After three attempts at accessing this elusive natural wonder, we finally received the information we needed to make a safe passage through the surrounding reef. It took a lot of local knowledge and a bit of luck to take our deep drafted sailboat 6 miles into the atoll where The Great Blue Hole resides. Let the diving begin!
We spent two days sailing back up to Lighthouse Reef from Placencia anchoring every night. We had our Canadian and Californian guests on board this time and in no rush. So we took our time and spent the night at a couple beautiful cays along the way.
The waters of Belize are littered with reef, making them some of the most dangerously shallow waters on the planet. The Mesoamerican Reef is the second largest reef system in the world next to The Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Sailing this area means pushing the limits of our deep drafted offshore vessel.
As we rounded Long Point, we unfurled all our sails and trimmed the old girl for a close-haul and pointed towards Lighthouse Reef.
By day three we were making our approach to Lighthouse Reef where we would find out if the information we received was true; is there a deep enough cut in the reef for us to pass safely? As we entered the southern point our depth reading went from 600 feet to 6 feet in seconds. We zigged and we zagged through the reef missing uncharted coral heads by inches! The shallow waters were a light turquoise blue, like something you would expect to see in a postcard. Six more miles to go.
What a sweet, sweet victory it was to tie up to that tiny mooring inside the hole. We made it, and we had the place to ourselves!
We shimmied up to the top of our 68 foot mast to get a birds eye view of this mystical place. Many people die dreaming of trekking to this diving mecca. We are here now, experiencing this for all those souls that might never get the chance to stand in this place before they’re gone.
That night was a special one. We ate, we drank and we danced to celebrate the day’s victory. We wondered how many people had ever spent the night here before? What a privilege to call this natural wonder home for the evening. We watched in awe as Orion and his celestial friends ignited the night sky.
It didn’t stay dark for long. That bad moon slowly rose over the dark horizon.
We ended the night with a small fireworks display. It was for us and us alone. We were the only boat for miles and it felt like we were the only souls left on the planet. A feeling of true freedom that can only be found by venturing out beyond the point of comfort.
The sun rose in the east shedding light on a very special day, the day we fulfill a huge goal on the bucket list.
While we enjoyed a home cooked Canadian breakfast the local fishing boats appeared on the sun-struck horizon. The dive compressor vibrated as we anxiously geared up for our dive into the 400 foot deep hole below.
Scottsman gives Bru and I the okay and we three descend the first 100 feet of our dive. The wall of coral and rock cascades for hundreds of feet and we can see three huge bull sharks lurking in the darkness below.
We keep a weary eye over our shoulders and moved along the wall stealthily.
Now, this is where I would like to tell you that our mate, Bru, has only one other 30 foot dive under his belt. He’s as green as it gets in the scuba realm. So at this point we are sitting at a steady 100 feet and Scottsman and I look over to see Bru in all of his excitement slowly descending with a huge smile on his face.
This might have been a small case of nitrogen narcosis as he was just feeling a bit happy and high. By the time Scottsman got to him he had hit the 156 foot marker. They both ascend back up to 90 feet or so and realize that now we might have a bit of a problem on our hands. With a full tank of air we can only spend a couple of minutes down at those depths, so we begin our decompression stops and make our way slowly to the surface.
As we ascend I take the chance to look around and try to really take in all the magical things that are going on in this extraordinary place. I could see the huge grouper protecting his home turf in the distance, the bull sharks lingering in the darkness and the schools of baitfish swimming in perfect synchronization above us. In this moment I think we all got the feeling that we have made our first true discovery of a place that was still wild and untouched by the hand of man. That feeling will stay with us for the rest of our days.
We made it up to our last decompression stop at 40 feet and sure as shit, Bru shows us his air gauge as it drops below zero PSI! He takes his last breath of air and like a pro, spits out his regulator and instinctively grabs Scotsman’s buddy reg.
We swam to the surface like a pack of leaches clung to each other but feeling so accomplished and high on this vibrant life we’re livin’.