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Crocodiles, Snakes and Wives


By Jim Mendria

Life on a sailboat while cruising Belize can be a simple or complicated business. 

We share the waters and boat with many other creatures. While up the Rio Dulce river in Guatemala there is a good chance you may get pooped on by the 4-5 foot long Iguanas that seek food and heat in the trees. Then there are the ever present ants of varying size and biting ability. We had just made it down the river last year and were relaxing in the cockpit when my wife screams “ANTS”! I look around to see a troop of ants, there were hundreds of them, exiting the dinghy where they apparently had a nest and now were headed to the security of the mother ship. A quick shot of Raid killed what we thought was a majority but as it turned out a minority. The rest of the year we battled with their will to survive.

We rented a car to see some of the beautiful land portion of Belize. After returning to Emerald Seas, we unpacked our day bag and a little lizard jumped out and made himself at home. We fed him (her?) some flies but did not feel we were able to give him the love and comfort that he was looking for. So after a week or so we dropped a mosquito net over him and released him back to the jungle.

Crocodiles (No Alligators in Belize) are around but you seldom see them. They lay just under the water or asleep on the bottom. You can hear the young ones barking to their moms for attention at night. The noise is similar to a dog barking but rougher sounding. While anchored in Sapodilla Lagoon, awaiting the passage of a frontal system, we went exploring Cabbage Haul Creek with three of us in our dinghy. The creek narrowed to about six feet wide and was very shallow. We stopped, thinking this was far enough, when suddenly the dinghy reared up and tipped to starboard nearly tossing us out. It seemed we had stopped on top of a Crocodile, who did not like being squashed. Like I said, hard to see Crocodiles.

Snakes are an enduring topic. Everyone, especially ladies, love snakes. Most of the snakes here are boa constrictor type. They like to squeeze you to death, but we’re pretty big so the chance of that happening to us is pretty slim. The others are big and bad. There is a rule and rhyme to keep us safe… Yellow and Black won’t hurt Jack, but, Black and Yellow can kill a fellow. Sounds simple until you ask yourself is a zebra black with white stripes or white with black stripes? Snakes like to swim and are known to swim to a boat and slither up the anchor chain and into your boat. One of the cruisers came back to their boat at night and asked their guest to please tie the dinghy to the transom cleat. She was attempting to follow the figure of eight knot already on the cleat when she realized that it was not a rope but a snake! Another cruiser stepped into her shower only to discover there was a naked constrictor already using the shower. She quickly slammed the door from the outside, her husband duck taped it shut and contacted a local kid who likes snakes. He came aboard the next day, picked up the snake and took it home.

Now we get to the topic of Wives, those conniving creatures that live with us. We keep our snorkeling gear in a shallow hatch in the cockpit. As we were getting ready for our first snorkel of the season I opened the hatch, grabbed onto a pair of fins. Suddenly I saw a green snake coiled and ready to strike! Quickly I went over the rhyme in my head. No black or yellow, my name was not Jack and the snake was not moving. Sleeping? No. My attention was pulled away from the snake to my wife, who was splitting herself with laughter. She had found said plastic snake in Michaels store in Nanaimo months earlier and had been scheming this plot ever since.

At that point I realized that the most dangerous animal out here is my wife!

This is what cruising life is like.

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