A few Caye Caulker residents got an early Christmas today with free Belikin Beer, Crystal Water, Coca Cola, and Belize Aquaculture Shrimp after a Bowen and Bowen barge nearly capsized between Caye Caulker and San Pedro early this morning.

Bruce Bowen who owns the barge which is named “Belikin,” pulled by a tug called Marsha told us that it left Belize City last night loaded with nine trailers worth of product at about 9 o’clock and headed into an unusually strong northwest breeze. Those rough seas proved too much as the barge navigated waters between Caye Caulker and San Pedro this morning at about 3 am.

The rough seas splashed over the bow and filled two inspection hatches at the front of the boat, causing it to keel precariously. That made it lopsided and the weight of the cargo pushed against the railing, breaking it, and sending possibly as much as 400 and 500 crates of product tumbling into the sea. Also included in the lost cargo were 13 industrial sized iceboxes with shrimp valued at – get this – about one thousand dollars per icebox.

Didn’t take long for Caye Caulker residents to get a sense of what happened and this morning boat owners crowded the area – diving in to salvage what they could. There are reports that some made off with as much as 20 cases of beer. Others report finding blocks of shrimp.

But all was not lost from the barge. Though it keeled to one side, it did not capsize and Bowen managed to pump out the water logged hatches and right it. It has since been pulled safely to San Pedro minus a good amount of the cargo. Bowen told us that it will be a few days before he is able to tally all the losses. He stressed that as the agent, the losses are his, not Bowen and Bowen’s – the bottling giant owned by his brother, Barry.