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s/v Always & All Ways
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Mark
04/24/2012

I just posted more pics to the Isla Providencia, Sailboat Races, and Bay Islands of Honduras albums (all sub albums of Our 2012 Cruise to Honduras).

Day 39, Garbage, Internet, and Pizza.
Mark
04/24/2012, Guanaja, Honduras, CA

Monday, April 23. Day 39. This morning we returned to town to try to get internet set up. George of Silver Sea came with us as he had a stick set up Saturday and it quit working Sunday. We all took in bags of garbage to dispose of. It seems there is a "garbage boat" and you can just throw your garbage on board. It gets hauled away and disposed of periodically. Now I'm thinking, if we find the WRONG boat and throw our garbage in and then the next cruiser does the same and the next... Well it probably wouldn't be very funny for the boat owner, but the scenario got me chuckling. As it turned out,just before we got to town another cruiser in a tender (too big to call a dinghy) came by. George held up the bag of garbage and the cruiser pointed. We followed him to the correct boat and disposed of the garbage. As we pulled up to Zapata, it was a mob scene. Big cayugas going every which way. I found a small opening just big enough to nose into and tie up. The cayuga in front of me must had had several 1000 oranges and nearly as many bananas that the girl was selling from the boat. I bought 20 oranges for 1L each. Then we went to the store where George bought his stick and met another couple there who said the owner was a computer guru and make anything work. The store, however, was extremely busy and he was constantly being pulled away to do this or that. It was going to take a while. Fortunately I asked if he had a stick to sell and he said, "No". That made my choice easy as I went down to Miss Angie's. The store was open, it was empty, and she had a stick. Bingo. I also noticed a sign on the wall that advertised "International calls to US, 60 min. for 30L." That works out to about $0.03/min. So I got a SIM card for the phone as well. While Miss Angie was setting everything up, I plugged in the stick to be sure it worked. (Other cruisers had recommended this as sometimes things were not set up right and if you had your computer with you, they could fix it then saving you another trip to town.) After it installed all the software, it said "you must register SIM card first." Ah-ha. Glad I brought the computer (in a dry bag, of course). No, it was just that I inserted the SIM card upside down. Second try, the software comes up, I click "Connect", it dials, and redials, and redials....Just then Craig & Liz walk in saying that the signal is down and so they couldn't get there stick set up. Well, that explains why mine doesn't work, but I still don't know if it is OK - probably because it was dialing, but.. The bill is more than I expected. Apparently a few weeks ago they had a promo where you got the stick and 1 month of internet for 500L. Not now. Stick, 850L with 1 week free. One month, 500L, but she can't add that now as the signal is down. Oh well, we do a little grocery shopping. I find some Haas avocados, grapefruit, and really good looking green beans. George checked his phone (which did work) - still no signal. So we found a bar and had a beer (it was nearly noon - in fact, the worry was that we would not get a signal back before noon because everything closes down from noon to 2:00. We did and we went back to the store and got everything set up correctly. Back at the boat, I fired up the internet and Deb started calling US. Then I read the message that said the plan didn't start until after midnight. Now it isn't clear if all calls must be made after midnight to get the low rate or just that the plan doesn't start until midnight tonight. We will hope for the latter. I downloaded more books for my Kindle. I now have 76 Dr. Who books, 68 Star Wars (from various authors??), and 30 Star Trek, in addition to the 12 Douglas Adams, 15 Isaac Asimov, 7 Kurt Vonnegut, and 7 Arthur c. Clark, well you get the idea. I have plenty to read. Word got passed around the anchorage that everyone was going in for pizza tonight. It seems that Manati, the local German restaurant, is closed Monday, so another German ex-pat opens his place for wood oven pizza only on Mondays. It was reported to be buggy, however, so we brought the Thermacell. It worked and we were the most popular table at the place. (Picnic table outside in the sand.) The beer was cold and the pizza was good. (You just ordered "pizza" it only came one way and that was more or less "loaded".) We had a great time chatting with other cruisers we had not met yet. Kurt on Catalyte who now lives in Rio Dulce, had run a sailing school in Placencia, Belize, and had chartered Always one time. He is headed for Bocas and may end up leaving his boat in the little marina next to our house. It never ceases to amaze me what a small world this is.

Day 38 WIND.
Mark
04/23/2012, Guanaja, Honduras, CA

Sunday, April 22. I awakened just after midnight with the wind howling. It was blowing a steady 25 kts and topping 35 kts in gusts from the NW. We had swung around and were now closer than I liked to a nasty looking bank of coral. We had about 50-60' of good water behind us and the anchor was holding well with no signs of dragging. We had set it well, put out 100' of chain, the kellet, another 20' of chain to be sure the kellet stayed on the bottom even with a good pull, and the bridle. I decided that it made more sense to stay put and trust our ground tackle than to try to move in the pitch black and find a better place to anchor. It was a good decision. The wind howled all night, mixed at times with rain (good, I hate the taste – or lack thereof – of RO water. Some rain will help.) I was tired enough that I slept well anyway. By morning, it was still blowing in the low 20's but the rain had stopped. After breakfast, we did pick up and move to a safer location, dropping the anchor precisely in a spot of sand. Deb is real good at that. I go slow and tell her to drop when she is directly over it – I cannot see it then – and when I hear the chain going out, I quickly reverse to stop the boat in that position. Works well. We set it down just as before. If we drag, everyone in the anchorage is going to drag and so they will still be the same distance behind us – no worries. Liz really want to go over to Bonacca to get a SIM card for her modem. She thought the stores were open until noon on Sunday and was worried they would not be open Monday and didn't want to wait that long for internet. I could have waited. But since they were going, I said I would go too and we could take dink because he is drier (bigger tubes, sits higher) than theirs. The trip was probably a mile each way and since it was all in the lee of the main island, by hugging the shore we made it fine and even fairly dry. In town we found several stores that sold time for Tigo (the local cell phone company), but none that sold the SIM cards or the “sticks” (modem – apparently you need to buy a Tigo stick as their cards will not work in generic sticks – sort of a revers locked modem. Anyway the stick comes with 1 month of free internet and costs just about the same as a month service, so no big deal.) To get them, everyone agreed we needed to go to Miss Angie's and she was closed until tomorrow. Oh, and by the way, there is NO holiday tomorrow. Everything will be open as normal. I did find the beverage distributor and bought Deb some more diet coke so the trip wasn't a total loss. It was a lazy afternoon. I spent quite a while on Albatross talking about Belize – where they are headed next. Albatross is an Island Packet 38 with husband, wife, and two pre-teen boys on board. Very nice people. We had met them briefly in Bocas and then again in Providencia. I promised to give them my stick with our old website on it for more on Belize and also loan them my cruising guide to Honduras for a few hours to read about here and Roatan. Back on Always, I laid in the hammock and finished “Sphere,” my next to last Michael Creighton book, and then enjoyed a home brew. I must really thank both Shary & Luke. Shary for initially turning me on to Dogfish Head 90' IPA and Luke for getting me started brewing a clone of it. Now I enjoy one most days. I brought two cases of it with us and one is almost gone. The beer in Columbia was nothing special. I liked Columbia Club the best, but never felt the urge to buy a case to have on board. There are four Honduran beers. I have only tried one and it was OK, but not worth buying a case of. I'll try the others a bottle at a time and see if anything is worth buying in quantity. I still have a third case of home brew (an English Bitters) and more Balboa from Panama so I am not running short, I just like to try the local brews and see if I find something interesting. So far, not so much.

Day 37, Arrival at Guanaja, Honduras.
Mark
04/22/2012, Guanaja, Honduras, CA

Saturday, April 21. The dawn came early as we are only just barely into Central Time zone. Once again it was a brilliant red ball that rose from the ocean. The clouds had mostly gone. We were making 6+ kts with just the double reefed main, but with the sunrise, the wind promptly fell. I added a bit of gennie (I am still amazed at how smoother the roller furler works with just that little change, it is like a whole new unit.) and then a bit more and more until it was full out. Each time our speed would climb to over 6 kts and then fall to 5 as the wind continued to abate. Then I shook out the second reef and then the first. By late morning, we had everything up and were still back down to 5 kts, so I added an engine. Guanaja is a fairly straight forward entrance, but we still needed good light for arrival and I had hopes of being able to check in today as tomorrow is Sunday and IF offices are open to check in, there may be surcharges and we just learned that Monday is a holiday (shades of Panama). Full sail and the engine lasted a while and then the wind continued to drop and began shifting further South as it clocked around as predicted. Gennie refused to draw and so was rolled up - again just as easily as you please. Eventually the wind got to SW at less than 5 kts. This is what the grib files had all predicted and what usually happens with a frontal system. As the winds move through the S-SW-W quadrant, they die because (at least in my understanding of weather) the frontal wind is directly opposing the "normal" trade winds (which always blow E +/- and are due to Coriolis effect) so the resultant wind is near 0. But Chris Parker had insisted that we would have 25-30 from SW - W which is why we did not stay in Vivarillos. Anyway, with essentially no wind, our apparent wind is what we create which is 6 kts on the nose and the main is slatting and so I drop it and we run bare poles - quite a difference in about 12 hours. At least the seas are flat and we can make nearly 6 kts with one engine. Salida is about 10 nm in front of us (they ran engines while we just sailed most of yesterday and through the night.) and Silver Sea, who left 10 hours before us, are a few miles ahead of Salida. They will arrive and get to figure out clearing-in procedures so we should know exactly what to do. (It is a bit different in every country - sometimes they come out to the boat, sometimes just the captain goes I with all the paper work, sometimes they want everybody to come it - but whatever the procedure, it is important that we follow it precisely the way that country wants it or it can get difficult.) By shortly after noon, we hear from Silver Sea that the port captain is only open until 3:00 and we are stil ~10 nm out. OK, they claim diesel engines need a work out every now and then, so both engines, 90% rpm, 7.5 kts. We'll have anchor down by 2:00 and Salida will be waiting to pick us up in their dinghy and go ashore to clear in. It all worked fine. It was a bit wild coming through a narrow cut in the reef with 100' of water under the keel and breaking reef quite close by on both sides, but the charts were accurate and the water was easy to read, so no problems. We tied up the dinghy at a grocery store and walked the length of Bonacca town (8,000 people living on less than 100 acres!) Narrow walkways for streets (no cars), and two story buildings. Reminds me of Kuna Yala, except the buildings are cement block and the walks are cement. We found Migracion and Capitan de Puerto without difficulty and to out delight, found that clearing in and getting our cruising permit cost absolutely nothing! First country we have ever experienced that. We then found an ATM (18 Limpira = $1.00 US), a small grocery, and then a bar to celebrate our arrival (1 beer and 1 rum & coke for $L60 including tip ) Once back at the boat, we moved from Bonacca to El Bight. There was no wind and boats were every which way so it was a bit difficult to determine where and how to anchor. We ended up near the outer edge of the harbor well anchored and with the kellet down. I had my requisite Guinness that I shared with Neptune and after the last of the Columbian conch made into conch fritters, we had an early bed.

Day 36, Not a great morning.
Mark
04/21/2012, Off the coast of Honduras, CA

Friday, April 20. Remember the saying, "Red sky in morning, sailors take warning"? Well, the sky dawned bright red. Beautiful really. But then everything went to hell. We had a course change to direct down wind, so we needed to roll up gennie and launch the spinnaker, except gennie wouldn't roll. I had had problems with the halyard wrapping at the top of the roller furler in the past, but took it down, lubricated it and thought it was fixed. NOT. I simply could NOT get it to furl. So, we dropped gennie and stuffed her in the cockpit to sort out later once we are anchored and popped the spinnaker. I couldn't get it to set right with the main up, so pull down the sock, turn into the wind, and drop main. Except that I did not secure the sock down and half way through the turn the spinnaker popped. And then the main gibed, popping a batten out of its socket. (Fortunately the batten stayed in place and was not lost.) OK, secure spinny, turn and drop main, (fix batten when anchored) and pop spinny again. Set beautifully and making 5.5 kts. Beautiful. Then Craig called on VHF. They talked to Chris Parker and he said we were going to get 25-30 kt winds from SW Saturday night. Now no other source is predicting strong winds from SW, only Chris. BUT he has an enviable reputation of being right and Vivarillos has NO protection from SW. SO, we need to continue on to Guanaja which is very well protected. We can visit Vivarillos and Hobbies on our way back South so that is not a big issue, but it means another overnight and I am already tired, AND I have repairs to do. With Spinny doing his thing, the ride was smooth and comfortable, so I went up on the catwalk above the bimini to fix the batten. I wore my harness and clipped in so Deb was happy. It actually went very well. I didn't drop and parts and it all came apart and went back together without difficulty. See, there is some benefit to having fitted out the sails myself back in Belize when TMM gave us a hard time! For the gennie, I think the problem may be that there is too big a gap at the top and the halyard has room to wrap. If I raised the whole gennie up by placing a pennant at the bottom, it might have a better angle and not have room to wrap. Worth a try and easy to do under way after we douse Spinny. So, we can go on to Guanaja, but to make it in day light we need to average at least 5.5 kts. Spinny is only doing 5.0 (but doing it very comfortably and beautifully). So, I try running one engine and the spinnaker. Sounds "if-y" but it works. Auto has some difficulty steering, but it is OK and we are now comfortably over 6.0 kts. And it is a beautiful sunny day. So I guess the world is all right after all. The wind continued to build and we were able to shut of the engine and sail at 6 kts. with just Spinny. Now it is really comfortable and quiet! Auto likes it better, too. We had decided that we would take the spinnaker down, turn and raise the main and then feed the genoa back on at 4:00 PM, but we needed to change to Central Time for Guanaja, so at 1600, I turned the clock back to 1500 and had another hour of spinnaker sailing. (Of course if I had really been thinking, I would have waited until 5:00 and had two happy hours!) When the time comes, Deb feeds out the sheet as I pull down the sock. Except a gust lifts me off the tramp (remember that, Dave?) As she lets out more sheet I return safely and finish snuffing the spinnaker. It comes down easily and is put away in its turtle. Next, it's engines on and turn into the wind and raise the main. It is blowing ~18 kts but we only felt 12 going down wind. Now we feel it all, but the main goes up without problems and the repaired batten is fine. Next, back on course so we can raise gennie in the lee of the main (and have less apparent wind). Carrying the whole mess from the cockpit back onto the tramp was a project and a half, but once we got it there, it went up well. Except that it has more lift than Deb has weight. She wisely decided (at the last minute) not to try to hold it down by laying on it. Once it was up, I tied a pennant between the sail and the shackle. Ended up being ~12". We were still to nearly down wind for gennie to fly right, so I rolled her up. And she rolled up easier than she ever has in her entire life! Problem solved! (I hope). Full main, 6 kts. Life is good. We earned our happy hour. And the setting sun provided entertainment as the perfect fiery ball dropped directly into the sea. No green flash, however. After supper, before I went to bed, we talked about tucking in a reef "just because", but we were only seeing apparent wind in the low teens and mostly single digits, so we didn't. Thirty minutes later, Deb was seeing 20+ so I got up and we put in a double reef. Do it now instead of later. Still doing over 5 kts. I got up around 10:00. No sooner had Deb gone to bed than we were hit with a squall with 30+ knot winds. I only had a double reefed main and no gennie so I couldn't reduce sail any more unless I went bare poles (and getting it down in such a blow would be a real bitch!) so I just turned and ran directly down wind. This reduced apparent wind so I only saw 25 or so. We were doing 9+ kts. It only lasted briefly and soon we were back on course, still with double reefed main but now making 6 kts and quite comfortable. It would continue like that through the night.

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