Bay Islands Honduras

Oct. 14, 2001
Log: Puerto Escondido Bay to Utila, Bay Islands, Honduras 44.87 nautical miles
Winds S 1-2 kts.
Seas rolling from NE 3ft.
8:45AM the Net finished we hear Dreamer calling for more sailboats to help pull them off. We are saddened to hear the tug was too expensive for them and too much politicking between Belize tugs and Guatemalan. We pull up anchor after a cool swim and head out along the desolate Honduran coast with high mountains off our starboard side. It is a jungle out there. They harbor jaguars, ocelots, deer, crocodiles, coyotes, howler moneys, coati mundis, turkeys, boars, tapir and many poisonous snakes. We have a fine day sailing. 4:45PM arrive in Utila, Bay Islands but stay aboard to check in tomorrow. The Bay Islands of Honduras are an underwater extension of an old volcanic mountain range that lie 10 to 30 nautical miles off the north coast. There are three major islands Utila, Rotan and Guanaja. Utila is closest to the mainland at 20 miles offshore and is 7 ½ miles long and under 3 miles wide.
Oct. 15, 2001
Log: Anchored off Utila, Bay Islands Honduras
Motor the dinghy ashore and check in with immigration and customs. It is a quick process. The authorities all speak Spanish but some early Bay Islanders are descendants of English, Dutch, and French pirates and historically kept at arms length from the Spanish speaking mainland. Utila is predominately English speaking. We find is a haven for dive shops. Marine biologists estimate that 95 percent of all known species of Caribbean coral can be found in the Bay Islands, creating an underwater museum of corals. Close to 100 recognized dive sites in the islands are visited by organized dive parties. We decide to take a refresher dive and sign on with a boat leaving this afternoon for a dive off two small islands called Suck Suck and Pigeon known locally as Up and Down. The names describe their relationship to the prevailing trade winds. Water temperature remains within 2 degrees of 80 degrees year-around with visibility usually in the 60 to 100 foot range. Today it is not so clear and we find a lot of debris due to the hurricane. We dive 40 feet for 40 minutes. The highlight is coming face to face with a Moray eel under a low lying outcrop of coral.
Oct. 16, 2001
Log: Utila to Cochino Grande, Gulf of Honduras 25 nautical miles
Wind east 10kts.
Seas 1-2 feet
Warm and sunny
We provision Ariel with local produce but find a store with imported American food. Lots of divers here so supply for demand. We find $12 for a big box of Cheerios outrageous but we can’t resist the break from local off brands. A girl approaches us to buy local ‘whelks’ a type of sea food that taste like conch. She claims they are fresh and offers them at a good price but must go get them from her brother so will meet us in 45 min. While shopping we run into her in a local shop trying to buy welks to in turn sell to us at a higher price. We pass on the offer and leave the island forgetting to pick up our box of paid for Cheerios. 10:15 Heading SE 101 degrees at 6 knots. Consoled ourselves with cream cheese and bagels fresh from the bakery. 2:30PM arrived in Cochino Grande. The entire Cayos Cochinos archipelago is a protected biological preserve. Bali Ha’i and another boat s/v Endurable are on moorings off this exotic little island of palm-covered hillsides rising 469 feet behind a sandy beach which look as if it had been transplanted from the South Pacific.
Oct. 17 & 18, 2001
Log: On mooring in Cochino Grande, Gulf of Honduras
It is Gayla and Georgianna’s birthdays. We are in paradise and loving just being lazy and not doing anything in particular. Bali Ha'i invites us over one night for a meal and to meet the older couple on Endurable, but they do not show. Their dinghy engine conked out and they had to row a long way so were exhausted. They are headed back to Miami to sell Endurable. They say they are too old, too weak and too argumentative to continue sailing. This sparks the ‘girls’ into action when Doanne on Bali Ha'i treats us to a special scuba dive, without the ‘boys’. We dive 40 feet for 40 minutes and are enthralled by the diversity of coral and sponges, Doann who is studying marine biology points out some special ones in our favor. We end our celebrations by watching a PBS video “Remember When”.
Oct. 19, 2001
Log: On mooring in Cochino Grande Gulf of Honduras
1:00AM a big wind came up in the night sending us scrambling to remove all drying dive gear from deck. Lightening and thunder for 1 ½ hours. In AM we move Ariel to Bali Hai’s mooring as they pull out moving further east. We will stay in radio contact as we have made a plan to round the corner of Honduras in tandem a plan that formulated back in Isle Mujeres Mexico months ago and now the time is close. Both captains have been setting up their new WinLink email systems since passing the ham radio license test. We hear on the Net that Dreamer is still aground but four sailboats are now in New Haven helping dig and rig up block and tackle. One more boat on the way. We check into a new net the Panama Net. Georgianna and Everett recognize many boats from their past sailing in that area. We are all getting anxious to move on. Steve repairs Ariel’s computer after it crashed while making video birthday cards. He has extra hard drives and mother boards, typical sailor to have many spares for all occasions.
Oct. 20, 21, 22,2001
Log: Cochinos Grande to Rotan, Bay Islands Honduras 23.60 nautical miles
Wind West at 20kts.
Seas 3-4 feet
Overcast with squalls in area
9:10AM let go mooring buoy heading 005 under reefed main and jib going 7kts. On a beam reach port tack. Halfway hit a squall with winds up to 24kts, flying along at 8kts. Entrance to Frenchman’s Harbor is tricky with many shoals but easy with scanned photo from Bali Hai for computer navigation into anchorage. Rotan Island is not only the largest of the Bay Islands but has many fine harbors. We found the Yacht club here had great food and an air conditioned Internet. We stay several days, one day taking a taxi overland to a sailors hangout 20 minutes away. Even though it was Sunday we found our Sunday best not really appropriate in a place with a name like ‘Hole in the Wall’ but we had a great time meeting many live aboards who have already made Rotan their home. The island is about 28 miles long and only 2-4 ½ miles wide with densely wooded hills and ridges many with beautiful homes. A real estate agent tells us business has picked up with many Americans leaving the states looking for a quiet retreat away from the terrorism threats. We are watching a cold front moving south which may give us our opportunity to make
our big move. We also hear a fifth boat has arrived in New Haven to help pull Dreamer off after two weeks aground.
Oct. 23, 2001
Log: Frenchman’s Harbor to Port Royal, Rotan 10 nautical miles
Winds E 5kts
Seas calm
Woke to find banana’s all over back deck. Our entire stalk we purchased for $5 in Utilia with over 50 bananas all came ripe at the same time. Spent the AM baking banana cake, listening to music and writing while Georgianna, Ev and Steve went for a dive. They came back disappointed in the bad visibility and lack of fish so ready to move on. 12:35PM left Frenchmen’s Harbor motoring 5kts, 80 degrees to east end of Rotan. 2:30 arrived in Port Royal and anchored off Chili Chili surrounded by palm fringed cays with white sand beaches. Steve makes a repair on the hydraulic steering system and we have a big Thai meal aboard made with all the wonderful vegetables found at the local markets in Frenchman’s harbor.
Oct. 24, 25, 2001
Log: Port Royal Rotan to Barbareta Island, Bay Islands15 nautical miles
Wind E 17kts.
Heading east motoring 5kts.
Seas choppy 1-2 feet
Two fishermen pull alongside to sell conch off their small boat. We give them $10 for 8 conch and 2 cans of beer. They removed the conch form the shell right there and in record time. 10:30AM we motor into the wind taking on spray over the bow when the winds rise to 25kt. 12:45PM we sight our way through reefs in good light and anchor behind Bali Hai off this privately owned island. In the 1980’s it was bought from Honduras for $55,000 and a year later the present owners from the USA purchased it for over 1 ½ million dollars. It is still owned by the same family but moves are being made to turn it into a permanent wildlife refuge. We walked for hours along the shores with 500 foot high hills of tropical rain forest teeming with wildlife and the yellow napped parrots. Bali Hai joins us for ceviche aboard Ariel as we discuss plans of moving on together in areas not safe to travel alone. Our last day on the NW Caribbean net we hear Big Foot report that Placencia Belize is now turning on lights after Hurricane Iris, that water is still being brought in but it is against the law to have tourists in the hotels yet. Our friend Bull Durham survived although he remained in his clapboard stilted house which literally blew away around him. And finally the joyous news that Dreamer has been pulled off with the help of five sailboats and is now afloat with minimal damage.
Update: To follow: Ariel sails through Tropical Wave now Hurricane Michelle

Log: Barbareta Island to Guanaja Island, Bay Islands 17 nautical miles
Wind E 7 kts
Motoring E 7 kts.
Seas 1-2 feet
6:45AM we have tuned in to the David Jones weather broadcast out of the Caribbean weather center in the Virgin Islands for a special independent request of weather in our area. There has been a cold front stalled between the Rio Dulce of Guatemala and the Windward Islands. It is predicted to move down to Rotan here in the Bay Islands off Honduras between midnight and 6AM with winds predicted up to 25MPH out of the NE by tomorrow night. On the NW Caribbean net we hear the weather is already bad between here and Belize. We converse with Bali Hai and all decided it is time to go.
8:00AM the mooring is dropped as we head for the Island of Guanaja. We motor all the way into the wind and drop anchor just off the town at 10:30AM. Checking out of Honduras immigration is done by the captain while the women head for the markets. It is a rabbit warren of alleys and narrow streets with all storefronts and homes facing inland from the sea, a strange place but with very nice friendly people. We are escorted to shops by locals for the best deals and end up with 30 oranges for $2. Stocked up, but no time to wash the vegetables in a Clorox solution, a big but necessary job to preserve and disinfect. Nor do we have time to cook an evening meal ahead of leaving. We head back to Ariel in a hot, humid stillness that is stifling. Another calm before the storm?
1:00AM Wind NE 3 kts. This light air is why we chose to head out on the long journey around the corner of Honduras and Nicaragua in the middle of hurricane season. This is when the winds are favorable for that direction. We motor out 102 degrees east, Bali Hai behind us. For several days we have called on the net for info about the safety of stopping in the Vivarios Cays a desolate area, off the Mosquito Coast of Honduras. It has been known in the past to be unsafe due to pirates so better to go in tandem with another boat.
A decision is made to head for the Vivarios Cays We have no time to waste, a weather window has presented itself and we must go NOW!

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