April 2009

Mahi caught off Nicaguara


We were blessed with the bounties of the sea in April.  Our first catch of 2009 was a three foot mahi-mahi off the coast of Nicaragua .  We were making a 450 mile, three day trip from Bocas del Toro , Panama to the northeast corner of Nicaragua/Honduras.  Continuing on our passage the following day we hooked a large horse-eyed jack.  When we brought the fish on board, we were hoping it was a pompano (very tasty), but as we made comparisons to our fish book, we realized that it was a horse-eyed jack (not tasty).

At the end of our long passage we stopped at the Hobbies Cays, a couple of small cays inside a large protective reef about 25 miles off the Eastern Honduras coast.  The small cays are occupied by a few fishermen who anxiously meet every visiting boat eager to swap fresh fish for cigarettes.  We didn’t have any cigarettes on board, but we swapped a jar of peanut butter and some fresh water for a five pound red snapper.



Mahi-mahi caught off Nicaragua


Frigate birds


The Hobbies reefs were beautiful and we saw large schools of midnight parrot fish for the first time.  John and Nick from Caribbean Soul went spear fishing every day and we ate fresh red snapper, lobster, and hog fish as well as stocking our freezer.  At the near-by Vivorillos Cays, we spent an afternoon watching the nesting frigate birds and boobies.  They allowed us to get very close, since they were not wary of people.  In fact, it was difficult for us to run them off the boat when they wanted to use our bow sprit as a high perch to watch for fish.  We enjoyed 10 days in this tropical paradise before we moved on to civilization.


Frigate birds at Bird Island, Vivorillos Cays

Guanaja waterfall



The Bay Islands of Honduras (Guanaja, Roatan, and Utila) were ruled by the British for many years before they were given to Honduras in the mid-1800s.  English is widely spoken and in Roatan U.S. currency is widely accepted and many prices are quoted in U.S. dollars.  Our first stop in the Bay Islands was Guanaja, a quiet, less developed island.

We had missed the opportunities to hike that we experienced in the Eastern Caribbean and were happy to have some beautiful hikes on Guanaja.  We joined Marty, John and their visitor Mike from 4 Aces on hikes to a beautiful waterfall and to Michael Rock Peak , the highest point in the Bay Islands.  The water and snorkeling were also beautiful around Guanaja, but the island is a Marine Reserve so John couldn’t spear all those large grouper and snapper!



Cooling at a Guanaja waterfall


Michale Rock peakThe world is often small.  We were surprised in Guanaja to find our friend, Keith Willing, who attended Ann’s church in Georgia .  He and his wife Laurie have led mission trips to Honduras for many years and bought a house on Guanaja several years ago.  Keith was visiting the home and preparing for a mission trip in late May at the same time we were anchored in the bay in front of his house.  There are few secrets on Guanaja, and Keith learned that we were there and surprised us with a visit.  We enjoyed Keith’s company and his introductions to several people on the island.  John also helped him hang some doors in his house.  We are planning to return to Guanaja in late May to help Keith with his construction mission project with a team of 8 people from the U.S.   It should be a fun and rewarding time.

View from top of Michael Rock peak

We had another "small world" experience in Guanaja.  After a hike, we stopped in a restaurant and started talking to some visitors.  Alex Patterson purchased a home on Guanaja, but lost the home to hurricane Mitch.  He stills owns property and was visiting the island from his home in Homestead , FL.   We learned that Alex was originally from Waycross , GA and was a veterinarian in Homestead , FL for over 30 years.  When Ann told him he she was from Bowdon, he said, “I know Bowdon.  I went to vet school with Mac Teate.”  Dr. Teate was the vet in Bowdon when Ann was growing up and recently passed away.  Ann emailed her Mom and of course she immediately called Dr. Teate’s widow.

Nicky the dolphinIn Guanaja, we spent much of our time anchored in Sandy Bay where there was a “pet” dolphin.  We often see large schools of dolphin while we are sailing and enjoy watching them ride the waves, jump high, and swim very fast beside the boat, but we rarely see a dolphin spend a lot of time near anchored boats and almost never see a dolphin alone.  Some cruisers in the area named the dolphin Nicky, since his dorsal fin had scars where it was probably “nicked” by a boat propeller.  Early each morning we could hear Nicky surface for a breath near the boat.  He continued to swim around the boat anchorage until sunset when he returned.  Ann would talk to him whenever she was in the cockpit of the boat or doing some work on the deck of the boat.  We miss Nicky and look forward to seeing him when we return to Guanaja in late May.

The "pet" dolphin Nicky

We left Guanaja at the end of April and headed to Roatan with light winds predicted.  We have been cruising for over three years and have never used our spinnaker.  For those of you who are non-sailors, a spinnaker is a light-weight sail that is used in the bow (front) of the boat when the wind is light and behind the boat.  These sails are often brightly colored and look very pretty.  You will also see the sails in sail boat races during the downwind segment of the race.  John decided that we had the perfect conditions to try out our spinnaker and we used it for a portion of our trip to Roatan.  This proves that we continue to learn from in our cruising life, or that we are slow learners!

Flying the spinnaker

Cruising with the spinnaker