If You Go

Cruising World - - More Than Just A Hurricane Hole -

Nes­tled be­tween Hon­duras and Belize, Gu­atemala has only a smidgen of coast­line on its Caribbean side. The town of Liv­ingston sits on a hill, a sen­tinel at the Rio Dulce’s mouth. It is wise to ap­proach the en­trance with cau­tion at high tide, as there is a shal­low bar that ex­tends out from Liv­ingston for about a mile. Capt. John Bran­des, a long­time res­i­dent and ma­rina owner in Rio Dulce, rec­om­mends fol­low­ing th­ese way­points when en­ter­ing Liv­ingston: 15° 50.171’ N, 88° 43.833’ W (out­side the bar) to 15° 49.283’ N, 88° 44.744’ W (in­side the bar). For­tu­nately, the bot­tom is soft and boats with a draft of over 6 feet have been known to cross the bar with just a few bumps.

clear­ing in

Liv­ingston is the place to clear cus­toms and im­mi­gra­tion. It’s quick and easy if you en­list the help of Raul Mo­rales Veliz at Ser­va­mar. Just hail him on VHF Chan­nel 16. Raul’s of­fice is just up the street from the main dock, and he’ll take care of all your pa­per­work in an hour for un­der $200. Raul does not rec­om­mend an­chor­ing overnight in Liv­ingston. It gets very lumpy when the af­ter­noon winds pick up, and any­thing on the deck that’s not locked down is likely to dis­ap­pear. He sug­gests head­ing straight to Cayo Que­mado, aka Texan Bay, and pro­vides di­rec­tions to the en­trance. It’s about 8 miles up­river.

hur­ri­cane hide­out

As for leav­ing your boat in Rio Dulce, there is no short­age of well-main­tained, in­ex­pen­sive mari­nas. Slips cost from $175 to $400 per month, and most mari­nas have a res­tau­rant, swim­ming pool and guest bun­ga­lows. They at­tract an in­ter­na­tional back­packer set, in ad­di­tion to sailors. We chose Cap­tain John’s Ma­rina be­cause it is small, very in­ex­pen­sive and the crew there does ex­cel­lent var­nish work. It also has a swim­ming pool and two well-ap­pointed ca­banas with kitchens. In ad­di­tion to be­ing a li­censed cap­tain, Capt. John is a sur­veyor and pos­sesses a wealth of knowl­edge about lo­cal cul­ture and pol­i­tics.

Most of the mari­nas re­quire a dinghy ride to get to town, but Bruno’s Ma­rina is right down­town and al­lows cruis­ers to tie up dinghies to its dock when run­ning er­rands. If you’re look­ing for a qui­eter, more out-of-the-way place, Mon­key Bay might be the ma­rina for you. Tor­tu­gal, Ti­jax, and Mar Marine all have beau­ti­ful restau­rants and ho­tels. If you need to haul out or want to store your boat on the hard, Abel’s or RAM Ma­rina can do it. RAM even has a small chan­dlery. Boat parts or ac­ces­sories that can’t be pur­chased in Gu­atemala can be de­liv­ered through Cap­tain John’s Ship­ping Ser­vices.


There are three great sources of in­for­ma­tion for cruis­ers in Rio Dulce: 1. the Rio Dulce Chisme, an on­line news mag­a­zine (rio dul­cechisme.com); 2. Rio Dulce Cruis­ers, a Face­book page; 3. the morn­ing cruis­ers net on VHF Chan­nel 69 at 7:30 a.m.

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