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Published: February 24th 2013
It seems that the longer we live on the boat, the less frequently I update my blog. That's probably because living on the boat has become more of a lifestyle now rather than an adventure. We still have plenty of adventures, but as the years go by we have less of the adventures of the not so welcome kind as we become more experienced in living on the boat. It is like anything else, the more you do it the easier it becomes. In 2012 we traveled alot the first part of the year but then we brought the boat to a dead halt during the hurricane season, holing up in the Rio Dulce of Guatemala for the remainder of the year.
In April 2012 we spent several weeks in the Cayman Islands. Boy are these islands a joy to visit. After seeing so much poverty in many of the places we have visited it was nice to visit a "1st world" (or almost 1st world) island country for a change. If you like beautiful beaches and lovely sunsets in a tropical setting with no visible evidence of abject poverty then the Cayman Islands is your stop.
Scuba diving in the Caymans is world class. I stopped diving a few years ago. Jimmy still dives when he can. Of all the diving I have done in the past though (Belize, Caymans, Tahiti, Bahamas, Bonaire, etc) the Cayman Islands are where I saw the most beautiful reefs with just an unreal brilliance of colors. Fortunately on this trip Jimmy was able to get in a few dives especially off Little Cayman Island (Bloody Bay Wall is his all time favorite) and also off Cayman Brac.
Jimmy had been to the Caymans several times before scuba diving, and I had been twice before, but we had never taken the boat there so that was a new experience for us. Cayman is a bit off the rhumb line of most cruising boats' itineraries so it is not a place that many people living on sailboats visit. We had a wonderful experience though and I thoroughly recommend it to other boaters. There were free moorings everywhere that were very well maintained and many were directly over dive sites. You can just suit up and dive right below your boat or snorkle if you prefer.
Several of Jimmy's family spent a little over a week in the Caymans on vacation so we were able to meet up with them and hang out with them everyday while they were there. Getting together with family definitely made our Cayman visit much more memorable and enjoyable.
After leaving the Caymans we took the long way around and decided to go to the Vivorillos off the northeast coast of Honduras before going to the Bay Islands. The Vivorillos are uninhabited islands that alot of cruising boats visit on the way to or from the northwest or southwest Caribbean. A few fishermen are around from time to time but other than the fishermen and the Honduran Navy we didn't see anyone else. We were the only boat anchored there. We went on a conch harvesting expedition but were able to find only a few. We've found that if I drive the dinghy while towing Jimmy in the water as he looks for conch through his mask while using his snorkle that the conch harvesting is a bit more efficient. That way when you find a shell with conch inside you can just put it in the dinghy and keep going rather than having to swim back to the boat with conch shells in your hands. I learned in the Bahamas how to make conch fritters, conch salad, and also cracked conch so anytime we can harvest fresh conch I usually make one of the dishes. Actually Jimmy makes a nice conch salad also.
After a few days in the Vivorillos and especially after I was spooked by the Honduran Navy we decided to sail to Guanaja, Bay Islands, Honduras. I am not sure why the Honduran Navy sometimes will come up to your boat with some of them wearing black masks over their faces, but that happened to us in the Vivorillos and it really frightened me. We are accustomed to Central American officials coming onboard with military style uniforms and automatic weapons, but the black masks and camouflage clothing was a bit much for me. It made me think initially that they might be "bad guys" but I realized pretty quickly that "bad guys" don't wear bright orange life jackets over their camouflage suits so I calmed down after just a moment of sheer terror. I think in retrospect that these men were concerned about their own safety and the safety of their families, and possibly they were wearing masks so they couldn't be identified. I don't think we look like much of a "drug boat" but since there is alot of drug running in this part of the world, I suppose some of the Navy guys prefer to keep their identity secret when approaching a boat. Officials in Honduras live in danger of retribution by those engaged in the drug trade so I have respect for the work they do and do not in any way mean to demean them. I just felt very vulnerable out in the middle of nowhere when the Navy came to the boat that day, so I informed my captain after they left that we were leaving first thing the next morning!
Our next stop was Guanaja and it was there that I realized we were back in the "3rd world" the day we started chasing the garbage boat trying to catch it so we could get rid of our trash. The garbage boat driver never slowed down but he indicated it was OK to toss our trash bag from our boat to his so I suppose it was as good a way as any to get rid of trash. Surprisingly enough there is a very good German restaurant in Guanaja and a local group of German ex pats that live there. In Guanaja we truly felt like we were back in the Spanish speaking world again after being away from it for over a year.
Our next stop was Roatan, Bay Islands and it was there that we had a reunion with many of our friends that we had last seen in November 2010 when we left Guatemala to sail to Florida. It was great to catch up with what was going on in everyone's lives and hear of other cruisers we knew who had sailed in different directions. Jimmy teamed up with Ellen on s/v Patience and they did some diving together. The coral reefs off Roatan are a major attraction for scuba divers from the US and other countries.
After about a week in Roatan as the weather started changing, we decided to start heading toward the Rio Dulce of Guatemala. The Rio Dulce is a fabulous hurricane hole for boaters needing safety from the summer storms. More about the hurricane season in Guatemala in my next blog update.
Love to all,
Donna along with the Captain (Jimmy)
s/v Bluewater Cat
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