It was a year ago the 6th of December that we arrived in Demopolis, Alabama to ready Leap for Caribbean cruising. In the months that followed we worked hard getting Leap ready and sailing her here to Utila, Honduras, with stops along the way in Mexico and ever so briefly, Belize.
|Leap moored in East Harbor Utila, Honduras|
We have had bouts of exuberant joy, soothing tranquility, fear, heartbreak and depression. We have had tranquil days snorkeling in beautiful turquoise waters, watching gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, frolicking with dolphins, eating and drinking well and generally enjoying life. We have also had days of dead reefs, equipment failure, storms and the biggest setback - The Lightning Strike. All of these emotions, high and low, have brought us contemplative moments allowing us time to ruminate on our observations and big picture questions.
The best snorkeling we have had so far is here in Utila and the Cays to the southwest.
As we were snorkeling the other day along the reef on the north side of Utila, Charlie said, “It was a beautiful reef back in the day“.
Charlie’s Diving Recollections
As a boy, my family spent many Christmases in the Florida Keys diving. Christmas became sunshine, sand, palm tress, diving and boat trips. Snow and pine trees were a poor substitute for the diving tradition. I have returned to my roots and can say, that I am the more satisfied for it.
Drawing on the countless hours of diving and snorkeling coral reefs, beginning in the Florida Keys in 1962, thru the Mexican Caribbean in 1973, to the Bahamas in the 1980’s and 90‘s; my vivid recollections of coral diversity and its myriad of color, the quantity and varieties of fish life, all instilled a driving motivation to get back and re-live those awe-inspiring moments. Unfortunately I have yet to experience anything during this trip that even vaguely resembles my earlier experiences.
I am however left with the ability to “paint in” what a reef looked like when it was more alive. Before they began to die some of the reefs here in Utila would have been amazing and I can still imagine what once was. My motivation to go diving is far less than I would have predicted; the scale of the loss, hard to bear. The sights and life of the reef is simply a small remnant of my years previous dives.
Recently, I took my first scuba dive in 30 years. It allowed me to relax and observe the reef more closely than I can when I am free diving. I was a little more encouraged after the dive, but not much. Overall, things are getting worse. I strongly encourage anyone wishing to see at least a partially alive reef, to do so soon.
|Two Spotfin Butterflyfish on a dying reef|
Karen’s Diving Recollections
Being a Wisconsin girl that learned to dive in freshwater, a salt water reef dive was a spectacular kaleidoscope of color and life. My first reef dive experience was in 1979 in Florida followed by dives in the Bahamas in the 80’s and 90’s.
One of my favorite memories was the time Charlie’s parents - Chuck and Norma, and my parents- Dean and Sue, came to visit us in West End, Grand Bahamas. We all went snorkeling on a beautiful Staghorn coral reef. Charlie’s parents had snorkeled all over the world, but for my parents, it was a first. My mother a non-swimmer, never let go of Charlie’s hand, yet had a great time and the memory is still with her. Skyping with my Mom the other day about our snorkeling outing here in Utila she asked, ”I bet you got to see all those pretty colorful fish?”
And yes, there are small colorful tropicals, but the coral is dying and large reef fish are practically non-existent.
Come See For Yourself
Those visiting a reef for the first time today may wonder what all the fuss is about. Without a past vision one would not realize the reef is not all that impressive today. With the situation worsening visiting a reef sooner than later is highly encouraged - we can‘t stress it enough. We still keep searching for a last remaining “glory site”. If we find one you better come quick, it won’t last long.
|Our Christmas Tree - sea urchins with hand woven palm frond skirt|
Counting Our Blessings
Gratefulness: to be able to sail both physically and mentally. To be kept safe when we have endured storms. Great coffee; Chiapas coffee in Mexico and Honduran coffee in Utila. Grateful we have each other.
Fortunate: we have enough to get by for now, as wealthy we are not, in dollars that is. Our added wealth comes from our experiences, people we've met, places visited and situations dealt with - adding to our skill set - and hopefully making us employable upon our return.
Humor: Even when the “sails are down” due to unexpected events we have a history of keeping our sense of humor. Besides, who else has the patience and better understands the quirkiness of the other? Or, shares in the vision that brought us this far?
Setting the Course Ahead
In the coming weeks, we will sail west to Rio Dulce, Guatemala as we want to visit “The Rio” before leaving this region. Once we leave Guatemala we will head back east, past Utila, stopping in Roatan and Guanaja before heading south to; Isla de Providencia, then further south to Panama and its Bocas del Toro region and its San Blas Islands.
We hope this post finds all well with everyone and that you are luxuriating in family, friends, good food and spirits of your choice (Tom & Jerry anyone?) but most importantly - building great memories!
|Yes, the picture is fuzzy, as we are rocking and rolling on the mooring today and yes too, having a bit of pre - Christmas Cheer in our red-neck wineglasses just to get in the spirit of things for this post.|
We miss our family and friends immensely, but not the snow and cold!
From our hearts to yours -
Have a very Merry Christmas and we wish you and yours, all that is the best in the New Year.
New Years Resolution - Frolic More