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Belize: Traditional sailing craft

October 15, 2010

As recently as twenty years ago old-style sailing craft plied the waters of Belize.  I saw many myself in the 1970s.

One interesting variation of a sailboat they used to use involved putting a sail on a dugout, and lashing logs at the waterline on either side of the boat in the vain hope of giving the vessels added stability.

1) Sailing dugout

I used to venture offshore as far as twenty miles in such dugouts, always hoping the sharks had eaten well that day.

The locals also built fishing bigger boats with graceful design lines.

2) Bigger sailboat; the design reminds me of the boats of Man O War Cay in the Bahamas

But make no mistake, whatever the boat, its function was utilitarian.  The poor people of Central American Caribbean coast had no time for yachting.

3) Hauling a load of palm fronds; horsepower achieved by physical effort this time

Photos by Peg and Ken Herring

You can still see wooden fishing boats in Belize City, I discovered on a recent trip.

4) As many as twelve crew go out on these craft – some sleep in the small dugouts at night, hove-to — photo: Diana Herring

5) Side view — Photo: Diana Herring

6) A Caye Caulker boat in need of paint but still solid.  Nothing below decks but room for fish


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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Bruce permalink
    October 15, 2010 8:42 pm

    That second sailboat is beautiful. Wonder if it had the same rigging as a Wiano. Looks like I can see the upper ‘boom’ (what is it called?)

    • Bruce permalink
      October 15, 2010 8:47 pm

      It’s called a gaff rig.

      • October 16, 2010 2:19 am

        the top “boom” is a known as a spar in common nautical parlance

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