The Windy Dancer

windy dancer belize

The power in Placencia was intermittent. Being  very hot and humid we noticed quickly when the fans stopped during the night bringing with it uncomfortable heat before the power kicked in and the breeze resumed.

We hang out most of the morning getting to know our new travel companions Sean, Martina and Juli whom we had spent a few days with in Caye Caulker. Strolling around town we see a notice pinned up advertising for a crew to help sail a boat to Guatemala the next day. Given we had travelled 5 hours on a one way dusty road to reach Placencia we were keen to take an alternate route. Laughed off at first but then the 5 of us agreed that if we could all go we would or at least after speaking to the captain.

The captain turned out to be John, an American man in his 60’s. Your standard salty sea dog. He seemed OK and after some extra grilling from Allison we were confident enough that we weren’t to be chopped into little pieces and thrown overboard. So with safety in numbers we agreed to meet the next morning for a departure on his yacht, the Windy Dancer.

Setting sail

We meet down at the dock in the morning and Capt. John takes Sean and I first to the yacht to set up and then heads back with the girls to do the shopping for our 2 day trip. It was at this point Sean dropped the line ‘So that’s the last we’ll see of them!’

Luckily they returned and we were on our way. First to Big Creek to officially check out of Belize. The main reason we were required as crew on the yacht was that John was sailing to Rio Dulce (Sweet river) in Guatemala. There was a very shallow sandbank to cross before entering the river which could only be crossed at high tide. To make high tide the next morning would require sailing all night. So we were required to share the watch to allow us to sail non-stop to make the morning’s high tide.

Windy Dancer Yacht

Windy Dancer Yacht

We hoist the sails and make good time. Very peaceful with the sun burning brightly and a cool Belikan cerveza too cool us down. Get quite used to the sailing lifestyle all the while expecting the worst to happen with this route being notorious for drug trafficking. Most of the ‘traffic’ goes north while we were going south. Still we were a little nervous when the US coast guard came for a closer look and Capt. John pulled into the coast to avoid a confrontation!

We made good time so we actually dropped anchor not far from Rio Dulce in the evening to make the trip over the sandbank first thing in the morning.

Windy Dancer Crew

Windy Dancer Crew

Rio Dulce

Up early. Lift anchor and cross over the sandbank hassle free and arrive in Livingstone, Guatemala for border proceedings. All good and we stroll around town, change some money and grab some lunch.

Back on the Windy Dancer we head up the Rio Dulce which is a rather impressive river about 300m wide and with steep jungle clad cliffs on both sides. A few huts can be seen through the jungle and a couple of tiny wooden boats spotted with village fishermen rowing down the river. We travel most the day under motor until we reach our final destination at Fronteras, a small, yet well known yachtie hangout and a place to get various repairs done to your yacht should you require them.

Rio Dulce, Guatemala

Rio Dulce, Guatemala

We check in to a hotel at the port and share a 3 bed room between the 5 of us. It was bigger than the boat! Sitting on the ground floor balcony in the evening we were stunned to see a massive tarantula on our roof!! This sucker is is not just as big as your hand, it’s as big as a dinner plate! On enquiry to the hotel they sent a worker down with a broom. He was drunk and we watched cautiously as he flicked the tarantula down and brushed it down the pathway. Then just as we were relieved to have it gone he turned around and flicked it towards us! Which had the girls screaming and ducking for cover. (OK, guys too).

Tarantula the size of a dinner plate!

Tarantula the size of a dinner plate!

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About The Author


Ever since venturing out the back gate into the bush as a kid, I've had a curiosity to escape and explore as often as I could. It's fair to say that my curiosity has continued to grow instead of fade as the years go on. It eventually came time to turn a few scribbled notes into some legible stories and travel tips for anyone with a similar curiosity as me.

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