Sabrina and Tom’s Excellent Adventure

Saturday morning, February 7, we left Parrot Tree Marina and sailed back to French Harbor. I picked up our pack mules, I mean our guests, Tom and Sabrina at the Roatan airport in the afternoon. They had graciously brought us a lot of boat stuff we had ordered. There was so much stuff that one of their bags had started to come apart at the seams, so Tom had whipped out some duct tape he just happens to travel with and effected an emergency repair en route (this guy is a natural cruiser). Airport security in Roatan was about to inspect that particular bag when Sabrina cautioned him “be careful, that bag is about to explode.” Fortunately, Roatan is a pretty laid-back kind of place and the security guy got a chuckle out of her choice of words. Not only did they bring us all the stuff we had ordered and the mail we’d had shipped to them, they packed a bunch of goodies for us, too, such as peanut M&M;’s, York peppermint patties, a Paddy O’Quigley’s T-shirt, a couple of half-pint Guinness glasses, and lots of other great stuff from the Land of Plenty.

After getting them settled aboard, we went ashore for dinner and provisioning. We ate at a nice little restaurant and introduced them to Salva Vida, one of the local beers. There were only two tables in the restaurant and the other one was empty, but the food was great. After dinner, we stopped at a street-side stand selling fresh produce and got plenty of fresh fruit and veggies. They had these very large fruit objects they claimed were papayas. They were much bigger than papayas we had seen elsewhere, as big as a small watermelon. We bought one of the large fruit objects, some avocados, limes, a cantaloupe, some bananas and various other fresh things, then headed to the grocery store and got the rest of our provisions. After returning to Stolen Child and stowing the provisions, we dinghied over to Jupiter’s Smile to visit with Jay and Barb. Jupiter’s Smile is an Island Packet, which is one of the boats Tom and Sabrina are considering when they start cruising. We had a great visit with Jay and Barb. Sabrina and Tom have a Catalina 30 that they sail on Lake Perry in Kansas, and it turns out that the people they bought their Catalina from are good friends of Jay and Barb.

Sunday morning we carved up the large fruit object and Nancy made breakfast burritos for breakfast. The papaya was so large we only sliced half of it and I put out a call on the VHF to see if any of the other boats in French Harbor wanted the other half, which was promptly claimed by the folks on Pearl S. Buck. The weather was a little overcast and drizzly, but after breakfast we weighed anchor and set out for West End, Roatan. Practically all week before Sabrina and Tom arrived, the wind had been blowing 15 to 20 knots from the northeast and I was looking forward to a really good sail to West End. Unfortunately, and as so often happens, when we got out of French Harbor there was less than 5 knots of wind and we wound up motoring the whole way. We arrived at West End in the early afternoon and picked up a mooring. In West End they have put in a dozen or so moorings, which are basically permanent anchors, and attached a mooring ball, or float to them, so that boats don’t have to set their own anchor and consequently dig up the turtle grass on the bottom. You simply drive the boat up to the mooring ball and pass your dock line through the mooring line hanging under the mooring ball. There is usually stiff competition for moorings in West End, but we managed to get the mooring closest to the reef so that we could snorkel directly from the boat out to the reef. A boat named “Watch And Sea” was moored close to us, with Ben aboard single-handing. We had been in radio contact with Ben off and on since southern Mexico, but we’d never met him in person, so he dinghied over for a few beers and stayed for the spaghetti dinner Nancy had made. Ben is really nice and it was good to finally meet him in person. He’s an airline pilot who had taken a couple months of vacation and was now on his way back to the States and real life.

Monday morning dawned overcast and drizzly. I made pancakes for breakfast and by late morning the sky had cleared and we went ashore. West End is a very pleasant little village that is geared to scuba diving with more than a dozen dive shops. There is one street that runs parallel to the beach and isn’t paved, but is packed sand. We had lunch at a restaurant on stilts over the harbor and then went back to the boat for some snorkeling on the reef. There was a school of squid in the water right next to the boat. At sunset we got out the sextant and Tom practiced taking sights on Venus and several stars.

Tuesday dawned clear and sunny. Nancy made breakfast burritos while Tom and I put on the sail cover (something I’m quite lazy about doing). After breakfast Tom and I rigged up the Stolen Child Super Duper Rope Swing. We rigged up the whisker pole (a telescoping aluminum pole for holding one corner of a sail in a certain position away from the boat) with the end out over the water just forward of the beam on the port side with a 3/4″ dock line hanging from it. Next we lashed a 2×6 plank across the bow rail. You stand out on the end of the plank (walking the plank, so to speak) holding the rope hanging from the whisker pole and launch yourself out over the water. At the top of the rope’s far swing, you let go and execute your fanciest dive or belly-flop, whichever the case may be, into the water. We’re the only boat in Roatan with a Super Duper Rope Swing and I think Tom and Sabrina were duly impressed with the skill and determination we put into having fun. We went ashore in the afternoon for beers and a late lunch. Tuesday night we stayed up quite late debating politics, religion and philosophy. In other words, we drank a lot and talked a lot of trash.

Wednesday morning we saw the boat next to us, Beau Soleil, rigging its spinnaker for some spinnaker riding. What you do is turn your boat around at anchor, so that the anchor is attached to the stern instead of the bow, which makes your bow point downwind. Then you can fly the spinnaker (a big sail for downwind sailing) from the bow and someone can sit on a line tied between the two bottom corners of the sail. As the wind fills the sail, it will pick the person up out of the water and lift them pretty high, perhaps 20 feet or so. I went over and introduced myself to Mike and Karen and their son Falcon (so named because he was born in Malta). Falcon is about 20 years old and was on vacation visiting his folks. I invited him over to try out the rope swing and he came over later that morning to give it a try. Another boat moored near us, Aventur, was an Island Packet and the owners had heard that Sabrina and Tom were interested in Island Packets and had invited them over to see their boat. Sabrina and Tom dinghied over to take a look at Aventur in the early afternoon while we waited for Daydream to arrive from Utila. There weren’t any moorings available when Daydream showed up, so I snorkeled over to hand-set their anchor for them when they arrived. After they got settled in, Ralph, Tiffany and Max came over and we had a nice reunion. I was glad they made it over in time to meet Tom and Sabrina and they invited them over to Daydream to, in Ralph’s words, “take a look at a pretty boat.” After dinner, Ralph came back over and we sat in the cockpit sipping rum and Kahlua until about 2:30 in the morning. I had learned how to tie Turks Head knots from a book I had aboard and I had tied some on my wheel to mark the center position of the rudder. Ralph liked them and I loaned him the book and he’s now become a Turks Head fanatic. He taught Tom how to tie them and in the process, wound up tying Turks Heads on my furling lines and jib sheets. I think I still haven’t found all the Turks heads he tied that night.

Thursday morning Tom made pancakes for breakfast and then it was time for them to pack up for their trip back to real life. We took them ashore around noon to catch a cab to the airport. Nobody broke down and cried, but it was a pretty somber farewell. Nancy and I really enjoyed having them aboard and hope it won’t be too long before they visit again.

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