The inevitable was happening. We were going to get our first hurricane. Yes, Earl was on his way to take our boats and turn them into little pieces of fiberglass.
We need to get the boats out of the water!
In the states, this is a simple task. It goes like this:
1. Hook your trailer to your truck
2. Drive to boat ramp
3. Put boat on trailer
4. Store somewhere safe away from shore
Ok, so let’s do that here in Belize.
- On an island with mostly golf carts, there are very few vehicles that have the power to pull a boat. If you find a vehicle, most do not have trailer hitches. Fortunately for us, we have a few ATVs at Grand Caribe that can pull a boat. But do they work? Do they have fuel? Can you get fuel? Again, we were set. We had a working Honda 4 wheeler, a John Deer tractor, and a big construction fork lift.
- Boat Ramp? There are some boat ramps in town but then we’d have to deal with the skinny streets and the bridge. We have access to one private boat ramp on the north end of the island, but it takes an hour to putt over there through 1-2 feet of water. Beach? Sure, but it is full of fluffy deep sand. (Scratch the 4 wheeler off the list.) We chose the beach for our Caribbean Sea exit. You can see the process in the pictures below, but let’s just say it took the combination of 3 different machines to achieve the goal.
- Trailers? There are very few trailers here on the island. We are fortunate enough to have gotten one when the boat was shipped. With the trailer and tractor, our boat was on its way.
- Safe place to store? Well, this part of the island is only a few hundred yards wide, so let’s hope for no high water surge. Our main goal was to tuck it someplace with little chance of high winds. We decided that the best place was behind the “Rain” restaurant building. It would be surrounded by a few concrete buildings great!
The ATV spun in the sand, so plan B was this:
The SkyTrak successfully pulled our trailer out of the water and the tractor pulled it to safety.
Our boat is safe, now on to the other boats.
No problem, we have two other trailers, so repeat the process for two of them, right?
Hmmm… one of the trailers was abandoned here by a guest who had to flee the country after Interpol figured out where he was hiding. (we won’t get into that) This criminal locked up his trailer. No problem, we got bolt cutters and hack saws. So here we go. We hooked up the trailer to the tractor and headed towards the beach. Well, the wheels fell off. Yep, the trailer was held together by a few thin pieces of steel. We dragged that baby back and moved on to the other trailer.
With only one trailer left, the idea was to put the boats on the trailer and somehow remove the boat and set it on the ground.
Simple, we’ve all seen this done.
As we rounded the corner to the beach something happened. Yep, you guessed it. Two of the wheels came off the trailer. Well that is ok, we have 4 wheels on this one. We tied up the broken wheels and tried again. Nope, rope just broke. Plus, the trailer was weakened by all of the rust. The remaining two wheels were ready to go at any point.
Lucky for us, we have some construction going on here and have access to a giant forklift that can lift 5 tons. Great! Now all we need are some pieces of very strong wood and two straps. Basically, we are going to make a mobile boat lift.
Here we go!
Guess what, it worked!!!
One by one we were able to remove the remaining boats from the water and drive them around to the safe location.
Never before did we relate so much to that Rolling Stones song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. One thing we’ve learned here is that you make due with what you’ve got to work with and eventually get what you need.
So we may have our challenges here in Belize, but the people here have learned to engineer their own solutions for achieving things that are “not possible”.
It is no wonder that many of them are descendants of the Mayans who built such beautiful temples with simple tools.