Back in the year 2000, a writer/photographer team for National Geographic Adventure magazine came to our island in Belize for a feature story. You can imagine how excited we were about this. Jon Bowermaster and Barry Tessman were famous, they were widely published, and had also both traveled extensively all over the world.
The staff and guests on the island that week were also super excited and it became quite a frenzy trying to figure out really cool photo ideas for Barry to shoot. They got this killer idea to do ‘underwater kayaking’.
Underwater Kayak | The fun photo shoot experiment “kayaking” underwater
Of course, no one offers underwater kayaking – it’s impossible – no matter how hard you try, you can’t stay under. But this was sort-of an inside joke because we have so many different sports, Jon had the idea to claim in the article that this was just one more.
It was quite a production to get the shots. The person in the photo has a hidden scuba tank in the kayak, with the regulator in his or her mouth. There are a bunch of other people just out of sight of the camera, some scuba diving, some snorkeling, who would help drag the boat down, and then swim out of sight real quick so that Barry could snap the photo before the boat shot up to the surface. In the end it wasn’t mentioned in the article since we don’t have underwater kayaking at our island sport center in Belize. National Geographic did use one of the images on the contents page for that month since it was just too hard to pass up.
The article was published in February of 2001. That season was our 25th year in business and we highlighted Slickrock’s history in our color brochure that year. As a joke we used the photo above with the caption “Cully’s latest sport”. The problem was we kept getting calls from people wanting to sign up to go underwater kayaking! We never tried to make a joke in our published literature again.
Recently I was a guest blogger on the premier Belize blog, Tacogirl. We exchanged some emails, and Tacogirl asked to use one of my emails in an upcoming blog post. Of course I said yes! In this email I reminisced about Slickrock’s very old days when we based our sea kayak trips out of Placencia, Here is her post, with some old pictures I sent her from our original days way back when: http://tacogirl.com/2012/01/belize-history-and-san-pedro-weather/
On the beach we used to rent in Placencia, Belize, about 1988.
Slickrock’s big move out to Glover’s Reef occurred in the summer of 1996. We had been running sea kayak tours in Belize for 5 years out of Placencia, on the mainland coast in southern Belize, doing self support week-long tours among the islands along the outlying barrier reef.
But the islands were starting to get crowded, and a few developed, so our trips were losing their wilderness character. Lucy was contacting various lodges around the country as part of a project to just get to know Belize better, when she ran across the folks on Long Caye out at Glover’s Reef Atoll. We already knew that the atolls had the best reefs in the country, and were much more remote and pristine than the barrier reef islands. When the family wrote us back and told us they had a “spare island” for rent, we couldn’t believe it! At that, we decided to go down and see for ourselves what the atoll was like, with the possible plan to move our operation out there for the next season.
When we took the boat out to the atoll, we were immediately impressed by the location, and decided to make the move. This entailed hiring the family’s sailboat and going to Placencia, picking up all our kayaks, and moving the equipment to NE Caye, the island we decided to lease. That was the easy part.
When we arrived on the island next Dec, having already booked trips featuring this location, we were surprised that the island had not been cleaned up and the few cabins present were in bad repair. But we dove into the project of getting things ready, and soon had a nice set-up in place with 3 cabins, a kitchen building, and tent sites ready for our guests. Having an island base dramatically improved our itinerary, and over the next 4 years our business increased by leaps and bounds. The stunning coral reefs, private island location, and comfort of not being exposed to inclement weather were all big improvements to our Belize experience!
Later we moved to the island next door, but that’s another story…
Click on each image to see the full picture. All images taken at Slickrock’s facility in 1996-1998.