It would be hard to imagine a more secure spot than the Sunsail base on the outskirts of the beachside community of Placencia, Belize. The entire marina is protected by a robust seawall with a channel scarcely a few boatlengths across. It’s also located far enough up Placencia Lagoon that it takes the better part of a half hour before you get out into open water (and can stop playing connect-the-dots with your chartplotter waypoints to avoid plowing into the muddy shallows to either side). Once you come around the southern end of the Placencia waterfront, though…well, that’s a different story.

Not that the aspect that greeted my wife, Shelly, and our daughter, Bridget, and me was in any way a terrible one. On the contrary, nothing could be further from the truth. It’s just that, in stark contrast to so many of the world’s other popular charter destination, once you cast off lines in Belize, you’re very much on your own.

Coming out from behind the narrow, sandy peninsula that is Placencia, we promptly hardened up onto a close reach to stay well clear of Potts Shoal to the south. A short while after that, we came about and started heading north along the Inner Channel—an area of relatively deep water between the mainland and the islands off shore, leaving Placencia to port and the Bugles Cays to starboard. It was then, as , our Sunsail 404 catamaran, was powering through the chop on a close

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Sail

Sail2 min read
From The Editor: Back To The Future
The news of Don McIntyre’s reinvention of the original Whitbread race (see p18) raises some interesting questions about the psychology of modern sailing. The thought of a fully crewed race around the world employing none of the technology and little
Sail2 min read
Whitbread Redux
Many sailors of a certain age look back fondly on the Whitbread round-the-world races of the 1970s and ‘80s as the pinnacle of ocean racing, the glorious Corinthian days preceding the Volvo Ocean Race era and its glossy multi-million-dollar campaigns
Sail4 min read
Ask Sail
Q: This past winter I did a bareboat charter aboard a 38ft cruising catamaran. I was once again impressed by how heavy and massively built the mainsail was. Why does this always seem to be the case on multihulls? (The headsails seem to be pretty much