Sunday, February 1, 2009


Rio Dulce marina in Guatemala
Winnie Estelle, home for Robert Smith
Rio Dulce owner/captains party crowd ( from the Rio Dulce electronic newspaper Chisme Vindicator
Two ROBERT SMITH, Rio Dulce captains at Falconview Hostel

There are several hundred yachts in the Rio Dulce marinas of Guatemala. It is a safe hurricane hole anchorage and in the fresh water, you don't get barnacles or toredo worms in your hull. Cheap place to stay. Boat owner, or captains though only get a 90 VISA to stay in Guatemala and then must cross the border of one of the neighboring countries and stay for two or three days and then return back across the border and get a new entry visa. These two boat captains, are Robert Smith, 70 years old ( retired ) on the left, owner of the Friendship Sloop DEFIANCE, a gaff rigged vessel he lives aboard in the marina at Rio Dulce and the guy on the right is co-incidently named Robert Smith, but they are no relation. This Robert Smith, known locally in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye where he has a home, is living this year on his Cheseapeak 68 ft wooden boat WINNIE ESTELLE, and living most of this year of 2009, he plans, in the Rio Dulce. I think he and his long term girlfriend are not getting along too well back in San Pedro ? At any rate, we call him CHINABOAT, as he originally came to Belize in the early 1970's with a Chinese Junk, that he trailed overland from San Fransisco through Mexico and launched in Chetumal and cruised and lived in Belize waters ever since. This Robert Smith must be around 68 years old now and a long term friend of 30 years or more, of Ray Auxillou from Caye Caulker, Belize and now retired himself in Santa Elena Town in the foothills of the Belize Alps.
The two gentlemen stayed overnight and were rhapsodizing over the advantage of having FALCONVIEW BACKPACKERS ADVENTURE HOSTEL for visa renewal people, living on their boats down in the Rio Dulce. Apparently you can shoot up from the Rio Dulce in one day by bus to Flores/Santa Elena bus station in the Peten, Guatemala and then by mini-bus ( collectivo ) to the frontier border crossing into Belize. The cost is about $18 usa and takes around 4 or 5 hours. Since the dorm bunk beds run $11 usa plus .95 cents tax, a boat owner can explore the local adventures and environs here in Western Belize and then return with a fresh Guatemalan visa in their passports for another 90 days to their yachts. Many Rio Dulce boat owners leave their boats and go back to their home country and work for half a year and return to their boats with more money in their pockets. Many are retired people on pensions, or with a good bank account behind them. Either way, the dorm bunk beds at Falconview Backpackers Adventure Hostel in Santa Elena Town just across the border in Belize is a convenient spot for the low budget yachtie from the Rio Dulce marinas and for the more expensive person, we also have two furnished one bedroom apartments at $45 usa per night plus 9% government accomodations tax.

website of Falconview Hostel in Western Belize:

News Blog of Western Belize:

The Rio Dulce yachtie crowd have their own newspaper called the Chisme Vindicator and can be found at: The email address is: There is a watch for incoming boats on VHF Channel 68

In recent years, the yacht crowd do not come much to Belizean barrier reef waters. There have been too many stories of harrassment of sailboats by authorities in Belize. One boat owner said he was unfortunate enough to be going through Port o' Stuck at low tide and ran aground in the mud of the very shallow mangrove channel. Unfortunately a port authority boat was going the other way and ticketed him and he ended up paying a $500 fine for running aground in the mud. Since the channel is only 2 feet deep, but tug boats and sugar barges and yachts with up to five feet chug through the short muddy channel plowing through the mud, it is highly unlikely anybody could not go aground but a shallow draft flat bottom speedboat. There are myriad stories of being taken advantage of, by the new Coast Guard people and port authorities of Belize. The country of Belize is not yacht cruiser friendly anymore.

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