The Belize Barrier Reef is the second longest reef in the world, only The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is longer.

For sailboats to access the shore at San Pedro, Belize, there are two possible entry points through the reef – the North Reef Pass and the South Reef Pass.

Transiting the pass can be tricky business and holds high consequences for making a mistake. The ideal time to pass is when the sun is high in the sky slightly behind your course, which makes the dangerous reef more visible to a spotter on the bow, but that’s not always possible or feasible.

This photo is taken from our position safely at anchor in the shelter of the reef, while three boats transit the North Reef Pass. The lead boat had been in the anchorage before and had an accurate GPS track to follow and a good spotter on the bow to look for coral heads under the water. The other boats followed closely to ensure they could line up then narrow gap in the reef correctly.

The single-hand captain of the third boat had been on a long crossing prior to his arrival at San Pedro and hadn’t slept in nearly two days, so he was incredibly happy to have a boat to follow into the anchorage. I’m sure he was even happier to drop the anchor and get some sleep.

Location: Caribbean Sea, San Pedro, Ambergris Cay, Belize