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Big Time Baron Bliss Day

With the big festival of Costa Maya right around the corner, I have been narrating big events in old San Pedro like the Tenth of September celebrations and then the Annual Meeting celebration of the fishing cooperative. I would say that another event awaited with anticipation was the Baron Bliss Day Regatta.

Baron Bliss was a seaman, a rich man of royalty who died in the waters of Belize, and his wish was to leave a big part of his wealth to the country of Belize. Every year people in Belize City hold a big sea regatta event on March 9th to commemorate this honorable man. Twenty five years ago, San Pedro Village was no exception.

You know all year long little boys and girls in the village argued about who was more agile in paddling a dory. And many fishermen too argued, especially after a few drinks, who was the more experienced sailor.

Some argued about which boat was the fastest sailing boat. And you can be sure that when the speed boats came around, there was a lot of argument about which speed boat was the fastest and the best for that matter. We cannot forget that a good boat is not only determined by the dexterity of the captain, but also by the adroitness of the boat builder. So there were some arguments also about whether the best skiffs came from the hands of Mickey Alamilla, Gonzalo Muñoz, Aldo Marin, or some shipwright in Caye Caulker or Belize City.

Well, you have heard much about the arguments, so now you know that a day of regattas was the ideal day and place to settle these arguments. March 9th, Baron Bliss Day was the day for all types of sea regattas. The Village Council was usually in charge of organizing the event, but there were avid seamen like Edwardo “Toto” Brown, and Armando Graniel, who played big roles in the organization of the races. Markers were placed in the sea for children to swim around, to dive and to paddle a dory. These events were the funniest as they got in the way of each other and usually overturned or capsized. Then came the boat and skiff races.

To prepare for these races, fishermen usually pulled up their boats to dry, give them a fresh coat of paint and even sewed brand new sails, a bit larger if possible, all with the hopes of winning. On the day of the regattas the boats sailed around the flag markers to or three times, and the crowd at Central Park and the main pier were all excited shouting for their favorite boat or skiff to win.

When it was a windy day, (usually it was) the regattas were more exciting. After the adults wee finished with their races, they continued drinking at the beach and the day would usually end with another argument and probably a fist fight. But that did not matter for the village got one exciting day of fun and excitement at the beach; the boxing was a bonus twenty five years ago.

– by Angel Nuñez, Columnist

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