4 day Ocean Crossing – Sailing from Belize to Roatan
A while back, I started to consider the health benefits of sailing and got as far as stage one of my research and a great Caye Caulker day sail video. When it came time to put my feelings into words I knew I needed more time on a boat and deeper experience than the amazing weather day. I really wanted to put my theories though an extended test and was willing to wait for an ultimate sailing experience to really see and feel the benefits in action.
It was not long before opportunity knocked and that magic day came. I was one of 15 people that received a golden ticket for a 4-day two catamaran caravan sailing from Belize to Roatan. The trip included a chance to see the amazing wildlife at Lighthouse Reef, snorkeling the Blue Hole and Half Moon Caye Wall, an overnight ocean crossing and no shortage of “Ab Master” laughter. We enjoyed 96 hours in our own private “Blue Planet Belize” moment while we headed towards a travel channel worthy time on Roatan eating and drinking our way around the island. 11 of us finished our adventure with flying back to Belize from Juan Manuel Gálvez International Airport.
Health Benefits of Sailing
I can officially say (through experience and observation) that taking extended time on a catamaran definitely benefited our health. Life is very busy on the island. We work very hard and do not get enough tech-free time so four days away was a huge deal.
I am willing to bet everyone on the boat experienced one or more of the points listed below – I can check them all off.
- Lowered blood pressure: Breathing just becomes more natural on the water and the salt air is good for your health. It is no surprise father of clinical medicine, Hippocrates promoted the many healing properties of the salt water. Imagine how restorative 4 days on a catamaran is – absolutely fabulous!
- Lowers stress levels: Sailing relaxes a busy and stressed mind. It was very beneficial to be unplugged and simply choosing not to deal with the million and one things on our to-do lists.
- Increased well-being and peace: The whole atmosphere of the Luxury 500 ft Voyager Catamaran and the majestic feeling of setting sail for a close by island in a new country. There is something about being on the water that really does impact brainwave patterns in a beneficial way. Especially when you get to do it in a such a stylish way.
- High endorphin’s: Nothing like the beauty of nature to naturally get your endorphin levels running high. We saw so many incredibly cool things (as you will see below) and had the perfect mix of people to keep us on an extended endorphin high.
Saturated with a broad range therapeutic experiences, sailing truly is an activity that will soothe your soul and help you remember what it really means to live your life to the fullest. And that my friends, is a great health benefit.
Please note that while our overnight ocean crossing was relatively smooth sailing, there were some challenges that made it not 100% stress free as you will read in captain Kendall’s log below. However the excitement of sailing up to Roatan and along the coast of the spectacularly hilly island instantly out shined the challenges we had just faced.
This short video shows many cool things we saw on our ocean crossing adventure. It started with a great travel omen and seeing a large pod of spinner dolphins coming towards us and swimming in front of the cat for a good bit. Lighthouse Reef, had no shortage of cool wildlife for us to enjoy. The island is known for it’s large population of booby birds which became a running joke long before arrival. We also enjoyed amazing underwater snorkeling at the Blue Hole and the wall at Half Moon Caye – what an incredible experience. This is something I had always thought about doing but was reluctant to go on a dive boat as it is a long day. Taking the trip by catamaran was the perfect answer – a luxury ride and so much fun.
I started with over 40 minutes and was able to pare down to 3:31 minutes of awesome footage from our fantastic voyage. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
Ocean Crossing – Sailing From Belize to Roatan
In spite of my “sailor Jerry” tattoos, I am much less of a sailor than my friend Kendall. Knowing my driving I did not even have to ask in regards to late night boat shift for the ocean crossing as I knew he would not have my name on that list. I also knew Captain Kendall would be a better person to tell the technical side of what happened on the boats that night. I was just thankful that overall we had relatively calm waters.
Captain Kendall’s Log
Let me please be clear – while I know how to sail, and I have spent many nights and traveled many miles on sail boats…I am not a professional sailor. So if I use incorrect language or terms, or say things a layman would say; I ask you to remember that I am. If you are offended by my lack of ability to describe to your level of detail…then go read a sailing book, bro. Or stay tuned to hear about our adventures taking “Infinity” and “Impromptu”, both 50′ Voyage catamarans, across open water.
Ocean water crossing is no joke. Boats move fast, currents faster, waves are big, and if you go over you’re most likely not getting found. To compound the situation our crossing was at night. Of course, it’s generally best to travel at night; I prefer navigating reefs in the light. Dodging cruise ships and other vessels is fairly “easy” at night with all those fancy lights they have.
We were traveling from San Pedro, Belize to Roatan, Honduras. The first two nights would be spent with easy sails to Turneffe Atoll, then Lighthouse Reef…then the big 20-hour crossing to Roatan. As luck would have it a wee storm started popping up; turning our 2 nights at Lighthouse to 1 in an effort to beat the storm. Thank God we beat the storm! I can’t imagine storm seas. I’ve crossed 5 and 6 days open ocean before – but all with the wind and current…against is a different beast.
After a snorkel at the Blue Hole, we headed out the reef cut just south of Half Moon Caye Wall. Heading at 140 degrees to the west edge of Roatan; final destination of Barefoot Cay, in Brick Bay on the south side near French Harbor.
The wind was coming from the north when we left Lighthouse but shifted almost immediately from the east (as expected) – coming at around 70-80 degrees and 15 (ish) knots. Daylight sailing went nice, side by side, and fairly easy. The sun went down and the challenge went up.
We kept our jib up too long to start. Didn’t even think about it till Infinity (off our starboard) turned abruptly south to reel hers in. We immediately realized our error as well; unable to turn south (because Infinity was there) we turned into the wind as we reeled. Got her in but lost a lot of ground, the wind caught the main and spun us 360 degrees…back on course, we caught up and passed Infinity…who promptly caught and passed us – not to be seen again till Roatan.
Without the pull from the jib, taking waves semi-broadside and considering drift from the wind push – our 140-degree course was really a 160 degree…meaning we’d land in Utila. Infinity took that course, but those of us on Impromptu rode a hard 120 degrees. We averaged between 3-5 knots most of the night..running engines to keep momentum in the waves and provide a bit more stability and steady course.
The rocking and rolling of the water stirred up a lot of crap in the fuel tanks, lots of engine stoppages, followed by lots of priming and high revs. I now have 80 gallons of fuel that no one can scrub…who wants it?
There was really only one scary event on the boat – the same thing of both boats… different causes. Lost jibs. Infinity had a bolt shear and her jib unrolled; flapped and tore pretty good. A wave had already knocked out the port trampoline. My brother Eric almost forgot about that as he ran out to hand roll the jib. On Impromptu, the winding wheel rope popped and it unrolled – Greg and I made the same error Eric did…went out to hand roll. Jack also came up to hold the lines and keep them from whipping our heads. Jen was at the wheel keeping her into the wind so it rolled easily.
Here’s where I need to note – what we did was incredibly stupid. It was a gut instinct, but something that shouldn’t have happened. We should’ve cut the lines and let those jibs rip off into the ocean. NO WAY we should’ve gone on the front of boats in rough seas at night for some cloth. If we had we gone over it would’ve been curtains. I don’t know the odds, but with no control, in the middle of the ocean, at night, I’m guessing the odds of getting found are far less than a 1/10 of a percent. Stupid…let the jib go.
We passed a couple cruise ships and caught Infinity in the flat calm of the next morning west of Roatan – they were on one engine and we had two…so it was no contest in the 0-knot winds that morning. We drove around the south end and headed for Barefoot Cay. The rest is another story…
Keep a Good Thought,
Pictures From our Fantastic Voyage
Although we all said it numerous times in many ways during the trip, it deserves to go in writing – Thank you to Kendall and Ecologic Adventures Roatan (the Beymer Family) for such a wonderful ocean experience. This definitely qualified as an experience of a lifetime.
Here are a few collages of my trip favorites. See more great pics on Ecologic Adventures facebook page.