This will be the ongoing query over the coming weeks from the crew aboard Leap.
The crew being, Bryna and John, and - "The Parents" - a moniker assigned to us by John. The inquiry relates to fitting sailing, exploration, snorkeling and playtime in between the Gloriamaris (GM) trips and the ongoing, seemingly never-ending GM work projects. The upside is, we now have the tools and supplies so we can work a little bit everyday on projects. The downside is, the projects are always leering at you trying to make you feel guilty when you want to go out and play, whether it be sailing, snorkeling, Lionfish hunting, or hanging out in the hammock chairs watching sunsets with a Sundowner.
We all decided to pack in as much as possible over the three month period that we were together. As always, wind and weather play a large part in dictating the - where and when - of a sailing adventure. Being in the Bay Islands of Honduras allows for several options. Utila and the outlying Cays, Roatan and Guanaja, as well as the Honduras National Marine Preserve, Cayos Cochinos.
We had a friend arriving from Minnesota mid-January. Bryna and John also would have several friends arriving over the coming weeks. In March we both had family coming. Bryce would be flying into Roatan and joining us on the GM and John's mother and aunt would be coming to Belize. So a plan of action was charted that would try to fit in as many wishes as possible with plenty of options allowing for the possible norther bringing bad weather, or the other weather extreme - no wind.
We managed to get both work and play accomplished in a whirlwind of activity. We moved from place to place, worked from here to there, and managed to keep all the parts and pieces of both vessels floating and moving in the general direction of the charted course. Despite predictions of nasty northers we all packed in numerous ports of call, dive sites, several sundowners and great food. Fun was had by ALL!
Sailing is a grand adventure. Wish you were here!
Our friend Trudy, enjoying a book as we sail to Guanaja
Leap at anchor next to us in Guanaja
Dinner time on GM
Always a project on the GM. This one a repair to the pole that is used to raise and lower the dinghy from the foredeck. John and Bryna always willing to lend a hand with Charlie.
Very small portion of Michael's Rock
Leap and Gloriamaris anchored in the bay east of Michael's Rock
Trudy and Charlie
The never ending plastic. Prior to our visit someone got creative with the endless supply of flip flops that wash ashore.
The plastic debris is everywhere in the Caribbean, but not horrible here on Guanaja. We have seen much worse on other islands and mainland shorelines.
Yes, yet another sunset photo. Taken off the stern of GM with Leap in the distance.
We also visited Graham's Cay while on Guanaja. We apparently did not take any photos while there, so, you will have to visit Bryna and John's blog: www.leapfootnotes.blogspot .com
Their blog is very entertaining and full of pictures.
Time for us to sail back to Roatan as Trudy needs to catch her plane. B & J will stay in Guanaja for a few days of exploring before returning to Roatan, as they too, have friends arriving for a visit.
Meanwhile back in French Cay Harbor on Roatan - The Invasion Of Sargassum
Commonly called sargasso weed, sargassum is actually an algae. We have sailed through it, and fished around it, as it usually means fish are near. One drawback is the lure constantly picks up the sargassum causing constant monitoring and the repetitive task of ridding the lure of the "weed fish".
We have seen very large swaths during our sailing adventures over the years both while at sea, as well as close to shorelines. At the risk of sounding like an old timer, I will say; back in the 80's we saw occasional garbage caught up in the sargasso and we would retrieve it for proper disposal. But now, we see that the mats are imbedded with plastic garbage of all sorts; bottles, caps, shoes, bits and pieces of containers, bags, razors, syringes the list goes on ad nauseum. We cannot begin to retrieve the debris. The magnitude of the task is overwhelming.
While in Guanaja at Graham's Place we were told by the owner that a huge football field size mat moved in and caused a large fish kill of his fish fry and fingerlings. Graham and his staff raise assorted fish for his re-population project of the bay and reefs. The turtles he raises survived as they are strong enough to push through the mat.
Pictured below is a huge, thick mat of sargasso that has moved into the Roatan Yacht Club in Old French Cay Harbor. The other less than desirable side effect, is the smell of dead fish. Not enticing for sitting on the aft deck with your morning coffee, nor for happy hour sundowners. We were in the marina because we needed power for the tools being used on the GM flooring project. Otherwise we certainly would have been at anchor out in the main harbor.
The following pictures show that we are totally surrounded by Sargassum.
Off our bow
In front of the ship that is off our bow, you can see a chest freezer floating on the sargassum. Yes, a large chest freezer, most likely from one of the shrimp or fish docks in the village.
It is not wise to run your engine through Sargassum, as it can get sucked into the engine intake.
Bryna and John have a Leap story to tell that will eventually be on their blog.
This mat also makes operating the dinghy nye impossible. One must paddle through -actually it is more like pulling yourself through using the paddles - and then start your engine once you reach the waters edge.
After a long hard stretch of working on flooring. It was time to head out for some fresh air. We had reached a point where we could continue on flooring details but be free from the dock, Hooray!
So off to Cayos Cochinos with B & J & Leap and their friend Heather.
Morning coffee in the hammock chairs on Cayo Cochino Grande with Heather and Bryna
John is cooking breakfast.
We took the crew to the Garifuna village for lunch. Fausto, a local Garifuna visits your boat in the morning and takes your lunch order. Then at the designated time you head over to their island and ready yourself for a feast.
After lunch Charlie arranged a sailing adventure for Heather, a Harken engineer. Harken makes all kinds of rigging parts and sailing equipment for sailboats. Heather had recently returned from Spain where her job as engineer, had her troubleshooting on one of the Volvo ocean racers. Charlie thought it would be fun for Heather to get a sense of the locals' sailing and rigging expertise. A hand hewn hull, a rudder of sorts, a couple of trees for masts, a few black plastic tarps, some light line for the sail sheets, nails hammered into the hull and bent over for cleats, a bucket for bailing and your good to go. Heather was reticent at the outset, but once underway she, like a good ole' salt, took up the job of bailing. For more pictures of Heather and the locals visit Bryna and John's blog - www.leapfootnotes.blogspot.com.
Charlie drove the dinghy while Bryna and John photgraphed Heather's sailing adventure.
Looking toward Cayo Cochino Pequeno
Next stop takes us back to Roatan. Heather will be flying out in a few days and a norther is on the way. The harbors of choice for the next few days are Port Royale and Calabash with a stop over at Pigeon Cays for some snorkeling.
We continue to work on the GM flooring and other miscellaneous repairs. After the weather let up we returned to Guanaja and visited the dive sites we heard so much about.
We went on dinghy outings traversing the river that cuts through the island. Taught Bryna and John how to spearfish for the dreaded Lionfish resulting in many successful hunts and delicious fish dinners or fish tacos.
River views on Guanaja
Through the river and out into the bay. A mix of rocky shoreline and beaches with an outlying reef that had too many Lionfish. Time to rid the reef of the invasive unwanted predators.
Successful fishing and the reef residents are a bit safer. However, sad to say there are more Lionfish for the taking.
Next step; teach John and Bryna how to clean the fish without getting poked. Using pliers, we hold the fish up by its jaw and using a heavy pair of scissors we trim off all the poisonous spiny fins and dispose of them. After the "haircut" you can begin to filet the fish.
John cleaning the last fish. Dinner soon to be ready.
We had several great days of weather, snorkeling, Lionfish hunting and exploring.
Next stop, back to Roatan and French Cay Harbor, because, it is time for Bryce to fly in.
Bryce packed in quite a few stops during his two week vacation.
Roatan - French Cay and West End
Utila and the outer Cays
Then to Livingston Guatemala where we reunited with B,J & Leap for the trip upriver.
Bryce's underwater photos.
An octopus on the move
Awaiting the green flash
Sea leg break.
Next stop, reuniting with Bryna and John in Livingston, Guatemala. Sadly, it is time to head up river back to the marina, as the vacation time is drawing to a close. We have land based adventures planned and we will share those in the next post.
Up The River
Traveling the Rio Dulce in Guatemala is one of our favorite trips. The scenery provides a verdant swaddling of ones senses. Birds fishing, cicadas thrumming, howler monkeys howling, trees and flowers blooming, locals coming and going, all resulting in an ongoing outdoor theater of sights and sounds.
Bird watching and listening for Howler Monkeys
Leap rounding a bend that is swarming with local fisherman. Bryna is at the helm and John on the bow scouting for fishing lines. From our angle we were wondering if they -B&J- remembered they had a mast and spreaders to watch as they passed so close to the trees. And of course they did, but we are "The Parents" and that is what we do - wonder and or worry.
All of the small white objects in the water - of which there were probably 30 - are plastic bottles being used as floats for the hand lines. Not something we want tangled in the prop. Plus we try to give the locals all the room they need.
Onward to Tortugal Marina
Upcoming adventures before the kiddos fly home: Hot Water Falls, Mayan Ruins at Tikal and a visit to an old city, Antigua.