Updated: Dec 6, 2021
Located in Central America, nestled between Mexico in the north, Guatemala to the west and south, and the Caribbean sea to the east - Belize has been on my radar for years. The first time I heard of this country was when I was backpacking in Central America, back at the end of the last century (1999). I took a diving course in Honduras, where I met other divers who were heading over to Belize to do more diving there. When I found out that Belize is also a sailing destination, I imagined that I would ultimately love to charter a boat with scuba gear.
I started planning the Belize vacation back in mid-2019. I put March 2020 on the calendar, and by the end of that summer I had a crew of 8 guests. We had everything ready to go: a 45' catamaran, flights booked, itinerary, provisions list, transportation from the airport to Placencia (the town where the charter company is located) - we were ready to roll! But then came March of 2020 and the world got into a lockdown.
This coming January (2022) we are finally going to embark on our Belize adventure! Four postponements, 3 crew changes, and two more catamarans joining - ready or not here we come!
Belize Sailing Vacation Dates are Monday, January 3 through Monday, January 10th, 2022. ***We have one last cabin available on a 45' catamaran! If you are interested in joining this trip - please contact Capt. Nitzan ASAP!***
Planning a vacation for a family isn't easy. Planning a vacation with a group of adult friends sometimes even complicates things more with everybody having an opinion. Now try planning a SAILING vacation for a large group of people who might not even know each other.
Bring it on! :-)
Following are a few basic steps and considerations you should make when planning a sailing vacation:
Choosing a Destination: Choosing a destination isn't just about traveling to a dream exotic or classic destination. Considering one usually doesn't travel on their own in order to charter a boat, it is important to be practical and accommodating. In example: It is probably better to have a family vacation at a destination that has a direct flight to, or at least a relatively easy journey without too many connections. Also - it is good to know what are the crew's expectations - a sailing vacation in Sweden (even in the summer) may not be a good match for sun and warm weather seekers. On the other hand - if you have an adventurous crew - a sailing vacation in Sweden or a 100NM crossing from Key West to Cuba (ehem...) might be a great choice of destination!
Securing a Charter Boat: Surprisingly, not all destinations have famous and highly reputable charter companies. Having said that, in destinations where there are several charter companies - some may offer better pricing or better boats. You could search on your own using search engines such we will be launching on our website within the next couple of weeks, or you could ask for our help. We have done it before - so it is likely that we save you a lot of time and money, and we are committed to answering all your questions and addressing any concerns. Remember - only after booking the boat, it is time to book your flights, as you want to make sure what are the check-in and check-out hours and the distance to the international airport.
3. Gather Information About The Destination: Essential information including but not limited to: paper nautical chart of the area of sailing (see below my recommended resources), a cruising guide, download of an electronic chart of the area, charter company's suggested itineraries, information from sailors that already have been in the area. If you don't know anyone who has been to that destination feel free to coordinate a consultation meeting with Capt. Nitzan.
4. Plan Your Provisioning: Most charter companies will offer ready-made meals or provisioning services through a local grocer. While many find these services a bit pricy and want to experience the local shopping experience. While this might sound romantic, having to figure out how to do grocery shopping in a foreign country, sometimes even a third-world country. Moreover, in some destinations - especially in the Caribbean - the supply is very limited due to a low demand based on a relatively small population. You might find yourself going to the grocery store or the market and not finding many basic groceries... Pre-ordering provisions from the charter company will save you the anguish of realizing there was no milk left at the local grocer for your morning coffee... It will also save you a lot of time in checking into the boat and preparing to cast off. The provisions will be waiting for you on board and all you and your crew will need to do is put everything away (see below 2 Pro Tips for provisioning).
5. Travel Healthy: The Covid-19 pandemic had made us all experts on the different types of testing, vaccinations, and sanitizing and introduced us to new social etiquettes. Having said that, different countries and different people have different ideas and one should be prepared and be respectful of the culture in the country you are visiting. It starts with finding out through the websites of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention - CDC, The World Health Organization - WHO, and the official health administration website of the country you are planning to travel to. Other than Covid-19 there might be additional recommendations for vaccinations, repellants, or medications one should have with them while visiting this country. It is also important to find out what is the vaccination and testing requirements of both the destination as well as the country you will be traveling back to. Bring an ample supply of disposable masks and your own
Provisioning Pro Tips:
If you have a favorite coffee/energy bar/ sweetener or any other unperishable food item - don't count on getting it in the local grocery store. Bring enough supplies with you from home.
Fresh water provisioning rule of thumb: each person should have 3 Liters (0.8 gallons) of drinking water per day. Multiply the number of days (in example - 6 days) by 3L and then by the number of people - and you'll get the quantity of water to pre-order. In example: for a 7 day charter of 9 people you'll need to order 3 x 7 x 9 = 189L or roughly 50 Gallons.
Landfall Navigation - Paper charts, plotting tools, cruising guides
Imray Charts - Paper charts, cruising guides
Navionics - the best electronic chart system, based on government paper charts as well as users' data. Most charter companies will have GPS chart plotters that will have Navionics set up as their software and an internal wifi sync option.