Friday, February 28, 2014

Calabash Bight With Ross Cook And Beyond

We sailed from French Harbor east to Calabash Bight, one of several harbors on the south shore of Roatan. The harbor extends almost halfway to Roatan's north shore with steep hillsides making for a protected anchorage with good holding. The winds do clock around in this anchorage making it feel like you are on a merry-go-round that doesn't quite go full circle before it changes direction to head back the other way. Makes for light sleeping since every creak of the anchor chain is like an alarm clock. The entrance through the reef is very narrow but well marked with visible red buoys.It is not lit for night entrance but one really shouldn't pass through reefs at night anyway. Inside the reef it is possible to dinghy from Calabash west, to Fiddler's Bight, Oak Ridge and Jonesville. We nicknamed this waterway - The Venice of the Bay Islands. Like Venice, businesses front the waterway.where you can purchase everything from fuel to food to hardware. The street behind the stores will take you the rest of the town. 

Leap at anchor in Calabash

Our views around the anchorage

A picturesque setting for some of the local residents. Ross's house (more below on Ross) is to the right/south of these homes.

Disparity is everywhere. The home pictured below is above and south of Ross' house.
We asked Ross about this home and he said it was built by a gringo, adding that there are very wealthy Hondurans also. We asked how the locals felt about a home, such as the gringos, being built here. He said they were fine with it as long as the locals were hired to do the construction and follow up maintenance and they prefer the materials to be purchased from Honduran businesses; which may be on the island or the mainland.

The young man in the picture below, talking with Charlie, is Ross Cook and he lives in the white house pictured on the right with the red roof. Ross paddled out to see if we needed anything; water, provisions or information. 
Note to fellow cruisers or visitors to Calabash: We found Ross to be delightful, polite and informative. Should you need anything you can find him or leave a message for him at his house which is located on the east shore of the anchorage. Ross did not ask for a fee for his services but we left him with a financial contribution for his efforts which was much appreciated.
Charlie asked him if he would take him snorkeling and Ross said, "Yeah, we can do that." So for the next two days the two of them along with our friend Johnny, went snorkeling. Ross is able to spearfish being a local. The first day no fish were to be had, but the second day was productive. That evening we hosted a potluck feast of fish and conch, which Charlie and I prepared. Ross taught us the local recipe for preparing conch, however  he did the hard part of cleaning and pounding, meaning tenderizing, the conch. Rice, coleslaw and dessert were prepared by our cruiser friend Johnny who was sailing with us on his Pearson 365.  

We also prepared shrimp. These are Jonesville shrimp. Jonesville is one of the bays to the west of Calabash and is home to a few shrimp fleets. We purchased the shrimp from a local that came out to the boat saying he was going to Jonesville and that he would bring us back some fresh shrimp. Yes indeed, they were very good.

Navigating the streets of Calabash, Fiddler's Bight and Oak Ridge
We asked Ross how well the houses endured hurricanes? His reply, "Just fine. First they lean one way in the wind and then the next wind blows them back again." We noticed when viewing the pilings they don't always go back to exactly where they started.

One of the fuel docks

Ross lending a hand filling the dinghy gas tank. The bottles are full of gasoline. You tell the attendant how many gallons you want and then the requisite amount is poured into a container with a hose attached and you decant the gasoline into your tank.

One of the grocery stores and a water taxi

The School Bus

A 1950's Life Raft - the owner was not around for us to inquire what his intentions were for its use.

The approach to another fuel dock as we need more dinghy gas for more adventuring. Ross was kind enough to let us use his 14ft hard shell runabout with our outboard and gas tank rather than our soft shell dinghy; making it much easier to get around.  

This fuel depot has the container that the gas is poured into hanging by the door. It is a cut-off dive tank with a hose attached. We needed 4 gallons of gas. The proprietor decanted one gallon out of a five gallon jug then poured the 4 gallons into the dive tank "funnel" which we then ran into our tank.

Between the harbors or bights inside the reef, there are naturally occurring cuts through the mangroves which make for picturesque tunnels. We did take video of these tunnels and as soon as we learn how to upload and edit, we will post.

A short tunnel between Fiddler's Bight and Oak Ridge

A longer tunnel between Calabash and Fiddler's Bight

The day before we departed we took Ross up on his offer for water as we were getting low. He has two wells at his house and his water is very good. He loaded a drum, hauled it out to Leap and helped us fill the tank.

Last night in Calabash. Tomorrow we head for Helene another bay to the east.

Our Anchorage in Helene

A bit of excitement in the anchorage. The large shrimper was towing a barge with a backhoe. Not sure how far they traveled to get to Helene. Our friend Johnny on the sailboat pictured ahead of us, called out to the shrimp boat Captain, "You're doing a nice job turning around in this small anchorage - which is nice speak for; you aren't going to run into me are you? -  to which the Captain replied, "Thanks this is my first time" to which we wondered if the Captain was being a

All went well.

These ancient coral formations are at the entrance to Helene's anchorage. We took these photos as the sun was coming up and we were departing to continue our circumnavigation of Roatan.

Rounding Barbareta Island to make our down wind run along the north shore of Roatan.

A house built over a canyon on the north shore.

Arrived in West End, Roatan and are on a mooring in beautiful water. More posts to come. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Garifuna Village at Cayos Cochinos

On this, our third trip to Cayos Cochinos, we spent time at the Garifuna village. When you are at anchor in Cayos the local Garifuna are seen all around the area fishing. They will paddle up to your boat and offer to sell you fish or some of their local handiwork of jewelry made from coconut shells or Trunkfish and Cowfish exoskeletons. All very nice and a fair price. 
Fausto, a Garifuna we met, will also take your order for lunch; fish, shrimp or lobster, and have it ready for you to inspect when you arrive at the village. So on this trip, we and our fellow cruisers ordered our lunch of fish and when the time came we embarked on our dinghy across the bay to their small cay, one of thirteen of the smaller cays in the Cayos Cochinos chain.
 A table was prepared on the beach under a small palapa. Fausto brought a young man to the table with a large bowl of fish and he went around to each one of us and you were to pick out the one you wanted. Then our selections were whisked off to the kitchen to be prepared. One cannot be in hurry when one eats lunch here, as it all takes time. Sit back, relax with a cerveza and enjoy the village life and the view. 
While we were waiting for our meal we were talking with our friends about the fish we had seen earlier in the day on our snorkeling trip. We had brought along our Coral Reef Fish Guide to view with our friends and try to determine all that we had seen on the reef. A young boy drew closer and closer to the table and worked up the courage to stand by Charlie and look at the book, pointing out all the fish he knew, which was a lengthy list! He loved the colors in the book and repeatedly exclaimed how pretty the colors were and was delighted when we let him sit with the book while we ate lunch. We wished we'd had an extra book as we would have let him have the one we brought. 
The fish arrived and our platters were overflowing with fried plantains, beans and rice and our delicately fried and seasoned fish. It was delicious and more than enough food for a price of $7.50 small fish & $10 big fish. You may wonder why we didn't order lobster. It wasn't a price issue so much as a conservation issue for us. The lobster here need protecting and we hope that the lobster population will have a comeback since Cayos Cochinos archipelago is a protected Marine Park Preserve managed by the Honduran Coral Reef Fund. Only the local Garifuna can take lobster, conch or fish here, which they do, without regard to size or season. 

A local Garifuna in his sailing cayuga heading out to fish.

Sail is up and yes, it seems it is a black plastic tarp carefully rigged.

The young man spent all day sailing around the bay fishing.

Our view at lunch 

Village scenes up and down the beach.

Cayuga without sail rig

We watched this pelican fish from this cayuga

He turned to me as I approached for a closer picture looking rather disdainful that I may interrupt the fishing.

Our delightful young fellow engrossed in the book.

And one by one the rest begin to gather to see what he is up to,
and then we have a passel of children.

They are wanting Charlie to take them for a dinghy ride. We tell them to ask their parents and then the whole shebang pile on. Each one wants to have a turn at the helm, so my estimation they are taking Charlie for a dinghy ride.

Round and round they went, coming in letting some off and picking up more. 
The top of Charlie's head is all that is visible in this shot. The highest count was 12 children and the dinghy, motor and Charlie survived. 

Not a bad way to end the day.