Monday, April 8, 2013

You have come a long way baby!

Where to start.... it has been over a year since I lasted posted to the blog.  I have oodles of reasons why, but why start there.  Where in the hell are we now?

Fantasy Island!
Roatan, Honduras (The Bay Islands)
We arrived here on March 31, 2013! Easter Sunday.
Hard to believe we have been here for over 10 days now. We came into the west end of the island due to the weather that was forecast- really high winds. The island acts as a wind break to the anchorage and there is no fetch there.  I had phoned ahead to make contact with a friend we had ,Wayne & Ely on board SVZeppelin, in the anchorage because it was apparent it was going to be dark when we reached our way point.  Without fail he answered his phone and said keep on heading to the way point and he would meet us there, in the dark, in his small dive boat.  It was with great relief when I saw his running lights, even though they looked very small and dim.  He took us between the reef and over to the mooring field.  He had a mooring all set up for us.  After over 52 hours of hand steering (Broken Auto Pilot) from Isla Provindencia Columbia we thanked Wayne and went to bed!

The next morning we started off with Wayne and Elly in their SUV and accomplished everything on our list in a matter of hours.  Normally it takes days because we don't know where things are and have to rely on taxi or buses.  By 3:00 in the afternoon we were actually ready for company!  It was pretty amazing.

That night I was feeling a bit bedraggled so I went to be early, about 8:00 pm.  Doug wasn't far behind.  At 11:00 we heard a really loud BAM, not a good noise.  It was a noise that actually got Doug out of bed first.  Our mooring line had snapped in the wind, Chaffed.  We had put our line through the mooring line eye, then attached to the boat.  It just could not take the boat motion.  We found ourselves up against the reef, a noise not good to hear.  I heard Doug start the engine so I grabbed our glasses, and started turning on instruments and nav lights.  Doug seemed to have a much better idea of where we were in the mooring field so he stayed at the helm and I went forward and dropped the anchor.  It held on the first try, nice!  I looked around and realized we were both butt naked running around the boat, what just happened?  Having just a little bit of adrenaline I sat in the cockpit for another half hour on anchor watch.  I finally went back to bed only to hear the sound of voices and a anchor being let down.  So I was up in the cockpit again seeing what was going on.  Apparently another boat had also come loose from their mooring.  And yes, they were also butt naked running around top side.  In the morning we picked up another mooring using only the mooring line attached to the boat, which is what we really wanted to do the first time.

The next day, Wayne drove us to the airport to pick up Dave and Julia which was really nice of him.   It was great to see Dave and Julia !

They brought us lots of boat parts and most importantly spare parts and tools to fix the auto pilot.  The new parts were metal instead of plastic, this was a good sign. Dave and Doug installed the new parts and they work like a charm.  We stayed in the West end for several days as the weather was blustery.  It was an opportunity to explore the west end.  By Thursday the weather was forecast to lye down so we headed out to a place called Cayos Cochinos or hog island.  Here we finally got in the water to snorkel, it was beautiful.  Very clear, not too murky.  There was a westerly swell that was not forecast and bothersome.  We went over to the Turtle Cay Resort and had a rum drink and checked out a very green spotted eel that lives under a stone wall.

We had dinner on the boat and enjoyed the breeze in the cockpit.  I was awakened at 3:00 am by the sound of a plastic bag fluttering around the cockpit. It wasn't just a little breeze any longer.  I had towels and swimming suits laying on the lines so I got up to check on things. Our dingy was still in the water attached only by its small painter line.  I decided it was more work then I was awake to do on my own so I rousted el captain.   We doused the wind scoop, brought anything in that wasn't attached and hoisted the dinghy.  I stayed up and watched as a lighting storm passed.  There were 3 other sailboats moored in the harbor but no one had proper mast lights glowing.  I could only see the boats when the lightning flashed.  Very eery.  I was wondering if I was the only one awake.

The next morning I awoke to find Julia awake, well sort of, in the salon.  We had a good laugh at the state of things including our hair.  Morning are always fun.  It's a time to rehash the events of the prior day or evening.  She rises very early in the morning and when I looked at my watch 615am I knew she should be up.  The weather had not calmed, in fact it had gotten worse and we were now squarely on a lee shore in bad weather.  We managed to boil some water for tea and went up to the cockpit.  Dave poked his head up only to be told if he wanted coffee he was on his own.  Dave managed in a galley he hasn't seen in years to ascend the companion way with a steaming hot cup of coffee.  He had barely placed his second foot on the soul of the cockpit when we heard the familiar BAM of our mooring line snap. Luckily the four of us have lots of experience being on boats together both in good and bad situations.  This was bad.  The dinghy was still hanging off the halyard full of all our snorkel gear.  The wind was howling and we were very close to shore.  All we could do at first was small circles until we came up with a plan of action.  Doug popped up and wanted to lower the dinghy into the galloping sea, but first we needed to get our gear out.  Dave at the helm, Doug precariously hanging in the dinghy and Julia and I tossing everything we could grab on board below decks.  We lowered Doug then had to find the towing harness to attach it to the stern.  Doug was truly riding the bull that morning.  We had Wayne and Elly on the radio asking what in the world?  They were wondering if they could help.  We had decided already we were just going to tow the dinghy and leave, not try to reconnect to a mooring.  I was able to hold the boat straight into the wind, off the rocks while Dave attached the towing line and Doug scampered aboard.  Another act in the Simms family circus!  Julia descended the companionway to tame the gorilla who had tossed the entire contents below decks.  Nothing was in its place, yes contents may shift was an understatement.  As soon as both Doug and Dave were at the helm and making course decisions on how to exit over the reef I ducked down below and found solace gripping my pillow.

Our course was decided, Fantasy Island.  It's been a working harbor for hundreds of years yet there are mere floats marking the entrance and reef.  Mind boggling.   The sail over was rough but everything was fine so all was well.  We called to the harbor master and he responded and gave us a location for a side tie.  Not just a straight forward side tie.  Between his boat and a 63 foot Cheoy Lee motor-sailor.  So it was once again all hands on deck with fenders and lines.  We managed to thread the needle, within inches, and glide up to the dock. Whew!

We were met by Jerry, a long time cruiser himself.  He was the dock master here at fantasy island.  We were checked in and given the grand tour of the resort.  Being at the dock meant we had all the privileges of being at the resort.  There was lots of places to snorkel.  Wrecks, planes, walls to dive. Lobsters to look at in the anchorage a reef just outside.  Monkeys, iguanas, no see ums.  This place has it all.  For the next two days we snorkeled and ventured all around in the dinghy. We even saw the Roatan yacht club being fully renovated. We also got invited over to a private island, which as long as the cruise ships are not in is really quite amazing.  Seems they also invite everyone from the cruise ship over as well when they are in port.  Every one needs to make a living.

Dave and Julia left on Sunday and we spent all day on Monday exploring the island by car on dirt roads.  I wished they could have stayed and explored with us.

The island is beautiful and the diving and snorkeling really amazing, the best I have ever seen.
Looks like we might be here until middle of May waiting on our new inverter to arrive via slow boat from Florida.
After that we are off to the Rio Dulce in Guatemala to put the boat up on the hard for the season.