The thriller in Utila

Wednesday morning it was really hot…..and just got hotter.    We decided to go to the hotel lobby – where it is always cooler – and took our charts and pilot guides with us so that we could do a provisional passage plan to Belize.   On the way we bumped into Cheeky who decided to sit on my shoulder as I entered the lobby.    He then cleared off upstairs and we settled down to check on the internet –and he came back clutching a chocolate cupcake that he’d stolen – and decided to eat it on my shoulder.   Still not sure why he likes me so much but am glad that he’s my friend as I’ve seen him terrorising others LOL.

Cheeky boy

We spent most of the afternoon in the lobby and went back to Morphie to prepare our kebabs in readiness for BBQ night at the palapa.    Later on we took our goodies over, cooked on the shared BBQ, and had a very social night.   We didn’t get to bed until after 10pm which is really late for us these days!

Thursday morning and another hot day beckoned.    Richard did engine checks while I did some other domestic duties.   We had decided not to do any more diving so went to the dive shop to pay our bill – and were surprised that with the marina discount etc we ended up paying US $25 per dive.  Bargain.   We had a lazy rest of the day….a couple of sundowners in the palapa…and an early night.

Friday morning and, checking the weather again, we realised that we had to leave that day if we wanted to get that downwind sail in to Utila.   So we got ourselves ready – paid our bills – and left the dock around 11.00 saying a fond farewell to Fantasy Island.  We had had a good time there.

Goodbye Fantasy Island

We motored out through the reef and had to take some pretty big waves on the side before we could turn towards our destination.    We got the genoa out and started sailing along the coast of Roatan. 

Perfect sailing conditions

The seas were lumpier and the winds were lighter than forecast but we had a fantastic sail and were on anchor in Utila before five.  We sat in the cockpit and enjoyed the sunset before having an early night.   Expecting a calm night we had a very disturbed one instead as the wind clocked so that we did not get any protection from the swells rolling through the anchorage.

Sunset Utila 1

Saturday morning we were up early and off out in dink – first stop was the Mango Tango for breakfast.   Then we took dink further up the coast to Utila Diving Company as they had been recommended to us – and they had seen whale sharks in the last couple of days.   Yes please……  We put our names down but weren’t convinced as the list of divers was numbering 18 on one boat and $76 each for a two tank dive seemed expensive.   So we parked dink up again and wandered the town – and went to Paradise Divers instead. They offered us a two tank dive for $52 each so we instantly booked for Monday morning.

Paradise divers

We then went to the Mares dive supplies shop.   We both have 3mm Mares wetsuits which are great but are just too hot and bulky in this climate.  I have been wearing my old (circa 1992) 1mm red wetsuit which has definitely seen better days…so we are on the hunt for new thin ones for both of us.  They had unisex 1mm suits so Richard tried a medium on and it fit like a glove – so we bought it.   In the absence of any changing rooms I decided not to bother.

New wetsuit

We then returned to Morphie and Richard cleaned her bottom from all the growth we had accumulated in Roatan.   We had a swim off the back followed by a lazy afternoon and evening on board.

Sunday morning we had a late start and went ashore – we went to Utila Divers to cancel our reservation – and wandered the town and got some more drinking vouchers from the ATM.    We then went to Buccaneers for a spot of lunch and a couple of beers.   Great place.


As this is not a place to leave your boat after dark we returned later in the afternoon – and were a little intimated by the ominous looking sky.   

Ominous looking sky

We just got on board, raised dink, and the heavens opened.   Oh well, Morphie needed a wash anyway.    The rain got worse, the wind picked up, and the lightning and thunder started.  

Down comes the rain

We were in a full-blown thunderstorm with 40 knot winds and the lightning strikes were hitting the water just ahead of us – and, of course, it was now pitch black.   I involuntarily screamed at one point when the thunder was so loud that it was like cymbals being slammed against my eardrums.    We rode it out and watched our French neighbour picking up his anchor in the squall….and then we started dragging too.    So we started the engine and held our position while he got resettled and then re-anchored ourselves – luckily there is lots of room here – so we put out a lot of scope and sat out the rest of the storm in the cockpit.   We finally made it to bed about 9pm absolutely exhausted.   Was not a fun evening!

Monday morning we were up really early and it was still grey out – we got to the dive shop at 6.45 and by 7.30 we were on our way out along the island on the most dilapidated boat ever, driven by a guy who was more like Captain Ron than Captain Ron!!!!   I found him a bit creepy actually….    We were lucky that everyone else was on a diving course so we had our own dive leader, Nico.   We dropped into the water and it was pretty murky – this dive site was called Little Bight – a wall going down to about 70 feet onto a sandy bottom.    Well, it was spectacular.    The coral was in fantastic condition and we saw a cleaner shrimp and a giant puffer fish almost immediately – followed by a humongous Southern stingray eating in the sand – and then an Eagle ray followed us out in the blue.    Amazing…. 

1 Dive 1 1 Dive 2 1 Dive 3 1 Dive 4 1 Dive 5 1 Dive 6 1 Dive 7 1 Dive 8 1 Dive 9 1 Dive 10 1 Dive 11 1 Dive 12

Moving along the coast we did our surface interval and then dropped onto another site called Black Coral.   This was another wall with canyons with more great coral including a forest of trees….   Again the water was murky but we had another fantastic dive and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.   These two dives alone were better than anything we had seen in Roatan and we were very pleasantly surprised.

2 Dive 9 2 Dive 10 2 Dive 11 2 Dive 12 2 Dive 13 2 Dive 1 2 Dive 2 2 Dive 3 2 Dive 4 2 Dive 5 2 Dive 6 2 Dive 7

2 Dive 8

We went back to Morphie to get cleaned up and Richard was waxing lyrical about his new suit – so I tried it on – and it was a surprisingly good fit.   We headed back into town to the Mares shop laden with our regulators as we wanted to get rebuild kits for future use.  The German guy is a bit intense but he knows his stuff and, even though Richard’s regulators are almost 15 years old he was able to come up with the goods.   So while I was there I got a new dive suit too….. Woo hoo. 

We then went to Munchies for lunch.   Bad decision!   My chicken salad was disgusting as it came topped with an undercooked poached egg which soaked the rest of it in warm vinegary water.  Richard had a wrap and fared better – but won’t be going there again….    We left quickly and went back to Bucaneers but neither of us fancied a drink so just caught up on the internet over a Club Soda.


Back to the boat and I was promptly ill……not surprised really……but recovered quickly once I’d got it out of my system.    We had a lazy time in the cockpit before having a small dinner and an early night having watched another beautiful sunset.  We were pretty tired after the diving and the lack of sleep from the night before.

Sunset Utila 2

Around two am this morning (Tuesday) and the heavens opened……and then the storm started.   Back into the cockpit in our foul weather gear and we rode it out – the wind only hit 30 knots this time – and the thunder and lightning were further away but still needed our full attention.    We didn’t drag and, come 3.30, we were tucked up back in bed listening to the rain hammering on the deck above.

We listened to Chris Parker, the weather guru, at 7 this morning on the SSB and his forecast is very different from those we’ve seen.  Online – from three different sources – it is saying light winds until Friday night then high trade winds 30+ knots in the normal diurnal pattern through until Monday.  No mention of low pressure or storms.   Chris, however, is saying we should expect disturbed weather / more squalls / thunderstorms through until Friday night when we will have high winds but more settled weather.    The passage to Belize is approximately 16 hours and we’ll need to do an overnighter to get to the cut through the barrier reef where we need good visibility in daylight hours.   Decisions, decisions, decisions……   

In the meantime it is grey, cloudy and rainy today and we are facing out to sea.   The waves have calmed down a little and we can see the mountains of Honduras away in the distance. 

Mountains of Honduras

We’re planning to go ashore to publish this blog and do more weather research to plan our departure – if we decide to stay we’ll definitely be doing more diving here.  Haven’t given up on seeing a whale shark yet!     

Bye for now