August 16, 2017
Luther Blount: The pioneer of small ship cruising
"Frankly sir, you'd never make it"
Said the Consulate General of Guatemala in 1990 to Luther Blount. He was referring to Luther’s plan to take passengers up the beautiful but shallow Rio Dulce. Twenty-eight years later, thousands of travelers have experienced this area thanks to Luther’s vision and perseverance.
Luther Blount heard those discouraging words from the Consulate General, but he was determined to find a way to show travelers this relatively virgin territory. For the President of AMERICAN CANADIAN CARIBBEAN LINE (what would eventually become Blount Small Ship
Adventures), it was just another challenge for his small but remarkably maneuverable vessels.
Captain Blount had already traveled the Yucatan coastline, beginning in Cancun, Mexico and sailing as far as Punta Gorda, visiting the famed Barrier Reef, Mayan Ruins, Placentia and numerous caves and unapproachable coves in the process. In fact, after examining this route by sailboat, he had invited a limited number of devoted passengers to sail the 12 day journey with him on board the NEW SHOREHAM II. But Guatemala’s lure continued to intrigue him… and he grew increasingly confident that his ships could manage the jungle river.
Dressed in pith helmet and safari clothing, Luther flew to Southern Belize where he found a dugout and a willing native to accompany him.
They sailed across the Gulf of Honduras, 30 miles from Punta Gorda to Livingston, Guatemala, up the Rio Dulce into Lago lzabal and from there to Mariscos to view the Mayan ruins at Quiriqua. The journey was breathtaking and by sounding out the river and taking careful measurements he became convinced that his small vessels could indeed navigate the waters. The friendly locals and majestic beauty of the river overwhelmed Luther and he immediately knew it would be the perfect complement to Belize.
Known for his constant innovation, Luther was an adventurer and Yankee shipbuilder. At a time in life when most people are either retired or planning retirement, Captain Blount was discovering new worlds.
Hailing from the Rhode Island shoreline, Luther built his businesses there. Every morning, dressed in corduroys, flannel shirt and his ever-present suspenders he would ride to work on a bicycle. His personal style encouraged a casual office and family atmosphere, which continues to reflect his legacy today.
Travel with BSSA to Belize and Guatemala in 2018:
The remote islands and clear blue waters of Belize combine with the lush forests and Mayan ruins of Guatemala on this 12-day adventure. The Belize Barrier Reef, one of the largest and most celebrated in the world, is the perfect setting for kayaking and snorkeling. In Guatemala, explore the roots of Mayan culture at Quirigua, an 8th century monument. Your Blount ship is uniquely designed to go where big ships cannot, including up the Rio Dulce, and to scenic and remote islands. A patented bow ramp lets you step directly from ship to sandy shore. An onboard naturalist guides you to breathtaking cayes, reefs and lagoons introducing you to exotic fish, Howler Monkeys, iguanas, and tropical birds.