There is an annual cruiser’s rally from California to the Baja peninsula in Mexico that is called the “Baja Ha Ha”. So I am officially calling our trip from the Caymans to Guanaja, Honduras the “Guanaja Ha Ha”.
While it may not seem that far to seasoned sailors, the 300 mile crossing from Grand Cayman to Guanaja is by far the longest we have undertaken to date. It was surprising, then, that neither Sara or I felt too much trepidation leading up to it. In fact, it was one of the least stressful crossings we have had. Maybe we are beginning to get used to this sailing thing.
We started by leaving the Barcadere Marina and heading around to the West Bay side of Grand Cayman, so we could check out with customs. The Caymans have thoughtfully made a provision for departing sailors, so that they can purchase their fuel duty free. This saves about 15% on the total cost, which can add up to quite a bit. Unfortunately, you can’t get duty free fuel without your departure papers, and you can’t get your departure papers without going to the customs office, which was about a 4 hour trip by boat or a $50.00 taxi ride away from the marina, where they sell the fuel. So, in the end, the duty free fuel turned out to be a nice idea in theory, but difficult to implement in practice. We filled up before we left the marina, and decided to just pay the duty.
|Monashee, back in West Bay on Grand Cayman, hanging out with the cruise ship crowd.|
|One last paddle on Grand Cayman before heading out to sea.|
|We also went for one last snorkel, on a wreck near our mooring.|
|Leaving Grand Cayman at 3 in the morning.|
|Snug as two bugs, on a comfortable passage.|
The plan was to pull in there the next day for a few hours, and reset our timing for a better arrival in Guanaja. As the sun came up, we could see the islands in the distance. As I took over the watch at 0630, we had our first dolphin visit of the passage, with a pod of about 25 dolphins coming to play in our bow wake and welcome the day. Sara delayed going back to bed to sit on the bow seats and watch them with me.
|A welcome sunrise after our second night on passage.|
We actually got kind of a weird vibe from these guys. They really didn’t seem all that welcoming or friendly. After we anchored and brought our dinghy over to their dock, they wrote our details down in their coil bound notebook. Then, they asked us to bring the big boat over to the concrete dock. They didn’t really seem to have a reason, and we politely declined, since we didn’t want our boat scraping up and down against the huge dock in the swell. Maybe we were paranoid from lack of sleep after a couple of nights at sea, but neither of us felt like we really wanted to spend too much time there.
|The dock at Isla Cisne. Not the most welcoming place to tie up our boat, although the beach was nice.|
We were comfortable enough to relax for a nap and a meal, though, before heading out at about 1430. We had calculated that even with a strong tradewind on a beam reach, that timing would be sure to get us to Guanaja in the daylight.
Of course, after having stopped and killed a few hours, it turned out the wind had stopped as well, so we ended up motoring or motor sailing the rest of the way. We had two more dolphin visits that day, for a record number of three in one day. One came about an hour after leaving Isla Cisne. Then, once again just as the sun was setting, we had more dolphins come to wish us goodnight.
|CBC podcasts helped pass the time. I think Christopher is listening to "Laugh Out Loud." Note that pajamas are apparently appropriate attire for an entire 3 day passage.|
The rest of the night was dark, with almost no moon, but lots of stars. Towards morning, the wind came up, as did the waves, but it clocked around behind us, so we had a nice downwind sleigh ride into Guanaja. The passage was capped off with the usual frustrating running back and forth between customs and immigration. “The Settlement”, which is what they call the town on Guanaja, is a remarkable place. It looks like they started building it on land, but as it grew, instead of building back up the mountainous island, they figured it was easier to build out over the shallow water. So about half the town is built on stilts. There are no cars, and no roads, so the whole thing is a warren of alleyways, and all transport to and from town is via little run-about boats.
|Land ho! Guanaja, Honduras.|
|The Settlement, on Guanaja.|
|Glad to be back at anchor, looking out to the reef from our boat on Guanaja.|