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!

Merry Christmas, Terry! We are also basking in lovely weather here for the first day this week. We feel very fortunate that we are not dealing with what the rest of the country seems to be having.

I always look forward to your posts.
Merry Christmas, Terry and Jonesy! Stay safe.
Merry Christmas, Terry and Jonesy! I'm so glad to hear that you made it safely past the dangerous pirate infested area. Sounds scary, running with no lights. Sorry you are missing your sons. I hope they get to fly down and visit you again sometime. Merry Christmas, and happy knitting. :-)
That looks like a respectable shiner to me. You dont have bragging rights as to how bad the "other guy" looks though. Glad you didnt get a broken nose. Do try to stay out of fights with inanimate objects. Happy Sailing, Darrell
P.S. I made your headband and wear it all the time. I love it. Thanx for the lovely pattern
Merry Christmas T&J. Nice shiner, now you look like a harbor chic. Oh... a harbor chic with sticks.
Well, if you looked to starboard as you were leaving Livingston you would've seen one more knitter! We saw you guys as we were heading back to "re-check in" after our run-in with the reef. May see you in the Bay Islands or Belize after the boat's patched up, but have no idea when that will be. Safe and happy sailing'til then. Jackie
Oh, Terry! I'm glad that the new cooler didn't do MORE damage than it did!
I'm in Chandler, AZ visiting with my son and loving it!
I'm very interested in finding out what Fresh Pickins are/is.....:)
wow, what a shinner!! Glad you made it out safely. Merry Christmas ....... safe journey! Miss you girlfriend.
Fresh Pickins are whatever fruits or veggies were picked that day....... that's what it means on other islands more south.

Happy (and safe) travels!
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