The Adventures of Alexandra and David

Who: David & Alexandra
Port: Halifax, Nova Scotia
We're always Somewhere South of Somewhere.

The Banyan Love is Growing.
WebPage Visits

We're on Facebook

Sailing Banyan

Instagram: #banyantravels

but we're not Tweeting.

Our friends Paul and Sheryl Shard, of Distant Shores, are incredible producers of their very own TV Show.

If you haven't already, check them out.

Their DVD's are informative and fun to watch as they travel to all four corners of the world.

You might even find Banyan in some of them!!
23 March 2021 | Cole Harbour NS
30 May 2019 | Catamaran Marina
20 May 2019 | Shallow Sandbar by Livingston, Guatemala
18 May 2019 | Tres Puntas, Guatemala
14 May 2019 | Isla Guanaja to Isla Utila
11 May 2019 | Grand Cayman to Isla de Guanaja, Honduras
03 May 2019 | Grand Cayman
25 April 2019 | Errol Flyn Marina, Port Antonio, Jamaica
18 April 2019 | Matthewtown, Great Inagua, Bahamas
14 April 2019 | Clarencetown, Long Island, Bahamas
10 April 2019 | To New Horizons... and Beyond!
05 April 2019 | Exumas, Bahamas
02 March 2019 | Staniel Cay, Cat Island, Bahamas
07 February 2019 | Cambridge Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
25 August 2018 | Halifax, NS
28 November 2017 | Somewhere on the Atlantic Ocean

Cayman to Guanaja, HaHa?

11 May 2019 | Grand Cayman to Isla de Guanaja, Honduras
I don't know why but every time I say Guanaja, I want to add HaHa at the end (in Spanish, the "j" is pronounced as "h".). Turns out that getting to Guanaja(-HaHa) was no laughing matter. Every story needs a RockStar. A Hero. A Brave and Valiant Captain. This is definitely one of those stories.


The first weather window that appeared at the beginning of the week had us rather excited. The winds were showing another calm passage, and because this was our third and last long passage? Calm would make it memorable, right? And then we'd be there, and done, and only a Hop, Skip and Jump away from our home for the summer.

We're passaging to get Banyan to the Western Caribbean, our schedule needing us to be at the Livingston sandbar in time for the highest of high tides happening May 18/19/20.

We have three big, 330 nm+ jumps: Bahamas to Jamaica via the Windward Passage, Jamaica to Cayman Island, which is where we now are and Cayman Island to the Honduran Bay Islands. There are three Honduran Bay Islands, located roughly 20-30 nm off the coast of Honduras. As we transit South and West, we would see Isla de Guanaja first, then Isla de Roatan and last, Isla de Utila.

And then? As with all weather and windows, what looked like a calm passage dissipated quickly into not as good a window as we would realistically need. It would be Way Too Calm at the beginning, which would require Way Too Much frustrating and jostling type of motoring for a good 24-36 hours {{ there goes our good fuel that we were planning to purchase in Grand Cayman }}, and all sorts of sporty boisterous at the end {{ 40 knots and ten plus foot seas? }} Yeesh.

What happens once you reach the vicinity of Honduras, is that the high mountains swirl the mountain breezes down, and make for exciting wind speeds and wave action. These katabatic land breezes start in the late afternoons, last all evening and night, and slowly abate sometime in the early morning.

This was one of those passages that required reverse sailing calculations, which had the Capt'N busy with waypoints, speeds, times and distances.

We were thinking we might make it a really long passage and aim for Utila, but the arrival times and the math just didn't add up, and besides, we had a few days to spare.

Then? A new weather window opened up for Thursday. We would be heading out after a few days of no winds, so seas out there would be calm. {{ Très Good }} . Perhaps a bit of motor sailing while the winds re-establish {{ That's Fine. }} And of all the days past, present and foreseeable future, the katabatic effect seemed to be the least pronounced Friday night, for our arrival on Saturday mid-day. {{ Ok, Let's go? }}

In the meantime though, we were enjoying our time on Grand Cayman. Never having been here before, it was rather a huge surprise to step foot ashore this low laying Cay, reminiscent of the many Bahamian islands we've spent time in, and discover such a vibrant, well developed place. Just behind the Barcadere Marina is Scott's Marine Store, the airport and a little further, Fosters IGA.

There are many buses that get you around, but since car rentals are cheap, we opted to go that route which gave us flexibility in time, movement and area to navigate. We didn't need to stay in the marina, but for the convenience of clearing customs right there, plugged into power to charge our new batteries, it was a custom fit for us.

Besides {{ hello !! }} they had a pool !

So we drove around exploring.

Went to Hell but forgot our Handbasket,

enjoyed Mango Daiquiris

at Rum Point,

with the Capt'N looking very happy to have some hamburgers on their way.

We somehow missed the giant stone sculptures by a mile {{ how'd that happen? }}, drove around Seven Mile Beach, Governors Creek and Camano Bay. As much as we would have loved to enjoy the touristy things like Stingray City, the Caves, the botanical gardens, et al., with our marina stays and the recent purchase of batteries, we were trying to be a little dollar conscious. And we were really enjoying the air conditioned drive as much, if not more, as the entrance fees and walkabouts of the various places.

We did spend some time shopping, and I was glad to replenish supplies. Minimal though as we really only have three weeks left on the boat, so we simultaneously need to eat Banyan's cupboards down. I was happy to get bulk supplies of tin foil, vinegar and vacuum seal bags, needed for our storage preps.

And we had a chance to meet up with Facebook friend and follower, Bob, at Macabuca for a refreshing ice cold beer,

not to mention that it's always fun to put a face to a name, and enjoy the chit-chat of things in common. Check out his FB Photography Page for some truly incredible underwater photos.

The day before we left, we drove into the chaotic Georgetown {{5 cruise ships in town! }} with the Touristy Shops,

and it took us longer to find a parking spot than it did to actually clear out. As they handed us back our papers, they told us we had 24 hours grace to depart, and please hail the Port Authority as we leave their waters.

They gave us a copy of our Out Clearance that we would need to present if we were getting fuel. Banyan's fuel tank was pretty empty {{ with all the motoring we'd done in the last two passages, we had approx {{ and only }} 6 gallons left in our tank, and none on the rail ! }}. We have never, in our 7 years of travelling, been that low. Although we always pre-filter, and treat our diesel, we don't like getting low on our tank, as you really never know what kind of sludge is down at the bottom, ready to mess with your engine.

Oh, and over the course of the week, we searched every store we could find for a dehumidifier, coming up against a hot wall of nothingness. On our way to return the car, we found another home type of store, and quickly pulled U-Turn, ran in expecting to be in and out of the store in seconds. Instead we found a beautiful and extremely well stocked store, that had me drooling at the home decor aisles, but oh and wait, what do we find so well stocked on the shelves that it's running to a boxed tower on the floor? The exact shape and size and for a price that was reasonable dehumidifier, thank you Universe!

As the marina doesn't open until 9, we settled our marina bill Wednesday afternoon with Denise, who is a real treat to work with. Friendly, efficient and on top of it all, one of the few marinas that answered our emails within minutes. Chad is always there when you need him, ever so polite, friendly and helpful. We had a good dinner and went to bed early, in the stifling don't even look at me heat, just to catch a few extra zzz's in anticipation of an early start {{ fuel dock opens at 7}} and long days of passaging ahead.

We had confirmed with both Denise, and the lady in the fuel dock office, that the fuel dock opens at 7 a.m. We arrived at fuel dock a minute later,

and found Chad was there, raking the sand.

06:50: "she opens at 7" {{ yes we know, we just wanted to be first in line }}
07:00: "should be any minute now" {{ that's fine, no worries }}
07:15: "I don't know where she is, she's not answering the phone". {{ okay, no problem }}
07:30: "We're so sorry for the inconvenience." {{ hmm... Since I knew I was going to be in the cockpit for the next 3 days , I walked laps back and forth for the next fifteen minutes. }}
07:45 : "Soon come... " {{ more laps... }}
08:00: Denise showed up to open the pumps and start things going {{ thank you !! }}

We managed to get off the dock by 08:45: pumped out, fueled up, and only 1.5 hour behind schedule. Thank goodness we didn't have tide/depth issues! The staff were extremely apologetic, Denise had even come in early covering for the missing Fuel Dock employee.

With Banyan happily fuelled, we motored out of North Sound, watching the morning dive boats getting their day started. We made it through the reef system just fine, and contrary to the forecast, it didn't take long for us to feel the wind. No motoring needed, we were happily sailing along at 6 knots, one reef in the main and full jib, right from the start.

"So now what ?" After a week's worth of getting thing done we were now facing three days, two nights on passage with seemingly nothing to do.

But watch the sunsets,

I have to admit that, for me, the anxiety for this trip was ramping up high. The butterflies in my tummy were more plentiful than the orange sargassum floating around in big island patches on the bright blue waters.

I tried talking myself out of it, that didn't work. I breathed in deeply, hoping they'd disperse. No such luck. {{ sigh }} hate it when anxiety strikes.

I read and reread Chris's email hoping the specifics would preoccupy me as his words detailed our route. Go more South as we left Grand Cayman, possibly a close reach in light winds, for approx 110 nmiles, on a course of 217 True, with possibly some favourable current (0.5 knots) for the first 60 miles. Then we would turn to a heading of 245 True, for approximately 215 nmiles, on more of a broad reach with less fetch, and a more comfortable course as winds and seas build. From about 18N to 17N, we might see 1 to 1.5 knots of favourable West Current.

Specifically though, we had to pay attention to two details. We didn't want to cross 85W until after midnight Friday, or even better yet, 2 a.m.! And we want to arrive in Guanaja NLT 4 p.m.

Oh, and "this course has you passing Swan Island really close. Don't hit Swan Island" he wrote. HaHa, what a funny guy.

Friday around 4 ish {{ around 31 hours into our trip }}, the winds were starting to pick up a bit. The seas a tad as well.

We saw the tall straight peaks of Swan Island.

I went below to reheat my one pot supper, (making some KD to go with the pre-cooked hamburger meat, and add a can of peas). I felt the gimballed stove rocking back and forth with much more animation than before, and a few burps escaped. I came out the companionway and what did I see? Nothing but a wall of water of a wave behind us, seemingly no end in sight.

My stomach lurched. We heeled to a precarious level as we surfed downward. Fast. Yikes.

The Capt'N starting to manually drive us down a few of these large, and getting larger, breaking waves. Yeesh!

The seas on the Windward side of the island, were much more confused than we thought they would be this far away from the land. Not only that, it instantly started blowing a steady 20, gusting to 25.

There was absolutely nothing HaHa about the next hour, watching those large waves, surfing down, being rocked every which way but normal. Once we were past the islands though, the effect diminished somewhat, but the winds stayed strong, and we were back to fighting 1-2 knots current (again ! )

And then the devil incarnate showed up with a Mal de Mer that hit me as fast as an anxiety attack. Body shakes, and nausea and I had to lie down immediately, completely unable to move. I hate being sick, and I cried at the fact I was no help at all, while he gently offered me up some Gatorade and Advil. {{ In hindsight as I write this, I'm wondering if I wasn't dehydrated, maybe even touched from heatstroke? }}

I don't know what the special note was to not pass 85W before midnight, the winds and seas felt no different at midnight, or, as we passed by that coordinate early morning. The winds sure weren't howling any less.

Hello dolphins! yelled Dave, and I don't care how many you see, each viewing remains magical. Land Ho! I heard Dave exclaim, and sure enough in the Honduran smoke induced hazy skies surrounding us, we could see the dim outlines of what was going to be Guanaja. Then like watching a kettle boil, we couldn't count down the nautical miles fast enough. 6 hours left to go, then 5.9, 5.8... but y'all know how that story goes.

We prepped our Q-Flag,

sailed through the space in the system of reefs,

towards Bonacca and the only casualty? As I turned into the wind to douse the main, my Sailing Banyan hat was blown off my head and into the waters behind us. Didn't think the Capt'N would appreciate me turning the boat just as he was up there fussing with the lazy jacks that were caught on the spreader. Damn! Nothing HaHa about losing my hat!

But check out this incredible looking place

along the way.

We anchored in front of many fishing boats.

The reviews from friends, and that we'd read on Active Captain, noted a few things. Possibly a water taxi would come out and for a very small fee, bring you to town {{ as our dinghy is on deck, this would be a gift ! }}. Clearing C&I would be cheap and easy, and we looked at the time, 3 p.m., should be fine, right ?

Sure enough, a water taxi came by, introduced himself as Simeon, and offered to drive us in. $1 per person {{ turns out it's per person, and each way ! }}

We walked through town,

and to the Customs and Immigration offices,

noted the doors closed and locked. Siesta? On to the bank ATM machine, which didn't like our card, so didn't give us any Lempiras (Honduran currency). The Port Authority was not in his office either, but out walking the streets. He shook our hands, told us to come back Monday, and we had permission to anchor a mile away, in El Bight. Si, in español, gracias señor.

And since we had no Lempiras, we didn't buy a Sim Card with our $50 U.S. bill, as the two very young girls in the phone office could barley find the SIM cards, costs, or details and as a result we didn't quite trust their money changing skills with an American $50, with too many people watching.

We were exhausted, and instantly felt deflated, like we hadn't accomplished anything. But the chance to stretch our legs and walk through this very quaint and interesting town? With everyone smiling and welcoming us? Priceless.

Guanaja looks to be a large island, with a surprising mix of pine forests, standing tall and green on the mountains, the waterfront dotted with palm trees. What's curious and curiouser though is that most of the population live on this tiny Cay known as Bonacca Town.

Think of a flat New York City all wooden and on stilts meets the canals of Venice!

These are their cars,

sidewalk lanes and canals of water.

As Bonacca can be a little surgey, we left and went to anchor not even 2 nm away, in El Bight. Our backyard was now this,

and beside this,

and I was grateful, as I was totally done with feeling any motion of any ocean. As we shut systems down for the second time that day, I logged the trip into the Log Book: 345.9 nm, 54 hours.

Arrival Beers and some food? Yes please. It was a quick meal of mushroom ravioli followed by the last of the chocolate chip cookies. The pillows embraced us and enveloped us with open arms and the Zzz's were instantaneous. Although it was still light out, the wall clock said almost seven, but our iPhones read almost six. OhOh, can't plan for everything, right ?

Getting to Guanaja-HaHa was no laughing matter for me, the true Hero of this Story and Passage is Banyan's very brave and valiant Capt'N, who sailed our home and me, safely and soundly to the Isla Guanaja. No HaHa! about it.
Vessel Name: Banyan
Vessel Make/Model: Jeanneau 40 Sun Odyssey
Hailing Port: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Crew: David & Alexandra
Welcome Aboard. I'm Alexandra, and if I'm not out Adventuring with Camera in Hand, or cheffing up a storm in my galley, I'm looking to pirate some WiFi to upload our latest tales (with way too many photos) about our most recent adventures. [...]
Extra: CHART YOUR COURSE: Our destiny is shaped by our thoughts and actions. We cannot direct the wind but we can adjust the sails.
Banyan's Photos - Main
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Photos from the first ever sailing Regatta to raise money for Breast Cancer research
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Photos from our cruise on Mahone Bay.
13 Photos
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Our baby
7 Photos
Created 3 July 2009

The Adventures of Alexandra and David

Who: David & Alexandra
Port: Halifax, Nova Scotia
We're always Somewhere South of Somewhere.

The Banyan Love is Growing.
WebPage Visits

We're on Facebook

Sailing Banyan

Instagram: #banyantravels

but we're not Tweeting.

Our friends Paul and Sheryl Shard, of Distant Shores, are incredible producers of their very own TV Show.

If you haven't already, check them out.

Their DVD's are informative and fun to watch as they travel to all four corners of the world.

You might even find Banyan in some of them!!