Posts Tagged: ‘Honduras’

One Last Trip to Neytiri?

November 5, 2017 Posted by Deb

We routed through San Pedro Sula, Honduras, again because it will be at least a year before the highway is finished between Guatemala City and the Rio Dulce. It’s a four-hour trip versus a trip that can go up to ten hours. Of course San Pedro Sula was voted one of the most dangerous cities in the world, and passports can fill up getting multiple stamps. There’s great scenery but we usually get a torrential downpour. This trip was no exception … we watched houses falling into rivers.HorseRainHondurasCowsTaxiHonduras

Familiar Scene in the Rio Dulce

Familiar Scene in the Rio Dulce

Cayo Quemado: Recommissioning

We put the sails back on with the help of Tom at Quemado Sails and got all the systems running again. Mike, at Texas Mike’s restaurant, gave us our last meal and drinks on the house before we moved up the river to RAM Marine for further boat work.

Dinghy Ride Around the Neighborhood

Dinghy Ride Around the Neighborhood

Pulling Up to Cayo Quemado Sails & Rigging

Pulling Up to Cayo Quemado Sails & Rigging

Getting the Main Back Up

Getting the Head Sail Back Up

CayoQuemadoDinghyRide2

Oh … somewhere in there we accepted an offer on the boat and had to get seven to eight years of accumulated belongings off the boat and into luggage. That is, of course, impossible so we sold and gave away personal stuff and left behind anything that might be useful to the new owners. We did keep some family heirloom tools, a chair, and two folding bikes. At the last minute, RAM Marine had a cancellation in their apartments so we had a convenient staging area for the hopeless task of packing.

Birthday with Old Friends

We celebrated Deb’s birthday with Jacque and Annette on Panache at Back Packers Restaurant. We last saw them in Georgetown, Bahamas as they headed on down the thorny path to St. Maarten and clockwise around through the ABC’s, Columbia, Panama, and eventually Guatemala. We turned back to Florida to sell the boat and eventually made it back to Guatemala via the Bahamas, Florida, Cuba, Mexico, and Belize. We don’t really have to say goodbye to old friends because our paths will cross again. Good times and good stories.

Sundog Cafe with Panache

Sundog Cafe with Panache

Oh … Deb’s birthday present was first class tickets home. In all honesty, we had no choice because first class allows 70 pound bags and more of them. We took empty luggage for the trip home but had to buy even more in Fronteras. Wow.

Picnic Barge Cruising the Rio

Picnic Barge Cruising the Rio

Sea Trial

Captain John returned to the Rio just in time to conduct the sea trial. The new owners showed up the day before, and we had a beer or two with them. The boat was ready and performed very well during the sea trial. We had to scramble at times to answer the surveyor’s questions and Deb was at the helm while we were all talking wondering if we were ever going to tack away from looming shores. The hard part for me was running the engines at maximum RPM. We had never done that since the sea trial in 2010. The boat took off like a rocket and the engines sounded really good at maximum … guess we should have done that more often.

Old & New Owners Watching the Haulout

Old & New Owners Watching the Haulout

Chuck on the Sidelines Wondering, "What Did I Do?"

Chuck on the Sidelines Wondering, “What Did I Do?”

Tom & Lisa on Their New Boat

Tom & Lisa on Their New Boat

The Trip Home in Style

Our friends kidded us about enduring the stares of the masses as they filed by the first class section. We didn’t look up. We’ve both been upgraded for free in the past, but this trip was on our dime, and we tried to make the most of it. Deb lost her carved wooden canoe from Panama because the security folks pulled it, one of our new bags got trashed, Deb had to put on an orange vest and go down to baggage handling because of a problem with a bag in Honduras.

The Canoe from Panama Had Graced the Back of our Salon Sofa for a Long Time

The Canoe from Panama Had Graced the Back of our Salon Sofa for a Long Time

They freaked out about our leftover money from many countries, and homeland security in the U.S. could not get one of our bags back together, so they taped it and put it in a giant ziplock. Try recognizing that on a carousel. But the leg room, food, booze, and movies were great.

The Voyage of Neytiri

Neytiri will sail on with the same name but our voyage has come to an end. We wish Tom and Lisa the best and hope Neytiri treats them as well as it has us. We have mixed emotions about being boat-challenged, though we will always consider ourselves sailors, and we will maintain contact with all the old crowd from over eleven years on the ocean in two boats spanning the last twenty-four years. We figure that we have over 25,000 miles under the keel and there are very few islands and countries in the Caribbean, the northern parts of South America, and Central America that we have not visited. It’s been a party.

Parting Shot

Parting Shot

Cast Iron Canoe: 2017 Edition

May 31, 2017 Posted by Deb

Namekagon River

Namekagon River

A traditional canoe trip that started decades ago and which we’ve been a part of for many years. Our sailing life has kept us away too long, but we made it back this year. Old sailing friends, Forrest and Yvonne on s/v Nazdrowie, who we met in the Dominican Republic in the 1990s introduced us to the group; and it has been a party ever since. This year we picked the Namekagon and Saint Croix rivers over the three-day Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Tent City

Tent City

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We Know How to Fill a Canoe

The weather started out great and stayed better than the forecast for three days. We did have rain and hail, but we built a tarp city and we’re pretty much impervious to bad weather. True to Cast Iron tradition, we had two Dutch ovens, plenty of liquid refreshments, and a wrap-up five-pound bacon fest on the final morning that forced Deb to stay upwind. No injuries to report other than a number of tick bites that sent Deb to the doctor for the anti-Lyme routine.

Tarp City Going Up

Tarp City Going Up

Hail On the River

Hail On the River

We did have a longer than normal 22-mile day due to full campsites that featured a 1.5 mile sprint to beat out another group to 12.3 mile campsite. Unfortunately, Deb and I won the race but missed the campsite sign. The sprint pretty much turned our arms to noodles for the next two days. Oh well.

Land Ho

We look forward to the transition both from the ocean to land in the spring and back to the boat in the fall. With each move, we have a high energy vision of what we’re going to do “this time.” Yeah, right. We seem to forget that the seven-plus days it takes to put the boat away and the exposure to air conditioning and airplane air usually leaves us half dead with colds. This switch was no exception but we did get a couple of days of Casa Grande Palm Creek pickleball in before the bad colds really set in. We motored north in the RV on a three Wal*Mart run with 102-degree fevers. It is now late May and we’re just barely back on our feet again. And hey, it’s cold up here in May.

Wanna Go Outside at 100 Degrees and 100% Humidity?

Wanna Go Outside at 100 Degrees and 100% Humidity?

Plans

Our plans change weekly but our high-energy vision included an extended summer on land with biking, pickleball, a variety of water events, camping, and other north country fun stuff. Now we’re toying with the idea of getting rid of all the mobile stuff including the RV and Neytiri and looking for a home or a townhome. Our future yacht broker is begging us to bring Neytiri back to Florida again and to do so immediately. That ain’t happening but we may get back on the boat early in the fall and sail her back to the U.S.

So … we’re going house hunting at 10:00 tomorrow morning after moving the final leg of our RV trip from Melcher-Dallas, Iow,a to Woodbury, MN. For us, home ownership again is a big and scary change.

Toys Are Out in Iowa

Toys Are Out in Iowa

Celebrating Hayden's Soccer Win with Dorothy, Cindy, and Halle

Celebrating Hayden’s Soccer Win with Dorothy, Cindy, and Halle

Late Entry: The Famous Roatan Yacht Club

We thought it was famous and very nice 22 years ago. We were worried that we weren’t dressed well enough to go into the restaurant. It seemed very British. We had just finished a long ten-day passage from Cartegena, Columbia, somewhere around November, 1995; and we weren’t too presentable. We stored our dinghy there during our last visit four years ago even though it had been closed for new owners and renovations. The carpenters were banging away.

Roatan French Harbor Yacht Club

Roatan French Harbor Yacht Club

Little did we know how far the Yacht Club had fallen. This year, the property has been seized for money laundering and the official government “Stay Out” signs are up. We had to find another dinghy dock to get to town and our Plan B four years ago was the shrimping/fish station. They’ve had a very bad fishing season and we were advised to stay out of that area. So … by word of mouth we found a lady in a small house down from the police station car graveyard with a little dilapidated dock on a shoreline filled with floating garbage. The routine is to hand her 50 Lems (2 bucks) and walk to town.

Only Sign From the Street

Only Sign From the Street

Murder at the Yacht Club: A German Hotel Owner is gunned down at his Business
Nicolai Winter, the German owner of the French Harbour Yacht Club was gunned down at his hotel by a man in this thirties, presumed to be from the mainland.

On March 6, 2007, around 9:30pm, the murderer checked into a room at the hotel and came back to ask for Winter’s assistance in opening the room door. While Winter with three other Yacht Club staff walked towards the room, the assailant pulled out a 9mm gun and shot Winter several times. The assailant then fled the property on foot.
According to Yacht club staff, Winter was alive for some time after the shooting. Bay Islands Voice was notified of the shooting and called Preventiva Police, DGIC and Ambulance in Dixon Cove. No one picked-up the phone. After a visit to the Dixon Cove ambulance station the attendant said “none of the vehicles are working.”
The frontier police and DGIC police arrived at the crime scene 30 and 60 minutes after the shooting, but no immediate search of surrounding area was done and no road blocks were set up. The murderer, presumed by the police to be a contracted killer, was not apprehended.  Winter bought the Yacht Club in 2004 for in excess of one million dollars. The legal future of the Yacht Club is far from certain. According to Honduran law, in absence of a testament, Winter’s closest relatives: his mother, or his sister will inherit the property.
According to Felipe Danzilo, a lawyer involved in the sale of the Yacht Club, Winter did not yet make all the payments on the property. The previous owners of the Yacht Club: Marcel Hauser and Peter Beuth, still hold a mortgage on the Yacht Club.

Within a week of Winter’s death the old owners of the hotel brought the “Pluribus” company owned by Daniel O’Connor, a American business owner from Tegucigalpa, to serve as a “safe keeper” of the Yacht Club business interests. O’Connor made efforts to assure the continuous functioning of the business: that the employees received their salaries, hotel stayed open and he plans on having the Yacht Club’s restaurant open by Semana Santa. “Every business has a value as long as it is running,” said O’Connor.

O’Connor, who has lived in Honduras for 12 years, was shocked by the lack of concern about the murder displayed by local business community and local business leaders. “This is disappointing in a community that prides itself on being tourism oriented,” says O’Connor. “This will bring a negative impact on tourism here.”

Source :  http://www.bayislandsvoice.com/issue-v5-4.htm

Roatan Wrap and Return to Guatemala 2017

April 23, 2017 Posted by Deb

The Changes in Roatan

A great island but evolving with up to five cruise ships at a time and thousands of cruise ship people on a power vacation clogging up the roads and filling up the beaches. Fantasy Island has suffered a big change. While the west end of the island parties and booms, Fantasy has hit the skids. Here’s a list:

  1. The well went salty so tap water and showers are with sea water now
  2. The generator partially died so they cut of power to the boats on the dock (us) from 7:00 a.m. to up to 8:00 p.m.
  3. The garbage piled up and the flies invaded
  4. With no A/C from shore power, the flies invade the open hatches and companionways
  5. Boat temperatures run around 93 degrees in the sheltered marine environment
  6. The WIFI bounces between 750 bytes to 10K with some spurts to 200K
  7. The pine trees get sap and debris all over the boat

FrenchCayDockSo … we paid for a month, we stayed two weeks, and we left for the anchorage to get comfortable … no refunds. We were also waiting for our 90-day “stay out of Guatemala” time restriction to expire on April 20.

We each thought Roatan was great for two different reasons. One of us voted for the La Pina Fitness Center followed by Herbie’s Sports Bar and Grill and the other voted for our day trips east and west. We definitely underachieved on the tourist stuff … maybe because we were coming to the end of our year or we were fresh out of buddy boats.

LaPinaPoolLaPinaFitnessCenter

Rather than go through the five-day port captain shuffle on Easter we elected to pay for an agent to clear us out. Bateman did a great job and even topped off one of our phones. Those who didn’t use Bateman missed their weather windows because the port captain told them to come back after the holiday in a week.

The Short, Easy Hop from Roatan to Guatemala

Don’t believe it. We’ve had lots of friends and acquaintances run into real trouble with weather on this stretch, not including the recent incidents of piracy in broad daylight. We motored in calm weather to get to Roatan and figured we would wait for a good breeze to sail downwind back to the west and Livingston, Guatemala.

The forecast from three sources all had the wind from the East North East at 15 to 18 gusting to 21. That is perfect for a downwind run and we put up the gennaker in case the winds were a bit light.

We Had Big Hopes for This Sail

We Had Big Hopes for This Sail

We did not bother topping off with fuel and probably should have. The actual wind was about zero for a few hours followed by mostly winds right out of 270 to 310 degrees at 10 to 15. That’s basically in our face. When the wind clocked, we put of the main and flew for about 45 minutes. The wind finally shifted to the east as predicted and was too light to sail so the main came down. We had a few more teasers and put up sails only to take them down minutes later. Of course, at night we had a squall with blinding rain and lightning in all directions.

Sailing through the Corner of Honduras, Belize and Guatemala

Sailing through the Corner of Honduras, Belize and Guatemala

Star Trek Trivia: Admiral, There Be Whales Here

Star Trek Trivia: Admiral, There Be Whales Here

We crossed the bar at Livingston about an hour ahead of schedule and again very close to low tide. Raul’s office informed us that the computer had us a 89 days, not 90 as is required. It was touch and go as to whether we were going to be let into Guatemala; but when the correct palms get greased, the rules can be bent a little. We grabbed our old berth at the Crow’s Nest in Cayo Quemado and Carlos had his extended family out there to give Neytiri a thorough cleaning and a wax job to get ready for showings up at NanaJuana Marina.CayoQuemadoWaterLilliesNanaJuanaSunsetPoolNanaJuanaDockSunset

San Pedro Sula: Honduras

January 1, 2017 Posted by Deb

The town still has a lousy reputation, and we don’t get it. Our driver held out a sign that said “Chuck and Deb” and we were again treated to a trip full of all the U.S. names like TGIF, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Wendy’s and the movie we went to was in a Cinemark Theater, the same franchise where we saw Star Wars just a few days before in Des Moines, Iowa. The people go out of their way to be nice. Most importantly, the trip to Fronteras, Guatemala, is only four hours (on a scenic coastal highway) and Guatemala City is over 10 hours with all the new construction. Of course there was this traffic jam …

Honduras-SAN-PEDRO-SULA

Killer Traffic Jams in Honduras

Killer Traffic Jams in Honduras

PuertoCortes

A Cowboy from Honduras (Late Entry)

July 2, 2016 Posted by Deb

He and his wife sat next to me on the flight from San Pedro Sula to Dallas. We didn’t end up in Dallas, but that’s another story. He was between 65 and 90, leather face, cowboy hat, boots, and belt buckle. I knew it was their first flight from the white knuckle grip on each other and the chair and they were both glued to the window on takeoff. He started fidgeting when the TV screen in front of him came on and eventually leaned over to me (very close) and said “No puedo pagar” which means he couldn’t pay for the TV. I told him it was free and eventually reached over and turned it off to calm him down.HonduranWagon

I imagine the years on horseback did a number on his prostate because it wasn’t long before he asked me to let him out. The four attendants had just moved the two carts up the aisle and the back was empty. He headed back to the back, and I walked up to talk to Deb. A few minutes after we got back in our seats, one of the older lady flight attendants hurried up the aisle to the others and they all swarmed the kitchen area. The Honduran cowboy had taken a leak in the kitchen. The male flight attendant came straight to me and said something like “Didn’t you see him … couldn’t you have helped him?” Before I got a word out in my defense, he was talking in Spanish to the cowboy. They got him up and gave him Bathroom 101 lessons and told me to let them know if he got up again. He got up three more times and they gave him Bathroom 101 each time. Of course, they also took him to the head of the line which was a nice side benefit.

So … the flight crew locked themselves in for the landing approach, I could see my cowboy neighbor grabbing his crotch again, and I knew trouble was coming. He finally said he had to get up again, I told him it was not possible, and pointed at the signs. He begged and I unbuckled and got up to the yelling of the flight crew quoting FAA regulations and telling me I had to sit down (with great authority). I did and told the cowboy it was not going to happen. He finally climbed over me to great fanfare from the flight crew. Another woman about four rows up saw that he was up and decided it was OK so it was looking like the cowboy had started a revolt. The male flight attendant finally unbuckled, hustled the cowboy into the bathroom, and spun the lady waiting in the aisle back to her seat.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Putting Neytiri Away for the Sixth Time

June 16, 2016 Posted by Deb

We’ve decommissioned in St. Martin, Curacao, Guatemala, Georgia, Florida, and now Guatemala again. There’s no escaping the fact that it takes seven to ten days of really fun work like pulling heavy sails down, oiling anchor chain, heads, and other wonderful jobs. We took breaks and hit the pool at NanaJuana often but the happy hours were lonely until the last day there when boats started pouring in for hurricane season. That was nice. We finally did the hike at Hacienda Tijax and our guide said we were the best “old people” she had seen for dealing with the heat and humidity. For us, it was cool in the jungle compared to working on a boat. Once we moved to our final storage location in Cayo Quemado, the air conditioning was stowed and we cooked at 97°F with 87% humidity for the final teardown.

Oiling the Anchor Chain in the Guatemala Heat

Oiling the Anchor Chain in the Guatemala Heat

NanaJuana Pool Time

NanaJuana Pool Time

Swing Bridge at Hacienda Tijax

Swing Bridge at Hacienda Tijax

Found a Spot for a Skinny Dip

Found a Spot for a Skinny Dip

Old People Hikers

Old People Hikers

Saturday Market in Fronteras

Saturday Market in Fronteras

How to Cross the Road

How to Cross the Road

Tucked Away for Another Day

Tucked Away for Another Day

Honduras

Deb pieced together a cab to San Pedro Sula in Honduras followed by a flight to Phoenix via Dallas.

Trip from Rio Dulce to San Pedro Sula in Honduras

Trip from Rio Dulce to San Pedro Sula in Honduras

Breakfast Under Coca-Cola Mountain??

Breakfast Under Coca-Cola Mountain??

We had a two-hour window to switch planes, and we missed by about 12 hours. It’s funny that we made all our sailing deadlines for three months and a little storm over Dallas blew the endgame. We waited until 2:00 a.m. for a crew to show up for our plane; and as they walked up to applause from the crowd, they announced that they had “timed out” and the flight was cancelled. We found a hotel for the night and cancelled our reservations for a car and hotel in Phoenix. They were pretty nice about refunding some of our money. The next day we slept in and did our first UBER ride to the airport. It was $45 for a taxi to the hotel, and we split a $16 dollar fair back to the airport the next day with UBER. Wow!

Casa Grande

Both the town and the RV were right where we left them. The difference was that Palm Creek, where we did the early winter last year, was a ghost town. We found the odd human at the pool from time to time but 119°F for three days kept the few that still lived in the RV park inside. We ran 48 amps of A/C around the clock and the refrigerator pretty much gave up trying. It was nice to be back in the land of big box stores but the ghost town RV Park had us feeling like we late getting out of Dodge. We headed up the hill (8% grade) to Flagstaff and the V10 got a workout. We did not need A/C again until we got out into the flats of New Mexico and Kansas.

An Entire Wall at Palm Creek Labelled Romance

An Entire Wall at Palm Creek Labelled Romance

Lake Afton in Kansas - Almost Home

Lake Afton in Kansas – Almost Home

Propane Fill - Short Hose Workaround

Propane Fill – Short Hose Workaround

Staging in Iowa

We stop for a week or so at the pole barn in Iowa where we store all our summer toys. Oh … and the odd car and van. This year we’re extending the layover to attend a birthday party for the kids of nieces and nephews. It feels like they were kids themselves just a few years ago. Tick Tick.

Our Private Trail Got Popular. Great Western Trail from Martinsdale to Des Moines

Our Private Trail Got Popular. Great Western Trail from Martinsdale to Des Moines

Calorie-Positive Biking at Cummins Tap – Great Western Trail

Calorie-Positive Biking at Cummins Tap – Great Western Trail

Deb Even Took Time Help Out with Bible School

Deb Helped Out with Vacation Bible School

Sunday Pool Day with the Family in Iowa

Sunday Pool Day with the Family in Iowa

Roatan to Livingston: Nice, Easy Overnighter

May 9, 2013 Posted by Deb

RoatanSunset

The boat was crippled coming back from Cayos Cochinos and we were with a group of boats that had set a departure for Zero Dark Thirty the next morning. We’ve never been the boat holding up the party before; and we knew we had to scramble to get a new port battery, get the starboard engine starting again, and check out of the country with the port captain, customs, and immigration. To make matters worse, our mechanic contacts were either unavailable or sick.

We immediately went to the dockmaster for Fantasy Island, Jerry, and got a new contact for engine and electrical work. Not only did we reach Pedro, but he dropped what he was doing and met us at Frenchy’s 44 by 3:30 for a ride out to Neytiri. We got a chance to pick up a new battery, and Deb did a bit of last-minute provisioning before he arrived. It seems Pedro loves working on boats and solving problems and our issues seemed more interesting than the large project he was working on. He solved the starboard engine problem as quickly as the prior two or three pros. This time is was a bad connector on a wire. We installed a new battery, tested the port alternator, and Neytiri was ready to go. The charge for his services was around $30 U.S., and we drank beer for another two hours. During the drinking session, he mentioned that the relays as well as the electrical layout for the engines made no sense. That observation loomed large in the next few days.

WestEndTown

The group changed plans and decided not leave that night but later the following day. We would stage at Cabos Tres Puntas for a night before tackling the dreaded Livingston bar at around 8:00 a.m. two mornings down the line. Checkout was a comedy if it wasn’t so painful. We had to wait, make calls, wait, visit the airport, and fill out forms, visit offices multiple times in the proper order, and deal with a wide variety of cab charges. Mike on Casa del Mar double checked our passports and the stamped exit date was more than a month off, actually before we arrived. Good catch and we had to arrange for another stamp. Always fun to explain multiple stamps down the road.

Departure was uneventful but we noticed the new starting battery was getting hit with too much of a charge and pulled the terminal quickly. We met Aquadesiac coming out of West Bay and the three-boat fleet sailed off into the sunset. Neytiri sailed initially, Casa del Mar motorsailed the entire trip, and Aquadesiac motor sailed (about 700 rpm lower than normal) and sailed. When we tried to motorsail to catch up a bit, the starboard engine failed to start again. We rewired the port alternator to the original, pre-Pedro configuration and found it was not charging the house bank at all and the starting battery was trying to cook again. After shutting down the alternator completely, we found ourselves with one engine and no means of engine driven charging of the house battery. We would soon be turning on nav lights and the autohelm chewed up lots of amps from the battery. We shut down refrigeration, the autohelm, and all unnecessary energy consumption and hand steered for the first time on this boat into the night. That makes a long night of it. The autohelm is like a third crewmember. Without it and with the off duty crew asleep, it is challenging to take a pit stop, get a drink, check navigation, trim sails, or do anything that requires leaving the helm.

By morning the solar panels kicked in. The lowest battery reading was 12.62 so we had plenty of juice in reserve. We flipped on refrigeration but the autohelm failed for the first time; and we continued hand steering, arriving way behind the fleet in Cabo Tres Puntas at about 2:30. We kicked back and re-read all the guides and their slightly different techniques for tackling the bar at Livingston. We remember well our last crossing 18 years ago and the depth alarms squawking (until we turned them off).

Cayos Cochinos or Islands of Pigs

May 7, 2013 Posted by Deb

We motored from Roatan to Cayos Cochinos in 4 to 5 hours in flat calm. When we grabbed a mooring, we couldn’t believe the bad rotten egg smell coming off the island. It turned out the smell was coming from our port starting battery which had cooked itself to the point of losing about four inches of acid into the battery compartment. We jerked the battery and put it on the sugar scoop, cleaned the battery box, and waited for the trades to flush out the smell. Of course, now we’re out a port engine within days of getting the starboard engine running. Maybe we were meant to have only one engine at a time.

CayosParkRangers

CayosNeytiri

This little group of islands is becoming our favorite. We are here with Casa del Mar and Aquadesiac and the diving is gorgeous and the locals are incredibly welcoming.

CayosFosterAtBoat

Of course they want to sell us jewelry, food, and Mike on Casa del Mar got an authentic Indian paddle. The little kids are great entertainment and love to have their picture taken. The head greeter has a name we can’t quite get but it is close to Foster. We dinked over to his restaurant on a tiny island called Cachuate after a hard morning of diving and finished up lunch at 4:30. He said he had 150 family members on that island. The island was shy about 15 beers when we left.

CayosBoySailKayuka

ChachuteFromNeytiri

CayosDebApproachIsland

ChachuateSchoolKids

CayosKinder

CayosLunchAtFosters

CayosTortillaWoman

CayosFosterCooking

Cinco de Mayo Party on Neytiri

Cinco de Mayo Party on Neytiri

Hank and Old Port Royal Revisited

May 2, 2013 Posted by Deb

When we set up shop in French Harbor, Roatan, we went to the nearest boat, Sunyata, and started the process of getting a feel for the area and finding a good mechanic to bring our starboard engine back to life (again). We could not have picked a better boat to ask. Hank had been there for 28 years running a charter operation with his boat three or four months a year and generally kicking back the rest of the time. He set us up with Smiley, so named because he never smiles. Smiley pulled the starter, took it to a starter repair guy, reinstalled it, and chased down two new relays all in about a 3-day period and the total cost to bring the boat back online was under $150 U.S. with tip.

We also met Roy while waiting for a laundry pickup. Roy on Avion had been in Roatan for a long time as well, and he did a double take when we told him we anchored overnight in Old Port Royal. He said that the bay we were in was known as burglary bay and we were lucky to get out of there intact. Oops..

Roatan Road Trip

We actually did hook up with a part of the Panama fleet when Casa del Mar returned from the islands just south of Roatan called Cayos Cochinos. We didn’t so much catch up as they decided they liked the area and let the rest of the fleet sail on. We, along with Aquadesiac, did a road trip around Roatan with Santos, a tour guide who we chartered for a day. When three boats charter a van, that means a lot of stops at the top tourist sites like every hardware store on the island, every marine store, the grocery store, and finally, the gas station. We did a fair amount of sightseeing but the van was very full at the end of the day. The highlight was the tip of Roatan called West End.

WestEndChuckDeb

ChuckRumGlassView

CocoLocoChuck

RoatanShopping

Dive Roatan

The thing to do in Roatan is dive. Some folks are doing five dives a day. We dusted off our PADI cards and signed up at Fantasy Island. Importantly for us, we gathered up all the dive gear we inherited from the former owners and had Darren, the head divemaster, tell us what we had. He was like Eli Wallich in Good Bad and the Ugly when Tuco (Eli) pieced together a gun from three or four others. Darren assembled one good regulator from all our stuff, tested, cleaned, and explained what we had for the stunning price of $30. So, not only did we splash for the first time since St. Kitts, we did it with a good amount of our own gear. We did a great wall dive with some folks from Michigan.

DiveBoatChuck

 

That's a really big iguana on the top of the Dive Shop

That’s a really big iguana on the top of the Dive Shop

 

BraziliansInDiveBoats

Frozen Freecell

Okay, it got hot with 92% humidity and the winds went flat. We bailed out of the anchorage and grabbed a spot at Fantasy Island so we could fire up the AC for a few days and dry the boat out. When you’re used to the tropics, AC is a bit harsh and I winter up to keep from getting a nasty cold. Looks pretty strange in this climate, though.

ChuckAirConditioner

Drones, Dinghy Watchers, Derelicts, Dead Computers, and Dead Engines

April 23, 2013 Posted by Deb

The ex-military guys we sail with from time to time informed us that we were overflown three times by drones while underway at night in Columbian and Nicaraguan waters. We knew there were some very weird aircraft over our heads but have never heard a drone before. We have a feeling it was U.S. taxpayers’ money at work fighting the drug war.

Kite Surfer in the Anchorage

Kite Surfer in the Anchorage

Rasta news. A very rasta looking Honduran started talking to us at a little local food joint near the bridge in Providencia. He told us about the Boston Marathon bombings. We had been without internet for so long, major events slipped by. Deb went to three different internet cafes the next day and still did not get a page to load (bandwidth is challenging) regarding the bombs but we had better luck on day two. What really worked was a satellite call to the relatives.

Richards_Providencia

Three Degrees Left and Fire

Three Degrees Left and Fire

Neytiri in Providencia from the Hike to the Fort

Neytiri in Providencia from the Hike to the Fort

Henry Morgan made Providencia Famous

Henry Morgan Made Providencia Famous

Lumping Pirates and Protestants

Lumping Pirates and Protestants?

That’s a Tonka Front End Loader He’s Playing With

That’s a Tonka Front End Loader He’s Playing With

We pulled up the hook and sailed out of Providencia on Thursday morning, April 18, for our second longest passage on Neytiri — something in the neighborhood of 375 miles to Guanaja, Honduras. Most cruisers stop at the Vivorillos but we elected to keep on trucking due to a significant drop in the wind forecast for our third day. That trip turned into a perfect catamaran sail with 70 miles in the first 8 hours and 190 for the first 24 hours. We pulled into Guanaja 50 hours later with only one incident … having a light wind sail up in the middle of the night when a squall hit. A sail that was meant for 17 knots maximum wind got hit with 22 knots before we could wrestle it down at around 3:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. The seas were impressive for the entire trip and did not drop to 5 feet as forecast. Neytiri surfed repeatedly on the downwind leg, a first for us and spectacular at times on the knot meter.

El_Cayo_Guanaja

Guanaja was pretty and virtually empty of cruisers. We got directions and a feel for the area from Gar, an ex pat who came to Guanaja 9 years ago and never left. We were in a hurry to clear into the Honduras and forgot the camera. We should have taken it because the main town (which was on stilts 18 years) was pretty cool. Leon jumped up when we arrived and signed on as our tour guide and dinghy watcher. He was actually very helpful and we planned to give him a nice tip but the head “Guido” showed up and ran Leon off. Meanwhile our dinghy got used for a trampoline by the local teenagers and had saltwater and dirt on the inside and probably aged a few years from the beating. On the upside, immigration and the port captain were both open and we were charged exactly zero for clearing into Honduras.

We celebrated at the Manati restaurant, owned an operated by Germans that met in Guanaja but lived about 20k from each other in Germany. The food and German beer was great but the real entertainment came from Gar and John, a couple of guys who had been coming to Manatis almost daily for nine years and violently arguing a broad spectrum of subjects (the night we were there it was gun manufacturers and the migration of humans to the North American continent with a sidebar on the origins of blue-eyed humans). At the conclusion of each evening’s angry debate they would hug and part friends. Deb said it was like Norm and Cliff from Cheers; and come to think of it, they sat at exactly the same position at the bar. We dinked home in the dark, slightly impaired.

That evening my laptop died and the following morning the starboard engine failed to start again. We made contact with our friends that we were trying to catch by renting a dongle for Deb’s laptop and configuring it without a teenager to help. We got it to work just long enough to send “we arrived” email and send out a few queries about where the fleet was. The next morning, we could only get Facebook so Deb chatted with her sister and asked her to check Deb’s Google mail account and we got the travel plans for the fleet that way. We took off for Roatan at about 10:30 with zero wind and one engine. Rather than jack the rpm’s, we altered course for Old Port Royal Bay so that we could get in with enough light to see the reefs.

Somebody’s Bad Day Made a Fair Channel Marker

Somebody’s Bad Day Made a Fair Channel Marker

Our destination changed as we passed a nice little town with a mast or two anchored off. As we pulled in, we got swarmed by boat boys (men) paddling like crazy to get in front of us. We cut throttle to keep from running them over. As we neared town, we could see the one mast was a derelict and the other was a large local fishing boat. Deb said “I don’t like this” and we spun the boat and headed out to Old Port Royal. We had to bust through the boat boys again and tossed them each a Coke but they wanted lots more. We told them we had no local currency and they were scratching their heads on that line while we throttled up and got away. We damn near went aground in the Coke exchange and it would have been tough getting off a reef with only one engine. Our chosen anchorage was gorgeous with a narrow entry and a wreck to mark one edge. We were anchored off a nice beach with some kind of plantation to port but at night, there was not a single light from the huge building. The next morning, we ghosted the coast in light wind and eventually dropped the hook in French Harbour, Roatan, Honduras, after an absence of over 18 years.

Reef Watching

Reef Watching