Friday, December 24, 2010


Cruiser given black eye while sleeping

Utila 1A soundly sleeping cruiser was rudely attacked by a flying cooler while sailing the Caribbean Sea. Around midnight, storm squalls had appeared in the area and the cruiser had been relieved at the helm by the captain (who can’t sleep during worrying sea conditions). The cruiser went below and fell soundly asleep in her bunk. Suddenly, another squall moved into the area and the s/v Niki Wiki was rocked by winds and waves. The newly purchased, and stowed cooler, jumped from the shelf and landed squarely on the face of the snoozing cruiser resulting in stars being seen followed by screaming. By morning the black eye was evident.

Other than that, we had a wonderful motor-sail from our anchorage at Texan Bay through the stunning Rio Dulce jungle river gorge, passing by the scruffy town of Livingston as we had already done all of our official paperwork in advance and out to sea. Our adventure over the wide sandbar at the mouth of the river was uneventul – in other words, we didn’t run aground. In fact, we saw nothing less than 6” under our keel, yes that’s inches, not feet. This is why folks on boats who draft more than we do (5 ½ feet) have to be that much more careful about tides and sea bumps (swells, waves).

We left Guatemala at 7:30am and arrived at the Honduran island of Utila at dawn the next day. During the night hours we ran dark – no steaming or running lights because of the recent piracy of two yachts and murder of one captain. Also, we altered our course to be farther away from the dangerous/violence-ridden shoreline of Honduras. During the day we had sunny conditions, winds about 10 knots from the north mostly and seas were 2 feet and 6 seconds apart which meant I could get a lot of knitting done and Jonesy read another Clive Cussler novel. Then the squalls began after dark when Jonesy had gone below for a nap. So, we had rain most of the rest of the trip.

Speaking of food, our freezer and refrigerator are now even more stuffed! Our good luck came at the bad fortune of our friends Doris and Tom on the s/v Footloose. They have had to return to Guatemala and return to the states due to the sudden illness of a parent. They had been out for about a month already and are avid spear fishermen so we are now loaded up with ready-to-cook conch and grouper fillets plus other meats, chicken and cheeses.

While underway on our recent voyage, I prepared “cracked conch” , cornmeal coated grouper and Columbian flavored brown rice. Yummy! Then for breakfast, I chopped up the leftover cracked conch (breaded & fried) with scrambled eggs and rice and used this mixture to stuff Columbian “arepas” (corn meal patties) for me. Another yummy! Jonesy got his American style ham & egss + toast breakfast.

At some point in the middle of the night two knitters were aboard ships which passed in the night. Another knitter was aboard a cruise ship traveling from the Honduran Bay Islands (Roatan) to Belize in the opposite direction on just about the same route. I kept an eye out on the horizon for the bright lights of a cruise ship as well as checking my radar and AIS system, but no joy. Jonesy did spot a cruise ship later, but it was going in the same direction as we were. That’s as close as I usually get to another knitter these days.

Utila 001
Right after we arrived in East Bay, Utila the skies cleared so we had a nice sunny couple of hours to dinghy over to town and get checked in with the Port Captain, Immigration, and pay our fees (about $6 processing fee and $1.50 per day anchoring fee). We explored a little local market and giggled at the wonderful availability of products we hadn’t seen since last spring on the island of Roatan. In this photo, our boat, Niki Wiki is one of those sailboats at anchor.

Utila Boys in Dinghy
We tipped a couple of local boys (aged 10?) to “watch” our dinghy on the public dock while we were in town. When I happened to look out at the dock from the Port Captain’s office I saw that they were having a wonderful time lounging and playing in the dinghy. Boys will be boys. I later saw them helping folks with heavy loads coming off of the ferry. Great little entrepreneurs!

Utila 002
Sign on a business on Utila Island, Honduras. No. We don't know what "Fresh Pickins" are either, but we'll let you know when find out.
Our dinghy engine acted up yesterday, so this morning, Christmas Eve, was a quiet day on the boat while Jonesy investigates the engine. Looks like water has been leaking into the gas tank as we suspected last week. A whipping came untied on a halyard line, so when it stops drizzling I’ll go out and play with string (just don’t throw me in the briar patch).

We're sitting in the Driftwood Bar & Cafe on the waterfront, enjoying some adult beverages (and free WiFi) and a balmy breeze with the temperatures in the mid-70's, and missing our two sons. Merry Christmas boys and everyone!

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Lace Hupils

Lace Huipil of IzabalIn these hot, tropical Caribbean lowlands of Guatemala, the Mayan women wear these lacy blouses (huipil) over spaghetti strapped camisoles rather than the heavy woven fabrics seen in the cool higher alttitude villages. Their shape is a simple rectangle folded in half and a neck opening cut out. Then a small area is sewn up the sides leaving a hole for the arms. This leaves a lot of fabric draped (flopping about) at the sides and underarms. Most of the ones I see are machine made airy fabric with intricate bottom borders, sometimes with floral fringes. Some are hand crocheted such as the three pastel colored huipils at the far left of this photo taken of a local street vendor.

The embroidery around the neck opening is machine made in these, but sometimes you can see hand-embroidered samples walking by. Hmmm. I wonder if anyone would be interested in knitted lace?

Guatemalan textiles for skirtsMayan Woman textilesThe Mayan women wear long woven skirts. You can see the fabrics for the skirts leaning against the huipils in the top photo and also here's another pic. In this area, the skirts are quite full and gathered rather than the straight line wraps of other areas of Guatemala. Mayan Women textilesIt seems that shiny threads of gold running through the skirt fabric are very popular in this area. The black and white semi-patterned areas are ikat or tie-dyed. The threads are dyed before weaving, and the patterns appear as the cloth is woven.

Guatemalan Textiles Vegetable Woman This lovely woman was embroidering a blouse while tending her vegetable stand here in the Rio Dulce. Her huipil is not typical of this area with the heavy tapestry style fabric so she is probably originally from another village (Chichicastenago?).

Guatemalan textile embroidery
These are not "dress-up" or ceremonial clothes, but rather are the everyday wear for these women. I don't know how long this traditional form of dress will be around, but I so enjoy looking at the beautiful and colorful fabrics! So much so that I've been inspired to dig out my embroidery floss and perhaps give it a go as a border on a simple tank top. For me...not for Jonesy. He looks just fine in his traditional cruiser outfit of tee-shirt, shorts, ball cap and sandals or crocs.

Friday, December 17, 2010


Twas the day before leaving...

015Twas the day before leaving and all through the yacht,
Sweaty crew worked the chore list, last goodies were bought.

The shade canopy is down and carefully stowed,
We pulled the launch onto shore, (our lake travel mode).

The laundry was washed and hung up with care,
018The freezer is crammed and no cupboard is bare.

The dinghy's been hoisted, our arms are quite sore.
Transit papers and passports - paperwork galore.

Charts and guides have been studied, the course carefully plotted.
Signatures signed, "T"s crossed and "I"s have been dotted.

Good-bye to Marios, good-bye Rio Dulce,
We'll travel the seas and be back in mid-May.

Thursday, December 09, 2010


Wandering Walls Chullo

Here's the Wandering Walls Chullo hat that I test knit for Meaghan Ryan. The yarn is Knit Picks Wool of the Andes, in colors Oyster Heather, Pampas Heather and Persimmon Heather. Of course this will go to the orphanage in Kazakhstan. The pattern is available on Ravelry.

One of the unusual chores we have because we live on a boat is to get our propane tanks refilled about twice a year. We use propane for just cooking, but it's pretty important to not run out! Especially when you're out anchored in remote places. We have a tiny backup tank so we can let the big tank get completely empty and just switch tanks.

Anyway, here on the Rio Dulce in Guatemala we simply take the tanks up to the office here at the Marina and they come back later in the week all full. Jonesy and I rode along on the journey with the tanks just for yucks. First, the tanks (and us) get an open air boat ride up the river to where the marina keeps a van (there's no road to the marina).

After a nice ride through vast open fields of grazing cattle and rubber plantations, we arrived at the propane refill place. Jonesy helped unload the tanks. What an operation! I'm terrified of compressed gas (it explodes) anyway and here everyone was walking around filling tanks with hoses scattered and loud hissing sounds. Everything was outside in this elevated  work area.
We came back later in the afternoon, after taking a long drive into the larger town of Puerto Barrios and eating at a real McDonald's. The tanks were ready so we loaded up, drove back to the dock, parked the car, boated over to the marina, and voila! Got Gas! Yep. Another $10, another 6 months.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010



No, I'm not talking about old geezers who dress up in funny hats, eye-patches and wave plastic swords. This is serious. There have been 2 attacks by murderous pirates in the last week along the Caribbean coast of Honduras which is right near here. The latest resulted in the death of the boat owner.

Both times, the boats were anchored, alone in the isolated bay of El Diamonte. Men with guns and machetes swarmed aboard and ransacked the vessels taking everything of value. Here is a link to the News report.

These boats had just left from the Rio Dulce here. Of course, we are angry and concerned. Frankly, we are not expecting the Honduran government to do much, if anything, about it. But at least the Canadian authorities are investigating the murder. Our plans have changed, but for safety reasons I will not be sharing them here.

The cruising will continue because that's what we do! Thankfully, we are safe from automobile accidents caused by texting drivers, earthquakes, airplane security searches, cranky bosses, snow storms and other various dangers.

Friday, December 03, 2010



There's been some progress made around these parts lately. The cooler weather has made it easier to get icky work done. That "cold blast" from the US & Canada has worked it's way down here. Brrrrr...Jonesy is wearing a sweatshirt (and shorts) and put on socks this morning. Temperatures are in the mid-70's for the highs and mid-60's for the lows. It's a very welcome change from the oppressive heat of the summer months.

Knitting has been progressing on the sweater. The body is done up to the armholes and it's divided for the front and back now. I've changed colors so that now I'm on the 4th color of 6.

Yesterday, we rode in a collectivo (a 9-passenger mini-van) with 23 people crowded aboard over to the larger town of Morales so that I could see the dentist. No big deal - just a little patch to an old crown ($35) and back home we went. Sure, the whole trip took 4 hours, but we've got nothing but time. So, check that chore off of the list. Moving on....

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