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….  

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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.