endless estrogen

The Endless Estrogen Chronicles Part 2

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Ranguana Caye, the quintessential Caribbean island
Ranguana Caye, the quintessential Caribbean island

All Aboard

Waking in the tropics is heavenly! Walking out onto the cool sand, paddling in the warm water in the still of the morning...you can't beat it! Add a cup of coffee and this, for me, is paradise.

But this was the big day; we board the boat and the rest of the crew arrives. The plan was to load up at the hotel, head to the boat and provision at the local stores. But Maria, our hotel driver had other plans! Fortunately, Paradise Resort has a golf cart to take us and all our baggage to the van so we avoided dragging our bags up the gravel path! Once in the van, Maria suggested we stop at the vegetable stand on our way to the boat, all on her time. This was one of the many kind and thoughtful instances we encountered on this trip. She took us right to the vege stand, where Betsy and Lu Ann, our designated cook, stocked up. The arrays of papaya and coconuts and yes, granadillas was a sight to behold! Packed into boxes, we headed for the marina to unload. We planned to take a taxi to the grocery store but once again, Maria said she would drop us there. So we piled back into the van and off we went. At the grocery store, she talked to the store owner, asking to have him deliver us and the groceries back to the boat.

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Belize29

Although that didn't happen, for various reasons, mainly that there were too many of us and too many groceries to fit in the truck, we managed to cruise the grocery aisles, finding just about everything we needed. Remembering that we are in Belize and on Belizean time, we hung around the front of the store, sipping our Belikin beers, and waiting for the taxi the store owner grudgingly called for us. We heard later that the Asian store owners are not the most popular people in the community and their unwillingness to help was not unexpected. We did not let their attitude affect us!

Back to Moorings base, all our gear had been transported to the boat. No schlepping for us!

The boat, a Moorings 4800 catamaran, was amazing! And huge! Stepping on board was like stepping into a fair-sized condo, only better! With four big cabins, four heads and a small v-berth and head up forward, there was ample room for all of us. The aft undercover seating and table was where we all spent a lot of time, plus the forward seating and trampoline strung between the amas provided lots of seating and lounging areas. The steering station has all the necessary, latest nav devices, too.

Designating who was to occupy which cabin involved who wakes early, who are the party animals, who snores, etc. These details all noted on a questionnaire Betsy had sent out early in the planning process. My roomie was Pam, my friend from Washington, but it ended up I slept out on deck, my favorite place! But I was always ready to pop back inside if it rained!

And Then There Were Nine

Dinner at Laru Beya
Dinner at Laru Beya

Our remaining four crew, Pam, Claire, Laura and Katie showed up in the early evening. After getting everything stowed, we made our way across the road to the only restaurant within walking distance. The Laru Beya is a beautiful resort with a good restaurant where we celebrated our first night together.

The next morning, bright and early and after a quick Betsy briefing, Diego our go-to person at the Moorings base, took us out of the slip and we were off on the Big Adventure, making our way down the very shallow channel and out to the deep water. Although the boat is big, Betsy is a pro and because the setup and navigation systems are very similar to the Moorings 4400 she recently sailed on, she soon got a handle on it. We did a bit of maneuvering out in the open water to get the feel of the boat and then it was off to our first anchorage - Ranguana Caye.

Ranguana is a tiny two-acre caye but it is the quintessential Caribbean island. Beach bar, sandy beach, palm trees and turquoise sea. Pulling into the anchorage, we had hoped to find a vacant mooring buoy but they were all taken so this became our first anchoring experience! Third time was a charm. Our avid swimmers were overboard almost instantly, snorkeling over the anchor and Betsy got the thumbs up - anchor in sand and holding well. Shortly after that, we got a message that the French boat with the closest mooring was vacating it and letting us have it because "we were damaging the coral!" We later found that the reason he gave it up was that he didn't want to pay the nightly fee! What a wanker!

The paddle boards and kayak were deployed and the crew dispersed. I went snorkeling with my new prescription goggles and camera which I discovered is going to take some getting used to! But nothing was going to stop the bliss I felt as I cruised the reef, enjoying every second of it. Being so fair skinned and white from living in the gray Washington climate, I was very careful to use lots of sunscreen and wear coverups as the sun in Belize is ferocious. By the end of the trip, I was very proud of myself for developing a light tan and no burns!

That evening, we went ashore for dinner at Billy's on the Beach. What a pleasure to sit out on the benches, toes in the sand, enjoying a tropical rum drink and eating fresh snapper and grouper, caught fresh that day.

It just felt like life couldn't get any better!

Stay tuned...

Part 1
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

The Endless Estrogen Chronicles

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Back of the bus on Tropic Air
Back of the bus on Tropic Air

I am pretty sure that the owner of the Moorings 4800 catamaran did not have this in mind when he named his boat Endless Options. With nine women on board between the ages of 43 and (gulp) 67, it was quickly renamed Endless Estrogen.

🏝 Note to readers: I will be posting the Chronicles in sections, so sign up to receive updates through the link on the right.

Part 1

Back in November, Betsy and I put our heads together and decided to do this trip to Belize, a place I nearly moved to 16 years ago and have been hankering to go back to. As soon as the word went out, all bunks were filled and it became clear right away that it would be a an all-girls trip.

Organizing and planning and confirming our assignment for Sailing Magazine continued right up to our departure. Anxious to get out of the nasty Pacific Northwest winter, I flew south to Southern California a week prior to our flight out of LAX to Belize City. A few days with Ryan and then the few days before departure with Betsy in Santa Barbara, where we put the finishing touches (sort of) to our trip.

Sneaking a nip in the girls room
Sneaking a nip in the girls room

First stop was to pick up Jane, one of our crew who drove with us to the airport. We dropped the car at La Quinta where we would stay on our return, hopped on the hotel shuttle and made it to the Delta gate with time to spare. Feeling like naughty schoolgirls, we slipped into the ladies room before security for a quick nip on the gin Betsy had hidden in a flask! We certainly got some funny looks as we sipped and slugged away!

After a long red-eye on Delta, we arrived in Belize City at 7:30 am. without so much as a cup of coffee on the flight. I have never been on a 4:45 hour flight without any sort of service! And after not getting even two hours of sleep I was ready for some caffeine. Which we did find, but not the kind of coffee us spoiled American girls wanted. Try lukewarm water with a spoonful of local instant coffee in a styrofoam cup, heated in a microwave! It came from a tiny little food stand within the Tropic Air departure lounge. Marginal!

Two other crew appeared while we were fueling up at the Duty Free liquor store. Tina and Lu Ann had arrived on an earlier flight and were booked on a later puddle jumper for Placencia, the Moorings base. The half-hour flight down, with three of us in the back of the bus, er plane, took us low over the mangrove-lined coastline, which peeked out from the low clouds. But the water was dazzling - brilliant, clear turquoise and shades of blue. I noticed a lot of development along the shoreline of the peninsula and sad to see the mangroves being torn up for houses and marinas.

The dirt runway in Placencia has water both ends - quite an incentive to hit it just right. No problem!

But first getting to our hotel, the Paradise Hotel and Resort was via a beat up old taxi that dropped us at the end of a gravel pathway. Have you ever tried rolling a wheelie bag along gravel? It doesn't work well and by the time we made the couple of hundred yard haul, we were soaking, sweating like crazy. The room was basic and three of us shared it. The redeeming factor at that time was the free welcome rum punch which we consumed in the open air bar, with it's overhead fans and lovely view of the water. By this time it was lunch time and I had the local stew chicken with rice and beans which was surprisingly good.

Belizean girls
Belizean girls

I'm a lousy napper, but the others all had snoozes on the lounges by the water. I ended up floating with some of the local little girls who are so friendly and not filled with the "don't talk to strangers" admonitions the Americans have drummed into their children's heads. They wanted me to take pictures of them and then I allowed one of them to take pictures of them with me! Very cute.

Betsy and I went for our fact-filled chart briefing at the Moorings base later in the afternoon - a lot of info and of course masses of questions and astonishment and several raised eyebrows from the men in the briefing (also going out on charters) when they found out Betsy is the captain and me first mate!

Dinner at De Tatch (The Thatch, we discovered ) right on the beach in Placencia that came well-recommended and definitely worth it. That was the beginning of the Caribbean drink exploration that continued throughout the charter! Fortunately, we had stocked up at the Duty Free store at the airport, so there wasn't a dry day on the boat!

By this time, I was really dragging but the others wanted to stop at Tipsy Tuna as there was a fireman's benefit going on and as we had made an agreement that we would go with a buddy system whenever we went anywhere, I was outnumbered. So we stayed for a while - the music was actually pretty good, rock and roll and not really appreciated by the younger ones in the group!

By the time we left, the sidewalk through town was almost deserted and we walked back to the boat, passing by some dodgy bars and dark areas along the shore. But we navigated our way home to the Paradise Resort and fell into bed, looking forward to a new day in Belize. 

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6