After an early breakfast at the hotel, we loaded up three vans with all our gear and headed just down the road to the big Brodie supermarket where we stocked up on beer and snacks that wouldn’t be available on Half-Moon Caye.
Next stop was the jetty where our gear was loaded onto a 30 foot motorboat. In short order the 21 adventurers and Luke were off on a two hour journey covering the 60 miles out to the Lighthouse Reef. We passed a few island paradises with luxurious-looking buildings scattered among a couple of strings of islands along the way. But most islands were uninhabited or just contained a fisherman’s shack. The weather was glorious – not too hot, nor was the crossing cold. We passed an empty container ship called the Phoenix which, we were informed, was heading in to Belize to load up on sugar cane. The water was the beautiful Caribbean blue/green – so clear you could see forever.
On deck to greet us was Amelia – with a wonderful infectious laugh. She led us towards the communal eating/meeting/and general gathering spot where she gave us a rundown on what to expect. Water stations for cleaning up dotted the compound. They have been running this program successfully for twenty-five years so they have come up with quite an effective system. We were then assigned our tents (Susan and I got number 10) so we grabbed our gear and headed off to our new homes. There were two wooden lounge chairs at the door of the tent, two hammocks swinging in the palm trees beside the front deck and two quite comfortable cots inside.
Lunch was incredible and turned out to be the first of many amazing meals.
After lunch Dayton introduced us to the staff and gave us a quick rundown on the day’s agenda. There seems to be a lot of camaraderie amongst the staff which seeps into us all. Right off the bat, people are joking and teasing each other, as well as helping each other to get their lifejackets tightened and kayaks set up.
That afternoon was set aside for kayak orientation. We all had to practice a wet exit (dumping the kayak and getting out of the cockpit without drowning), followed by a scramble back into the boat. It wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated. Once we had proven we could all do it, we headed out for a tour around the island.
Most of the kayaks are doubles – so you have to keep in synch with your partner – not that easy. Our kayak gave Dianna a bit of grief until she realized the rudder was actually broken so we switched kayaks as well as positions. I had to quickly learn to rudder while we did the island tour.
At the far west end we passed the bird sanctuary where the red-footed boobies (sula sula) were hanging out with their buddies the frigates. The boobies like to nest in trees with a beautiful orange flower – laying only one egg at a time in nests of sticks. The baby booby looks like a fluffy white Big Bird.
We pulled into the west beach where some of us cooled off with a swim.
Back at the camp Bulligan described the wonderful supper, pointing out the gluten-free breads, and we all dug in.
Susan lit our kerosene lamp and we settled in for an early night, lulled to sleep by the waves breaking on that beautiful atoll.