Log #56h Roatan

April 4, 2013 in Log Series 50-59, Logs by Series, Series 56, The Logs

West End, Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras

April 9, 2013

Hi Folks,

We are back in Roatan after two months in Toronto having Judy’s pinched nerve assessed and treated. No surgery was warranted, and she has responded well to chiropractic and physiotherapy. Since returning to Veleda March 31, she has been fully functional, doing maintenance, squeezing into cockpit lockers and all the other tasks and activities associated with live-aboard life. It is good to have her back in good health.

Right now we are down in West End (of Roatan) enjoying the shelter here from strong southeasterlies which would make the anchorage in French Cay Harbour less comfortable. West End is an excellent snorkeling and diving paradise which I will describe in a future log.

Ironically, this log describes our return to Roatan in January after having been up in Belize for a few weeks with our friend Linda. We felt the same sense of homecoming again this time as we know many of the long term cruisers and marina operators, and it was good to be welcomed back.

At present our plans are still on track to spend April here around Roatan, then head up to Mexico and across the Gulf of Mexico, a five or six day passage to Port Aransas, Texas where we will haul Veleda and put her on a flatbed truck to be shipped to Bellingham in Washington, and sail the west coast of Puget Sound, the San Juan and Gulf Islands, B.C., and Alaska coasts for a couple of years.

Unfortunately our Tigo chip is not working and it may be a few days before we get it operational and before I can send this out. Another of Murphy’s Law, “Nothing is ever simple.”

All the best,

Aubrey

 ~~~~~(_~~~~

Log #56h Roatan

Roatan, Honduras

April 4, 2013

We left Utila, the westernmost  island of the Bay Islands off the Honduran coast, Jan.25 at 0945 for the 30 mile passage eastwards to Roatan. It was motor sailing most of the way with winds from the northeast to the west. We flew the genoa wung out on the whisker pole for an hour or so until we were headed by a westerly wind. One of the delights of cruising is being visited by dolphins. We had a pod of about ten dolphins come and play around our bow for about 15 minutes, Judy on the foredeck clapping and telling them how beautiful they were.We stayed well offshore coming up the reef strewn coast of Roatan, 

as paper and electronic charts of the area are unreliable. (In the above image, French Cay Harbour is where the red line intersects the island.) However when abreast of French Cay Harbour, we were able to see the white post channel marker on which we entered, leaving the post to starboard and passing between the two smaller floats marking the entrance. From there we went parallel to the shore until abreast of a few  shrimp boats  then headed out to starboard into the anchorage between Little French Cay and Fantasy Island to anchor by 1540 at 16 21.277N, 086 26.524W  in about 20 feet of water. (See attached picture of Little French Key in the foreground, Fantasy Island on the far side of the anchorage, the protective reef on the right, and the entrance to Brooksy Point on the upper left)                

Home again! At least it felt like it, as we had stayed here for over a month in Nov. /Dec. and knew many of the boaters. Shortly after we anchored we were visited by the crew of Argo, and Mike from Brooksy Point Marina, welcoming us back, and were called on VHF by Zeppelin to greet us. We like Roatan and plan to spend another two or three months here before heading back up north in the spring.

Roatan is a 30 mile long island with many indentations and harbours along its narrow coastline. The hilly terrain is covered with lush tropical vegetation, and the reef protected coast line has many sandy beaches. Luxury resorts can be found nestled off the main east-west highway on hilltops, coastal beaches, or inlets. A popular cruise ship destination, Roatan has up to five cruise ships a day, several days a week, during their high season from December to March, in at Coxens Hole and Mahogany Bay

                   

(See attached pictures). The island is safe for boaters and tourists, as the locals are aware the tourist dollar is a mainstay to their development and economy. We had heard negative things about crime and murder rates in Honduras (indeed, Honduras has one of the highest murder rates in the world) but such does not apply to the Bay Islands. The Bay Islanders are a breed unto themselves and separate themselves from the mainlanders. There is considerable English spoken throughout the islands, part from their historical legacy from the British pirates and the loot they brought to the islands, and part from the necessities of the tourist industry.

We quickly got into the swing of things. We volunteered to do the morning VHF net twice a week, including the weather report. For the weather report we use Weather Underground (www.wunderground.com), for local weather and another site, www.PredictWind.com,  for offshore weather. Local weather is important for boats in the anchorage to know what winds and from what directions to expect. Other boats may be waiting for a good weather window for longer offshore passages up to Belize and Mexico, or over to Providencia and the Panama Canal.

On the VHF net, after any priority traffic for emergency or medical issues, newly arrived boats are asked to check in to say, “Hello”, and departing boats invited to say “Goodbye”. Then there is a general check in to see who is up for this 0900 net. Local information is then presented about the Marine Park, visits to Frenchy 44 resort island on Little French Cay, and the weekly hors d’ oeuvres get together at Fantasy Island resort/marina (See attached picture of Beach at Fantasy Island).

                                     


Brooksy Point Marina is especially involved with the cruisers at their dock and the 15 to20 boats  (including Veleda) out in the anchorage, announcing their weekly pizza night, quiz night, potluck supper, Saturday bus run into Eldon’s, a good grocery store, as well as their propane refill and bottled water supply services. (See attached pictures of get togethers at Brooksy Point Marina)

          



Brooksy Point Marina is trying to entice cruisers at anchor to use their services for a modest fee of $15.00 US a week to include discounts for their bar and restaurant, dinghy landing, showers, garbage, laundromat, WiFi, TV, book and DVD exchange, and the weekly events. Mike, the owner, is a very co-operative resource person, ready to help anyone with their problems.

Getting back to the net, other activities are announced, including yoga classes and diving services offered by Wayne and Elly on Zeppelin, Canadians from British Columbia, long time cruisers in the area. (Incidentally about half the boats in the marina and at anchor are French-speaking boats either from Quebec, or France and the majority of boats are Canadian.)  Buy sell and trade is then encouraged for boaters to inform the net of what they have to sell or give away, or what they need and are looking for. Many useful items are exchanged this way, from hypalon glue we borrowed from one boat to old radios, invertors, anchors, and many other spare parts useful to cruisers. Then any services, assistance, or information offered or needed is opened to allow other restaurants, laundry services and other entrepreneurs to address the net. Cruisers then may ask for assistance or information on specific questions, such as computer problems, engine problems, or where to find a good bakery. Local businesses in town may then be suggested by other cruisers, or yet, someone with expertise may offer to come over to help with the problem. There is considerable camaraderie and support amongst the cruising community. 

From the anchorage, one can dinghy over to several excellent snorkeling spots. Many boaters tie up to the Marine Park notice board just inside the reef to go snorkeling in two to ten feet of water over the coral. To the left of the sign dozens of lobsters can be found sheltering beneath the coral heads, their antennae waving about as if they know they are in a marine park, and cannot be taken. It is quite a sight to see six or eight lobsters side by side nestled beneath the overhanging coral. One can just hover above them getting a beautiful view of these creatures in their natural habitat. To the right of the sign are some colorful coral heads with waving sea fans, and brilliantly painted tropical fish from minnow sized gobies to ten inch yellowtails. The rainbow coloured parrotfish, iridescent angelfish, striped sergeant majors, long slender pipefish all wafted around this shallow undersea world, oblivious to our shadows floating on the surface.

We saw an invasive lionfish hovering just off the sandy bottom, its poisonous fans displaying its dangerous beauty. These fish are becoming the scourge of the Caribbean as they have no predators to control their numbers, and they can cause the extinction of several species. The Marine Park offers a Lionfish spear hunting course with a complimentary spear and recipes for cooking them. This is the only fish allowed to be hunted in the Park. They have to be handled very carefully as their barbs have a painful toxin.

More about our dive with Wayne and Elly in my next log, as well as other amenities, activities and experiences in this tropical paradise of Roatan.