Day 4 continued - West End, Roatan, Honduras
This morning was a work morning. It started with the outdoor shower free-flowing, which uses up the precious fresh water. We got that shut off and disassembled the shower to find we needed an o-ring (which of course we didn't have and there weren't any places in town to get one). Then the toilet pump handle fell off, so Lee fixed it, then the toilet seat broke. The seat had to be drilled out and epoxied. Then it was time to make water (Reverse Osmosis from the seawater - pretty cool) - which requires the generator. Unfortunately the generator had to be adjusted and the water filters changed first, and part-way through the belt for the generator gave up. We got enough water to last a couple days in between breakdowns. We got a picture of Jim timing Lee filling a liter jug, and then we collectively figured out how long it would take us to fill both 100-gallon tanks. Zach was in there helping on every project. Lee told him not to breathe the epoxy as he drilled it out, and not to let the dust get in his eyes, so Zach put on his snorkel and mask to watch. Then we ate breakfast.
After breakfast it was time to get some more dives in for Noah. I was still not diving from my pedicure rash (it's getting better though - I'll try tomorrow), and Zach had been begging every day to watch a DVD, so he and I stayed on the boat and watched "Groundhog Day" while the others went diving. It took quite awhile for the divers to organize themselves and take off in the dinghy, but they finally got it sorted out.
After our movie, Zach swam around the boat and dove off the steps. He decided he wanted to learn to free dive with a snorkel, so he practiced that skill by diving down and coming up to the surface and blowing his snorkel out (I still don't like doing that). He told me, "Mom, I know all the stuff to be a diver, they just won't let me for another 3 years."
To be certified, Noah had to do 4 dives. He did #1 yesterday. He did #2-4 today as a multi-stage dive, with only one skill - compass navigation - left to finish tomorrow (only because they didn't remember to bring a compass). Noah saw an octopus again today - a bigger one this time. They were gone a long time, coming back to the boat just at sunset - beautiful timing!
Day 5 - West End, Roatan, Honduras
We got going early today - got off the boat by 11 . All of us went together - Jim and Zach snorkeled together, Lee and Noah finished off his compass navigation on their dive, and Wendy and I went off on my first dive in 10 years - yea! Zach and Jim got to see a ray. Noah and Lee saw a turtle, and Wendy and I saw some weird sea cucumber things. The coral and sponges were amazing - a wall with canyons of really diverse species. Lots of diverse fish too.
We stopped to get the tanks filled, then rushed back to the boat for lunch (3:00), then back to town to pick up the tanks and check out a few shops before things closed down at 5:00. We had to pay for the diving using Paypal, so I logged in at the internet café (ahh, air conditioning!) and uploaded the blog and pictures while I was at it. The rest of the crew got drinks while waiting for me to finish. Again, we arrived back at the boat just at sunset - beautiful. As we were heading out, a very Rastafarian-esque man was sitting on the end of the dock hanging out and waving at us. The stars were out tonight, so Lee took us out to point out Venus, Mars and Saturn in a row, the Southern Cross, and Scorpio. I made dinner tonight - fried rice.
Day 6 - Barefoot Cay, Roatan, Honduras
Sailing Day! We got the repaired sail back from the guy last night, so this morning we put it up. The wind was strong today and there were waves even in the harbor we were in. We all enjoyed getting out onto the open sea, but it soon became apparent, that Zach and I were not good to go. The plan was to go around the end of the island and east up the south side of the island to "Fantasy Island" today, but Zach lost breakfast and I was green, so we convinced the rest to change the plan to go into shore to get our bodies some calm rest before continuing on. We pulled into Barefoot Cay, a resort, but they wanted a big mooring fee, so we pulled out and anchored across the bay.
Plastic. An unbelievable amount of trash. Anything that could float was passing us by all day, and this otherwise beautifully maintained resort was constantly being bombarded by trash blown in by the trade winds (there was a guy continually fishing plastic out of the water while we were there). It was so nasty, the boys wouldn't get in to swim. The most appropriate piece of trash that went by was a toilet seat.
We were going to eat when we got off the boat to check on the mooring, but the only thing they had was a rather expensive restaurant for "guests" only. We got back on the boat and made Bacon-Lettuce-Tomato sandwiches (Peanut Butter & Jelly for the kids), then we all crashed and read/slept, except for Zach who lobbied for watching a movie. I've been amazed that Noah, who is usually needing to be entertained, has risen to the occasion and entertained himself wonderfully. Zach, who usually finds something to do, has been bugging everyone to entertain him. To Zach's defense, he's been helping on every project and setting the table each meal as part of his quest for something to do.
Zach finally came up with a solution we could all live with - as soon as we had all rested some more and the sun went down we set up the computer to all watch "Avatar" together while Wendy made us yummy gnocchi for dinner and we ate it while watching. It took me until sundown to get over my queasy stomach.
Day 7 -Fantasy Island, Roatan, Honduras
Lobster and shrimp boats and shanties, oh my! I really enjoyed cruising the French Harbor inside channel this morning, not just because it was less bouncy than the open ocean, but because we got a really good look at the "real" Roatan. Boats with hundreds of lobster traps were getting ready to go out. Apparently Lobster season opened yesterday (July 1) and across from the channel from us was a Lobster boat gearing up. We also saw quite a few fishing boats, supposedly a lot of shrimp is caught around here (much less than there used to be, as Wendy talked to someone who had just sold their fleet of 3 shrimp boats because there just wasn't much shrimp anymore). Each fleet was painted a different color, and the nice looking boats were in stark contrast to the housing of the crew that lived nearby. I wasn't quite sure what all the buildings were at first, but upon closer inspection, I realized I was looking at a "shanty town" of sorts. The buildings were put together with haphazard materials, and were in various states of disrepair. There was trash everywhere, they lived in squalor. They washed clothes in tubs outside, and hung it out to dry. The outgoing plumbing was just a pipe to the ocean. The people were very friendly though, waving back as we waved from the boat.
We got to the end of the inside passage and had to go out in the open ocean for a short time. This time, Zach and I had taken Dramamine before departure, and although there were whitecaps again today and some big waves (not quite as big as the other day) it wasn't very long and we were all in good spirits at the end (though I was wiped out and dopey from the Dramamine). We made it to our anchorage at Fantasy Island, then hopped in the dinghy to go to town at French Harbor. The waves were still a bit rough, but we were running with the wind so it was fine. We docked the boat at a fishing dock with some crusty men who said something about "Jamon Americano" (American pork) as we pulled up. We brought them back some cold Cokes as thanks, but many of them had gotten off work a few minutes before we got there and were already gone.
We walked to town, passing a 3-way intersection with no discernable stopsigns - kind of crazy. We tried to hire a cab, but he wanted $5 per person and we would have needed two taxis so we got back out and walked. Our destination was a "budget gourmet" store, but we turned in the hardware store driveway instead. A kind American offered to drive us in his 8 passenger air-conditioned car down the block to where the store was - we gratefully took him up on his offer and piled in. Our next destination was the "mall" - complete with Applebees and Wendy's. We chose to eat at a local place instead and got some good food. We topped it off with an ice cream cone, then walked back to the supermarket - almost like an American supermarket, but with half-empty shelves. We schlepped the food over the hill to the dinghy and climbed in. The wind was strong, the waves were choppy and the motor kept getting water in it, so it wouldn't behave well enough to avoid the crash of the waves over the bow. By the time we got out to the boat we were all soaked to the bone in salt water. Fortunately it wasn't cold, but we all had to take showers and hose off all the food and our stuff. Wendy said it was the roughest, wettest dinghy ride she's had (our boat neighbors even came over and commented on our plight the next morning!). The wind was howling.