Old lighthouse at Mauger Caye (Maga Caye), long ago
The lighthouses guided ships to enter into our ports.
Mauger Caye is almost due east of Belize City. Beacons that saved the lives of many Sea Men.
There were trained Belizeans, who did the guiding into the ports. These were called Navigation Pilots.
I always remember climbing up those Winding Stairs, to take a Bird's Eye View of the Light Houses and Channels beyond.
An accompanying Harbor Master would advise me, that every thing is in proper working condition, and I would put my Signature, on behalf of the Government of Belize.
WHY DID WE DO THIS? Because our Government had to satisfy that there was safety to ENTER OUR PORTS.
Failing to do this safety check, would BAN Belize from the ADMIRALTY CHART, and no insurance would insure any SHIPPING TO BELIZE. Without these Lighthouses, Belize could never have been developed.
English Caye was and probably continues to be the official channel that offers entry inside the Belize barrier reef. I would even venture to say that Pilots that are trained to navigate those traitorous waters, if they were to go outside of the markers (bouys) they would be in jeopardy of voiding established maritime insurance protocol. Every commercial vessel that enters to be docked at any Belize harbor, must be brought in by trained local Navigators. The responsibility of pilots steering ships inside the harbour is indeed a weighty one.
I had the good fortune of knowing Jack Longsworth, RIP, one of many trained pilots who used to pilot ships big and small through the channel at English Caye. Have also known Mr. Cabral the lighthouse keeper at the Caye from the 1970s when I was Manager of the Northern Fishermen Coop. Mr Cabral was a member and a very productive fisherman.
Photograph by Noel Escalante, text by Hector Silva
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