By Alexis R. Milan
A 14-passenger seagoing vessel named “Island Woman” en route from Belize City to Caye Caulker ,experienced problems and sank off the southern tip of Caye Chapel last Friday afternoon.
Sherlette Martinez, operations manager at the Belize Port Authority, acknowledged that the vessel, registered to Cresencio Arceo from Caye Caulker, was an older vessel in deteriorating conditions. Weather conditions on the sea that day produced a breach in the hull, causing the boat to take on water.
Martinez said the boat, which at the time was occupied only by the captain and a deck-hand, sank off the coast of Caye Chapel. The men managed to hold unto the part of the vessel which was not submerged, until a passing water-taxi stopped to render aid.
A passenger on board the water taxi made the call to the Belize Port Authority, which then contacted the Belize Coast Guard for assistance. The boat has since been recovered from the sea and taken to Caye Caulker where Port Authority officials have been conducting their investigation and inspection.
According to Martinez, the vessel was not insured and was in poor condition. She explained that yearly inspections of vessels are required when the sea-worthiness certificate expires and must be renewed. Within that span of time, factors such as poor maintenance can cause some vessels to deteriorate more quickly than others.