Authority officers reportedly took pictures but did not receive an
interview with passengers aboard the vessel.
According to information received from various sources
who assisted with the "shipwreck," the boat, a 50' "ketch" sailing
vessel, was traveling from Cozumel, Mexico. The two passengers are from
Switzerland and have lived aboard the vessel for the past five years.
They attempted to come through the channel at approximately 1:00 p.m. on
Monday, following navigational information they had onboard which stated
to enter north of the channel marker.
According to local guides, there were previously two
markers at this cut in the reef: a northern and southern marker but the
southern marker had been damaged some time ago and never replaced. These
marking buoys are privately maintained at the expense of local businesses
and associations. According to the Belize Ports Authority (BPA), they are
not responsible for these markers.
It was further learned that most experienced boat
captains, especially those unfamiliar with the waters of Ambergris Caye,
call ahead on marine radio to receive assistance or the proper
coordinates for navigating these channels. If assistance is needed, local
guides will personally guide boats through the cut in the reef to assure
safe passage. According to personnel at Ramon's Dive Shop, no such call
for any type of assistance was made on the day of the wreck.
Speaking with a representative from Hol Chan Marine
Reserve, it was learned that their office would investigate the situation
on behalf of the Belize Fisheries Department as soon as the boat is
removed. An assessment of the damage to the reef will be made at that
time. By press time on Tuesday evening, attempts were made by Hustler
Tours, Bowen and Bowen, TMM, Tuff-E-Nuff and others to remove the vessel
from atop the reef, but all were unsuccessful.
The San Pedro Sun
would like to thank "Captain Alex" and Ramon's Village Resort for
providing transportation in order to photograph the vessel. Also, a big
"thumbs up" to the many local boat owners who came to the rescue of these