Having fun in Roatan

Wednesday was another quiet day on board doing a few boat jobs.   In the afternoon I started preparing the ribs and vegetables for BBQ night.  We were sharing with Shayne and Rob on Scurvy Dog and they came laden with wings, salad and cheesecake.   Was a huge feast and a fun time. 

Thursday morning and we headed out in dink into the lagoon – as we needed to get one of our gas bottles filled.  We found the dinghy dock at the dilapidated and abandoned Roatan Yacht Club and followed the brick road that wound up through gardens to the main road.   And we came out pretty much opposite Eldons the large supermarket.    The heat was intense and we were flagging so we hopped into a taxi and got him to take us to the gas station – we got it filled up – and then he took us back to the supermarket all for less than £3.  

Roatan Yacht Club dinghy dock Follow the brick road Propane fill

We only wanted bread but sadly still no decent stuff was to be found.   We wandered back – paid the security guard a small tip for looking after dink – and meandered through the reef to Fantasy Island.   On this part of the mainland, which is pretty close to where the fishing fleet are moored, there is a village and the poverty is obvious….   We recently found out that a high percentage of schools here don’t have running water or sanitation.  

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The rest of the day we chilled out and had a couple of sundowners in the cruisers bar later before having an early night.

Friday morning and we were up early again to go diving.   The newby divers were doing their last dives of their holiday  – and they had noticeably improved (thankfully) to the last time.  The first dive was a tugboat that had been deliberately sunk – was a nice small wreck dive called The Bud.   The dive lasted 50 minutes to 70 feet.

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After our surface interval we moved to another area where we dived an area called French Key flats.   This was another 50 minutes down to 60 feet.   Not a lot of fish but lots of different specimens and great coral.

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In the afternoon we relaxed before heading into the palapa for movie night – this week it was Captain Ron.   Great movie and lots of laughter.

Saturday morning we met Caroline and Scott and we were heading off to Bulk Gourmet to stock up on goodies not to be found at Eldons – like Irish bangers and cheddar cheese!   Best laid plans and all that….   The Bulk Gourmet guy, who does a courtesy taxi service in his Hummer, was running late.   The Agent who was doing Caroline and Scott’s clearance papers was late too….and so were the people collecting their rental car!   So we ended up leaving Scott behind while we went shopping.

Back to the marina and the Agent had collected documents but not sure when he will be back – so, sadly, we headed off to the Sloth and Monkey Hangout without Scott.  This is really just a private collection of animals that they keep as pets.  Everything looked pretty healthy and happy and they have lots of human interaction – so we got to play with monkeys, macaws, parrots and sloths!   Amazing creatures with heads that turn almost all the way around – and sooooo slooooowly…..great cuddles!  Glad we went – was very educational too.

Monkey and Slough hangout Hangout 1Hangout 2Hangout 8Hangout 7Hangout 6Hangout 5Hangout 4Hangout 3Hangout 13Hangout 12Hangout 11Hangout 10Hangout 9

Back to the marina and we collected Scott and took our coolers to the beach to go bobbing.   There were quite a few guests about and, of course, they leave things lying around on the sunbeds.    This attracted Cheeky, Ethel and Lucy (the monkey trio) down to the beach and they started to steal suntan lotion, crisps, bottles of water etc.   They were being really naughty and getting hyper because idiot tourists were giving them sugar – and Cheeky jumped on one young woman’s shoulder.   She was completely freaked and was scared, so I walked up and enticed him away so he sat on my shoulder for a little while before heading off to cause more havoc.


We left the beach, returned to Morphie to get cleaned up, and then went to the palapa for sundowners.    We were all hungry so ordered a delivery of fried chicken and pizza and had a fun time.   There were a few new boats in the anchorage and one of them was German – and they started to berate us about not taking enough refugees / all our fault because we are bombing them / how dare we even think of leaving Europe etc etc etc….  Turned into a heated political debate and all I can say is the guy clearly had communist leanings LOL.  Was glad when they left and we could carry on having fun!

Sunday we spent some time catching up on the internet before having a lazy afternoon on board.   Later on Scott and Caroline came over to Morphie for sundowners and a shepherd’s pie dinner which they thoroughly enjoyed.   Another great evening – we’ll miss then when they leave for Providencia in the morning.

Monday morning we were up early again to go diving.  We said our farewells to Scott and Caroline on the way to the dive shop and started to get kitted up.   This time there were only two other divers on board, plus Chris the Divemaster, and they told us they were members of REEF – which stands for Reef Environmental Education Foundation.    So they plan to count fish!   Hmmm…..interesting…..

We dropped on top of the wall to do a drift dive … and we went slow.   Really slow.   They were marking numbers on sheets;  taking photos of every nook and cranny;  more counting and so it went on.  We had to double back a few times to make sure we didn’t lose sight of them and often just hung off the wall looking at critters while they got on with it.   We were surprised they were so engrossed in doing their thing that they often kicked coral and touched it with their hands to steady themselves in one place – not impressed with that.    Finally after 65 minutes to depths of 70 feet we surfaced.

3 Dive 1 3 Dive 2 3 Dive 3 3 Dive 4 3 Dive 5 3 Dive 6 3 Dive 7 3 Dive 8During the surface interval they collated all their information and checked the fish identification books.  Before you know it we were heading back into the water to dive Cemetery Wall, which has some great overhands and beautiful coral….and we did another slow dive.   Eventually we surfaced after 75 minutes down to depths of 60 feet.   Felt pretty tired after all that exercise LOL.

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Last night we headed into the palapa for sundowners and met some cruisers who had come into the anchorage so was nice to chat to some new faces – and thankfully the argumentative German had left!

This morning, Tuesday, and I’m blogging while Richard has dropped off the laundry and paid the veggie man a visit.   We’re off on the shopping bus this afternoon which may be our last chance before we leave Fantasy Island.  We are closely monitoring the weather now to decide when to move on….

Bye for now


More diving in Roatan

Thursday morning we checked out the sea state and the surf was still pounding on the reef – so no diving for us today.   We had a lazy day on board before spending a few hours in the afternoon bobbing in the resort pool.

Fantasy Island pool

In the evening we went to the dock palapa for sundowners and enjoyed watching the monkeys playing around us…..

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Friday morning we were up very early and headed down to the diving dock – the sea still looked lumpy but we wanted to say goodbye to our fellow divers who leave on Saturday.    By eight o’clock we were underway and steaming out through the reef – straight into 5-6 feet swells!

Off on the boat

It was unlikely that we could take the direct route down the coast to the dive sites so Captain Trevor went behind another reef and we went through the cut keeping us out of the waves – the upside to this detour was that we got to see Roatan’s large fishing fleet.

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We finally arrived at the dive site and the crew struggled to pick up the mooring ball in the swells – finally we were hooked and we were kitting up – when the mooring broke!  Quickly we all helped get the ropes out of the water / ladders up while Captain Trevor restarted the engine and drove us out of trouble.   We moved further down the coast and picked up another ball – at a site called Tony’s Spot – jumped in and submerged quickly onto the reef and down the wall…   This was a multi-level dive so we went out deep and returned along the wall at a shallower depth – lovely colours and very nice coral formation.     We spent 55 minutes in the water to a maximum depth of 90 feet.

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Getting back on the boat was difficult with the ladder slamming up and down against the swells and I was very grateful that the guys helped me with my weights and tank…..   We then motored back behind the reef and rafted up against an old barge for our surface interval.

Time to go again and we headed back to Mary’s Place – a special request as the guys wanted to dive it one last time – and we were very happy with that.    We managed to get a deeper mooring ball this time and went down into the canyons….love diving between the walls and through the overhangs….   Great spot!   This time we went to 80 feet for 50 minutes.

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Back on board and we motored against the waves back to the dock – we said our farewells, cleaned our gear, and headed back to Morphie for a quiet afternoon.

Reversing in

Later on we went to the palapa for movie night – and they were showing Titanic.   Not sure about that film choice when we live on the water but at least we don’t have to watch out for icebergs LOL.  During the evening we were treated to a monster moon, just plain spectacular.

Bright moon

Saturday morning we did boat jobs – making some strengthening modifications to the tarpaulin we have pressed into service for shade – and installed the gas BBQ on the rail and made water.   Currently there is no water on the dock or in the toilets so we are watching our water consumption carefully.   Later on we went for a few drinks before having an early night.

Sunday we awoke to a grey and dreary day……and we decided to stay put.     I wandered up to the resort lobby to Skype my mum and, on the way, was surprised by loads of guests arriving.   First time I’ve seen more than a dozen people.    Anyway as I’m walking up the path Cheeky the monkey runs – at full speed – straight at me scattering the nervous tourists in his wake – before jumping onto my shoulder.   He settles behind my head, puts his hands around my neck and starts giving me kisses before checking my hair for bugs.   Some kids were absolutely transfixed by this. Eventually he got bored, jumped down and left.

In the lobby it was mayhem – there was barely a chair left to sit – and it seems like a huge dive club has arrived from Uruguay.    On the way back to Morphie I had Cheeky and Ethel both inviting themselves onto my shoulders.  They finally jumped back into the trees but they refused to even look at the other holidaymakers let alone get close enough to be touched – not sure why the monkeys appear to like me so much LOL.

For the rest of the day we stayed on board and enjoyed a steak on the BBQ before having an early night.

Monday morning we were up early again and went to the dive boat – thankfully the Uruguay group are taking their own private boat – so there was just eight of us with Captain Willy.   Two other experienced divers and four newbies who had just qualified.  We went off to the house reef for the first dive – and the water was lovely and flat – and we all went in.  We descended and waited on the bottom for them to come down – and they took a long time as they needed to adjust their weights.   Finally we all head off but two of the newbies were struggling – and suddenly I spotted one of the women shooting up from 50 feet towards the surface.  Chris, the divemaster, went after her and it was clear she was throwing up on the surface.  So while he was dealing with her we led the dive until he returned.  Finally we arrived under the boat and the newbies got straight out while Richard and I whiled away some time just checking out the lettuce coral and the baby fish that live in it.   We maxed at 90 feet and did a 45 minute dive – we actually went back to the boat with almost half a tank of air but decided it wasn’t fair to let them sit up there waiting any longer for us as they were clearly feeling ill.

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Back on board and it was decided to return to the dock for our service interval – and the couple got off, leaving us with just one set of newbies.   So back out again and we all descended onto a shallow spot before dropping over the wall.    Very pretty and quite a few things to see – we enjoyed ducking below some of the overhangs to see what might lurk in the shadows beneath.   During this dive we realised that the newbies were below us most of the time but they seemed confident enough – although when we turned around I did signal them to come shallower as they didn’t appear to realise the significance of why we had risen further up the wall.   Anyway…we returned under the boat…and Richard and I swam around exploring in the shallow water…    We were a bit shocked when the newbies got to the shallows and then surfaced without a safety stop.   We finally surfaced after another 50 minutes underwater to a maximum depth of 70 feet.  Chris asked the newbies what their decompression limit was / maximum depth during the dive and was very surprised that they didn’t appear to know.  Collectively we reckon they went down to at least 100 feet and with no computers or tables they weren’t aware of their diving limits.   Chris told them off – gently – and hopefully they’ll rent computers or follow his profile going forward!

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The rest of the day we chilled before having a few drinks in the palapa – with Richard enjoying cuddles with boat dog Libby – followed by an early night.

Richard with Libby

This morning – Tuesday – and it is shopping day.    Richard has cleaned Morphie’s topsides – as the water on the dock has been restored – and is now trying to get off yellow spots left on the gelcoat by the sap from the palm trees…….   I’m blogging having just returned from visiting the fruit and veg man.

Fresh produce

This afternoon we have our weekly courtesy bus trip to the supermarket for provisions and not sure about later – although Caroline and Scott are due to arrive into the marina later today, so will be nice to welcome them back.

We think we will probably stay in Roatan for another couple of weeks and do more exploring both above and below the water before moving on.   Next destination is a return to Utila – if the weather permits – and then onto Belize.   All very exciting….

Bye for now


Diving in Roatan

Friday morning we were up early and, laden with all our gear, we went to the resort’s dive boat dock.   We put our gear on board, set up our tanks for the first dive, were joined by others and off we went.    We didn’t go too far out but the sea was really rough.   We kitted up when the others did – clearly they had been diving with this operation before – and waited for the dive briefing.   Well, there wasn’t one….   So we just followed the pack and jumped in and went down when the dive leader did.   We were immediately struck by the relatively poor visibility and lack of fish – but the pretty, healthy, coral and the walls dropping off into the blue made up for it.   We followed the dive leader around until the first person was down to half a tank and then we turned around, followed the wall back again, and then to the shallow area under the boat where we just meandered around until we had had enough.   We did our safety stops and went to the surface to get pounded by the waves again – and it was really tough getting back on the boat.   In total we dived for 60 minutes to a depth of 25 metres.

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Then we changed our tanks over and were surprised that the dive boat returned to the resort.  After about an hour or so we took off again just off the resort’s reef and jumped back in.   Still rough conditions – and poor visibility – and this dive wasn’t that much different from the first.   Another 60 minutes in the water down to around 20 metres.   Oh yes and the dive master didn’t understand Bar – as everyone else’s pressure gauge is in PSI, including Richard now – so I just watched Richard.  If he said he had 2000 PSI left – then I just said I had a bit more LOL – rather than confuse the guy with the very different numbers.  For those interested, a full tank in PSI is around 3,000 and a full tank in Bar is around 200.  

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We came back to the dock, finally, about one pm and we took our time cleaning our gear and stowing it in the dive shop’s secure area.  Great not to have to lug it back to Morphie.    We had showers and went back onboard – starving hungry and feeling quite tired.   So we had something to eat and then lazed around.  Later on we went to the cruisers bar for movie night – the latest Star Wars – and Caroline had made some popcorn for us which we thoroughly enjoyed.  

Saturday we met Caroline and Scott and headed off in dink to the mainland – our destination was the Monkey and Sloth park.   We found the right dock – we wandered down the street – only to find the place was closed for annual maintenance!   Damn……     Disappointed, especially as it was now raining and grey, we walked back to dink.   We had already decided to go to Little French Key for the afternoon – for bobbing, drinking and lunch – and decided to continue with the plan despite the weather.

We battled across the channel in the rain and arrived a little wet and salty.    Near the docks is a little zoo – apparently all the animals were rescued from circuses and such like.  Well….the lion was in a terrible state….and I hated seeing a single monkey in a cage when we have a family over on Fantasy Island living wild….   Hmmmm…decided not to continue looking…and certainly didn’t take photos.    So we swiftly wandered off to check out the island and came across one of their beaches – and the sun came out!   Yay….  

Little French Key Little French Key 2 Little French Cay 3

We found an open bar on the water and had a bit of a laugh before moving to an outside table for lunch as the music was a bit loud – must be getting old LOL.  

Having fun at LFK

After lunch we changed into our swimmers and went for a lovely afternoon bobbing in the water – including service from the barman to the water’s edge.   Stunning water…..and warm like a bath…..  Bliss!

Having fun at LFK 2

Later on we got ready to return to Morphie and we realised that we’d all been bitten quite badly around our arms and shoulders….   Not good!   We crossed the channel, we got dink back up on his davits, and got ourselves cleaned up before we walked to the end of the dock to rejoin Caroline and Scott onboard their trawler SeaLife – had a lovely evening in the air-conditioned comfort!  Oh yes and we met Howard the cat too.    Later than we had planned we said our farewells and returned to Morphie having had a really lovely day.

Sunday morning, and by the time we surfaced, Caroline and Scott had left the marina – bound for Guanaja, the next island along in the Bay Island chain.  They are returning here at some point so we are hoping to see them again.  We had a really lazy day and went to the cruiser’s palapa bar for sundowners and enjoyed some monkey business before returning to Morphie for an early night.

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Monday and we were off diving again – and hoping for a better experience.   There were different divers on board – as Saturday is the turnaround day in the resort – so it was nice to meet some new faces.    And this time we headed off along the coast towards the west end of the island.    We were given a briefing – hurrah – and all kitted up and jumped in.  This site was called Lita’s Hole.   On the reef there was a hole which you dropped straight down into – head first of course – at around 5m.   Single file only with a gap in between – and, once you were committed, there wasn’t room to turnaround or go up as the hole meanders through the reef with overhangs and you come out on the wall at 20m.  Was great fun – we thoroughly enjoyed it.  Then we just skirted the wall for a while until we returned under the boat to just mooch around until we had had enough.    The visibility was better and slightly more fish – but really the ‘hole’ was the best bit and the coral was stunning.   And because the sea was rough again the dive master let us remove our gear in the water so that we could climb on the boat unencumbered.   Much better idea – glad they offered this time!   We did a 50 minute dive with a maximum depth around 25m.

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This time the boat stayed out while we had about an hour’s surface interval.   The second dive was Mary’s Place – this is one of the most famous of the dive sites in Roatan and consists of an area that was damaged by an earthquake which created three fissures in the rock.   Again we went through single file into each of the fissures and we had to watch our depth gauges as it would have been very easy to have ended up below 30m as the bottom of the fissures drop away so dramatically.   So we were all watching our computers and ensuring that we remained out of the decompression zone.     Was absolutely fantastic – best diving ever – what a great place.  We thoroughly enjoyed the site and hope to return as it is just not possible to see everything in one dive.   We traversed all three fissures and ended up back at the boat just mooching around at around 5m so our safety stops were all in shallow water and for much longer than we needed.  At this point Richard and I just hovered over a couple of coral bombies and watched the baby fish in their coral-encrusted nurseries.

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Back to the resort – all gear washed and stowed – and we returned to Morphie.  We had a quiet day on board and just chilled out.

Tuesday was shopping day again.   At 11.30 on the dot the vegetable truck turned up – and this time it was like a bunfight – with the crews from the boats in the anchorage ashore to take advantage of this opportunity to stock up.  This guy has incredibly fresh produce and at a very reasonable price – I purchased mangos, peppers, onions, green beans, carrots, potatoes and tomatoes all for about £3.  Back to Morphie and stowed my goodies.  We then had a late lunch of chicken fajitas before we headed back to the palapa to await the courtesy coach that takes us to Eldons, the large supermarket.   Libby was loving it in her shopping outfit….

Libby in her shopping harness

This week it was two minibuses so we all piled in – and Richard took off to walk to Ace Hardware for a couple of things – and I did a quick run around the store.   Everything on the list purchased and Richard got back and we sat and waited for the return bus.  Well, it was late by around 15 minutes, and you should have heard the complaints – this is a free bus trip guys get a life!!!   Richard was making me laugh on the way back as I listened to the cruisers – or should I say the moaning old crusties – and said “You think this is bad, wait until we get to the Rio Dulce!”.  Great – thanks love – can’t wait LOL.

Back to Morphie and we retreated down below to try and get some respite from the heat – it is really hot and humid here right now and we have even put up a tarpaulin over the boom to try and reduce the temperature down below.   There is definitely another canvas project coming up when we get to Guatemala!    Later on we went for a couple of cold ones in the palapa and enjoyed the breeze and the strong electric fans.

Morphie trying to keep cool

This morning – Wednesday – and I was determined to work out how to link our Bluetooth Bad Elf GPS to the computer package OpenCPN.   We’ve paired the Bad Elf to the computer previously but couldn’t get OpenCPN to talk to it – so Richard took himself off in the dink to take our laundry round to the other marina – while I worked my way through their “help pages” and found some command prompts to do, some port and setting changes and hey presto, it worked!    Woo hoo….feeling very smug.  This is a big deal for us as the Garmin charts going forward are pretty poor – Navionics are not much better – and the OpenCPN charts I have are from pilot guides / vectors / rastors and Google Earth so with all that we should have better information.   The paper charts for this region are woefully inadequate too as they date back centuries.  Just need to use it live now to get used to it – as this will probably be our main source of information for the Pacific crossing.

Richard has returned and I’m still below on the computer catching up with a few things as well as writing this blog while he is reading in the cockpit.   We have a BBQ evening tonight at the palapa so we’ll probably go to that.  Don’t think we’ll do anything else today. 

At the minute the winds are pretty high and, although we are not feeling any effects in the marina, you can see the impact it has on the sea state beyond the reef where there are big white horses riding by.  So we are going to continue watching the sea to decide when to go diving next.  

Rough seas

Bye for now.


Utila to Roatan – the Bay Islands of Honduras.

Saturday after breakfast ashore to get the blog published we continued to wander around the town and I spotted a hair salon – so went in and I got attended to straight away, even though she was in the middle of having her own hair done LOL.

Time for a hair cut

We headed back to Morphie in the afternoon and enjoyed a beautiful sunset and amazing colours of the night sky before having an early night.

Goodnight Utila Night sky

At 6.00 am on Sunday we picked up and motored out alongside Utila into a very sloppy sea – and, of course, the wind direction is not what was forecast.  Our direction is NE to Roatan – a 33 mile passage in total – and, of course, the wind is directly on our nose.  We went off the wind and pulled out the sails and were going quite well into the large lumpy seas and persevered with it – but, of course, at some point we would have to tack back.   To avoid going too close to the Honduran mainland we decided to motorsail the last leg so that we could hold a more acute angle to the wind and towards our destination.  

Leaving Utila

We approached the entrance cut to bring us to Fantasy Island and could only see one marker – the second red appeared to be missing.  Then the marina dock master radioed us to give advice and we realised that a local boat was actually tied to the first marker and we had to go very closely behind him and then immediately to starboard to enter the channel.  What a daft thing to do!!   A few more direction changes, with me reef spotting on the bow for a little while, and finally we got into our slip by 2pm.   Well – it is not actually a slip – it is a big boardwalk that surrounds the 22 acre island and boats get tied alongside all the way round.    Beautiful water too…..

Fantasy Island

We got ourselves organised – met some cruisers who gave us the low down on the honour system in the dock’s palapa bar – and went for a wander.   Fantasy Island’s hotel is a bit run down and there are very few guests around.    So the beach was pretty much deserted and so was the pool.   

Fantasy Island beach Fantasy Island pool

Very pretty surroundings and we enjoyed meeting the local coypu who wander around and seem friendly.  We also came across some peacocks but sadly they ran off before I could get a photo of them.

Meeting the locals

Walking back to Morphie later that afternoon we stopped off at the bar, chatted to Steve and Debbie (the new dock masters) and met some other cruisers.  We were very surprised to see Larry (SV Starstream) who we had last seen about three years ago in Grenada.   Here on Fantasy Island there are three monkeys running wild and each with their own unique character – Cheeky being the naughty boy who runs around like a looney;  likes to steal drinks;  make noise by bashing on the roof;  swings like crazy on the electricity wires;  and occasionally breaks things that get in his way.  The other two (girls) are more timid but very friendly – and here’s one saying hi to me!   I got kissed on the cheek and Richard got his ears licked LOL.  

Meeting the locals 2

We were warned not to leave sandals on the dock as they will go missing – and, if they steal something, you have to trade with them to get it back.  They particularly like water bottles and monkey nuts unsurprisingly…..

Monday morning and we washed Morphie down and went by dinghy into the lagoon to Booksby Bay where we were able to drop our laundry off.   We went around the island and admired the views from the water……  

Morphie's slip

Exploring by dink Fantasy island from the water

Coming back we took ourselves off to the beach and went bobbing….  There were four people on the whole place – lovely water and soft sand.    Then we went to the pool and continued bobbing there.  

Beach bobbing

Was a really chilled afternoon – followed by a couple of cold ones in the cruisers bar – before going back to Morphie for dinner and a beautiful Roatan sunset.

Goodnight Roatan

Tuesday was a busy day.   At 11.30 the fruit and veg man turned up with his truck and I had fun picking out my fresh produce.   

Fruit and veg man Fresh produce

Back to Morphie to store it – then back out again at 3pm for the courtesy bus that takes the cruisers to Eldons, the large supermarket.    This was a great place and we were lucky to be constrained by the bus timetable which only gave us about 50 minutes in total – just enough to make a significant dent in the wallet and to get some drinking vouchers out of the ATM.


Back to Morphie to store our goodies and a quick turnaround to get cleaned up and changed in preparation for the 5.30pm water shuttle that was taking us over to Frenchies for dinner.   As we were sitting on the boat waiting to go, Cheeky decided that he wanted to come.  Debbie got him off the boat and he sat looking really dejected….holding her hand pleading to come LOL.   In the end he gave up and lay down while we slipped away from the dock.  Ah bless.   

Off to Frenchies

Be good while we are gone Meeting the locals 3

Oh yes and Libby came too.   Libby is Steve and Debbie’s toy poodle – who even went shopping with them inside a baby sling!   For the evening she had swapped her baby sling for a shopping bag….

Off to dinner

Libby's dinner outfit Frenchies restaurant

We had a nice evening and enjoyed chatting to fellow cruisers and we were surprised to find that the family we were chatting to were ones that we had read about who had been shipwrecked on the reefs in Mexico.  As the authorities rescued them from their grounded yacht and took them away from the scene to get them legally checked in the boat was completely ransacked by a gang and by the time the family returned everything they owned had been stolen or destroyed.  In the process of trying to get the boat off the reef it was holed and the mast broken so they lost everything.  They are now living with their father / grandfather on his 56 foot ketch here in Fantasy Island.   Small world eh?!?

Shipwrecked in Mexico

Wednesday morning and we met Caroline and Scott – who had hired a car for the day and offered to take us out with them.   First stop was Ace Hardware and Richard managed to come away without any new shiny tools – must be a first!!!   Second stop was the mall and we managed to get a SIM card for our unlocked Samsung phone so we can use the internet on board.   Next stop was back to Eldons and this time we wandered around and took note of all the things we will fill up with before we leave Roatan.  But as we plan to be here for a little while we only purchased a few things.     Scott bought us back to Morphie while Caroline continued shopping – she was onto her second trolley when we left LOL – so we just chilled out.

Later on we reconvened and headed back out in the car – destination was Cals, a cantina that comes highly recommended.   The views were stunning and shows just how green and lush this mountainous island is.     Some big houses snuggling into the woods too….

Lunch stop Views from Cals Large house tucked away Views from Cals 2

We had a lovely lunch – and a cocktail – before heading back out in the car.  

Scott and Caroline Margarita time

We were heading towards the East End of the island and looking for a place called Lionfish Louie’s.    We found a sign and followed this dirt path down to the beach.    We were lucky as the cruise ship tourists had just left so we had the place to ourselves – the beach was absolutely spectacular and we loved the trees that had been manicured to turn them into unique beach umbrellas.

Lionfish Louies Unusual beach umbrellas Beautiful beach at Lionfish Having fun at Lionfish

Moving on we continued into the mountains – this time looking for a place called La Serena.     Well….the dirt road just kept going…..and it was so dusty all the trees were covered in a layer of dirt…..and the sleeping policemen were large and we heard the car bonk a few times……  Are we there yet???

Are we there yet

We thought that we must have gone wrong as the road continued to wind up and down the hills – giving us spectacular views out to the reef – until we spotted a sign which said ‘Nearly there!’ so we continued for another couple of miles and arrived at this lovely over-the-sea bar.   

Views out to the reef La Sirena 2

The beach was shingly rather than soft sand but still very attractive and the place even has a huge pet pig that eats all the organic leftovers from the kitchen!   It was a great find – and it served monster rum punches!  

Pet pig at La Sirenas Monster rum punches

Sadly we couldn’t linger as the sun was about to go down and we did not want to be on the roads after dark – so we made a quick bathroom stop – and headed off back to the marina, stopping for a little while to say goodbye to the sun.

Bathroom Goodnight Roatan 2

Had been a lovely day and thanks to Scott and Caroline for inviting us along.    Back to the marina and we all piled into the cruisers bar – we’d missed the BBQ night by now – but we joined in and had a few pontoonies before saying farewell and heading back to Morphie, suitably hydrated.

This morning – Thursday – and we’re chilling onboard.   

Snug in Fantasy Island

Planning a quiet day as we are diving tomorrow, which we’re really looking forward to.

Bye for now


Slow boat to Utila, Honduras

Sunday we had a lazy day pre-departure and we had an early night.  The planning for this passage had been quite complicated – we have adverse current against us for most of the way and are expecting to be carried east as well during the latter part of the trip.   This makes boat speed difficult to predict as the Gulf Stream current runs at differing strengths in places along our route – so we have modelled for 3 knots, 3.5 knots, 4 knots, 4.5 knots and 5 knots.   On that basis we have decided to leave at 10am as we have a good chance of making landfall in daylight hours on the slower speeds and, if we are going too fast, we can always slow down.   We are also aware that the weather window closes down on Thursday as a front comes through so we need to be in by then if we can. 

Monday morning we were up early, did final checks, and listened to Chris Parker the weather guru on the SSB.    The forecast remains the same so we’re definitely off.    At 9.45am on a grey miserable day we picked up and motored out of the anchorage.   We said goodbye to the Cozumel waterfront, Mickey’s cruise ship, two other cruise ships and motor sailed along the coast for a while – dodging parasailers on the way – as the wind was being bent by the island.   

Goodbye Cozumel Goodbye cruise ships Goodbye Mickey Dodging parasails

By 10.30 we had 18 knots of breeze from the SE and we had all three sails up and were sailing along brilliantly.  A shame about our speed over ground though – at only 3.6 knots – slowed as expected by the current.

All three sails up

The seas built during the day and the wind moved more easterly so we continued to sail along nicely.   At 6pm we put away the staysail and reefed the genoa in preparation for the night passage.   And just in time as squalls started to hit by 7pm just after a first stormy sunset at sea. 

Sunset at sea 1

By 8pm the wind climbed above 20 knots sustained, we had Carnival Magic cruise ship to starboard, and the sea action was making this a pretty rolly passage…. But we’d picked up speed and were now averaging four knots.

Suddenly about 11 pm we popped out like a cork from the adverse current and started to hit five+ knots – woo hoo! – but now we were being pushed east instead.  To our east lay Banco Chinchorro, a huge reef system off the coast of Mexico, so we adjusted our course to remain high of our rhumb line.   Then suddenly – without any change in the sail pattern, wind direction or strength – our speed dropped to 3.2 knots.   Seems like the Gulf Stream was just playing with us.

During the night there were constant squalls with some rain but Morphie loved it and was ploughing through the waves…..and our speed fluctuated between 3 knots and 4 knots all night.   

Tuesday morning – sunrise – and we hoisted the staysail again but the wind direction and east pushing current forced us to drop down towards our rhumb line.  

Sunrise at sea

The wind became very light and we put the engine on to charge our batteries so we motor sailed and climbed back up above the rhumb line.   By noon the seas had flattened, the wind reduced even further, and the sun came out.  By 2pm the engine was off again and we were sailing again, slowly, towards Utila.    Suddenly, although the wind was only 12 knots, we were making five knots of boat speed.  

Going along nicely

Have we finally escaped the Gulf Stream?   Woo hoo…looking good for a Wednesday afternoon arrival….   We were having a great time and finally at 6pm having eaten dinner we reefed down for the night – just before dark a yacht and a ship crossed our bow a few miles ahead of us, the only other vessels we had seen all day.

Sunset at sea 2

During the night the seas and the wind built – which is the diurnal weather pattern in this area – even with double reefs in the main and the genoa we were still doing more than five knots so making good time.   However, come midnight, and we were being headed and the current started pushing us east over the rhumb line.  Here we go again!  So we tacked and made very slow progress directly into the waves – which was horrible – averaging only two knots for a while.   But we managed to climb back up before tacking back to a better course.  

We were then passed by the Norwegian Dawn cruise ship to port at 2am on Wednesday morning but otherwise we were the only boat out there in the very dark night.    At 5am the moon had just risen and we had crossed into Belizean waters.   Again we were being pushed east towards Belize’s offshore reefs so we tacked back – got above the rhumb line – and then reverted to our original course.   By 9am the clouds were breaking up and the wind dropped…and continued to drop….until we had just 4 knots on our nose.  But at least the sun was out and we had a lovely sunny day.   Downside was that the wind was so light even the whisker pole wouldn’t work so we put the sails away and motored into the now flat calm seas.  

Flat calm and no wind

Sadly this meant that making landfall on Wednesday was no longer an option – so we recalculated for a Thursday morning arrival instead and reduced our engine speed to average 4 knots boat speed.   As it was so benign we made water and both of us enjoyed leisurely showers during the day – even taking time out for a selfie and Richard tried his hand at fishing, but didn’t catch anything.  Oh yes and we took down the shredded Mexican courtesy flag.  Later on large swells arrived making it very rolly and the temperature soared – incredibly hot and steamy making it very difficult to sleep when off watch. 

Motoring along selfie

All that's left of our Mexican flag

At 4pm the winds starting building again and we saw 10 knots but were not sustained.  However at 6pm the night winds started kicking in and were now coming from behind us – so we decided to run on reefed genoa alone.   The winds built to 14 knots and above and suddenly we were sprinting along but going way too fast – so we had to, frustratingly, reduce the genoa to a hanky size to keep our speed at 4 knots.   

Sunset at sea 4 Sunset at sea 3 Sailing with a scrap of sail only

By 9pm lightning storms were flashing ahead and then they were constant – Belize mainland was really getting hit!!!   They were impressive but incredibly frightening – especially as we knew that they were potentially heading our way.  But the wind switched again, thankfully, and they remained off to our starboard side and did not pose any immediate threat.    In the meantime we were entertained by a little swift trying to land on Morphie to get shelter although he never managed it and left us after about three hours.     

At 4am on Thursday morning the storms had started to dissipate, the wind had switched to the NW, and a flashing light on Pumpkin Hill, Utila, was spotted in the distance.   Lightning was still flashing around us though…..    Come 6am we had “land ho” and by 7.50am Mexican time (6.50am local time) we had anchor down in Porte Este on a very grey gloomy morning.  

Land ahoy Utila

Total passage was 276 miles taking 70 hours which means an average speed of 3.94 knots – which, bearing in mind the adverse current, probably wasn’t too bad overall.  We were very pleased that our intensive passage planning came good.

Utila waterfront Utila waterfront 2 Utila waterfront 3

We had a couple of hours sleep and laid in bed listening to the heavy rain landing on the coach roof – so Morphie was salt free within an hour of arriving thanks to Mother Nature. 

Morphie in the anchorage

We went ashore – it was not obvious where to land dink – but a dive shop said we could use their dock.  We walked down the high street avoiding the massive puddles from the recent rain storm and found the official government buildings – and went to the port captain first.  

Government building

He took loads of scans of different papers before sending us to immigration. This took a while…..including photos and fingerprints…..but eventually we were given visas for 90 days.   Back to the port captain but he said, as it was now nearly noon he probably would not receive the authority from the mainland until after lunch so could we come back in three hours?   Yes, of course, we said.  So we found a bank and got some local currency, which is Lempiras at a rate of 33 to the pound.   We found a bar that had free wifi so we could tell people we had arrived safely.  Had an OK fish lunch and then watched Liverpool in the Europa Cup on the TV LOL.   We returned later to the Port Captain and he gave us our clearance for 90 days.   And the whole process cost us US$6 – result! 

Utila has a history of petty theft in this anchorage and it is not recommended to leave boats unattended after dark – so we returned to Morphie for a quiet evening on board and enjoyed the most spectacular sunset with the sun looking more like Mars than itself.  Amazing…..

Goodnight Utila 2 Goodnight Utila

Friday morning and we were up early and went ashore after breakfast planning to explore the town a bit.   Utila has an interesting history as it was discovered by Columbus but early Spanish settlers did not prosper.  Later on British settlers used the islands as a base for wood-cutting operations and brought with them a mixture of African slaves and Black Caribs.   Although the islands have been part of Honduras for more than a century a large proportion of the population are white and English speaking with many of them allegedly being descendants of British pirates who preyed on the Spanish treasure fleets.   The official language of the island is Spanish but most of the people that we have encountered so far are native English speakers – the notable exception being the immigration official who obviously had been imported from the mainland.

We had found a Mares dive equipment shop on our wanders the previous day so we came ashore carrying Richard’s regulators – his pressure gauge had failed in Isla Mujeres.    These are sealed units and not fixable so we are on the hunt for a new one that will fit into his instrument console.   We were very lucky that they had the exact same unit (although in PSI rather than Bar) and swapped it out for us there and then.    That’s a relief…..   Coming out of the shop having learnt from the German guy that works there that they all call this Burglary Bay!  Cheerful soul – thanks a lot….

The heavens now opened and we took shelter outside another shop for a while watching the locals driving along in their buggies or motorbikes, some with brollys up.   We spotted Marios – an above-the-water eatery – so popped in for a couple of cold ones.  Well….we were in there for about two  hours…..enjoying both the local beer and great food.    The rain was torrential….

Utila town 4 Utila town 5

Marios Local brew View from Marios

Finally it stopped and just drizzled a bit so we carried on wandering the town enjoying the sights of the breadfruit growing by the side of the road; the beautiful flowers; the island dogs lying around;  chickens wandering everywhere;  traditional houses built on stilts and the old churches.  

Utila town 1 Utila town 2 Utila town 3 Breadfruit Chickens like bikes Utila town 6 Utila town 7 Utila town 8

Utila is a quaint quirky place with buggies, tricycle taxis and motorbikes everywhere and a hint of the security issues that mar the Honduran mainland with four gun-laden security guards outside the bank.  Combined with loads of young backpacker tourists and divers….and lots of hostelries, bars, restaurants and little shops….gives the place a certain charm.  Richard was particularly taken by the Bimbo bread delivery van!  

Flowers Utila town 9 Utila town 10 Utila town 11 Utila town 12 Utila town 13 Utila town 14 Utila town 15 Utila town 16 Richard and Bimbo

Later in the afternoon we returned to Morphie for another quiet night on board. 

This morning, Saturday, and we’ve awoken to a no-wind day, the sun came up briefly,  and we can even just see the mountains of Honduras mainland for the first time.  

Mountains of Honduras

We’re going to continue exploring today but, sadly, we are moving out on Sunday to do a day sail to Roatan, another of the Bay Islands of Honduras.   The weather forecast is forcing us on as very high winds are expected to return overnight Monday / Tuesday for a period of up to five days – and this anchorage will be uncomfortable to say the least.  So we’ve booked into a marina in Roatan for one week to sit it out and will take it from there.   If the weather permits we’d like to return here before heading off to Belize in a month or so.

Bye for now