Archive for the ‘News’ Category

HAPPY BIRTHDAY RAGGAMUFFIN!!

On November 07, 2013 in News

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If there was indeed a day that Raggamuffin Tours was born it would have to be the date of birth of it’s owner and originator Captain Jimmy Jones – 7th November 1973.  So today you could say, and indeed Facebook would agree, is Raggamuffin’s birthday!!

So today we are patting each other on the back and wishing ourselves blessings for another year of health, love and productivity!!  What will we be doing … well that would be telling but needless to say we will be definitely celebrating with Jimmy and indeed for Lee Shane (as it was his birthday yesterday).  So if you are in the vicinity or are a short plane ride away, come on down and we will have a Belikin and a slice of cake to celebrate!!!

 

What Raggamuffin’s do in October!

On November 04, 2013 in News

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Ashamedly we close for the month of October – rest, recuperation and renovation for staff, office and boats!  Some of us have taken journeys – Adela, Ellis, Ramsay and Jahlee visited the US and Kevin the US and Japan and the rest of us enjoyed family time at home!

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It’s a time for us to re-charge our batteries and change the pace so that we can really appreciate what we have.  We have found our month off or our slow season being hugely beneficial to the staff that really took advantage of it and it giving everybody that welcome holiday and break that we all look forward to.

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For those of us who remained in Belize for October do not feel sad, for we have enjoyed ourselves too – we have spent countless occasions on Raggamuffin’s newest toy, our Ragga Empress.  Whilst the office is open she will be in constant use and for us who were not able to move off the island she was an exciting source of relaxation, entertainment and family bonding.  We may not have moved too far but we too have taken full advantage of what we love about our island and pushed it to the max – we too are feeling refreshed and ready to go!!

And to our wonderful sailboats, well they too have been pampered and rested – Ragga Queen, Ragga King and even Ragga Prince have all been up on dry dock getting major repairs and renovations – they now look brand spanking new.  Ragga Prince still has yet to be finished – she will be coming back to the island in December but we already have Queen and King ready and back to work and these babies look better than ever!!

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We have to commend and thank those Raggamuffin’s who worked tirelessly on getting these boats in such fine shape – Charles, Sherwin, Big and Lee Shane, even Dane and Jerry put in their work – these are the men that do not enjoy sitting around and doing nothing and that next year will hopefully be flying around the world with their colleagues!!!

All in all, an October like no other as we commence into our new season stronger and better than ever. So .. back to life, back to reality and back to what we do best – making people exceedingly happy!!!

Flying High on Caye Caulker!!

On August 10, 2013 in News

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For over 6 months now Caye Caulker and our surrounding waters have been aware of Belize’s first ultra light plane as on calm afternoons we cannot but help notice it buzzing around our island, seemingly just above our heads!!  The plane is amphibious ie can move on water and in the air (oh very James Bond I hear you cry) and indeed it has become quite a spectacle for us locals.

The plane’s owner and Captain is Walter Martin, a resident here in Caye Caulker, who moved here with his wife Christine (both of Bavarian decent) from Canada.  Walter, a self proclaimed Bush Man, found his small heaven here in Caye Caulker where the warmth of the sun and the simplicity of life can be combined in one sweet spot – Caye Caulker.  Walter has been flying for over 7 years has been through loop holes in order to obtain the correct licenses/ insurances in order to make his flying here very much above board, at this stage is merely enjoying his hobby/ passion at a ‘Go Slow’ pace.

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Walter had extended the invitation to join him on one of his ‘runs’ sometime ago but sheer terror ensured that I neatly avoided the question.  It was when our own Ragga Empress set off sailing down the reef and Walter stumbled upon her and her sheer beauty from the air brought the question up again, this time to take pictures of our newest addition.

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So yesterday morning, at Ragga Empress left her Caye Caulker dock and the weather conditions were perfect I was strapped in, headphones on and de-robed of anything that could ‘fly off’ me and off we went.  Please understand,as the engine roared my heart missed a beat, adrenaline was pumping and I was so excited I almost peed my pants!!!!  What if I fell out of the aircraft, what if the engine failed – all of this went running through my head!

Once in the air, all my fears dispelled as the wind whipped through my hair and the beauty of the the island and the ocean lay in front of me.   I was immediately taken back with what is very much familiar surroundings ie my home, my island, looking totally different.  It is truly fascinating to see how roads interlock, seeing friends houses and the shape of their properties clearly and without obstruction from other buildings.  It is wonderful to see our ocean filled with so many stingrays, eagle rays, manatees and dolphins – we have one huge aquarium on our doorstep and surprisingly you can see it so much clearer from the air!!

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It was indeed a spiritual experience, where one could meditate as you watch the world beneath you.  It is so very humbling to look at the world this way as you feel so very small as you look at a vast expanse of territory.  Walter commented ‘I don’t do drugs or even drink much alcohol, this is my drug, this is where I come to escape’ – and I totally understood what he meant and I share his enthusiasm – I just now need to learn to fly a plane!!???!!!

In my few hours that I was gone I am happy to say that I have a collection of wonderful photos as a keep sake – I would like to share a number of them with you so that you can start to imagine what an amazing experience my ultra light flight was.  Thank you Walter – anytime you need a wing man/ woman – I will be there!!!!

 

 

Ready to be ‘Empress’ed??!!

On July 26, 2013 in News

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It is no doubt a dawn of a new day for us here at Raggamuffin!  Our pet project that we have been working hard on (and on a number of occasions ‘playing hard’ on) completed her transformation yesterday and today takes her maiden voyage for her first Caye Caulker to Placencia – 2 night/ 3 day tours!

Let me introduce to you Ragga Empress – she is a 38ft catamaran that has spent the last four months in renovation in order to up-grade Raggamuffin’s service!!  Empress actually came to work here in Belize some 13 years ago with the luxury catamaran charter company TMM.  Brand spanking new at the time and only months after she first starting working, Hurricane Keith hit Belize and forced her and and a handful of TMM’s boats over the reef.  Empress was salvaged and taken into the loving care of Will Peoples, a long standing resident of Caye Caulker who took it on board to renovate Empress back to working condition.  After many years of his hard labor, Will decided that Empress was just too big for him and his wife Jane and they were sadly forced to put her up for sale.

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This is where Raggamuffin came in – understanding that we want to continually upgrade our service, James and Charlie Jones stepped in (of course with the help of Atlantic Bank!!) to make her part of our Ragga Fleet.  And four months later, with at least 2 months of it spent in the Rio Dulce in Guatemala for refurbishment and rigging, she is looking (once again) as though she is fresh of the factory floor.

Ragga Empress will take on board Ragga Queen’s duties in the overnight Caye Caulker to Placencia, picking up the Tuesday and Friday trips.  Empress offers slightly more room for sun bathers and indeed more shade, plus the advantage of two bathrooms with 2 showers for additional passenger comfort.

Although she is most likely, just like her predecessor, to undertake all Tuesday and Friday trips, it must be stressed that is is not guaranteed as there will be the instances that maintenance will be required and therefore our wonderful Ragga Queen will take her place.

 

Commemorating our Fishermen – 18th Annual Lobster Festival!

On June 15, 2013 in News

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Friday June 28 – Sunday 30 June 2013

Caye Caulker’s biggest annual event, Lobster Fest is just two weeks away! We are anticipating another exciting weekend celebration commencing with the Miss Lobster Fest Pageant Friday evening at 7pm and ending with the beach party on Sunday, June 30. As the official lobster season opens today, June 15, fishermen will set their lobster traps and get ready to reel in the bountiful catch and so we mustn’t forget why we celebrate: “to commemorate all the fishermen who have made Caye Caulker what it is today.” Caye Caulker began as a fishing village, with lobster as its main catch. Today fishermen observe conservation policies which regulate their catch. The length of the lobster’s tail must weigh over four ounces or the cape length/carapace must exceed three inches. The lobster season ends in mid-February, 2014.

As we kick off the new lobster season during next week’s Lobster Fest, we can expect an array of lobster dishes, fourteen food booths, a live band, local DJs and eight other booths including The Fisheries Department, Wildlife Conservation, and the Belize Shark Project. Contests including the “biggest-lobster” contest and perhaps another “greasy pole climb” contest will also highlight the weekend. This highly sought out annual event is a celebration for the entire family –the young and the young at heart and we encourage those who miss the island to visit next week, or to simply visit our Facebook page for a mini play-by-play of Lobster Fest 2013. Let the celebration begin!

Hurricane season is here!!

On June 05, 2013 in News

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Yes we are indeed right smack bang at the beginning of this 2013 Hurricane Season!!  This title to this period of the year fills most tourists with terror to travel to our parts and therefore every other customers questions relate to weather!!  Obviously for those persons who have saved their hard earned cash for the past year on a holiday in the Caribbean, sunshine is a must and we understand that.  But this ‘hurricane season’ period often deters customers from traveling to Belize at this time of the year and this, due to many years of experience, I feel is harsh!!

When you do your research as to the seasonality of Belize we are actually ‘sub tropical’ climate, tempered by trade winds.  Our dry season has been calculated to be from February to May would be for those who require 100% guarantee of sunshine, to be the perfect time to be in Belize – however, dry weather is indicative of high winds which makes snorkeling and scuba diving tricky, never mind that picture perfect hairdo!!!

For those of us who live on this tropical island year round, we would have to agree that at anytime of the year we can receive a ‘rainy patch’.  These periods are merely a few days – they are generally a respite from the the sunshine, an opportunity to cool off and perhaps even enjoy your ‘skin blanket’ at night!!  Rain, even if forecast otherwise, never lasts for more than three days in a row (and these instances are really narrowed down to perhaps two or three times a year - There is probably no scientific fact to prove this, but in our experience it is always the case).  Days remain largely sunny, rainfall more often occurs during the night time period than the day and occasionally the morning or evening.  PERFECT FOR TOURISM THROUGHOUT THE YEAR!!

As in the rest of the world with our ever changing climates, these isolated periods of rainy days can be experienced at any time of the year – for example I have very much witnessed a rainy February (thought to be a dry month).  Although the meteorological department suggests patterns of rainfall, there is no way of determining in advance of whether one month or another would be a better one to travel in as each and every one has their dry and wet periods.

And what about ‘hurricane season’, said to be June to November??  This indeed is enough to ring the alarm bells of any tourist traveling to Belize however it still remains, in my opinion, the safest and best time of year for undertaking your tours here to Belize.  Tropical systems are given a huge amount of respect in these parts due to local experience.  For days before an advancing system locals will be aware of its presence and the island shuts down – safety is paramount and therefore no threat to tourists.  This and the fact that the last hurricane we had was back 13 years ago (thanks Keith) and before that 50 years ago (thanks Hattie) it is not a regular occurrence in our parts!!

The so called high season is from November to April is the so called high traffic period for tourism here in Belize and most of these months will have a number of ‘cold fronts’ pass right through them.  For those persons who want to be outside to enjoy the views, these cold fronts (high winds and rain, and obviously cold) make Caye Caulker look little like the Caribbean!  Whereas the rainfall received in the months of June to September is the type of rain that has no chill in the air and that you want to dance in whilst fully clothed knowing the sunshine will be back shortly!

In summary – do not be discouraged by the words ‘hurricane season’ – if there were daily, weekly or even monthly hurricanes we would not be living so contentedly on an island that is at sea level!  Rainfall does occur throughout this period but it is short lived and warm and sunshine is our prevailing element, which is why we can confirm that we live in Paradise!

 

 

PhotoS of the month – May

On June 03, 2013 in News

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Once again we re-fresh our Facebook profiles  with a photo from one of our customers – this month we have been sent a collection of photos from the amazing Rene Schoneberg from Germany.  All of his album has been so good (not to mention a truly fantastic video that he created) that it has been difficult to select just two of the many that he took on our fabulous overnight adventure.

The above photos are the ones selected, and these has been selected for its suitability for the small profile icon but there are a number that are worthy of a larger stage and here are just a few for you!!

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Thanks Rene and we hope you and Sabine return soon!!

Sharks – friend or foe?

On May 29, 2013 in News

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Sunlight feeds the plankton.  Plankton feed sardines.  It’s a classic notion of nature of which we’re all aware:  the big fish eats the small fish; and as it happens, sharks sit atop the complex food chain.  Thanks to the 1975 Spielberg film, Jaws, we fully understand that sharks are mean, predatory and fatal to innocent fish and mammals, especially humans.  But what doesn’t always come into popular consciousness is this:  scientists have found sharks to be efficient eaters, choosing prey that is sick, old, or slower among its population.  Scientists recognize this as an overall benefit as it helps eliminate the spread of disease among fish populations and in essence maintains a healthy gene pool.  By eating certain prey, sharks also help protect smaller fish down the food chain from being completely wiped out by their predators.  In another case, sharks help protect certain habitats.  When certain marine animals overstay their welcome in ocean grass beds, they damage the local habitat by preventing other animals from accessing vital nutrition from the grass.  When sharks are present, however, those overstaying animals flee.  It’s a complex interwoven, underwater ecosystem that we as community members, business owners, local fishermen, tourists and adventure seekers should strive to appreciate and respect.  Despite its predatory role, sharks provide balance to ocean life.  Without sharks, the ecosystem would collapse.

Caye Caulker, we have a problem.

Recent local news reported the ongoing concern as sharks continue to fall prey to local fishing activities –whether fished for its meat as food or for its fins as a relatively lucrative export to Asia (where shark fins are a delicacy).  Various shark preservation organizations, such as locally based Belize Shark Project not only provide scientific research on sharks and their ecological importance they also report the monetary impact sharks have on the local economy through its tourism industry.  In 2012, shark-related tourism generated $3.7 million USD.  While the numbers alone should reveal why sharks are worth more alive than dead, it is meanwhile just as critical to offer equal consideration to local fishermen who depend on “the day’s catch.”  What sort of alternative income can they generate if their fishing activities, in general, are being displaced?  And while it has become widespread knowledge that shark meat contains a high level of mercury, the information regarding the danger of its consumption is not swiftly adopted by communities which consider its meat or fins as a normal part of their diet.  Another local notion may also contend that fishing for shark meat dates back to centuries and is just as woven into their cultural practice.  Certainly, there remains a thin line between economic development and cultural preservation.  It’s a sensitive ground.  Lastly, in response to the news, a local proponent had raised issue on the dollar figures relating to shark-tourism:  how much of these multi-million dollars actually filter down to the local regulatory agencies and create direct impacts?  While it’s easier to identify what needs to be done, executing the necessary steps to end shark fishing is a different story.

As a community, we value and deeply respect the health of our ecosystem.  As tourists, we marvel at nature and enjoy the access -not only to sharks, but to all life forms surrounding the reef.  As leaders and participants of the tourism industry, we strive to be responsible.  Through tourism and fact sharing, we can educate and inform visitors and locals alike, and take steps towards keeping our sharks at bay.

 

Photo of the month

On May 01, 2013 in News, Photo of the Month

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This month we want to say thank you to our beautiful ‘Ragga Queen’ – she has tirelessly and effortlessly traveled up and down Belize’s reef gifting the perfect adventure for all those that ride her.  She for many years has been our largest boat, our most comfortable ride as she was brought on to take us to the ‘next level’.

As of the end of May she will come 2nd in line to Ragga Empress, our new catamaran which will once again give our overnight customers the comfort and class that they very much deserve but in the fanfare we may forget our Queen! Fear not, Queen will not be put up to pasture but may spend more time around Caye Caulker, undertaking the Hol Chan day snorkeling tour!!

So for now, we will extend our heartfelt thanks to this classy boat that has traveled more of Belize’s inner reef than any other in this country, by making her our Facebook profile!!

RIP Chocolate – you will forever be in our hearts!!

On April 13, 2013 in Caye Caulker, News

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Yesterday, after what started out to be one of the greatest days in Caye Caulker history, ended with the loss of our dear friend Lionel ‘Chocolate’ Heredia!  He died peacefully in his house on the island with his wife Annie at 83 years old – his passing away leaving us all deeply saddened!!

For as long as I have known Chocolate has been Raggamuffin’s neighbor and friend, a mentor and a true support right from the beginning! His continued efforts towards protecting everything that inhabits our Belizean ocean were deservedly recognized with awards by all with any form of investment in her.  He will be most recognized for his work to protect the Belizean manatee and indeed Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary – his work creating a legacy for generations to come.

For us at Raggamuffin we will miss our neighbor and friend as we look out of our office – no longer will we see him scuttle past the office to go and purchase his afternoon’s sweet bun – he was part of our family and our daily lives and we are now forced to adjust to life without him – RIP dear friend, you will forever be in our hearts!!