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s/v Always & All Ways
Day 68, Underway.
Mark
05/23/2012, Underway to Vivarillos

Tuesday, May 22. It was overcast but not raining when I got up @ 5:00. It was too dark to leave, but I gt the boat ready, made coffee and juice and then got Deb up. We were ready to leave by 6:00 and it was light enough as well. We had “breadcrumbs” from coming in, but didn't really want to follow them as they went over some very shallow ground littered with coral heads, so I cautiously headed out on a slightly different course that I hoped would be deeper. It was. We only saw 16' going out, not bad. When we were safely outside the reef, I unfurled gennie and sailed down wind for a while with just gennie. Spinny would have been better, but with the sky full of dark clouds, I didn't dare do it. A short ways out we crossed under a squall line without getting wet, but getting a good run from the wind. The next one we were not so lucky. This one had rain but little wind. And so they day went. Raise main, reef main, drop main, motor, sail with gennie, motorsail with gennie. The radar was a great help in judging the distance of the squalls and the rapidity of their approach. It has an intermittent feature that runs for 1 minute of every 5. Since I knew the interval and could estimate the jump in position from one scan to the next, I could calculate how long before it hit. It worked pretty well, but we got hit by one that had significant wind ahead of the rain. We had all sail up, but by running down wind, we never saw more than 20 kts so it was OK. For night, we ran with one engine (the port engine since we sleep in the starboard) and gennie. Eventually we had to roll up gennie as there was no wind, but it was comfortable going and we were both able to get some sleep. I went down right after dinner and got up after a few hours. Deb slept and I stood watch until she woke up as she does every night from her MS. Then she stayed up a couple hours while I slept, and finally I took the watch from 4:00 until morning. Not a regular schedule, but it works for us.

Day 67, Permission to Leave.
Mark
05/22/2012, El Bight, Guanaja, Honduras, CA

Monday, May 21. We had only one thing to accomplish today, clear out of Honduras so that we could leave at first light tomorrow. It rained most of the morning. I got up as usual, but Deb slept in until nearly 10:00 and then I made us a nice brunch with sausage and eggs and real English muffins. As we were finishing, Wet Bar came by and said they couldn't get a Zarpe, the port captain said the weather was too bad so he would not issue a Zarpe to leave in this weather – come back tomorrow. I had never heard of anything like that. And the weather was not all that bad. I was wishing we were sailing East today as the wind was 15-20 from the West. The rain was a pain, but oh well. We waited until 2:00 and then went in. no problems with Migracion, he stamped our passports and charged $114L for the two of us. At the Port Captain, however, we got the same story Wet Bar had, weather is too bad to leave today. His English was worse than my Spanish, so I had to try to convince him that we needed the Zarpe today and do it in Spanish. I explained that we were a sail boat, that we needed the wind, that West wind was rare and we needed to grab it, that it was a long ways to Vivarillos and we needed to leave early (0600) to get there in good light, etc. About the third time through these arguments, he relented and wrote us our Zarpe for tomorrow @ 0600. I was very proud of my persuasive powers in Spanish! Now, if we can get wind like this tomorrow without the rain, we'll be golden.

Day 66, Timing.
Mark
05/21/2012, El Bight, Guanaja, Honduras, CA

Sunday, May 21. The morning was dead calm. We left the anchorage after the morning SSB net – both engines for maneuvering no the way out the channel and then one engine to travel. There was a slight swell from SE. Our speed was just under 6 kts and the apparent wind was 5 kts from ahead (real wind 1 kt) – very comfortable ride even if we were burning dead dinosaurs. By 9:30 Wet Bar, a trawler, passed us. I complained that he made a better motorboat than we did – something to do with his several hundred hp vs. my 27. But I burn less dead dinosaurs. He noted that he had just seen a marlin and put out his fishing lures (too late of course). I immediately set out two lines and dragged them all the way to Guanaja with no results. By 10:30 there was a bit of a breeze from the WSW which our forward motion brought around to nearly 90* apparent (but still only 5 kts). I tried unfurling gennie and we added 0.2 kts. bringing us back up to 6.1 (we had slowed slightly). The day was HOT. Five kts apparent is not much to cool you off when the temp is near 90. Underway, I checked several weather forecasts. Everyone seemed to agree on calm winds Sunday and Monday, Westerly 10-15 Tuesday, calm again Wednesday and Thursday, and then usual trades (10-15 ENE to ESE) returning Friday. The calms will be good for diving wherever we are, but Tuesday looked like our best chance for making the run to the Vivarillos. From Guanaja to Vivarillos is due East. This is the run that it took Columbus 3 months to make and earned the headland at the “corner” of Honduras the name “Gracias a Dios” when he could finally turn South. Most cruisers hope for calm winds and plan on motoring the 150+ nm. Having a Westerly wind strong enough to sail East would be a truly rare treat. There is still talk – both by Chris Parker and Rob Lightbown (of Crown weather whom I find much better) – of possible Tropical weather development (i.e. hurricane type storms) later this month in the NW Caribbean due to synoptic weather features that I don't understand. All in all, it seems that we should probably grab the window and head East. It will mean going to El Bight today and clearing out tomorrow (and therefore missing any more diving on the North side of the island), but it should give us good time in Vivarillos and Hobbies. So be it. I alter course a few degrees and we head for El Bight instead of Blue Rock. It adds another 5 nm or so, no problem. As we are about 10 nm from El Bight, I see the clouds of a line squall forming. Sure enough, as we approach closer, I see it raining over Savannah Bight – with a sharp demarcation just like the storm we saw (and photographed) in the same location when we were anchored at Graham's Cay in Savannah Bight previously. I bring up the radar and it shows the rain being 3 nm away (and confirms that the chart is spot on with respect to land). We are now sailing with just gennie. The wind had picked up to where we could make 3+ kts without the engines and we didn't have that much further to go, so we shut them down about an hour ago. As I watch, the rain is sliding South, although the line of the squall is more NW-SE. At 1 nm away, I furl gennie and do back to motoring – don't want to play with trying to furl the gennie in the middle of a squall with high winds from any direction. And then we slide right under the squall without getting a drop! By radar, we were less than ¼ mile from the rain. But we were dry. Deb took the bow watch as we came into the anchorage and we anchored without difficulty. About the time we turned the engines off, the next squall hit. Heavy rain and gusty winds. Perfect timing. The rest of the afternoon was like that – brief passing squalls with heavy rain and winds but lasting only 10-15 minutes usually. I colored Deb's hair in the cockpit with the shade curtains down for privacy. She was a bit overdue and showing more gray than she liked, but to color it, the hair must be dry and she didn't want to give up snorkeling or diving so today was the perfect day.

Day 65, Hookah Lives!
Mark
05/20/2012, French Cay Harbor, Roatan, Honduras, CA

Saturday, May 20. Today was the Brooksy Point Eldon's run. Every Saturday they take a van to Eldon's Supermarket for all the cruisers. I took Deb in to go as we hope to leave soon. When I got back to the boat, I had an email from Carla @ Rapdio Cargo that she had actually sent my package on the Galaxy Wave last evening and it was ready to pick up. I got a taxi for $15, paid 84L to Galaxy and the part was mine. It took less than an hour to install. While I was at it, it rebuilt the head as well (I already had the kit for that). It needed it – one of the flapper valves was badly corroded and clearly leaking. When I got it all back together, I fired it up and away it went puffing air like it was supposed to. I haven't tried it in the water, but it was putting out plenty of air from the hose so all should be well. Deb made baked beans for the pot luck supper – not the best plan on a hot windless day. At the supper, we said our good-byes as we plan to leave in the AM. To our surprise, two other boats are headed to Guanaja tomorrow as well – Wet Bar and Wind Dancer. They are going to El Bight and then continuing on to the Hobbies while we hope to stop and do some more diving before continuing, but we will keep in touch.

Day 64, Just another Shitty day in Paradise.
Mark
05/19/2012, French Cay Harbor, Roatan, Honduras, CA

Friday, May 18. It rained some during the night – not enough to do the water tanks much good, but enough to force us to keep the hatch closed. This morning was gray, solid overcast, no wind. It rained off and on. Not a great day for doing much of anything, but not a bad day for not doing much of anything. We read a bit. I filled up the dinghy gas tank from the jerry jug and filled the diesel from jugs then got on the VHF to find out where I could get them refilled from the dinghy – I was not anxious to carry 5 x 5 gallon jugs very far. Fantasy Island responded that they had a fuel dock open to the public. Great. That was just around the corner. I dropped Deb of at Brooksy Point to chat with Terry from Niki Wiki who is an avid knitter and I went to Fantasy island. Fortunately, I asked their prices before filling the jugs. They wanted over $7.00US for gasoline and nearly that for diesel! Not today. I thought $6.00/gal for mixed gas was bad on Guanaja. I don't need to buy either gas or diesel until I get back there. Prices on Roatan were supposed to be better. I got back on the VHF and learned that there was another fuel dock down by Barefoot Cay marina, about 2.5 nm away. You do have to go outside the reef for a short distance, but it was real calm today so should be no problem. Wait for it to stop raining again and go. I followed the buoys out just like with the big boat and once outside the reef, paralleled the shore until I saw the entrance to French Harbor (as opposed to French Cay Harbor). It was even better marked with big red/green entrance buoys and high red/green posts marking the channel in. Inside were 100's of shrimp boats. This is a major working port of the island. Off to the left was an inland waterway, sort of like the ICW but deeper, and I followed that down to Barefoot Cay Marina. It was even more “up scale” than Fantasy Island, but the fuel dock was not their's, it was on a commercial dock across the waterway. Diesel was 83L (~$4.36/gal), much better. And the hoses were on the dock so that I just had to hand up a jug and take it back once it was full. I never had to get out of the dinghy. He also has 10' alongside so it really would be easy to bring a big boat in here to fill up. Fifteen gallons of diesel, 9 gallons of gas (I also topped up the hookah jug) and 1 qt. of 2 cycle oil for 2388L, not a bad deal! On the way back, the swells (2-3') were perfectly aligned with the entrance to French Cay Harbor, so I lined the dinghy up and surfed my way into the harbor. I made it back in such a short time that Deb thought I had given up and come back empty handed. I probably saved $50US over Fantasy Island and had fun doing it on what was an otherwise fairly boring day. Terry had told Deb about this terrific web site for knitters – ravelry. Well, I helped Deb get on to it and she “surfed” for about 3 hours downloading patterns and getting ideas. Then she went on (with a bit of help) to set up an account on Facebook. And then she used Skype to talk to her sister for an hour. I tell you, she's turning into a real computer geek! Amazing what a cloudy day will do. Tomorrow is the Eldon's run (grocery store) and hopefully our hookah part. If so, we will probably depart Sunday. If not, whenever it does get here.

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