27 Jan – 01 Feb 2013: South Long Cocoa Cay, Southern Belize 16 29N 88 12W
The sun finally came out to play once again. It was a most welcome return to a long lost friend by all in the anchorage and the rumbling of lifting anchor chains filled the air as a mass exodus ensued. After a very long game of “patience in Placencia” it was time to go reef hopping once again. There was a gentle breeze ~ enough for us to sail in ~ so we took the longer but deeper water route out to our destination and had a great sail (well maybe just a couple of tacks too many!) in flat water between the reefs. We even caught two fish, unheard of for us on a day sail, both were Yellowtail Snapper which we were able to identify easily as we had just purchased a Caribbean Coral and Fish Guide in Placencia, a Christmas present from Mark’s Mum. We arrived at Rendezvous Cay but after spending all day avoiding the shallows while under full sail, we then couldn’t find enough shallow water to anchor comfortably in, bugger!
Our first taste of Cocoa
Good thing North Long Cocoa Cay was only a mile away so we headed over there. Finding shallow water was not a problem as we very slowly nurdled our way in, we found a lovely big sandy spot in just over 3 metres, dropped anchor and settled in to appreciate the stunning vista around us. We had our own island paradise, we wonder how many places in the world there still are that are so beautiful and almost untouched. Not that our island was really deserted, there are two full time caretakers who prune the palms and rake the sand daily, then hang around in hammocks waiting for the once-monthly boat load of tourists to arrive for a bar-b-que lunch from a resort on the mainland, the tranquillity is shattered for just a short time, then life on this sleepy cay returns to normal.
We spent two wonderful days and nights, checked out all the snorkel spots, circumnavigated the island by dinghy, walked on the beautifully manicured sands not wanting to leave footprints then came down to reality and digested the latest weather forecast. We had hoped to go out to one of the outer reefs from here but the forecast was now for 20 –25 knots from the south east for 2 days, followed by another norther on the bottom of a cold front, hmmm …. definitely not great for the reefs. So we rolled out the headsail and had a very slow gentle sail in company with Bandit for a few miles to South Long Cocoa Cay. This cay had some low key development on the southern end, a JCB digger and a couple of trucks moving backwards and forwards in the middle (doing exactly what we are still unclear of) so we opted for the northern end, densely covered by mangroves and home to a significant number of pelicans. Just watching the pelicans taking off, flying, gliding, fishing and landing provides us with countless hours of entertainment …. we love them.
An Absolute Underwater Delight
Selection of soft corals at South Long Cocoa Cay
But the pelicans weren’t the only wildlife to get our attention. The first afternoon we went snorkelling off the northern reef, some locals were out spear fishing and were getting some good dinner sized fish, we really need to buy a spear gun. The corals and fish were interesting but the visibility wasn’t very good. After watching another superb Western Caribbean sunset and moonrise we settled in and waited for the wind to fill in. Thankfully the 25 knots never materialised, and we awoke to a bold blue sky and absolute glassy water, the wind gauge registered 1.6 knots, yippee.
We decided to try the eastern side of the cay in the calm conditions and set off on probably the best snorkelling excursion we have had in the Caribbean. Brenda spotted a sleeping (thank goodness) nurse shark, Mark and I struggled to see it even when she was pointing at it, it lay happily on the bottom in just a couple of metres of water hiding under some coral, if you look at the first photo you can see the end of its tail on the right – the very far right!, it sure was a good size.
The soft corals were outstanding, the best range of corals we have seen since the Red Sea. We retraced our steps covering the ground we had snorkelled the previous day but it was as if we had been transported somewhere else. The selection, amount and size of fish was excellent, the seas still glassy calm and the light superb ~ maybe that made all the difference. See for yourself the beauty underwater and why we enjoy snorkelling so much.
all clear and sunny underwater …… then it looks like a snow storm!
The forecast for the next 2 or 3 days promises a brushing from the cold front up north, rain today and tomorrow, some squalls but not much wind. This morning dawned quite clear but by 9am the lines of squalls were marching down towards us. Still in company with Bandit we lifted anchor and retraced our steps through the shallows, out into deep water and headed back to Placencia, where we now are. We anchored by 11.30am, the sun came out and we have had a brilliant day. It is no chore returning here, Placencia is a serious contender for our No 1 Caribbean town, can’t say a word against it. We will go ashore soon for one of the best chicken burritos you are ever likely to taste, the gelato is up there too but best not have both as tonight we will try Omars, we are hoping for 3rd attempt lucky as it comes very highly recommended as the best Creole food anywhere, we shall see. We love to visit the remote cays and reefs but we do enjoy our shore leave too!
For now we are happy to resume our game of “patience in Placencia”
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