, but in other places we found small mountains ranges, huge underwater sinkholes, odd little seamounts, and underwater caverns. Given that the nearby Yucatan peninsula is peppered with natural sinkholes and subterranean caves and springs, I guess Belize's underwater landscape is just a natural extension of that. Makes us wish we'd had a geologist on board to explain it all! At one point we accidentally veered out of a deep-water channel into a huge stretch of coral garden, and while it was really stressful to weave through the many hazards, it was also breathtakingly beautiful. Sort of like sailing through an aquarium. We watched enthralled from the ratlines as sharks and rays swam among huge coral formations, and Ute passed through single-digit depths of radiant water in every shade of turquoise and toothpaste green you can imagine. There were points where we almost had to remind ourselves that the beauty was dangerous to our boat. Almost.

Having a third set of eyes on deck was a huge boon in such risky sailing grounds. Seems like Danny is often on board for Ute "firsts" and this trip was no exception. The most exciting first was when we exited the barrier reef through a relatively uncharted and somewhat risky gap in the coral. This meant waiting until the sun and water were right where we wanted them and then driving our beloved boat straight towards a landform that has wrecked many a ship. We held our breath for what felt like hours (it was probably only about 45 minutes of action) as we kept our eyes riveted to the water and, alternately, the depth sounder. It was so much fun and SO exhilirating! Of course we don't have any pictures, since one of the bummers about sailing is you never get pictures of the really exciting stuff because everyone is busy doing something else. The water was so clear that 15 feet looked like about 3, adding to our general stress levels but also affording us views of the reef that made it feel like we were snorkeling. I've never seen anything like it. As we passed through the last gauntlet of coral, the bottom immediately dropped away to 50 feet and we saw the familiar cobalt of the Caribbean ahead - much to our excitement and relief!

No comments: