Navigation click "comment" to read or make an observation about this  article - click "email" to send this page to a friend
By Lee Martin - College Station, Texas USA

The engine cranking woke me. Was that the engine? Sure, it had disturbed me a dozen times on this trip. It was one of the many problems that plagued us from Galveston to Belize. The negative ground had rusted away and the batteries needed charging constantly. Really stupid. Many things about the trip were really stupid.

The boat was a 42' trimaran- owner built in a 20 year period. Problem was the owner is a brilliant builder who never learned navigation, anchoring and the basics of boat handling. A bad combination when you consider he imagined he knew this information and would take no advice. Advise go east- you'll be going west- guaranteed.

this is a Cross 44 - not the same boat in the story, but presented here as an example of the type and size of the boat in the story - thanks to - Editor

After a horrible 8 day crossing to Isla Mujeres [at one time we found ourselves 50 miles from Port Isabel], we relaxed and partied in town for a few days- what a great place to snorkel and bar hop. Five days later with trepidation on my part, we were off on the last leg- San Pedro, Belize. My nervousness was caused by scheduling. We were ,of coarse, late. The captain had promised to pick up friends, who were waiting for us. in order to make up time, we were breaking one of my personal rules. Never sail in unknown coral waters at night. There are plenty of anchorages-- use one!!!

While in Isla Mujeres we picked up a vital piece of information. There is a two knot current, shore bound, all along the Mexican coast. The captain heard and understood this message, from a sailor who had just completed this passage, and ignored it while plotting his course. The result was the engine waking me again at 5:15 A.M. that morning. No, someone was calling "get up--- get up". The noise was the keel, on the reef, just inside the border of Belize, Central America.

As the sun started making light we could see our predicament. No one in sight, the wind building, stuck on the reef on the mosquito coast. Sounds like a recurring nightmare and it should have been. By pure luck a boat passed and came to our aid, the man was a warden for the National Park System of Belize. Yes, we were on the reef, owned by the country and the captain was responsible for any damage to the reef. The story gets worse but it's to painful to write. By 10 P.M. we were in bed in a motel in San Pedro, we left the boat on the reef! I couldn't believe it was going to end this way. The police came and talked to my buddy and me the next morning- they were holding the captain, but we could go. Great news- we had air tickets for that afternoon- home.

The true end came a year later when the captain sailed his tri back to the slip he had left so many mistakes ago. The builder in him had taken over, he got the boat off the reef and rebuilt it in Central America. That is an almost unbelievable task. I didn't think it was possible.

The lessons to be learned are obvious and many. It's great to be able to profit from the mistakes of others. Local knowledge as it were.


On Feb 19, 2007, we recieved the following:

Dear Chuck,

I was very pleased to see the photo used for the article and the plug for my website. Thanks so much for that. If you ever need a photo of a particular CROSS trimaran and some catamarans, I would consider it a privilege to provide one. I am a attaching a CROSS 42 photo incase you would like to substitute it for the CROSS 44 your now have. Again thanks for the plug.

Best regards,

Jeff Turner
CROSS Multihull Designs


Other articles by Lee Martin: