About Us - Belize Sailing Vacations About Us - Belize Sailing Vacations

About Us – The Vacation Experience

Why charter with Belize Sailing Vacations?

We are a family-owned, full-service yacht charter business dedicated to providing the best all-inclusive sailing vacations in Belize.  With over 150 five star trip advisor reviews, it’s clear why our guests come back time and time again!

We are proud to have some of the best crew in the industry. Our captains and first mates have years of sailing experience and intimate knowledge of Belizean waters. Combined with extensive knowledge of Belizean history and culture, they are always ready to share their experiences with guests. Our operational team are all based in Belize, bringing years of Belize tourism experience to enhance guest experiences and to tailor make itineraries to best suit guests’ tastes and preferences.

History of Belize Sailing Vacations – Early Beginnings

In 2001, Cliff (Big Cliff) and Sherry Wilson left their professional careers and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area to live on their Lagoon 47, ‘Aubisque,’ in Belize. Racing enthusiasts with over 30 years of experience cruising everything from 505’s to 70 ft Maxi’s, some of Big Cliff’s sailing experiences include several Transpac Yacht Races from California to Hawaii, and Sherry is best known in the yachting community as making history as the first female skipper with an all-women crew in the San Francisco Big Boat Series.

After hosting multiple friends on board their new home on the water — sailing, snorkelling, gourmet dining and entertaining — one of their guests declared “you can make money from doing this!” So Aubisque Sailing Charters was promptly born.

Famed for their elaborate hospitality, excellent cuisine (as featured in the Travel Show and as members of Chaîne des Rôtisseurs), and passion for the waters and sailing, they established a 5-star reputation in the Caribbean charter industry and created the legacy for what followed.

From Aubisque Sailing Charters to Belize Sailing Vacations

Cliff, Jr., or ‘Cliffito,’ worked in Belize both with his parents and as a skipper and delivery captain for Moorings before moving back to the United States to work in the ski industry for several years. He returned to Belize full-time in 2009 and expanded the business, working with multiple catamaran owners to create a yacht management and charter program to bring new boats into the fleet, as well as establishing the business as an ASA (American Sailing Association) school.

His wife Rachael joined the team in 2011 and oversees guest services, charter operations, and marketing, along with running her travel concierge business ‘Absolute Belize’.

The metier of the business was founded on elaborate hospitality, charter professionalism, and unforgettable Belize sailing experiences, which has continued to this day. With seven catamarans in the fleet, a team of 20 amazing individuals and a 5-star reputation, Belize Sailing Vacations is proud to be the leading all-inclusive luxury charter operation in the Western Caribbean.

Cliff Wilson

Owner & ASA Instructor

Born and raised sailing in the San Francisco yacht community, Cliff has been racing since 1980 with sailing experience ranging from the Pacific to the Caribbean, including the Bahamas, BVI’s, Gulf of Mexico and the Rio Dulce of Guatemala. Cliff’s mantra is “ski boots or barefoot!”, so throughout his career Cliff has headed up mountain operations for Mount Rose Ski Resort in Lake Tahoe, worked as an environmental consultant and has captained charter sailboats throughout Belize over the course of the last 20 years.

When he’s not at the helm, in an engine room or teaching ASA instructional classes, Cliff loves to scuba dive, spear fish and entertain guests. Some guests have returned 6 times to Belize Sailing Vacations with Cliff being 1st on the top of their request list!

Rachael Wilson

Owner

Rachael moved to Belize in early 2009 after a 10 year corporate marketing career in London and a six month solo travel tour of South America. Before her travels, Rachael worked as a marketing and innovation manager for a luxury food company, so brings her passion for gourmet cooking and spirit for adventure to Belize Sailing Vacations. Rachael loves playing host to our guests, sharing her experiences and ensuring everyone has the ultimate Belizean adventure. Rachael also owns our sister business Absolute Belize, providing travel planning services and countrywide knowledge and expertise for guests opting to spend time on land as well as the water.
Ruben Trejos Captain Belize Sailing Vacations

Rueben Trejo

Captain

Ruben hails from Ambergris Caye, one of Belize’s key tourism destinations. He’s been involved in the tourism industry his entire life, working as a master scuba diver and fisherman for nearly 20 years. He owns his own business specializing in private dives, snorkeling, and all types of fishing (reef, spear, and deep sea). Ruben brings a wealth of experience to the BSV family, working as one of the company’s main captains for the past four years. In addition to his captain duties, you’ll find Ruben leading his guests on snorkel and dive adventures as well. And, when he’s not on charter, Ruben remains actively involved in all aspects of Belize tourism, serving as a director for the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) and a Tour Guide Director for the Tour Guide Association in San Pedro.

Captain Jesse Halley Belize Sailing Vacations

Jesse Halley

Captain & ASA Instructor

Jesse is from Spokane, Washington. Growing up, he spent more time hiking and skiing mountains than sailing, but as soon as he could he left the frosty island northwest to pursue his dreams of living and working at sea. First, he worked as a dive instructor and later on as a sailor. Jesse has been captaining catamarans for three years in places like Hawaii, Guadeloupe and the Abacos. He is in his 3rd season with Belize Sailing Vacations.

During his time off, you can find Jesse kitesurfing, riding his bike, or searching for the next mountain to fly off of!

Danny Estell

Captain

Daniel is from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, where the ocean was his playground and the barrier reef became his office. He has been a licensed tour guide for 10 years and has been captaining catamarans for 5 years.

Daniel has been a captain with Belize Sailing Vacations for 4 seasons and brings a wealth of adventure, hospitality and fun to your charter. He’s also known as ‘Dead Shot Danny’, as he is a legendary spear fisherman and free dives to 60ft to deliver your catch of the day!

DAVE UNDERILL

Captain

The ocean is Captain Dave’s playground and life, having been fortunate to begin sailing Hobie cats as a child and moving on to own monohull yachts and then Lagoon catamarans, which were his homes and livelihoods in the charter world. Dave is an outgoing people person, having worked in the very ‘face to face’ profession of Optometry before moving on to captaining charters in amazing destinations including the British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Turks and Caicos, Mexico, Guatemala and now Belize.

In addition to sailing the azul Belize waters, Dave has some interesting and fun accolades under his belt, including being the co-author of “The Captain’s Guide to Hurricane Holes of the Caribbean and Bahamas”, completing the Hawaiian Ironman and being named top beach guard lifeguard in Florida. With Captain Dave, you can always be assured of safety, experience, adventure and fun!

SARAH SHELBERT

Captain & ASA Instructor

Originally from Germany, Sarah has had a passion and thirst for traveling throughout her whole life. Always being connected to the ocean through her love for surfing, her first sailing experience was an Atlantic crossing from Europe to the Caribbean. That journey awoke her interest in sailing and ever since then she has lived, worked and sailed on a variety of different boats, from luxury yachts to traditional Tall ships. Her heart, however, belongs to classic wooden boats and when she is not working with Belize Sailing Vacations, you can find her in the boatyard in Guatemala restoring her own pretty wooden boat “Alani“.

Manuel Requena

Captain

Hailing originally from the deep south in Punta Gorda, Manuel has been involved in the tourism industry for over 20 years, working as dive master, tour guide and fisherman, principally based on the northern shores of Ambergris Caye. Manuel has been a catamaran sailing captain for over 10 years and in addition to his charter duties, you can look forward to his killer conch ceviche, the stuff of legends, in addition to lobster spearing expeditions, epic snorkelling and more!

Lavonne Brown

Captain

Lavonne pairs with her partner Patrick Cassidy, together they seamlessly deliver exquisite charters with an emphasis on active adventure and excellent cuisine.

After meeting on a buddy sailing trip to Cuba, they spent a year cruising the Western Caribbean aboard their sailboat and home “Restless Ketch” before finally settling down in Belize where the beautiful turquoise waters offer everything a water enthusiast could want.

Lavonne’s love of travel and the sea prompted her to complete the Yachtmaster Offshore and PADI dive instructor licenses so she could combine her work with her passions.

Casey Haugh

Captain & ASA Instructor

Having lived seasonally in Rhode Island working in the sailing charter industry and as Charter Manager at Narragansett Sailing, Casey moved to Belize in search of warmer waters and to discover the pristine cruising paradise that Belize is. Casey holds a a 50 ton inland and OUPV near coastal captain license and holds ASA instructor level certifications for 101, 103, 104, 105, 106, 114 and 118.

Aside from his passions for sailing and teaching ASA, Casey holds a fine arts major and is already putting brush to canvas in his new picture perfect surrounds.

Kainie Manuel

Chef & 1st Mate (& Admiral)

Kainie has been chef for Belize Sailing Vacations since early 2014. In addition to providing guests exquisite meals on every charter, her thoughtful detailing and magic touches go the extra mile – she knows how to throw a party!

Growing up the oldest in a family of 5, Kainie learned to cook from an early age. At home, recipes were handed down from Grandma and shared between the aunts.  That sparked her love of the kitchen, the spot her Grandma called, “el corazon de la casa (the heart of the home).

As an island girl, Kainie has been in love with the Caribbean Sea and marine life from an early age. She learned to dive at the age of 12, a sport that she finds relaxing up to today.

From diving, to office managing, delving into media and television production, Kainie continues to find her niche in life. Something she is truly passionate about, though, is sharing her country to those willing to have a memorable time in Belize. That, combined with the experience garnered in her family’s restaurant, her love of cooking and hosting, Kainie is the perfect host to this wonderful country.

Christie Gentle

Chef & 1st Mate

Christina Gentle is a Belizean originally from the small northern community of Corozal. Having managed a popular restaurant and bar in San Pedro, her passion is cooking and wowing guests with her gourmet twists on local cuisine. She is also becoming skilled at spear fishing and is giving the guys a run for their money! Christie is a big people person and a gracious host to our guests, which is why so many repeat guests request her time and time again.

Patrick Cassidy

Chef & 1st Mate (& Captain)

Patrick is paired with his partner Lavonne Brown (captain). They met on a buddy sailing trip to Cuba and naturally decided to continue exploring and sharing their love of the sea amongst themselves and with others. They spent a year cruising the Western Caribbean aboard their sailboat and home “Restless Ketch” before settling down in Belize.

Patrick was born and raised in Georgia where he acquired a love of fishing and canoeing that was easily transferred from freshwater to saltwater (bigger fish there right?). He loves fishing, particularly the catching part, and grilling up dinner. He thrives from living on the sea and meets all her challenges with skill and enthusiasm. Patrick’s love for sailing and the “water life” is infectious.

Ellen Nicholas Chef Belize Sailing Vacations

Ellen Nicholas

Chef & 1st Mate

Ellen is a former island resident of Caye Caulker and a warm and gracious host, chef and 1st mate. Having been in the hospitality industry for many years, she brings her passion for gourmet food and elegant service to Belize Sailing Vacations.

Ellen loves combining her love of art with the palette of a plate, creating divine meals that have a huge following on Instagram (JaguarPrincess). Ellen is also a health and yoga enthusiast, so if you are looking for ways to work of the delicious cuisine she can certainly assist!

Brianna Samuels

Chef & 1st Mate

Brianna has been part of Belize Sailing Vacation’s family for many years, since her father Sherman has been our chief detailer and maintenance wizard for over 10 years! Brianna joined the team 3 years ago working in detailing, food and beverage management and charter preparation and is now in her second season working as Chef / 1st Mate, so knows how to run a tight ship.

Brianna grew up cooking with her mother, Patty, as soon as she could walk. Her mother owns a popular food establishment in Belize and is known to be the cook of legends. Brianna’s many talents include exquisite pastry making and cake decorating, preparing delicious impromptu dishes with the day’s catch and embellishing her Belizean recipes with international twists. Watch out if you enjoy games night – rumour has it she’s a handy poker player too!

Karla Gomez

Chef & 1st Mate

Hailing from the spectacular colonial town of Merida in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsular, Karla crew up in a cultured world of travel and adventure. Karla is an English teacher and enjoys the interaction of people and the discovery of different cultures. Karla is a gracious host, paying extra special attention to the details of all the BSV charter ‘touches’…. and if you indicate that you enjoy Mexican food on your personalized guest preference form, you are likely to be showcased some of the divine recipes she grew up with and learned from an early age that were handed down from generation to generation. Karla also works for our sister business Absolute Belize assisting with client itineraries throughout the Yucatan Peninsular of Mexico.

Cori Sterrenburg

Chef & 1st Mate

Chef Cori Sterrenberg is a Canadian who found her home in Belize, living for over 9 years in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. With a passion for Asian cuisine and having realized a gap in the market in the offerings in San Pedro, Cori opened a small kitchen serving Vietnamese and Thai cuisine. Having achieved ratings as high as #2 on Trip Advisor and a huge following, Cori expanded her culinary field to offer private chef services, taking on kitchens at the most luxurious private villas in the country, serving gourmet international cuisine for up to 20 guests at a time.

Cori is one of the longest standing members of Belize Sailing Vacations team and brings with her a wealth of culinary experience, passion and sense of adventure to our charters. She is also very fond of entertaining and sharing her Belize experiences with our guests to ensure they have the most memorable vacation.

Patricia Johnson

Patricia Johnson

Head of Reservations & Guest Services

Patricia introduces our guests to warm Belizean hospitality from the first point of contact. She has been in the tourism industry for over 10 years curating itineraries and managing guest relations. Patricia is very detail orientated and loves ensuring that visitors have the best experience possible while showcasing the gems of her special country. Patricia is also the Head of Trip Design for our sister company Absolute Belize and has secured partnerships with some of the best resorts in the country for guests looking for a land-based stay before or after their sailing trip.

Operations Team

Mechanics, Systems, Maintenance, Operations & Detailing

Belize Sailing Vacations is lucky to have one of the best Operations teams in the country. Consisting of mechanics, maintenance, systems, detailing, food & beverage and operations, the team ensures the yachts are in the best working order, stocked with everything needed for your charter and are gleaming.