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Voyages of the “Exodus” No. 17

I've got a plane to catch – has anybody seen my shoes??

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Dink in Paradise- Click for Larger

When I dream or the Caribbean I picture little sand streets lined with tiny clapboard house painted every color of the rainbow. In my dreams the trades always blow gentle, the locals have big white smiles and warm island accents, the sea is 10,000 shades of blue, and the lobster is grilled under swaying palms on a moonlit beach. From now on when I dream of the Caribbean, I will forever think of Cay Caulker Belize.

After some truly spectacular diving in Roatan, we made our way up through Guatemala, ran up the Rio Dolce, and finally north to Belize. As always I was dragging a line or two for the voyage north and managed to score dinner in the form of a big-eyed tuna and something else that Susan was not about to eat. Brad and Susan bought me some outriggers for my birthday so now the good ship Exodus is an even more potent fishing machine. We also hooked up a nice Black Marlin coming into the southern end of Belize, but alas the big fish was not ready to be landed on that particular day (apparently Exodus' strict billfish catch and release policy has not been widely disseminated among the general pelagic population).

We cleared into Belize City, bought a new courtesy flag, and ran about 4 miles northeast to drop the hook on a small mangrove isle known as Drowned Cay. Brad and the skipper were intent on finding us an anchorage where we would be totally isolated, so we spent hours idling through the maze of mangrove cuts and boughs in 8 feet of water, often with less than 3 feet separating us from dense mangroves on either side. We anchored in a beautiful little cove full of snowy egrets, blue heron and lots of tarpon. Once the anchor was set, Brad, Susan and I went off exploring the mangroves (fishing poles and Belikin beer in hand) in the dink. The water was crystal clear as we cruised along some grass flats looking for snapper, snook and tarpon. Suddenly we came across a giant churning storm of mud in 12 feet of water, which being from Florida, I immediately recognized as the sign of manatee grazing on the grass flats. We idled back the dink and sat for perhaps 30 minutes watching a pair of manatees graze and surface several times within 20 feet of the dink. They are truly amazing animals and its not hard to see how ancient mariners believed they were mermaids (especially when viewed through some serious “rum goggles”). We watched the sunset from the dink, drinking the last of our Belikin and watching the final few dives of the manatee before dark.

Brad and Susan departed from Belize City the next morning as the mother ship headed north to Cay Caulker. We ran inside the reef for a good portion of the 10-mile run, making 4 knots and keeping eyes peeled on the sounder. We have the latest Nobletec and the most recent “Charlie's” for Belize, but we picked up yet another great piece of boating experience trying to poke our way through shoals and coral heads to find a suitable anchorage. This leads us to our newest tidbit of boating wisdom;

Exodus Experience #71: When the charts and the sounder are as far apart as Dean and Dubbya, throw away the charts and pray for good light.

So after the longest 10 miles in the 20,000 we've made so far, we finally set the hook on the back side of Cay Caulker about 500 yards from “The Split” and headed to town for lobsters and beer (OK, now how many of you still didn't know that – duh). We parked the dink at what I would consider the quintessential Caribbean bar – The Lazy Lizard – which bills itself as “A Sunny Place for Shady People”. We walked down the main street of Cay Caulker and we were immediately captivated by it's sleepy island charms as the smells of the sea, burning coconuts and grilling seafood of every description filled our noses and a symphony of soft reggae music, rustling palms and lapping waves filled our ears. If not for the conspicuous absence of Nicole Kidman from my arm, I would have declared this place Paradise Found.

We spent a week out of our planned two days on this little island, fishing and diving the reef, hanging out and jet skiing at “the lizard” with the backpacking Norwegian girls (which is never a bad thing), and letting ourselves just fall into the rhythm of this wonderful little island. In 7 days I never once put on a pair of shoes, met some of the nicest people in the world, and proudly amassed a string of 14 consecutive meals based on lobster. I have never been so sad to leave the mother ship to head back to what many of you people refer to as civilization.

Well as most of you know, a major technical malfunction (my computer) has left all of you with many a missing episode of “Voyages”. I will do my best over the coming weeks to at least recreate the highlights of our voyages from San Francisco to Belize – which include many a memorable moment including (but not limited to):

Bow surfing pilot whales;
Diving with the sharks in Cano;
Maria's chicken;
The Chuna Indians;
The Purple Parrot Fish Parade;
“Sir, is this your Bull?”
Dolphins that glow in the dark;
A really well endowed Howler Monkey;
The Panama Canal baby!!!!!!!
Crop circles with starfish;
Hot waterfalls, baked bananas and banditos
Fishhooks and third world medicine;
Captain Jason in an actual uniform;
An 800-pound Black Marlin;
"Where's the bottom of this tree?"
Coconut pie fresh from the tree;
The storm!!
"You should put sunscreen on that"

Explore More,
Owners and Crew of the M/V Exodus
Explorer Yacht Exodus, The Final Chapter
Explorer Yacht Exodus Alaska Part 2
Explorer Yacht Exodus Alaska Part 1

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Broker John DeCaro
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316 USA
Telephone: 954-646-1411

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