Underwater adventures in Utila

Tuesday remained cloudy and grey all day with the occasional rainy squall coming through but, thankfully, no more thunderstorms.   While ashore we checked out lots of weather sources and have decided to stay here for a few more days – so we’ve booked to go diving again in the morning.   We had an early night and although there were thunderstorms over both Roatan and the mountains of mainland Honduras none came our way so we finally had a good night’s sleep.

Wednesday morning we were up really early again and headed into town to meet our diving buddies.   Again the majority of the divers were on a course so there were only four of us going to be diving together – although the boat was full to the gunnels with divers and snorkelers.    We motored to the north side of the island – in the gloom – and we were surprised to see that a couple of these tiny little islands off the coast are heavily populated – not sure why that would be the case?!?

Habited island Habited island 2

Anyway, we arrived at the dive site after around a 45 minute boat ride and jumped in.   Was another fantastic dive with great coral although the visibility remained gloomy after the recent heavy rains.  But another fantastic dive – including a nurse shark sleeping in a little cave- we’re definitely thoroughly enjoying these underwater adventures. After a 45 minute dive down to 90 feet we surfaced full of anticipation for the next one.

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

Suddenly, the captain is gunning out to sea.   He’d spotted whale sharks!!!   Excitement mounted – fins on / snorkels ready to go / and we’re all sitting along the rail waiting for the shout.   Suddenly we were told to get ready – jump!!!   We all jumped in and I was absolutely flabbergasted to find myself almost on top of a juvenile whale shark as he swam below me and away into the deep.   OMG – amazing – huge huge fish!!!    Back on board……he’d gone….but what a treat.    Then the captain spots another one – and we’re off again……   Back in the water and this time I managed to land just behind the whale shark as he turned – sadly not showing me his huge mouth – but I saw the full length of him as he moved away into the blue.    Definitely a tick off that bucket list – really can’t believe that we were lucky enough to see two – and all in our diving surface interval!

1 Whaleshark 2 Whaleshark

Time to kit up again and we all piled into the water – this time we all went in together – although we peeled off to go deeper than the students.   But the minute we all got in the water we were being chased around by a pretty aggressive eel….terrorising the students….and he had to be warned off.   Another great dive…..45 minutes dive to 70 feet.    Amazing day!

Dive 2 - 1 Dive 2 - 2 Dive 2 - 3 Dive 2 - 4 Dive 2 - 5 Dive 2 - 6 Dive 2 - 7 Dive 2 - 8 Dive 2 - 9 Dive 2 - 10

Back to Morphie and the sun came out – doesn’t she look pretty out in the blue water?  

Morphie at anchorWe got ourselves cleaned up and went back out to Buccaneers for a bite to eat and a couple of beers before returning for an early night.

Thursday morning and we’re up early again…another 6.45 rendezvous with the dive boat.   This time we are going to a wreck – and the students are doing the wreck dive too – so a bit of chaos ensued as we all went down.   They, however, are restricted in their depth so we spent quite a bit of time avoiding them looking under the wreck in almost 100 feet of water.   We then went round this huge cargo ship rising as we did so – we went into the cargo hold – and through the wheel house.   Great to see a turtle swimming by….. When we got back to the wheel house we ran into the hoards again so it was a bit chaotic trying to get everyone in the right group to do their safety stops on the mooring line – we took ourselves off and kept out of the way by doing ours freely out in the blue.    Great dive – another 42 minutes to 98 feet.

Dive 3 - 1 Dive 3 - 3 Dive 3 - 4 Dive 3 - 5 Dive 3 - 6 Dive 3 - 7 Dive 3 - 8 Dive 3 - 9 Dive 3 - 10 Dive 3 - 11

Back on board and the captain takes us out to sea again – obviously after a whale shark.   Sadly after about 20 minutes there were none to be found so we returned to another dive site.   This time there was a bit of a current so the experienced group dropped off the boat and did a mini drift dive to rendezvous later.   Another great dive – and huge excitement at seeing a sea cucumber that was moving.  Have never seen a live one before…..only dead ones on the ocean floor….and I think they look a little bit like the dog out of the Magic Roundabout!     Another brilliant dive – can’t wax lyrical enough about the diving here in Utila – in our opinion it is way better than Roatan.  Longer safety stops this time on the way back to the surface as we’d pretty much maxed our non-decompression limits today – but still stayed within the safety margins.  The boat spotted us quickly and came over to pick us up.

Dive 4 - 1 Dive 4 - 2 Dive 4 - 3 Dive 4 - 4 Dive 4 - 5 Dive 4 - 6 Dive 4 - 7 Dive 4 - 8 Dive 4 - 9 Dive 4 - 10On the way back to the dive shop we were getting our gear together on the boat and I slipped on the cabin sole and twisted my (good) ankle on the engine cover.   Damn….that hurt….and it started swelling up straight away.    So I sat like a princess while everyone fussed over me – and Richard got all the gear tidied up.   I got off the boat with lots of assistance and waited in the dive shop for Richard to finish before we finally settled our bill and left.  Back on Morphie and I’ve sprayed it; taken anti-inflammatories; have a deep freeze dressing on it right now; with a crepe bandage in the freezer for later tonight.   Hopefully all that treatment will bring the swelling down and it will recover overnight.   At least I didn’t break it this time – that makes a nice change LOL.

So we’re not going back out today – we’ve rested up from the exertions of the morning – and have made water.     I’m blogging while Richard is catching a few rays listening to music on the coach roof.    I also need to create a ‘Ship’s Stores’ list of all our groceries / alcohol etc and print it off for our customs entry into Belize…..and tonight we’ll eat all the fresh produce as they are not allowed to be imported.   A quiet night on board beckons.

Tomorrow – Friday – we are planning to leave Utila so need to check out with the officials once we’ve done a final weather check ashore in the morning.     If the weather window remains open we’ll be leaving around 5pm for an overnight sail which should position us at the entry through the barrier reef around 9am on Saturday morning – we are going further north than is necessary to keep out of the known trouble areas off the coast of Honduras.  The sun comes up here around 5am so even if we make good time – it’s a downwind sail with a positive current – we’ll still be there in daylight hours.    Hoping for anchor down in Placentia by early afternoon and then it will be the usual customs / immigration / port captain / flag changing routine – which involves a ferry and a taxi ride this time apparently!   Delaying our departure from Utila means we’ll have to pay ‘overtime fees’ for a weekend arrival – we’ve heard that the fees are very variable (and high) according to the official so have fingers crossed on that one!  Can’t be any worse than Mexico…can it?!?  

Utila to Belize

We will be in touch again when we find internet coverage.   Bye for now