Log #56c Off to Honduras

December 1, 2012 in Log Series 50-59, Logs by Series, Series 56, The Logs

 

Roatan, Honduras

Dec. 2, 2012

Hi Folks,

We are here in Roatan in the Bay Islands of Honduras, good to be back at sea again. We have been welcomed to this well sheltered anchorage by Wayne and Elly Smith of Zeppelin, originally from Victoria B.C. They painted a very hospitable picture of this area, so that we may stay a week or so. I hope to be able to send this off tomorrow, Dec. 3, if I can access WiFi from a local establishment. This log gets us finally out of the Rio Dulce and over here to Honduras. The Bay Islands are about 12 miles from the Honduran mainland. We have no interest in going to the mainland, and will stay out in the Bay Islands.

All is well with us and Veleda in spite of the heavy sail we had when we left the Rio. I am preparing to update my website while here, and I have accumulated many excellent pictures of our travels in the prairies. I will let you know when I have updated any more of the logs on the website. As I review them, I am altering some of the content to reflect many more pictures than I could send with the E-mailed logs.

Judy and I are extremely fortunate and appreciative to be able to do what we are doing in this cruising lifestyle.

All the best,

 

Aubrey

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Log #56c Off to Honduras

Utila, Bay islands, Honduras

Dec. 1, 2012

We spent three weeks in the Rio Dulce after getting back to Veleda on Nov. 3rd. As mentioned previously, Veleda was in good condition, clean inside and out thanks to Jennifer and her crew. We hanked on the sails, checked out most of the systems, filled the water tanks at Jennifer’s, and got the dinghy and outboard operational. We actually took the dinghy to Jennifer’s dock and took the outboard off to change the oil, replace the lower gear case oil, lubricate all locations, attach a new anode, change the spark plugs and install a set of fins on the lower trim tab.

Log_56c_Working_on_the_Mercury_outboard

This latter installation is hoped to help this gutless heavy four stroke engine go faster and get the two of us up on a plane. The carburetor on this engine is too sensitive for the heavy use of an outboard on an open dinghy, and so last spring I installed an in-line filter and a Racor water separator to keep the gas as clean as possible. It started OK.

In addition to paying Jennifer the $740.00 for seven months storage and cleaning we gave her several charts of the east coast and some old equipment that she can sell at a bilge auction and use the proceeds for a Mayan charity that she helps with. In addition we gave her five rolls of Canadian one cent coins that we had been carrying around since Judy’s dad’s death three years ago. He used them as weights for some leg exercises he was supposed to do, and we never got around to cashing them in. Jennifer does craft work and has used coins to decorate bleached skeletons of cows, turtles and armadillos, as well as ceramic shards to decorate other objects.

Log_56c_Coin_studded_cattle_head_of_Jennifers

We left Jennifer’s and motored up to Fronteras, also known as Rio Dulce, to anchor in various locations for the next three weeks. There the living was easy. We anchored most of the time in the bay off RAM Marina(with the green roofs) and Mar Marina (with the red roofs) where we could pick up free WiFi from Mar, thanks to Marlene the owner who invited us to use it. Thus I was able to update several logs with pictures on my website. Happiness is free WiFi in the boat at anchor!

Log_56c_Veleda_at_anchor_in_Fronteras

We used the 1000 watt Honda generator to keep our batteries charged up. (I wish now I had purchased a 2000 watt generator so it could also power some appliances such as drills, hot water heater,  vacuum cleaner, or even a coffee maker or micro wave {neither of which we have on Veleda}). One of our two solar panels was damaged by a block that fell from the mast head and we replaced it with another 90 watt panel. Here in Guatemala there is no tax on purchases. The panel actually cost less than the equivalent one from West Marine. Another purchase I was lusting after was a 15 horsepower two stroke Yamaha engine to replace my hated Mercury 9.9 horsepower four stroke engine. (New two stroke engines are no longer available in Canada or the U.S.) If I could have sold my Mercury for $1000.00, less than half the price I paid two years ago, I could have bought the 15 hp Yamaha for only $2100.00, no tax. However, I had no takers, as the poor reputation of Mercury engines is known down here. So, I am stuck with it. I found this Yamaha when I had to take the Mercury in to get the carburetor cleaned yet once again, and the dealership had one available.

We took a day trip to Quirigua, a nearby Mayan site, for an early solstice ceremony. The ceremonies were not impressive as politicians had to make many long speeches, and the dancing troupe was mediocre. There were some interesting costumes of Mayan priests, and the Mayan ball game between four players from two Mayan groups was interesting. The ball has to be hit through the ring on the backboard. The winning captain was not sacrificed.

Log_56c_Mayan_Ceremony_before_theball_game         Log_56c_Ball_has_to_go_through_the_circle

Below are two views of an original “small” ball court from Mayan ruins in Coban. The ball courts of larger Mayan communities were even bigger, and had vertical wallls.

Log_56c_Mayan_Ball_court_1       Log_56c_Mayan_Ball_court

Log_56c_Mayan_ceremonial_costumes

The site itself is noted for its nine tall ancient stelae (the tallest is 35 feet high and weighs 65 tons) dating back over 1300 years and an acropolis with partially excavated ruins. There were the several mounds and hills beneath which are other unexcavated buildings. The stelae were erected by the various kings of the area with appropriate symbols of their reigns. The carvings in the stone are quite visible and these are noted for the well preserved glyphs which indicate the dates of the reigns in the Mayan calendar.The image below gives the date of the reigning ruler of Dec. 29, 775 B.C. in the Mayan calendar of 9.17.5.0.06.13. The 13 indicates the long count (Baktun) of several hundred years (like our millenia), and the date after our Dec. 21, 2012 is not the end of the world, but just the end of the13th Baktun, and the next dates would end in the long count number of 14.

Log_56c_One_of_9_stelae          Log_56c_Mayan_and_Gregorian_dates_for_this_stela

The daily routine included the VHF net on channel 69 at 0730 each morning, except Sunday, reading the Canadian newspapers on the internet (the Globe and Mail and the National Post), and other work on the computers until about 1000, then some maintenance work on Veleda or shopping in town. I was able to rent DVD movies from Mar Marine at $3.00 each, and so enjoyed several nights of movies, while Judy read on her E-book. We enjoyed an American Thanksgiving meal at Mar Marine and saw Toronto Argonauts win the Stanley Cup on TV at Backpackers Marina. There were a couple of bilge auctions which provided more socialization than purchases, and a couple of trivia nights at which our table each time came in second place (thanks to Judy who is a fount of trivia). The second night produced a small world situation as the couple we were with were the Millards from England on a boat called Beez Neez. Bebe, the wife is interested in genealogy and her husband Dr. Steve Millard, came from the Wednesbury area near Birmingham that my dad came from. We may be related! Bebe gave me a print out of my family dating back to the early 1800’s.

But enough of easy living, it was time to get back to sea. We checked with Raul, a very good immigration consultant who came to RAM Marine, and arranged to have our documents ready in a couple of days to exit Guatemala. We took a launcha down to Livingston on Nov. 27th to get our passports stamped out and ready to leave on Nov. 28th.  On the morning net of the 27th we indicated we would be leaving the Rio, and after the net we were called by Paco, a Canadian boat we travelled with last spring. Georges just returned to his boat the day before, and arranged to come over to Veleda later that afternoon. It was good to see him and his wife again. They are going up to Belize and we may see them there at Christmas time.

Next day, Nov. 28th we set off at 0800 to anchor at Jennifer’s at 1000. Unfortunately she was not there, but we had a good talk with Jean Pierre Ladner, a fellow Canadian from Quebec, whom we met last spring as his boat Taj Mahal was also at Jennifer`s for the summer. We left Jennifer a few more articles for her bilge auction and our remaining Guatemalan Quetzals (currency) for her charity.  On we went out the Rio Dulce past the entry port of Livingston and into open salt water for the first time in eight months.

A couple of miles ahead of us was a catamaran, Nauti Nauti, who we found out were headed for Utila in the Bay Islands of Honduras as we were. There was a half decent westerly wind that enticed us to put up our mainsail and full genoa, revelling in being at sea under full sail with no engine. We slowly made our way across the unmarked bar outside of Livingston, following the reverse of our track when we first entered eight months ago. We were down to four and five feet; finally we saw the depths increasing and knew we were across the bar. We rounded Cabo Tres Puntas of Guatemala and headed due west for the Bay Islands by 1300.

As we had the wind astern of us, I wanted to wing out the genoa with our whisker pole. However the plunger was frozen up and would not work.  We sailed along most of the afternoon, due east. We furled the genoa as it was blanketed by the main and was slapping loudly.  We tried the genoa out again shortly after sunset, motorsailing in light westerly breezes. Judy went below shortly after supper as I took the first watch, our usual sea routine. I furled the genoa as it was flogging again and continued with only the full main. Usually we reef the main or drop it to sail under genoa at night, but this time we left the full main up.

Then the winds picked up, and the rain started blowing in astern of us in the force 4 to 5 (12 to 20 knots of wind). We didn’t want to venture out of the cockpit to reduce sail and so we pounded on through the night with shifting stern winds and six to nine foot following seas and torrents of rain! The engine was off as we were travelling at hull speed or better because of a full main in heavy weather. I had Judy relieve me at 0100, but when below I was not able to sleep because of the heavy motion of the boat wallowing in the heavy following and quartering seas.  I suggested that we have only two hour watches due to the stress of the conditions. Then while Judy was on watch our Raymarine self-steering system stopped working. Fortunately we have a backup system, a Simrad Wheel Pilot, which was activated and did a good job of holding us on course. At 0400 I came back on watch, but this time I was in full foul weather gear, and able to take the watch until after sunrise when Utila was in sight. It was still a long arduous watch, especially when, with the winds astern and the heavy quartering seas, the main accidentally jibed twice during my watch. We are fortunate that the Ontario 32 is such a strongly built boat, as accidental jibes put considerable strain on the rigging, and could tear out the traveller or shrouds, or break the boom as happened to Veleda in 2009 when the boom fractured (corrosion a major factor) in a light controlled jibe, and broke at the boom tangs, leaving us without a mainsail for the rest of the voyage from Eleuthra in the Bahamas up to Charleston.

We were in radio contact with Nauti Nauti, who by then was a few miles astern of us, no longer in visual range. They are a 40 foot catamaran and were having no problems as they had only their genoa out and their cockpit had a full enclosure so they were dry and comfortable, while we were soaked and chilled. However we were faster, as we had a full main up through the heavy weather going along at six and seven knots, above hull speed.

When we arrived in Utila the conditions were still heavy, and the anchorage was exposed to the westerly winds. After the second attempt to anchor we seemed to hold (16 05.598N, 086 53.622W) but were still bouncing up and down in six foot waves on a lee shore. I immediately launched the dinghy as it was being pounded by the up and down motion of the boat. (Remember we tow the dinghy with the stern raised out of the water on rigid dingy tow arms so only the bow of the dinghy is floating.) The lashings we put on the motor had come loose and the lower engine unit and propeller were in danger of chewing up the support lines of the Dinghy Tow. Lowering and getting into the dinghy in the heavy seas was dangerous, but I had no choice. Once in I released the lines, freed the propeller, and the dinghy slewed astern of Veleda on its painter, still bobbing violently up and down in the heavy seas in this unprotected anchorage.  After I clambered back aboard Veleda I was exhausted. We then watched Nauti Nauti come in and after the second attempt they were securely anchored.

As we had the dinghy in the water we went over and picked them up to go ashore to do the paperwork for our entry. No problem, as Allen and Patricia had been there before and knew where the agents were located. However taking the dinghy alongside the jetty was another dangerous manoeuvre as the three and four foot waves at the dock made tying up and getting out of the dinghy a treacherous climb. The immigration and port captain’s office were side by side and the formalities carried out without problems, other than we did not have any Honduran currency with us. Allen loaned us 112 Lempira which was all that the entry and passport stamps for 90 days cost.  (The current exchange rate is 20 Lempira to $1.00) Thus our entry fee was only $5.60.

However, while on the dock waiting for them to complete their paperwork, I noticed that Veleda was dragging her anchor, and drifting shorewards. We hustled back to the dinghy and returned Allen and Patricia to Nauti Nauti, all of us drenched as we had to motor into the wind and waves, then we returned to Veleda, flashed up the engine and motored out into the bay. We tried several times and after the fourth or fifth attempt finally seemed to have the anchor hold. We put on the anchor alarm on our GPS, and sat watching the shoreline in case we dragged in the still 15 to 20 knot winds and six foot waves. This is not a good anchorage!