One of the large Belize City - Cayo river boats moving up a shallow, long ago
These were the days, before 1950, when the only way to go from San Ignacio to Belize City was by river boat.
You had a choice to go by Dorey or Pin Pan, or Horse Back but it was not too comfortable, especially during a hot summer or rainy days.
The journey down the river was a cool two or three days, and up the river six or a few more days.
These Boats had arrangements prepared at certain River Banks for comfort stations for passengers.
During the dry season, certain low sections of the river were deepened by controlled dynamite explosions in the middle of the river stream. The Public Works had a crew, led Mr Austin Waight Sr, Everal Waight Dad, who used to BLAST DYNAMITES, in the middle of the shallows, to create a deep channel for boats to navigate up the river.
On occasions when the load was too heavy the Captain would call to use the WENCH also called WHARP LINE, tied to a tree above the rapid. THey had BIG engines and tunnel propellers.
This was the only way to travel between Cayo and Belize City. These boats serviced 107 Settlements. And served the Chicle and the Agricultural products.
We made this trip many many times in the early 40s.. we enjoyed it... stopping at the villages down river... sleeping in hammocks.... I still remember one of the captains .. Mr. Duncan Menzies... watching the men taking the long ropes they tied ahead on trees to "winch" over shallows.
Mr. Daniel Habet, the merchant, owned one of the boats. When I wrote the history of San Ignacio and its effects on Education, I interviewed him and he mentioned The Habet & Sabala boat. Elda Gutierrez
The Habet & Sabala owned THE " CACIQUE " and Don Eduardo Sabala owned THE " ELENITA, "
These were privately owned, but they serviced the Public. The Rich and the Poor, IF not you ride on a Pit Pan. $2.50 and takes you maybe a week to reach Belize. Gasoline was maybe about 50 cents a gallon. Workers about 25 cents a Day.
Photograph and text courtesy Hector Silva
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