As I mentioned at the end of yesterday's post
, I nabbed the 4:30 am night watch shift, which meant I'd get to see the sun rise. Even though I hit the hay early and got everything ready to go the night before (binoculars, camera, windbreaker, hat, etc.), the alarm on my cell phone startled me when it rang at 4:25. It was pitch dark, and as I struggled up into the galley, I was relieved to see Ruthie just getting off her shift. She very kindly made me coffee before retreating to her cabin. Nothing had ever tasted better.
I took the helm with Simon, and it was eerie not being able to see anything in front of us. To the port side, I saw a city and asked him if it was Caye Caulker or San Pedro. "Belize City", he replied. Duh...I really was
sleepy. Obviously we weren't far enough along for either of the Cayes.
The sunrise was as dramatically beautiful as I'd hoped thanks to the low cloud banks, so I was sure I had nabbed the best watch time. Only Simon and I got to witness this amazing sequence.
I was glad I'd brought my binoculars as Simon needed help seeing some markers of shoals and later, lobster areas. These were mostly just sticks coming out of the water or milk jugs and difficult to see. We actually saw the depth sounder read .1 foot (yes, that's "point one"!) of water under the keels for a short while. Scary! He reminded me that we didn't even have a depth sounder on the way down. He had been nervous when we passed this same way heading south, while most of us laid around oblivious on the trampoline!
Barry had thought he might get up with me, but he didn't quite make it. He did finally stagger out of bed around 6 am or so and grabbed a couple of photos of Simon and me at the helm.
It was a bit chilly in the early morning hours
Eventually everyone else groggily emerged from their berths and greeted the day. I am sure Chunky and Ruthie were very tired as it sounded like they both stayed up for at least part of the other's watches. From what I heard, Chunky and Clive were so busy chatting it up at the helm that they went a bit off course and got a stern talking to from Simon. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall for that one! And when Ruthie and Clive were at the helm, sounds like Ruthie's electronic tablet "Tabby" got quite a workout. Simon and I were both too tired for that kind of frivolity.
When Ruthie got up, she scrambled up all the remaining eggs. She even got creative and fried all the leftover lunch meat (ham and salami), since the breakfast sausage was gone. I broke down and ate eggs and meat to help out the cause -- I hate wasting food. It was truly delicious.
Barry cut all the mangoes up for breakfast
Nice big breakfast for one and all on our last morning aboard
Chunky enjoying his breakfast
After breakfast, we started getting close to our final destination, San Pedro. Barry commented that it felt strange to be returning to San Pedro as "home" rather than coming here on vacation. True, true. It's a great place to come home to, and we had a gorgeous day for a homecoming.
San Pedro comes into view
Colorful San Pedro waterfront
Simon docked the boat to get fuel, then left the dock and anchored a bit away. S/v Hope had to stay at anchor until we all checked in with Belize Customs and Immigration.
Clive tosses a line to a helper on the fuel dock
Simon gassing up the boat
Belize flag and yellow Quarantine flag flying until we clear customs and immigration
Ruthie filling out her immigration form for entry into Belize
It's hard to believe our journey is almost over
Barry casting off the line as we leave the dock
Clive setting the anchor
Emily filling out immigration form
Bruce and Clive checking that the anchor is set
The crew setting off in the dinghy
Simon secures the dinghy as the crew hits the dock
We all walk to customs & immigration to check back into Belize
Crew waiting as Simon checks us in
I learned a valuable lesson about checking back into Belize. Always verify the date they write on your passport for your "length of visit" while you are there. I had filled out both Barry and my forms indicating we would be staying 30 days, the longest you can stay on a tourist visa without a renewal. We didn't check our passports when we got them back from Simon nor until the next day at home. When I finally did check them, I was given the full 30 days, but Barry was only given 7 days! We went to Immigration the next day to try to get it corrected, but they refused to budge. I don't know if they don't keep copies of the form or they just won't pull them, but the officer insisted that we asked for 7 days, we got 7 days. It made no difference that I filled out both the forms or that we live here, so asking for 7 days would have made no sense. It was her word against ours. Very frustrating, but there's nothing we can do about it now. Lesson learned.
After we checked in, Simon and Clive had to accompany the customs officers onto s/v Hope for customs inspection, so they headed out in the dinghy. This is where they verify that you don't have any prohibited items onboard, like Mexican beer (sob). They also checked the duty-free quantity of rum that we had declared. We had to leave all our bags and luggage aboard for this inspection.
Customs officers heading out to s/v Hope with Simon and Clive
s/v Hope cleared to return to the dock
Once Hope was safely tied up at the dock, it was time to climb back aboard one last time and grab our luggage. Barry and I had planned to ride back to our condo on the Coastal Xpress water taxi, drop our gear, grab our bikes, and pedal back to town to pick up Paisley at Pampered Paws. Unfortunately, when we got to the taxi dock, we found out that we were smack dab in the middle of northbound runs that were two hours apart. It was too early for lunch, and neither of us wanted to wait an hour, so we made a quick decision to splurge on a land taxi. We walked down to Pampered Paws to pick up Paisley, then grabbed a taxi to take all of us home. I confess that I was kind of happy not to have to ride my bike as I was really tired and a bit off-balance from the boat travel and really wanted a restful afternoon.
Picking up Paisley at Pampered Paws -- she is at the bottom of photo on leash, and her new friend Tyler is behind the puppy fence
The good folks at Pampered Paws posted the photos below on Facebook. The one of Paisley and Biggy playing tug-o-war was posted while we were on the trip, and Ruthie actually brought it up on her tablet, Tabby, while we were out at sea. It was great to see that Paisley was having fun and had been reunited with her friend Biggy from her first visit there. The second photo was posted the day she left and is one of the sweetest pictures I've ever had of her. Thanks Pampered Paws!
Biggy and Paisley playing
Paisley at Pampered Paws
What an adventure! All in all we sailed/motored approximately 400 miles. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Chunky and Ruthie for telling us about this amazing opportunity, and to TMM Yacht Charters
and Captains Simon Backley and Clive Forman for letting us join the makeshift crew on s/v Hope's
voyage. As Simon said on Facebook after the fact, to him, this trip was just work, but to some of us, he now realized it was the trip of a lifetime. Yes it was, Simon, yes it was!