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#496858 - 10/16/14 03:01 PM Hol Chan Currents
elbert Offline
Hol Chan Currents
San Pedro and the island routinely has incidents that lead to drowning deaths on the reef.
Strong currents pull the tourist/victim outside the barrier of the reef into peril.
Ambergris Caye has classic rip currents that can be avoided easily if the person understands how they work.
The area between the shore and reef fill with water when the tides come in, and as the tides go out the natural breaks in the reef are exit points called Cuts and form the rip current. Hol Chan is one of these cuts. The Island has a cut about every mile or so along the crest of the reef. The cuts are named by the locals and are used as portals for their boats to go in and out of the barrier reef. Some of the names are Tuffy, Tres Cocos, Mata, Mexico Rocks, Basil Jones, etc. The cuts are also natural magnets for marine life and ironically make the best sites to observe the wonders of the reef.
Imagine the area inside the reef between the shore and reef crest as a giant bathtub and the cuts in the reef are the drain plugs. In and around the tub there is no current but as you get close to the drain plug the current increases just as it does in the cut, you get too near or in the drain the current becomes irresistible and sucks you in or in the case of our reef it sucks you outside the barrier. Belizean Tour guides are Rescue divers, Divemasters , Instructors and Snorkel Guides. They are trained and learn what to do and what not do when in a cut.
Number one way to stay out of trouble when diving and snorkeling in the cut is be with a knowledgeable guide and pay attention to his briefing.
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#496875 - 10/16/14 06:32 PM Re: Hol Chan Currents [Re: elbert]
WWIII Offline
I have noticed that there is not much information on local tide. Is there a place to get the local tide charts? Not venturing out during the outgoing tides would seem to help this problem, especially with many hotels letting guest go out unsupervised on kayaks and small sail boats. Someone just mentioned that there is a weekly chart in the San Pedro Sun. I just looked and did a search of the online paper and I didn't see it.

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#496880 - 10/16/14 07:26 PM Re: Hol Chan Currents [Re: elbert]
Hon Offline
I can guarantee 100% that there is a tide chart in the San Pedro Sun...in the paper version at least.
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#496882 - 10/16/14 07:45 PM Re: Hol Chan Currents [Re: elbert]
Phil Offline
This still needs interpretation as High Tide and Low Tide are not necessarily slack water when no current runs. The reef alters this quite a bit as it acts like a dam and conditions like strong wind and waves push more water over the reef and into the lagoon making sea level slightly higher inside the reef, so even more water flows out the cuts added to the tidal flow. Get local knowledge from someone knowledgeable - that isn't me, as this is the limit of mine.

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#496885 - 10/16/14 08:04 PM Re: Hol Chan Currents [Re: elbert]
Chica Blanca Offline
The tide tables are published every morning on this site, under the weather page.
Ambergris Caye Weather Page
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Coleen

Beach bum, butterfly stalker, native plant enthusiast.

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#496889 - 10/16/14 09:21 PM Re: Hol Chan Currents [Re: elbert]
SimonB Offline

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#496898 - 10/17/14 12:42 AM Re: Hol Chan Currents [Re: elbert]
elbert Offline
These guys are correct, but the tides are only half the story. Wind, waves caused by the wind and direction of the wind are major factors adding an unpredictability factor. One of the reasons I left out those details is that they (the tourist) can't accurately predict what conditions are like and IMHO a local guide is the only safe answer.
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#496925 - 10/17/14 12:58 PM Re: Hol Chan Currents [Re: elbert]
Chica Blanca Offline
Listen to Elbert, listen to your local guide. If they say it too rough to go into the water, believe them.

Has it ever been considered to have a beach flag warning system? Resorts and dive operations can run up flags on their docks to warm of hazardous conditions. This way it could be viewed by everyone so they would know. This is done in many beach areas to warm visitors who are unfamiliar with local waters and over estimate their abilities. This could prevent arguments with visitors wanting to go out in unsafe conditions.


Destin Florida Beach Flag Warning System
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Coleen

Beach bum, butterfly stalker, native plant enthusiast.

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#497352 - 10/28/14 03:27 PM Re: Hol Chan Currents [Re: SimonB]
Lorenzo82 Offline

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#497359 - 10/28/14 06:43 PM Re: Hol Chan Currents [Re: elbert]
elbert Offline
Lorenze, The tide charts don't accurately predict the currents in the cuts. Trust me, Decades of jumping into that water at the cuts daily has taught me that your fooling yourself looking at those tide charts to judge the currents in these cuts. It's a good theory but it's wind that screws that theory.
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