Thursday, April 29, 2010

Belated Guest Log Entry

Okay, they are now back in Ohio - but because there was no time for writing logs in the "fun, fun, fun" marathon, Dave and Lorna sent a belated entry - and here it is:

Wow what a trip!!!!!!
How could anyone expect any more than all that we packed into the two weeks.

We were greeted at the airport by our good friend Michael after spending 15 minutes max. to get through customs in Roatan Honduras. We decided to carry our bags outside of the airport gate to catch a taxi and watched Michael negotiate a taxi ride for 80 percent less than the cost inside the airport. After a short taxi ride to a dock at French Harbour, Michael gave Lorna and I a dinghy ride to Astarte..........and the fun began. Our good friend Barbara met us with hugs and a rum punch telling us that the theme of this trip was to have "fun, fun, fun till Daddy takes the T-Bird away!"

In short, at the end of each day, we had no energy left. Each day was so full that we were only able to stay awake to play games twice and star gaze twice. - "Two hosts on a mission" -

There was only one sad and disappointing experience that we had on the trip….Daddy took the T-Bird away!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Monday, April 26, 2010

New Pictures

Finally, we got some reasonable and reasonably fast internet and have posted some new pictures on the new picture page. Sorry, no captions yet, but we are hoping to get some on sooner than later.

Yum. . . .Lionfish

You've read a lot on this log about the invasion of a non-Caribbean fish - the Lionfish. This is a beautiful Pacific fish often seen in tropical salt water fish tanks.
It is toxic when touched and somehow has gotten into the fish population in the Caribbean (all kind of theories - mostly involving large aquariums). We first saw them in the Turks and Caicos, then throughout the San Blas and now in the Bay Islands of Roatan. Because it has no natural predators in the Caribbean (though some folks are saying some groupers are eating them), they are multiplying like rabbits. In a small bowl at a local dive shop here - they have a baby lionfish - and it is really a frilly, pretty tiny thing.

Well there may now be a natural predator. The predator of all predators. Man. Many places have allowed the killing of lionfish to help eliminate them or at least try to control them.

Last night, we went to a charity event - a fun barbeque at a local dive shop that was put on to support local schools. The event had a spear fishing competition (spear fishing is illegal in the park) - so this was shooting foam fish with Hawaiian slings. They made these fish and released them and then sent the competitors in the water to shoot at will. The event also featured some unique menu items - Lionfish ceviche and Lionfish "burgers," We decided we had to try one - so opted for the cooked version. The Lionfish burger was actually a fish sandwich. The Lionfish was lightly beer battered and then sautéed. It was a wonderfully light and delicate white fish. Very nice. So the Lionfish may not be a burden to the reefs long - once discovered as edible - they will be under control.

We did another dive yesterday with Dave and his son Michael, from "Jammin'" It was a good dive and it was good to have another under our belts after such a long absence of breathing bottled air. We're already spoiled with great visibility here - so when it's less than 75 feet we get disappointed. We had a nice wall dive.

Got some boat projects done - Michael rearranged our backup anchor for easier deployment which included moving it from starboard to port, tying the rode bag down and creating a net on the lifeline to keep the bag from accidentally rolling over. We took all our curtains down and washed them and re-installed.

We'll be here at West End, probably for the week, as there is some big weather coming from the southeast as the week progresses and this seems to be the best location for south easterlies. Unfortunately though, they are starting to charge for the mooring balls here starting today. So we'll have to cough up some of our favorite dollars for staying here.

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Breathing Bottled Air

Roatan is known for its diving - and in fact, when we lived in Portland, Oregon, we would come here to dive. Thanks to our friend Dave on "Jammin" we went diving the last two days. We have all our gear except tanks on board - and he has a surplus of tanks and needed a dive buddy - so it was a perfect match. We pay for our tank fills from a local dive shop. Michael's done more recent diving - mostly to clean the bottom of the boat while in Florida - but Barbara hasn't done much since some Florida Keys and Gulf of Mexico dives with Gene and Pat a bit back (and by a bit - we're talking years!)

On Thursday, we went out to a nice reef - and suited up. That's always the hardest part of diving - getting the gear out, hooked up, and finally on your body. After all that effort, once the air was turned on, Barbara discovered a serious leak in her BC (buoyancy compensator vest). No diving for her today. So she snorkeled and Michael and Dave had a good wall dive. Michael managed to repair the BC with the help of a local dive shop suggesting a method and $28US later - all was repaired.

Today (Friday), we re-geared and went out again to a place near the blue channel and the three of us had a great dive. There were a few turtles swimming about, a large moray in a hole, some giant "good - eating" fish (groupers, hog snappers, grey snappers, ocean triggers - but no spearing allowed in the park), and lots and lots of wonderful coral and fish. We dove along a wall about 60-70 feet with lots of canyons and interesting crevices. It was good to get back into a bit of diving and we remembered why we did enjoy it so much. Perhaps we'll even do a night dive at some point!

Over the last few days, we've had a lot of heavy wind and West End seems to be a good place to hole up based on the East to South East wind direction. On Wednesday, we did make a trip to the larger town nearby (Coxen Hole) via the local bus system. It's about 15 km away and cost 22 lemps (about $1.15) each way per person in a mini van. Like most of these "collectivos" they load in the passengers. We got dropped off in the center of town with lots of small shops and vegetable stands. Some of these little stores are quite fun with everything from pressure cookers to machetes and flip flops. After roaming around the town a bit, we walked to the big main grocery store which is quite well stocked. We loaded up on some re-supplies after our guests and headed back on a bus (with the same driver!)

West End, where we are now moored, is a little resort town with lots of dive shops, restaurants, bars and t-shirt/souvenir shops. When the cruise ships come in the town is packed (and the prices go up). We try to avoid cruise ship days when going into the town or we wait until the folks are re-loaded on their big boats. They seem to get a cruise ship most days. We've explored the town (it's not hard with one main road) and tried a few of the local eateries. The ice cream store never seems to be open - which is probably good for our waist lines.

Boat projects are getting done and we'll try to find an internet café someplace to get some new pictures on the website. No promises.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Daddy Took the T-Bird Away!

Well the "Fun, Fun, Fun" with Dave and Lorna is over as they take their flight back to cold Ohio. But not until after we zip-lined; saw sharks and morays; had monkeys hanging on us; tried to teach birds to talk; explored waterways; went into a cave with bats; and, ate, drank and had a blast together. So much fun they had no time to write a "guest log" entry.

We did have a good two weeks together and explored French Harbour, Old Port Royal, Calabash Bight. Oakridge, Jonestown and West End. We stayed in places that had no towns and places with lots of eateries, bars and shops. The weather was really great; everyday sunny, with a nice breeze on board to keep the bugs away and make sleeping relatively comfortable. We snorkeled everyday but two and saw different types of underwater environments. Some places had amazing coral canyons to explore and others had wide varieties and sizes of fish life. We did see a few sharks, some morays, too many lionfish (yes, they have become an issue in the Bay Islands as elsewhere in the Caribbean) and many, many beautiful tropical, colorful varieties. We puffed up puffer fish and saw big groupers and snappers. It was wonderful. This is all Marine Park - so no spear fishing is allowed.

We also dinghy explored though various towns - Yoshi being on excellent behavior for the entire trip. It was fun to see the Calabash/Jonestown/Oakridge area - where you go through mangrove surrounded waterways to get to the next big bay.

On Saturday, we took a bright and early morning tour on Roatan of Gumba Limba Park. We met our pick-up truck in town at 0730, climbed in the back with some park workers and headed up the steep road to the park. They actually opened the park an hour early for us! Here we zip-lined through tree canopies - seeing some cool lizards and laughing our way along the cables as we zipped with our guides Omar and Mario. It was really a blast and we didn't break anything! After our zip-lining adventure (I think there were at least 8 zip lines), we went through the park. We were the only visitors there at the time and saw some huge iguanas, went into a cave filled with active bats (which we were comfortable with seeing the boat is a bat cave); walked a long, wobbly rope bridge to the bird area where Lorna held a beautiful red macaw and a green parrot. Then, it was on to the monkeys. A few guys call the monkeys down from surrounding trees (the peanuts in their pockets help!) and the alpha male and alpha female came along with their one year old (birthday was a few days ago). Then another came from the other side. They were white faced monkeys (the same kind that threw a drink on Michael awhile ago) and they climbed all over all of us. Some of us liked it more than others! There was also a spider monkey - but he was actually on a "leash" as he gets a bit nasty.

The park was beautiful and we were all glad for the adventure and laughs.
We enjoyed a few nice meals out (thank you David and Lorna) and even a dinghy raft-up cocktail party with other boaters. It was a busy few weeks, but the weather, Yoshi, the bugs, the water-clarity all cooperated and we had a great visit. A big improvement over their Turks and Caicos adventure with us.

Now, we're back to the daily chores of boat ownership and back to log entries. Sorry for the lapse.

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Fun, Fun, Fun

…'til your daddy takes the t-bird away. That's the theme of the visit with Dave and Lorna who have arrived in Roatan. They scooted through customs and immigration and have new stamps in their passports from Honduras. It's been a few busy days getting all the stuff they brought us stowed and everyone settled on board. We did a provisioning run to cover the time they are here - we'll eat and drink well!

On arrival day - Monday, Michael did some serious taxi negotiations to get to and from the airport at very cheap prices. Then everyone loaded into the dinghy that gets tied to a dock filled with shrimpers, fishing boats and lobster boats. The season is closed for lobster and shrimp - so they sit idle with folks living aboard them. After the welcoming "Astarte rum punch" we enjoyed catching up over a tasty dinner. They had to get up at 0300 in Ohio - so with the time difference they called it an early night.

Tuesday was provisioning day - so we dinghied and walked to two different groceries with an intermediate stop at a bank to change US dollars into Lempiras. You get lots of colorful money back for your greenbacks. Shopping here is quite "U.S like" - many known brands and stores that are well stocked.

We had to have a young man help us with a cart back to the boat with our loads of goodies (all that beer and wine!) Michael went and got a watermelon from a fruit stand and some gasoline and off we went. It took two trips from the dinghy dock with all our stuff. We had to find homes for all the goodies - though some beverages are still waiting for space.

A nice swim for Lorna and Barbara in the afternoon and then a trip to the local resort "Fantasy Island" in search of monkeys and cold drinks. Lots of ROUS - but no monkeys to be seen. Dave made a delicious shrimp pasta for dinner upon the return.

Wednesday was a quick trip to fill propane, get a bit more fruit and then it was a snorkeling day. The wind was hooting - but we went to a great reef near the Fantasy Island and Coco View resorts. It was incredible. Lots of beautiful coral, tame fish (no hunting here - so they aren't afraid of humans), morays, and very colorful tropicals. It was a great snorkel. It was going to be a two snorkel day - but the crew got back for lunch, rested, a beer, and it seemed naps rather than more snorkeling was in order. Happy Hour at Coco View called - and we headed there.

It's great having Dave and Lorna here. We love company and hope they have a great experience here.

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Monday, April 5, 2010

The Easter Monkey=?ISO-8859-1?Q?=85?=

We didn't see any Easter bunnies - but we did see Easter monkeys…and one gave Michael a special gift. He dumped a glass of rum punch on him. No, Michael didn't insult the monkey while having a sundowner with him (like make disparaging remarks about his family tree or the length of his tail) - the monkey stole a drink from someone's table and then proceeded to climb a tree and then dump it on Michael. It was pretty funny (unless you were Michael!).

We hope everyone had a wonderful Easter and enjoyed the company of family. We missed that and thought of everyone. We did meet some very nice folks from Holland - it's a boat we've seen in many places along the way. We finally actually met them in Guanaja and spent Easter evening with them. Their daughter is also with them - she is studying in Nicaragua. We enjoyed a very pleasant evening and then the monkeys came - in a pack. One "ugly American" decided to ignore all the posting about feeding them and did just that - getting them in a frenzy. Then the dumped drink came flying down. A memorable event.

We are now in French Harbour on Roatan. It took three anchor tries to finally find the perfect spot with the perfect anchor set. That was good because on the first night here (Friday) it blew to 30 knots and we held fine. We did a bit of reconnaissance (with the help of a Canadian couple on another Moody) to find the dinghy dock, the grocery and the gas station. We scoped out cabs to the airport and the general area. The dinghy dock is at a shrimp boat dock - the owner kindly lets cruisers use his dock - though you do have to sneak through these big hulks of shrimp boats.

We've been working hard on getting the boat ready for company - it's a good excuse to really do a top to bottom cleaning. So Astarte is now all shiny and clean for Lorna's and Dave's visit - they should arrive today. It is a beautiful sunny day with a warm breeze. It's a perfect day to fly in and see the surrounding azure sea.

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Friday, April 2, 2010

A Galaxy of Glow Worms

Sometimes we feel like we're in a nature program. The things we get to see are often quite amazing. Last night was one of them. We've seen the glow worm mating ritual before - it seems to happen after many full moons, about an hour after sunset, the water gets aglow with bright neon green sparkly lights. These pop up, glow and twirl for a bit, then disappear. Last night was one of the most amazing glow worm spectacles we've seen. We're the only boat anchored at Old Port Royal, on the Bay Island of Roatan. We are between the land and a reef and just after dark - we started to notice all these little lights in the water - brighter and longer lasting than normal phosphorescence. We went to the bow of the boat and looked over the bay - and it was a remarkable display of sparkles and swirls. They were very close to the boat so you could really watch them do their thing. It continues to thrill and amaze us what we are getting to experience.

Yesterday, we left the island of Guanaja and headed to Roatan - about 30 miles away. We got an early start in the hopes of sailing. We sailed - very slowly. But we kept up the effort - until it looked like we wouldn't get to our destination until late in the day with the sun in our eyes. Not a good thing when you're negotiating a new bay and reefs. So we had to turn the motor on. We do need to find a better option for light wind, down-wind sailing. We also didn't catch a fish - no surprise going so slow.

We anchored in this pretty bay - surrounded by green hills and some rock outcroppings. There is a big wreck aground on a reef at the entrance. A good reminder to make sure you set your anchor well and watch as you leave and enter reef strewn bays.

We will head back to Guanaja at some point - it is a great island and we had a wonderful snorkel out on a reef there. The water is chillier here - so we need to get out the wet suits so we can stay in longer. There are lots of bays yet to explore there - so we'll head back at some point and spend more time on that Bay Island. Many say it is one of the best for snorkeling.

We had to get to Roatan because Dave and Lorna arrive on Monday and we wanted to be sure to be settled (and get the cleaning done). It's Easter weekend (Semana Santos) so everything is closed and there seems to be a lot of boat activity with the local population. Roatan is the island we used to come to a couple of decades ago via airplane to go diving. Our friends Chris and Chris were our travel companions for two of those trips and we had many an adventure. We still laugh at some of the exploits. During those dive trips, we always said we wanted to bring our own boat to Roatan someday. Now we have. It's fun when things you hope to do, come true.

Old Port Royal, where we're now anchored has quite a history. In 1630, a group known as the Old Providence Company tried to build a settlement here. It was an ill-fated adventure. In 1978, Honduras made the area the Port Royal Park and Wildlife Refuge in order to protect some indigenous species and preserve the watershed.

Last night, lots of local boats with lots of people and food, headed through the bay and went into a creek at the far end. It looks like a big Easter celebration will be taking place. These boats, like the water taxis in Bonacca sure go fast - even in the dark. We left several lights on the boat last night so we would be sure to be seen.

Today (Friday), we will head to another harbor to settle in and get ready for company.

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