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s/v Always & All Ways
Day 40, Weather Improving.
Mark
04/25/2012, Guanaja, Honduras, CA

Tuesday, April 24. Today is supposed to be the last day of the Norther and, indeed, winds have calmed down a lot. Salida left for Roatan today to catch friends before they leave for the US. They were motoring. We still get fairly brief blasts of wind, like a squall without rain, but overall it is much calmer. As a result, I felt comfortable taking the dinghy out and going snorkeling for the first time. Yesterday I might have ended up on mainland Honduras! I went to the little patch of coral off the point that we had almost had too close an encounter with earlier. It was marked by 4” PVC posts driven in to the ground and probably filled with cement on the bottom. They made a grat place to tie the dinghy. The whole area was shallow, 0-8' , but there was a sort of canyon between two ridges of breaking coral and the middle was real neat. Inside, the coral was very healthy with beautiful purple fans and tube coral that we have not seen much of. There was the usual assortment of fish, even some juvenile queen angels. After exploring that patch, I took dink down a ways and tied to another post and snorkeled another nice patch. It had several dinner sized yellow tail snapper and a couple too small lobsters. The afternoon turned cloudy and windy again so we just hung out on the boat. I read and Deb did her crafting. I'm going to get painting some more, but if I can snorkel..... I guess I should have been born an Aquarius. The next couple days are supposed to be calm and then the return to Easterly trades. We plan to work out way anti-clockwise around the island finding spots to anchor and either snorkel or hookah before heading to Roatan. For most of the northern and western shore, we can get between the shore and the reef and be very protected with the diving right at hand.

More Pics
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.

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