Hello Honduras

Friday, January 23, we left Northeast Sapodilla Cay bound for Laguna El Diamante, Honduras. We had very light but favorable wind most of the way and also a favorable current. Unfortunately, Daydream developed what appeared to be a transmission problem on the way. His engine would occasionally rev up as though the clutch plates were slipping. Since the wind was so light we were motor-sailing as we needed to make it through the entrance to the lagoon before dark. Due to Daydream’s transmission problem, though, Ralph didn’t want to run his engine until just before reaching the entrance, so we went ahead to make the entrance before dark and then stood by waiting to guide Daydream in with a spotlight in the dinghy when they arrived after dark. The entrance to El Diamante is very scenic. The Honduran coastline is low foothills leading to mountains in the distance. To enter El Diamante, you pass through a moderately narrow gap in the shoreline, with the forested hills rising perhaps 100 feet on either side. There is also a very large rock outcropping in the middle of the entrance, so the moderately narrow gap has now become decidedly narrow. It looks a little scary at first, particularly because the water is muddy and you can’t see the bottom to watch out for submerged rocks, but it is really a quite easy entrance to navigate. Inside the lagoon you are in a large, very well-protected body of water surrounded by 100 foot hills, densely wooded with palms and tropical hardwoods. The bottom is quite muddy, which means the anchor holds really well, so you could ride out quite a strong blow in this lagoon. Daydream arrived about an hour after dark and I met them at the entrance in the dinghy, shining a spotlight on the rocks to either side of the channel. Tiffany was on the bow with a spotlight as well, so they made it in pretty easy and didn’t have to push the transmission very hard. Ralph and Tiffany have helped us out so many times that it was nice to be able to help them a little.

Ralph had had problems with his transmission before, and just happened to have a spare transmission aboard. The spare had good internals, but the housing had a repaired crack and so was slightly questionable. Ralph decided to swap the internals, figuring it was either the plates or thrust washers that were the problem. Saturday he performed surgery on the transmission and it seemed a success, based on how the input and output shafts felt (smooth and easy spinning, but almost zero end-play or run-out). He used a liquid gasket material to seal the housing together, so we decided to stay another day and allow the sealant to cure before putting transmission fluid in and bolting it back on the engine. While he worked on the transmission, Nancy, Tiffany, Max and I went ashore and followed a short path through the mangroves and jungle to a neighboring bay to the east. The neighboring bay, Bahia Escondido, has a nice beach and we strolled the beach and found some very nice seashells. Nancy made some incredible dinner using pork tenderloin, jerk seasoning, and apricot marmelade. Another boat, 40 Mile, with Grant single-handing, arrived Sunday and was also bound for Utila. Sunday Ralph installed the repaired transmission and gave it a little test and it seemed to work fine.

Monday morning Daydream, 40 Mile and Stolen Child formed a little flotilla leaving El Diamante bound for Utila. The wind was again very light, but still favorable and we were able to average 5 knots motor-sailing. Unfortunately and unbelievably, Daydream started experiencing the same symptoms as before. Ralph and I were both scratching our heads. I knew that a fuel filter that is starting to get clogged up will cause the engine to surge in RPM, particularly when advancing the throttle, so I suggested he change his fuel filter, just to rule that out as a possibility. He changed out the filter and bingo, the problem disappeared. Ralph said I’m now his hero and he’ll buy all my beer for the rest of my life. Well, that’s not exactly what he said, but little kids may read this blog, so I won’t print what he really said, and I’m sure that is what he really meant to say.

Isla Utila, Honduras is a really neat, kind of funky island. The entire economy of the island is based around scuba diving and they cater largely to the young backpacker-type of crowd. We checked in with the Port Captain and Immigration on Tuesday and began exploring the town, staying a week before moving on to Roatan. We found a really nice little restaurant, the Cafe Mariposa, and met the manager, Jeff. I had shrimp grilled in a coconut rum sauce on a bed of saffron rice that was incredibly good. Best of all, from 4:00 to 6:00 beers are 20 lempira, or roughly a buck a beer. The coffee is also excellent.

Thursday I helped Ralph move a mooring. Ralph used to be a diving instructor in Utila years ago and had sunk an old engine block in the bay to use as a mooring. He found the engine block and wanted to move it a little further out and reuse it as a mooring. He rounded up 3 plastic drums to use for flotation and while we were moving it we met Louis from the catamaran Simpatica, who came over to give us a hand. Friday Ralph and I went diving with the dive boat from Paradise Divers dive shop, where he used to work as an instructor. He had stopped by Thursday afternoon and helped them rebuild some of their dive gear, and said they needed some 2-inch nylon webbing to replace their weight belts, which he knew I had a supply of. They let us dive for free since he had helped repair their gear and I had given them a bunch of webbing. We dove a site on the north side of the island named Duppy Waters, which is a wall dive. The sea floor goes from about 30 feet to over 600 feet almost vertically. We descended the wall to about 140′ and there was still no end in sight. There was an incredible amount of coral growing all up and down the wall, much more than we had seen on the wall in Belize we had dove. We also dove a site on the southeast of the island called Ted’s Point that has some really neat spur and groove coral formations and also the wreck of a 40′ sailboat. Sunday we went to Daydream for dinner r="0" />and to say goodbye to Ralph and Tiffany as we were planning to leave for Roatan Monday. Another boat in the bay had caught more fish than they could eat and gave some fish steaks to Ralph and Tiff, which they shared with us for dinner.

We left Utila early Monday morning, February 2, bound for French Cay Harbor on the island of Roatan, Honduras. We arrived after a 9-hour motor-sail and anchored near Jupiter’s Smile. We had met Jay and Barb aboard Jupiter’s Smile on our way from Dry Tortugas to Isla Mujeres. We had really enjoyed their company in Isla Mujeres and it was really nice to see them again. We had them over for coffee Monday evening. Tuesday we went ashore to Eldon’s, the grocery store in French Harbor. I can hardly contain my excitement as I write this, because at Eldon’s, they not only had Little Debbie Nutty Bars, they had cases of Guinness Draught!!! That was several days ago as I write this, and I still have a huge ear-to-ear grin. I haven’t had a Guinness since we left Key West, way back in April of 2008, but now I have a case of them in the fridge. I am also quite a fan of Little Debbie, which I have not found in Mexico or Belize, where the leading brand of snack food is Bimbo, and it should be obvious that a Bimbo just can’t compare to a Little Debbie (no, I’m not making that name up, Bimbo makes most of the sandwich bread and snack foods around here).

Wednesday we went ashore with Jay and Barb and explored French Harbor, then in the evening went to happy hour at Coco View Resort and met folks from some of the other boats anchored in French Cay Harbor. Thursday morning (this morning as I write this entry) we waited for a squall to pass, then weighed anchor and got underway for the short trip to Parrot Tree Marina in Second Bight, Roatan. It only took us about an hour to get here and it would have been a great sail had we been going the other direction, but unfortunately we were heading into 15 to 20 knot northeast trade-winds. It was such a short trip we didn’t bother putting up the main, we just motored out of French Harbor and then put out the jib and sailed as close to the wind as we could without backwinding the jib, then tacked onto starboard tack and entered Second Bight. On the way we crossed paths with Ben aboard Watch And Sea, who we had shared an anchorage with in Bahia de La Espiritu Santo, Mexico. We had only talked via the radio, not in person, and were hoping to meet him in Roatan. He was headed from Guanaja to French Harbor, and then to West End before heading north again. We are hoping to meet up with him in West End while Sabrina and Tom are aboard. We are also hoping Ralph, Tiffany and Max make it over to West End from Utila while we are there. We travelled in company with them for over a month and we’ve really missed them these last few days.

Tomorrow we will take advantage of our shore power hook-up here at the dock and do some heavy-duty cleaning on the boat before Sabrina and Tom arrive. They fly in Saturday and we are really looking forward to seeing them. We’ll pick them up at the airport and get them aboard Saturday, then Sunday we plan to sail down to West End. The beaches, restaurants, snorkeling and diving are all supposed to be excellent at West End, and I think they will enjoy the sail down there. We’ve had several cold fronts blow through in the last week, bringing rainy, squally weather, but that is supposed to have all cleared up by this weekend and we should have excellent weather for their visit. My next log entry should be shortly after their visit.

Leave a Reply