A Day of Surprises
17 February 2014 | French Cay Harbour, Roatan, Honduras
Beth / relaxed, soaked, anxious, dried, smiling
Our supplies really were getting limited, and although we knew we could catch a ride with Doc (from Mango Creek Lodge) to Oakridge and then get a taxi to take us to town, it would cost a big handful of lempiras. The wind really wasn't right for going east to Guanaja, but as we drained our last cups of coffee we knew that we had to do something!
So we headed out through Lime Cay Cut once more ... but this time we were really decisive and we turned west and stayed that way. It has been interesting to realize that no matter how much we say things like, "We are going to go where the wind blows us. We have a whole season to explore this area so we don't have to keep going in any one direction" we really do have difficulty turning back the way we came. Yesterday's indecision and reluctance to go back to French Cay Harbour seemed silly today. We had things to do and that is the place to do them easily, and we have loads of time to engage in our easterly explorations.
Having finally made the decision, we embraced it. We turned off the engine, ran out our yankee sail, set a course close to the shore so we could see the colourful little communities as we passed, and thoroughly enjoyed running west with fair winds and a following sea. It was truly lovely.
As we neared French Harbour though, the heavy clouds that had been glowering at us from a distance moved in closer. The wind picked up and started clocking around. We rolled in the yankee and revved up the engine in an effort to get in before the squall hit. No such luck. And to top it off, we had decided to use different waypoints this time - ones given us by a friend a couple of years ago.
When we came into the anchorage last year, we followed Mike, from Brooksey Point, who led us in really close to Little French Cay and we used the same track when we went back out. (We used Big Cay Channel this year when we went to Fantasy Island.) But we have watched most other boats take a different track through the shoal filled channel and we wanted to try that. The dark and cloudy sky and strong chop on the water meant we couldn't see the shoals so we navigated by those waypoints - awkward but usually doable.
But it didn't work that way this day. We fetched up on a shoal, managed to back off and were about to try again with terrible visibility in absolutely drenching rain - when a guy on a dock very near us called, "Hey, just come in here!" It seemed like a good idea to us, so while Jim made a very tight circle in just enough water, I hustled about quickly to get mooring lines ready and fenders hung overboard, and we blew onto that dock.
And this is how we came to discover Caye Harbour Lodge - the big pink complex we've gone past so many times before as we dinghied over to the Roatan Yacht Club. Elvis - dockman and bartender - smiled his brilliant smile and proceeded to do whatever he could to make us welcome. No problem with staying here! The boss says as long as you buy a drink at the bar you can spend the night on the dock. No problem with getting a cab to run your errands! I'll call someone (and then when the quoted price was exorbitant, we walked away while he negotiated it down to half.) No problem about your garbage! I'll take care of it.
In a couple of hours the rain stopped and we set off to run all our errands: the bank and the TiGo phone store, Ace hardware and the pharmacy, Eldon's grocery store and the gas station. When we got back, Elvis carried the bags to the boat, and then he poured me a glass of quite a nice red wine. Jim's rum punch was not quite so nice, but the view from the second floor bar is the best in the harbour - rivaling that of the Yacht Club - and the sincerity of Elvis' welcome in the middle of that squall is unequalled. So cruisers, pop into the bar when you are in the area, say hi to Elvis for us, and enjoy the view of the anchorage.
We'll probably go somewhere tomorrow, and I'm not making any predictions about how far we'll go or who we'll meet - but it might be east again and if today is any indication, it might be a day of great discoveries.