FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - BELIZE
SAILING CONDITIONS: Wind in the Belize usually out of the northeast to southeast at 15 – 25 knots.
TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS? Fly into Belize City, airport code BZE. Generally, you will arrive around lunch time, with enough time to catch the puddle jumper to Placencia.
GETTING TO PLACENCIA? If you choose to fly to Placencia, we have found Tropic Air to be reliable and on time. We can help arrange your flight, or you can deal directly with Tropic Air, see www.tropicair.com
You can also catch a bus to Placencia, however I have not done this.
HOW WILL OUR BOAT BE EQUIPPED? The 44-foot catamaran comes with four queen size double berths, 4 private heads, and is complete with bed linens, pillows and towels. There is a large galley-up for wide panoramic views with an oval table that also converts to a double bed. Other electronics and facilities include; Sound System with Ipod hook-up, flat screen TV, DVD, CD player & Radio, Refrigerator, Freezers, Ice maker, Igloo cooler in the cockpit, Cabin Fans, Air Conditioning with a 6 KW Genset and Propane Barbeque Grill.
WHO WILL BE OUR YOUR SKIPPER? Each boat will have an experienced skipper who has sailed in Belize. He is either a U.S.C.G. Captain, ASA Sailing Instructor, or a Belizian veteran.
SHOULD WE TIP THE SKIPPER? No, our flotilla skippers are not skippers for hire. They do get a stipend for being responsible for their assigned boat. Commercial skippers expect 10-15% of the charter fee as a tip. Our skippers do not. You might want to kick in and buy them a drink, or dinner ashore – but you are not required to do so.
WHO DOES THE COOKING? Everyone shares equally in cooking and cleaning responsibilities.
WHO DOES THE FOOD SHOPPING AND PROVISIONING? Your boat’s skipper is charged with developing the week’s menu and ordering your food. We will pass around a questionnaire to determine what you prefer. Your food should be on your boat when you board.
DO I NEED ANY SAILING EXPERIENCE? No prior sailing experience is needed to join the flotilla.Your skipper will show you everything you need to know regarding operating your boat. After a couple of days at sea, all hands will be able to sail and pick-up moorings balls easily.
DOES OUR BOAT HAVE TO FOLLOW BOAT ONE? Your boat is not required to follow Boat One. Boat One is the flotilla lead boat and will sail a set itinerary. Generally, all the boats in the flotilla end up at the same anchorage in the evenings so we can keep “tabs” on everyone. Each day your boat will decide what they want to do that day – we call it “skipper’s choice.”
WILL MY CELL PHONE WORK IN THE BELIZE? Most cell phones work in Belize however the $4 per minute roaming cost is the problem. AT&T seems to be the best and the lowest fees. The skippers will typically buy a text plan and text during the trip. This is less costly than calling.
WHAT ABOUT INTERNET AND Wi-Fi ACCESS? There is no WiFi on the boat. There are free Wi-Fi hotspots along the way. (Moorings Base, Thatch Caye, Hatchet Caye, etc)
CAN I GO SCUBA DIVING WHIILE WE ARE SAILING? Belize is know for its beautifuyl coral barrier reef, second in length only to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. We offer two SCUBA dives, at two separate sites. Both dives are two-tank dives that include lunch. The "BLUE HOLE", a full day, three tank dive is also available, but must be pre-paid and coordinated with your flotilla leader. You do not need to bring dive equipment, you can rent everything and we do not have the room on the boat for the dive gear. The dive boats will meet us at a pre-planned rendevouz or the dive sites. Your boat skipper can help you coordinate your SCUBA dives.
CAN WE GO FISHING? Fishing is available, but a fishing license is required. The fishing license can be paid for online at http://www.coastalzonebelize.org. Bone fishing is available, but will be based on the number of folks wanting to participate. Your boat skipper can help you coordinate your fishing trip.
CAN I EARN A SAILING CERTIFICATION WHILE ON THE TRIP? At this time, we are NOT offering certifications in Belize.
WHAT WILL THE WEATHER AND TEMPERATURE BE LIKE? During your time in the Belize, you can expect the temperatures to range from 76 to 92 degrees. It can get quite cool at night so bring a sweater or sweat shirt. During the day – it can really heat up.
WILL THERE BE ANY STORMS AND IF SO WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT THEM? We will be sailing near the beginning of the hurricane season. We should not have any storms but if we do, the Charter company will pull our boat off the water if they feel it is not safe to sail. This should not happen. However, you can expect a daily squall to blow by fast with light rain.
THE LANGUAGE? All the locals speak English. Belize used be to a British colony and the British influence can be seen and felt.
MONEY ETC: The Belizean dollar is pegged to the US$ at 2:1, making everything half the $US. Most of the sailing bases have ATM machines and accept credit cards, and traveler’s checks. Bring plenty of cash. I usually plan on a $100 a day to be safe. $500 to $600 should cover most cash needs. All of the restaurants accept credit cards. You should use your credit cards wherever possible to conserve your cash. You will need cash for such items as taxis, beverages, departure tax, customs fees, personal incidentals, and gratuities. My guideline is that whatever amount of cash you bring - plan on leaving it in the islands.
NEED A TAXI! You will need to catch a taxi from the airport to the charter base. This typically costs between $3 to $5.
SEA SICKNESS: If you suffer from motion sickness, be sure to get a prescription before we sail. Patches work behind the ear or wristbands. However, you must have them on before the malady sets in. If you have never been sea sick – you do not have any idea what we are talking about. Don’t chance it – get help before you are sick.
Be sure to ask for seasickness medicine that does not make you drowsy.
I always bring a supply of ginger snap cookies to eat when someone gets sick. Also, I usually make anyone who gets sea sick steer the boat. This helps keep your head still and focus on the horizon..
A VALID PASSPORT IS A MUST: You will need a valid passport. If you do not have one, you need to act quickly since it usually takes several weeks to get a passport. As part of officially signing on to the boat, I will need your passport number. If you forget your passport and are denied entry, there is absolutely nothing I can do for you at that time.
WHAT RULES MUST WE KNOW ABOUT?
Belize has a No Tolerance Drug Policy
No drugs – you and the Skipper will be arrested plus the boat will be impounded causing a $750,000 problem for all.
The Skipper will report you to the authorities if you are observed using banned substances on the boat.
No smoking on the boat