“I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide Is a wild call and a clear call
that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying, And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea gulls crying.”
– JOHN MASEFIELD
Baron Bliss Day, also known to sea people as Ninth of March back in the day, was like a religious festival of sailing for Belizean families which were seafaring. There were races held for sailing boats in the Belize City harbour. In his will, Baron Bliss, who died in 1926, had left money for there to be an annual sailing regatta here.
(This column will be abbreviated, because I am writing late Thursday morning, and the newspaper will be packed, and rightly so, with news of the elections held Wednesday, March 3, in nine (I think) municipalities across Belize. So I will expand on the Ninth of March thought perhaps next week.)
I am rushing to tell you today about three sailing sloops named ESTRELLA, CRUZITA, and AVENTURERA, which used to dominate the 28-foot sailing sloop class before the days of Dean Lindo and George Brown. Where did these boats come from? Was it from Caye Caulker; San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, or perhaps even as far away as Sarteneja? They were beautiful craft.
I think my dad’s memory is better than mine, and I’ll tell you why. Two or three days ago, I was thinking in the night of the three boats, and I recalled the names of CRUZITA and AVENTURERA, but it took me a while to recollect the name of ESTRELLA, which, according to my dad, a sailing fanatic, was the best of the three.
When I visited my dad this morning, and brought up the subject, he recited the names of the three boats promptly and precisely. Like myself, he did not know which fishing community in the northern part of Belize was the home of the three beauties.
So, he and I need help. People must still be alive who can give us the history. My dad and I think we want to give respect to those who built the boats, those who owned them, those who captained them, and their crews. I guess I am almost as much a sailing fanatic as C. B. Hyde is.
Ninth of March. What a holy day it used to be for us. The southeasters would have been blowing in already, but the northers were still around; the weather was usually uncertain on Ninth of March. This made racing conditions very challenging. You could have gale force winds, calms, all different kinds of weather on the Ninth.
ESTRELLA, CRUZITA, and AVENTURERA: they live on in the memory of people like me and my dad. Respect is due.