Boat crashes onto reef

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 13, No. 31            August 14, 2003

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Local residents come to the rescue

On Monday, another boat crashed onto Belize's precious reef attempting to come through the channel just southeast of Ramon's Village Resort. Alerted to the situation, The San Pedro Sun contacted the Belize Ports Authority who dispatched their patrol boat, the Lady Kay. Port 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 shipwrecked sailors.
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