Army guide and San Pedrano ‘Burlioz’ (he owned the 27’ Boat - Credtura) in front of Fido's, 1977
The army guide, a regimental guest, was fresh out of the Sabin Jungle. You can just see the Catholic Church that Father Rawskoski dreamed of (With no roof) ... the church wasn’t finished yet due to finances.
Some may remember Burlioz's 27’ boat the ‘Credtura’ which we leased from him to teach the lads sailing. (Dats my husband cousin he use to get us nice cans of ur supply wit biscuits sweets chocolate was so good... Ena Varela Guerrero)
CREDTURA was owned by the late Burlioz.. who was my paid ‘guide.’ It was a 27’ blue- Single mast. Probably never shall track it down.. she sure saved my not..so..good..a..sailor behind a few times when I broke the rule.. never sail her through the cut into open water- just could not help myself.
He was such a loyal Fellow - when I boo-boo’d and got her caught on the reef, he’d swim out to the reef (even after a celebrating night out) to free me both to my embarrassment (some of my San Pedrano friends would laugh upon my return) and my bare foot’s chagrin having been stuck with many stings from the reef.
Here’s a photo (I’m at the helm sailing a Army officer on Credtura.
Burlioz, my husbands cousin he use to get us nice cans of ur supply wit biscuits sweets chocolate was so good... Ena Varela Guerrero
In between training students on island survival and myself trekking Northbound on foot patrols to Xcalak during the year 1977 Berlioz (our local San Pedro village guide) would take me fishing and sailing inside the reef.
Occasionally, he’d not arrive for his duties as the MoD paid guide.
In such times, I’d ‘push my luck’ and against the wind take his 27’ wooden ‘traditional Belize fishing boat’ CREDTURA through the main cut and out to the open sea (previously, as the island resident english soldier, I had only field combat experience- not aquatic)
This was quite a simple task (single handed) but the return was a whole different matter, however
Not being able to observe the surf against the reef line - as I was returning from the East heading West .. twice during such incursions- I landed on the reef.
Try as I might (barefoot) I would try to roll the CREDTURA off the Coral Reef back into the depths- beyond the barrier reef - causing little, if any damage in the process
‘twas never to be.. I’ve always wondered if Berlioz was testing my seamanship as he had that gift of always knowing where I was- and would miraculously appear at the bow having swam the half mile
In the meantime- being barefoot (who wasn’t in 1977 with only Sandy tracks as roads) my feet became the recipient for zillions of Sea anemones- ouch
In pain, disillusioned and not a little embarrassed - we’d hobble back to the pier by what was then the Cemetery
Whilst recovering- and still needing exercise- each morning at dawn, I enjoyed a one mile round trip swim (gaff and waste-band net in tow) to the cut
I encountered all the usual sea creatures.. always aware of the nurse sharks and barracuda (thankfully never the jellyfish) and would reach the reef
Such a beautiful gift of nature the reef.. I’d spend an hour or two free diving the reef watching the beauty of the multitudes of reef fish, my favourite probably the Parrot fish
Other than the exercise- the primary purpose of the dawn swim, was my breakfast
Diving the 30’ (in the main cut) ears screaming in pain I’d begin my excursion swimming across the Sandy bottom seeking the hideaway rocks either side of the cut.. and small reef caves (avoiding the moray eels.. they looked scary) in my singular hunt for my breakfast.. that lobster
occasionally, a reprieve returning to the surface and resting on a flat part of the reef- surf lapping at me
The last dive ‘tally ho’ I spotted he that is seen with me in the attached photograph and our battle of wits began- he looked massive in the depths, and he was
I had not fins ‘nor goggles (I was free diving in the real sense) and this fellow decided to do a runner
I recall that I had too complete this fishing expedition and fast. No fins and only a lungful of air… I became more determined than ever, and as my mentor Berlioz had taught me- drive the gaf true and proper
I did as taught and captured my breakfast -that I was sharing with some Royal Air Force pilots that were my guests at Army ‘Coral Lodge’
I made the executive decision that I only needed the one huge lobster for the breakfast omelette I had in mind - therefore not needing to cause further stress upon my body
(or take more from that bread basket- the reef than needed)
I swam that beautiful half mile back to Fido’s and being anxiously greeted.. prepared the hard earned breakfast
Of all my adventures across our planet.. whether as a Soldier or ambassador.. Ambergris Caye still touches my heart
Photographs and text by John W. Boston
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