If you are like us, you love reminiscing, reading inspiring stories and looking at old photos. It gives us a sense of pride to be able to witness the start of an amazing journey and so we’d love to share our Belize Sailing Vacations journey with you, our BSV family!
This is our first “20 Stories of BSV” where we are giving you the inside scoop on the early days, journeying to our favorite islands, sharing signature recipes and tales from past guests’ experiences, plus inviting past and present crew to lure you on a sailing adventure of a lifetime here in Belize.
Today, we are taking you behind the scenes of where it all started. From Cliff and Sherry’s first sailing adventure in California in 1977 to establishing a luxury yacht charter business in Belize in 2001.
When did you first discover a love for sailing?
We first fell in love with sailing in 1977 in Newport Beach, California, when our friends invited us to go sailing on their 37-foot sailboat to Catalina. I remember like it was yesterday, the moment the sails went up and the engine was turned off, the feeling of freedom, adventure and being in touch with nature as the dolphins escorted us out to sea. That was the moment we fell in love with sailing. A month later, we had bought a sailboat, started taking sailing lessons and before long we spent all our weekends out sailing with our friends and family.
What is your best sailing memory ever?
There are actually several best family sailing memories. While we enjoyed cruising, we also found a passion for the adventure of yacht racing. We bought our first racing boat in 1981 and began racing in the San Francisco circuit. For Cliff, his best sailing memory was his first Transpac Ocean Race from Long Beach to Hawaii. My best sailing adventure was being the first woman international Skipper with an all-woman crew in the ST Francis 1982 International Big Boat Series. Our family passion for racing continued, as our son at 6 was already racing el Toro’s and by 10 he was learning ocean navigation by helping his dad deliver a 55-foot racing yacht from San Francisco to San Diego.
Our favorite sailing memory as a family was in Belize, with Anna, our granddaughter when she was 3 years old. As we set sail to Hol Chan Marine Reserve, dolphins magically appeared at the bow and the adventure only got better when she snorkeled and swam with the turtles and sting rays. The defining moment was when we asked her what she thought about her first sailing adventure and she responded by asking us, “Are we in Disney Land?!”
What made you decide to establish a charter company in Belize?
We retired very early in our professional careers and decided to buy a 47-foot Catamaran named Aubisque. Like many other sailors, we had fallen in love with the Caribbean lifestyle, culture and the people. While we enjoyed other Caribbean islands, we immediately fell in love with Belize. Back in 2001, Belize was a relatively new country, declaring its independence from England in 1981. The country just captured our hearts with the diversity of the Maya Mountains, lush rainforest, palm tree beaches, pristine reefs and the wonderful Belizean people.
Once we started sharing our Belize sailing experiences with family and friends it became apparent that by combining our passion for sailing and love of cooking with our eagerness to support local businesses and Belizeans in general, starting a family-oriented Luxury Yacht Charter Business with our son was the perfect next step in our life adventure. The foundation of Belize Sailing Vacations was built on sharing a once in a lifetime vacation experience tailored to meet our guest’s specific needs. The definition of a successful charter business is when your guests tell you that their experiences exceeded their expectations and then continue to come back year after year bringing their family and friends.
What is your favorite island in Belize?
There are many wonderful islands in Belize, with each having their own unique beauty. In sailing North, if you want to really experience the Belizean culture that offers a laid-back Caribbean island atmosphere and amazing fresh cuisine, hands down it is Caye Caulker. San Pedro is another one of our favorite islands with its great restaurants, night life and diverse water activities and close proximity to the reef. Our absolute favorite island, still after 20 years in Belize, is South Water Caye. This remote island is surrounded by the reef with white sandy beaches and stunning palm trees that immediately transports you to one of the most tranquil beautiful places in the world.
What is your favorite charter memory in Belize as crew?
Over the years there have been many “favorite charter memories”; however, there was one charter that stood out, as it hit close to home with my own prior experience in living a fast technology-paced life and “re-learning” the importance of spending quality time with family and friends. This was a family charter with 3 children who were very excited to know that there was MiFi access on the yacht. When they arrived, the kids were on their tablets, dad on conference calls and mom was just happy to have someone else take care of everything, especially a private chef.
Over the next few days, the family shared experiences in learning to sail, discovering a new world under the sea, kayaking with dolphins and manatees and experiencing fishing firsthand for a tuna sushi dinner. In visiting the different islands, they met the local Belizeans and enjoyed the island hospitality and sense of community.
As crew, we are focused on exceeding the client’s expectation and making their vacation a once in a lifetime experience. It was extremely rewarding as crew, when the family shared that this was their best family vacation in years and most of all, the days were filled with laughter and the experiences opened a new adventure in their lives. Most rewarding has been their return visits over the years and sharing the joy of their Belize Sailing Vacation with their friends and next generation of travelers and sailors.
Stay tuned for more exclusive behind the scenes into what makes our Belize Sailing Vacations like no other!