On May 8, 2007, a group of tourists started a three day sailing trip from Caye Caulker:
The group was lead by the tour guides Rafael/"Raf" and Brown. The two men are employees of Raggamuffin Tours, based on Caye Caulker. Web site: http://www.raggamuffintours.com . Their office can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org . The company is run by James & Charlie Jones, (+501) 226 0348, residents of Caye Caulker. The tour was done with the sailing boat Ragga King:
After sailing the whole day from Caye Caulker, the night between May 8 and May 9 was spent in tents on Rendezvous Caye. Late in the morning on May 9 we sailed south for about an hour from the caye and made a snorkelling stop for about an hour. Shortly after continuing from there, we discovered a catamaran stuck on the reef. I swam over and found nobody onboard.
The cabin on the catamaran contained some books, a clock with the inscription "Welcom aboard", some Cola Light soft drinks, some potato chips, mattresses, some toolboxes and a number of business cards:
I also found some papers indicating that the boat had been serviced in Honduras on April 21, 2007. That was the most recent sign of any history of the catamaran.
The sails on the catamaran were neatly packed, and there were no signs of any human activity on board. The rooms on the side of the catamaran were half-flooded with water. The catamaran had two flags:
These flags were later removed by Brown and replaced with a Belizean flag. I took them and still have them, in case I would find any use for them in investigating the destiny of the boat.
Raf and Brown decided we should try and salvage the boat off the reef. We spent more than two hours doing so, cutting off pieces of reef to give the boat clear passage to the sea (nothing was being said about not damaging the corals). When the boat was floating, Ragga King was used to pull the catamaran off the reef and into open water.
Ragga King had a radio on board, but it was not used to contact anyone either before, during or after the salvaging. I asked why not, and was told it was not necessary.
The catamaran was tied to Ragga King, and we kept on sailing towards Tobacco Caye, which was the scheduled next stop for the tour. After an hour it seemed the catamaran was doing fine, so it was untied from Ragga King. The sails were taken out and the catamaran was sailed independently the rest of the way to Tobacco Caye, almost an hour. Everything went well.
Here is Raf sailing the catamaran:
Close-up of Raf:
A close-up of Brown as well:
In the afternoon of May 9 the catamaran was docked at the site marked A. Raf knew many people on the island, and a man at the site marked B let Raf borrow a pump to remove the water from the sides of the catamaran.
Early next morning another boat came and towed the catamaran towards the mainland. Raf told us that it would probably sink, but I do not believe this to be true. The catamaran was in good shape.
Based on this map (from Google Earth), I am guessing that the boat was taken to Dangriga/Stann Creek Town, as that is the closest place on the mainland from Tobacco Caye. However, I do not know this. And that was the last I saw of the catamaran.
A map showing roughly the locations described:
Here are some photos of the catamaran after it was rescued. As you can see it was sailing and the sails were in good shape too. Hopefully this confirms the identity of the catamaran with no doubts:
This should be enough information for you to contact Belizean authorities and get their help in retrieving your catamaran. Hopefully Rafael and Brown will be easy to find with the help of the office of Raggamuffin Tours. I will be happy to testify regarding any of this information, and I am sure others of the passengers will do the same. If you need it, I can probably get their contact information. I do not know whether any of them are still in the region, but I don't think so.
The boat was not stolen in Honduras. It just didn't look like someone had stolen anything from there, and there was lots of good tools in the toolboxes onboard. Maybe the catamaran just got loose from its anchor somehow. Then it floated across the sea and stranded on the reef in Belize, and we found it.
Since you have not heard anything from Raf or Brown yet, I fear that they may be planning on keeping the boat. It is probably smart to act quickly with the help of the authorities. If they say that the catamaran sank, they should be able to show you exactly where it happened. However, as I wrote, the catamaran was in good shape, and there is no reason to think it would sink. It will probably need some repair, since the large amounts of water in the sides must mean that the reef has damaged the boat, and I am sure we damaged it a little bit more when we salvaged the boat.
With the sharp coral and difficult situation with bad equipment we had, getting the boat off the reef was a difficult and dangerous operation. I really hope it was worth the effort, and that you get your boat back as soon as possible.