Over the Ocean Blue
24 January 2014 | Fantasy Island Marina, French Cay Harbour, Roatan
Beth / some sun, some squalls
We left our bay at 0630 in heavy mist that lifted gently as we passed out of El Gofete and into the gorge. Jim and Alex went ashore in Livingston to get our Zarpe (exit visa) and have our passports stamped. Raul makes it all so easy! Just pay the money and get the papers! It took all of 10 minutes because we had brought the documents down earlier in the week – and we were all set to go … except for the tide that wasn’t high yet, and the glitch in Alex’s travel arrangements. Once again we were in the fortunate position of being in a place where we could fix the problem.
While at Raul’s office, Jim picked up an email from Travelocity saying they had been unable to confirm Alex’s ticket from Roatan to Guatemala City. When he called to find out the problem, they told him they don’t have an arrangement with Taka and so couldn’t confirm it. Ummm – we wondered why they hadn’t mentioned that when Jim made the online booking and paid the money?! Phone calls weren’t solving the problem so the guys went back ashore to Raul’s office. There, they managed to get online with Taka, make a new booking, ensure that the money was refunded from Travelocity and get back to Madcap with time to spare.
By the time we had lunch, the tide was high and we set off across the bar. There is always a question about how much water is enough, and just what route to follow, but this was as good as it gets. The high tide was 1.1 ft above mean high water, we followed our track from last time (which also followed the waypoints in Freda Rauscher’s book) and we cleared nicely. The depth sounder read 0.1 but with the throttle up, we roared along at 6 knots and didn’t bounce once. Interestingly, we left at the same time as a boat with 7 ft draft (ours is almost 6 ft, loaded) and it had to be towed part way by a fishing boat.
With high fives all around, we set our sails, and motored off past Tres Puntas and onward to the Bay Islands. The wind was not conducive to true sailing so we had the motor on the whole way (drat!) but it still gave Alex a taste of ocean sailing. He was with us many times in the 1000 Islands and Lake Ontario, but it is different being on the ocean, and he had never done an overnight passage.
The swells gradually increased to 3 -4 feet and during the night 6-8 ft with an 8-9 second interval, the wind shifted from NE to ENE and then to E. We dodged a couple of squalls, easily identifiable on the radar, and motored on through the night. I wish it could have been one of those starry nights with a sailing wind when it is a pleasure to be out there, but no such luck. Still, we saw the magical bioluminescence – those sparkles in the waves as Madcap pushed through the water. Alex saw a patch of stars in the wee hours of the morning, and watched a pod of dolphins fishing at daybreak. He stood his first night watch, and tracked a freighter as it passed by to our port, and sure helped with the amount of rest Jim and I got. (I’m lucky enough to sleep soundly as soon as my head hits the pillow during a long passage, but rest is about as good as it gets for Jim.)
Unfortunately, the morning squalls that developed off Honduras were solidly around us so we got well and truly soaked by both rain and the odd wave that crashed right into the cockpit. We hauled the staysail in, and kept the engine running, and weathered the winds that gusted occasionally to 25. By noon, the skies had pretty well cleared and we were able to follow the Big Cay Channel around to the back side of Fantasy Island in French Cay harbour in semi dry clothes. Jim nosed us in perfectly and a great crowd of helpful neighbours (including Steve and Sandra (Yonder) caught our lines and helped us fit neatly into a slot on the dock between N’Aimless (Gordon and Gillian) and Albatross (Antoon and Rita).
We always heave a sigh of relief at the end of a passage, and this 30 hour one was no exception. But there was hardly time for it – we secured the lines, showered and got out of our grubby salty clothes and headed for the Tiki Bar where a great batch of Lionfish had been fried up and was dished out for our enjoyment. Lionfish! Previously known to us as a beautiful but poisonous and invasive species, it is being systematically hunted and killed here – and consumed while it lasts.
It was all a great way to end the passage and celebrate another experience for Alex. Maybe he will actually get in some beach time before he has to go home?