Our ill Fated Attempt at Honduras

Friday  July 26, 2013

fender on Hydromax

You know how most great adventures start, right?  Usually over a drink, or at least good food, where one person ponders out loud, “You know what would be fun?”, as they go into detail about trying something off your beaten path or that hadn’t entered your mind.  And since you’re enjoying your drink or your favorable food, you cock your head and stare off into the distance and reply, “That does sound like a good idea.”.  And so began plans for our ill-fated trip to Honduras.  The dinner club was sitting on the top deck of Hydromax, basking in starlight with spaghetti and meatballs when Luis pondered, “You know what would be fun?  We should all take a trip to Honduras, to the Bay Islands, in my boat.  Be gone for a week or two.  It will be a good time”.

Even though there are huge amounts of boat projects for us to be working on (have I mentioned that Matt is sanding and varnishing the entire interior of Serendipity?), we agreed to this trip because we needed a welcome relief from these projects and it was a chance to visit Roatan without having to take our own boat there.  The next week was spent planning and provisioning, and even though all five of us had originally intended on going, Luki dropped out just a couple of days before, stating that even a week might be too long to take off from his projects, then leaving behind me, Matt, Ana Bianca, and Luis to make the trip.

Weather in the Gulf of Honduras was checked daily before our departure, and even though a tropical storm, Dorian, was forming in the Eastern Caribbean, things looked great for us to make the 175 miles out from Livingston, at the mouth of the Rio Dulce, to Roatan.  A bail out plan was put in place in case the storm did end up heading our way, but at the time of departure, Passageweather was showing our crossing to only have 5-10 knots of wind with 1-2 meter seas.  This was slightly disappoint to me since I had picked our departure date about 4 days earlier, based on glass calm seas and no wind anticipated for that day, perfect conditions for a motorboat.  I had wanted to re-create our perfect passage up to El Estor, but it turns out, the weather had other plans in mind.

On board with us for our departure was a Belgium family that had stayed in some of the land based accommodations at the marina and now needed a lift to Livingston.  Always wanting to be one to lend a hand where he can, Luis insisted they come that far with us. After a quick breakfast and a $7,000 fill at the fuel station, we were off.  The night before, a terrible storm had blown through, causing plenty of debris to wash into the river and us spending the first few miles trying to avoid it.  Once the river opened up into the golfete we were in the clear and even made a short stop to let our visitors go for a swim.  On our way once more, the three of us sailors (me, Ana Bianca and Matt) gathered on the top deck of the boat to discuss the week ahead that might be in store for us.  Matt had already been a little antsy about going, his OCD mind focusing on all the time he was going to miss on Serendipity, checking things off the to-do list before we leave for our backpacking adventure, and Ana Bianca was not quite enthusiastic about heading into the Caribbean Sea with a potential tropical storm heading our way.

I was slightly more indifferent, but all three of us knew that Luis was incredibly excited to be out for an adventure, and wouldn’t come back for a month if he had the option.   We talked in hushed voices about how we’d all be better off if instead of going to the Bay Islands of Honduras, avert to some islands off Belize and staying for only three to four days, fitting in with Matt’s timeline, and having a much quicker escape back to the Rio Dulce if need be, satisfying Ana Bianca’s unease.  We agreed that since Ana Bianca was the most knowledgeable about these islands, and the most forward with Luis, we’d let her bring it up to him when we arrived at Livingston.  But until then, we sat back and enjoyed the views as the golfete narrowed back into a river and the canyons around us grew higher.

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fishers on the Rio Dulce

Ana Bianca

There goes Ana Bianca, hogging the spotlight.  Literally.

granite in the Rio Dulce

canyons of Rio Dulce plants meshing together

I think we’ve just left Guatemala, and entered Jurassic Park.

 

As soon as the boat was anchored in front of Livingston and we had taken a lancha to shore, wishing the Belgium family well with their travels, the four of us set out to find internet and see what tropical storm Dorian felt like doing in the next few days.  The previous hour before this, Ana Bianca had been finessing Luis with our new idea, trying to get him to see the benefits of a few days in Belize versus a week in the Bay Islands.  I, on the other hand, was still torn and thought I’d let the weather do the deciding for me.  I should have known it was not going to be ideal out there, since even as we came up to Livingston and the bar, whitecaps were visible on the water just outside and the notoriously calm waters in front of Livingston were rocking and rolling as we sat at anchor.  If it was that bad here, I could only imagine what it would be a few miles out from shore.

Doing the regular checks of Passage Weather and NOAA, we saw that one of the potential paths for Dorian was to come west, over Cuba and further into the Caribbean Sea.  It confirmed Ana Bianca’s worries that 175 miles from safety might be just a little too far to toy with, and we’d be much better off in the islands off Belize.  We could tell Luis was disappointed, I’m sure he had a his heart set on making it to Roatan and Utila, and even more so, showing us all a good time while we were there.  I think he felt that switching to Belize was giving up.  Now that we had all decided on where to go though, the next step was to visit the customs and immigration agent, Raul, for our zarpe and to get stamped out of the country.  The entire conversation with Raul commenced in Spanish, with Luis and Ana Bianca talking to him, and me picking up on every 10th word.  I could tell the topic was switching to weather and it wasn’t long before Ana Bianca was standing behind Raul’s computer looking up buoy conditions stationed out in the Caribbean Sea.

It took another ten minutes of Spanish being fired back and forth before I was fully let in on what had transpired since we stepped into the office.  Apparently there was a captain of a fishing vessel that had been on his way out of the office, having just checked back in to Guatemala, as we were on our way in.  According to this man, he had just arrived that morning from the Bay Islands, and conditions out there were not good.  Away from shore, he was stating that the seas were hitting 10 meters.  10 METERS!!  For my non metric friends, that’s approximately 32 FEET!  And we were about to head out into it!  No wonder Ana Bianca was quick to get a little more weather info before we walked out of that office and back on to the boat.  Strange thing is, every site we checked showed just about the same thing we’d read before.  Winds at 10-15 knots and waves at 1-2 meters.

A quick group huddle came after this information was translated to everyone.  The chance of there actually being 10 meter waves out there when all our other information was stating otherwise was slim, but as Ana Bianca put it, even if they were half of that, it would still be a rougher ride than any of us would want to go out in.  Departure today was not going to happen.  The consensus was that we’d stay put in Guatemala that night and check again the next day.  As Matt and I already knew though, seas don’t calm down from that stature in one day.  If there was any truth to that fisherman’s statement (or even half of what he stated), we would be waiting at least three days for favorable sea conditions.

A now very discontented Luis led us all back to Hydromax where we made plans of what to do for the evening.  Livingston is not a good place for one to leave their boat overnight, with pretty good chances of theft, and the next safest option was about 8 miles up the river.  Weighing anchor we headed west into the sun and back into the jungle.  I’d be lying if I said that Matt and I weren’t slightly relieved at this weather predicament.  It meant that the whole trip may be put off.  Not that we hadn’t been entirely excited about the idea initially, but the timing just seemed off.  Not only was everyone (except Luis) in a hurry to get back to their boat to complete projects, ensuring that this vacation would not be as relaxing as if there was nothing but time on your hands, but the constant change in plans was making tensions run high aboard, and it almost felt as if continuing on would create a feeling of animosity between our group.  Maybe it was better to call the whole thing off and say, ‘At least we tried, maybe another time’.

The three of us who weren’t as upset about the non-departure that day left Luis with a little time on his own to sort his feelings.  I think after having been at the marina in Guatemala for the past two years and listening to conversations at dinner each night of all of his new friends recent adventures, he was ready to go have his own.  15 ft waves or less, he was willing to go, sacrificing 24 hours of comfort and strapping himself to the wheel if need be, so the next time we gathered at the ranchito he could join in our passage conversations with ‘Hey guys, remember those crazy seas on our trip to Honduras?’, and catalog it with the rest of his The Most Interesting Man in the World stories.  It is just speculation of course on why he wanted to get out there so badly, but the desire was definitely there.  We all kind of wished Luki was on board, a human sedative that relaxed and calmed, and put everything into perspective.  But since it was only us, we decided that time and space were the best current medicine, and we sat up on deck, trying to keep the mood light until our anchorage came into view.

Texan Bay

Matt & Jessica at Texan Bay

kisses, Matt & Jessica, Texan Bay

Some kisses will lighten the mood.

kisses, Ana Bianca, Texan Bay

Ana Bianca wants kisses too.

 

We motored into a gorgeous and quiet bay, and after the hook was set, made some coffee while sitting around the open transom to discuss the day and the possibilities for tomorrow.  There was the option of motoring back down to Livingston, but checking the weather online wouldn’t be enough.  Had we gone soley on weather reports from that, we still would have left today.  We needed real time updates from someone out on the water.  Which meant trying to hail down a ship on VHF and having them relay the current conditions to us.  But…what would it take for all of us to agree that conditions were good enough to go?  I think the three of us knew it as soon as we walked out of Raul’s office that afternoon.  This trip, was off.  Luckily, Ana Bianca and I had something up our sleeves.  Instead letting weather dictate our travels, why not do some land based traveling instead?  All of us had been wanting to get out to Antigua, why not try for that?  We’d go back to the marina the next morning, continue on projects throughout the next week, and leave in one week by bus to central Guatemala.

Matt was quick to agree, just happy not to have to face the prospect of rough seas, and once Luis realized it was that or nothing, he agreed as well.  Stating that Antigua didn’t hold much interest for him, but maybe he’d spend the weekend at Lake Atitlan.  With the knowledge that we wouldn’t have to brave any rough weather out on the water, I let out a huge sigh of relief.  That same uneasy feeling I had in my stomach just before we crashed in St. Augustine had been forming, and I was glad to avert a potential crisis before it happened.  Since we were all decided on the plan now, the only thing left to do was enjoy the rest of the evening and the beautiful sunset in front of us.  It may not have been where we’d envisioned ourselves to be that night, sitting at anchor instead of preparing to begin our sleep shifts, but to me it felt like exactly where we needed to be.

boats in Texan Bay

sunset at Texan Bay

 

Goodnight everyone!

Ana Bianca in a hammock

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Random Images from Utila

Thursday June 20, 2013

fuel dock at Utila

I can’t say that Matt and I have been doing much with our time here in Utila.  Nate’s gone to the mainland to begin his trek across Honduras and Guatemala, and now there is no one making plans to do things with the day, or plan bars, restaurants, or other interesting sights to visit.  Left to our own devices, Matt we can get very unmotivated, and we’ve spent the past few days on the boat, reading, watching movies, and pretty much nothing else.  Sometimes a shore excursion, but mostly, just hanging out and relaxing on the ‘Dip.  So, since there have been no interesting stories to tell from the past few days, I’ll just leave you with some random images of the island.

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Bay in Utila Honduras

Apparently there have been mountains hiding behind the clouds.  Who knew?

Bucaneers Utila

We only have 3 electronic devices, and Matt and commandeered all of them.

Casket sign, Utila

Local working in Utila

laundry service Utila

Utila 6

Fruit stand, Utila

pineapples Utila

Honduras supposedly has the sweetest pineapples in the world.

gate to hostel, Utila

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The Hunt for Pumpkin Hill

Monday June 17, 2013

Do Not Enter Trail, Utila

Waking up bright and early this morning, I wanted to make sure that I could get all three of us checked into Honduras before our little secret was let out that we had not actually checked in on the mainland, as everyone was assuming we had. Quickly stopping by Nate’s hostel, I picked up his passport and once more made my way back to the customs and immigration offices. Only to find out that it was a holiday, and they would not be open until 11:30 am. I could have taken the dinghy back to the boat to wait out those extra couple of hours, but the boat didn’t have internet, and I was still itching to get it whenever I could. Back to Trudy’s hostel, I sat at a table by myself, working and fooling around online for awhile until Nate spotted me and stopped by. He asked what we were doing that day, which is laughable, because we never make plans. Ever since Rode Trip left us to make their trek across the Atlantic (which, by the way, they’re doing well and averaging about 4 knots a day, from what I can see on their website), we’ve had no one to make plans for us, and usually aimlessly wander the streets in search of something to hold our interest. We had somewhat talked about taking a hike around the island though, and when I mentioned this to Nate, he said that a new friend of his told him about a place called Pumpkin Hill, the highest spot on the island, and that it was a good place to hike to.

After getting us legally checked in (“When did we get here? Oh…this morning. We just got here this morning…”), I gathered Matt and we met up with Nate once more at his hostel before beginning our hike. The rain that had been plaguing us on and off for the past few days did not look like it was going to let up this afternoon, I prepared myself by wearing a swimsuit for the hike since I was 90% sure I’d get wet anyway. The three of us set off on the main road across a little bridge, taking the advice of Nate’s friend, that it would ‘only take us 20 minutes’ to get there. We walked on the dirt road, rounding the corner of the island and not seeing anything that resembled a hill in front of us.  We did stumble upon an assortment of vacation homes, and, playing the game that we normally do when we arrive at a new place, started a round of “Ok, I could live here”.  The houses were great, and on great beach front access with waves from the sea rolling in and crashing on shore, but then I thought to myself “No, I don’t want to live on this island.  There’s nothing for me here.”.  Hmmm, that’s never happened before.  I don’t know what it is, this island just hasn’t captivated me yet.

Palm trees on Utila

Vacation home in Utila Honduras

Continuing down the road, we were just turning a corner that was leading us into a wooded area, and we hoped hills, when it began to rain.  I was ok with this, I had even dressed for it, but it was when we rounded another corner and saw that the entire road was flooded in rain, I started to rethink our plan of an afternoon hike.  Each of us tiptoed on the sideline of the lake like puddle, trying to keep our feet as dry as possible.  I had also anticipated something like this and worn water shoes, Matt was in flip flops, but poor Nate was in non water friendly foot wear, and would practically walk through the bushes to keep from submerging his feet in the murky water.  That only lasted so long before each of them lost balance at some point and soaked their shoes all the way through.  By this time, I had given up trying to stay dry in any way, shape or form, and was busy splashing through each lake puddle we came to.

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walk in rain

(Above photo courtesy of Nate Smith)

 

On and on we walked through the muddy paths as it rained on and off.  In and out of woods, open expanses and small slopes, but still no hills in sight.  We took a few minutes to wander off the beaten path and explore the shore in an area that was covered in small black coral fragments, and waves came crashing in to the shore.  I decided that, however unlikely it was, this is the spot I would build my house if I ever lived on this island, however impractical it was.

Coral Shore Utila

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Back on the muddy path we wound through pastures filled with cows and finally out on to a main road.  We thought we might be getting close, and although we had no sense of direction at this point, decided to make a right hand turn since we figured following the coast line would probably put us closer to wherever the hill was.  Walking down this road, it once more turned from pavement to dirt, as they all tend to do, and it began pouring on us once more.  Finally fed up with our searching, we hailed a truck that was driving past to ask for directions.  From the one person on the island that doesn’t speak any English.  We got through that we were looking for Pumpkin Hill, and he motioned that we had been going the wrong way, and for us to hop in so he could give us a lift to where it actually was.  The three of us climbed in to the truck bed, which was already filled with large rocks being transported from one location to another.  There was barely any place to sit, let alone hold on, and when he started going we bumped back and forth, ducking our head for low branches on the side of the road that the driver seemed to be aiming directly for our heads.  After a five minute ride and countless times of almost getting thrown off while flying over bumps in the road, we were deposited by a dirt path on the side of the road and told to follow it up, where we would find Pumpkin Hill.  Or that’s what we gathered from the Spanglish being exchanged between us.

truck ride in Ultila

 

The three of us began the trek up this muddy hill, also filled with lakes of puddles, and probably ready to turn around, but at the same time, determined to find Pumpkin Hill.   We were constantly being passed by locals on 4 wheelers and figured that would have been a much better way to take this trip.  Through the next 30 minutes we followed the path through more fields and calf deep puddles.  Then abruptly, the road ended.  At the end of the road was a somewhat large mound next to us, we assumed Pumpkin Hill, but no trails leading up it.  Multiple times we walked up a narrow dirt path, only to find it led to someone’s private home, and had to wander back down it to the main trail.  Walking through open fields of what looks like is supposed to be a new development eventually, we searched the hill from every angle and still came up empty handed.  There would be no climb to the top today.  A little disappointed, but mostly cold and exhausted, we claimed defeat and began the trudge back to town.

Trail to Pumpkin Hill Utila

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The World is Ending, Bring on the Guifity!

Sunday June 16, 2013

skid row t-shirt

Last night as Matt and I were cooking dinner, we could tell a storm was about to blow through the area. First the clouds highlighted to a soft but brilliant pink, and off in the distance of those clouds were faint strokes of lightning. While grilling up a few steaks in the cockpit, I enjoyed the show, wondering when the storm would actually hit. Soon after we sat down with hot plates in front of us the rain began, not even a sprinkle, but an instant downpour. We poked our heads out and looked around, but everything seemed more or less normal. Cutting into the very under-cooked meat in front of us (20 minuted on the grill for rare…really?), we felt some sudden wind shifts and threw on our cordless Raymarine remote to check the wind speeds. 28…32…36. Somewhat worried since we anchored on top of eel grass and we weren’t sure how well our anchor was holding, we tentatively went back to eating as our eyes zoomed in on the remote anytime we felt a gust. Soon, not only were the winds reaching 40 knots, they were well sustained there and still climbing. At this point it was really time to worry and I took position behind the chart plotter to monitor things like depth and the distance between us and the buoy marking the reefs directly behind us, making sure we were not moving, other than a little swinging from side to side.

We looked to be doing ok, as far as keeping our position, but the winds would just not die down. They were still holding in the mid to low 40′s but even then we’d see stronger gust from time to time. 47…49…..52. The highest winds we’d ever seen, much stronger than anything we’d encountered during Hurricane Sandy last fall. I think we were both silently cursing ourselves for not being to a suitable hurricane hole by the beginning of June when it’s possible for storms to begin forming, but that extra month out on the water traveling had sounded so much more appealing. Hearts beating fast, we were ready to up anchor at any moment, although I doubt I would have felt comfortable putting it back down in the storm, especially in the dark, and had visions of motoring around the small bay until first light. Luckily, it did not come down to that. The storm, as strong as it was, was also very quick and started to die out after 15 minutes. When winds finally dropped back in the 30′s, we let out a sigh of relief, glad we were back down to something that now seemed so insignificant. They did stay in that range for the rest of the night though, and even though we promised each other to sleep lightly that night and keep an eye or an ear out for anything that seemed strange, both of us were completely passed out as soon as our heads hit the pillow.

 

storm 2 headsail 3

Utila during storm

This morning was a usual wandering of town. Getting a lay of the land, eating out at what we hoped would be steeply discounted prices (compared to Cayman they were, but not quite the dirt cheap we were hoping for), and wandered from place to place, trying to find a good internet connection. Strangely, the best connection we found was at Trudy’s, the hostel Nate was staying at. After running in to him there, we found out he had plans to check out a few restaurants and bars that night at the recommendation of new friends at the hostel, and lost in all knowledge ourselves, we tagged along. First was dinner at an Italian restaurant where some throng of insects must have just hatched, and these fine winged bugs tried to make homes in our hair, clothing, and even food. The critically acclaimed pasta was somehow worse than my cooking, and it wasn’t long before we exited the restaurant and were on our way again. Our next destination, a hole in the wall bar called Skid Row. Nate had heard about it from other backpackers staying at his hostel, and apparently they were famous for serving some kind of drink called Guifity, and even though I still have no idea exactly what made it up, the bottle it came in was full of leaves, herbs, and possibly dirt. There was of course, a challenge that came along with the guifity. For the cost of $10, if you could drink 4 shots of it, you were awarded a t-shirt, a symbol of pride to be worn around town, of either great braveness, or great stupidity.

I was bored, sober, and needed a little excitement, so I found a drinking partner (who shall remain unnamed) to partake in the challenge with me. I may have also participated because, well, my drinking partner was paying for me to do so. A girl can’t just pass up free drinks, even if they come from a bottle with dirt inside. (Have I mentioned I’m a cheap date?*) My heart pounded a little bit as my mini Solo cup was placed in front of me, I’m terrible at taking shots, even when it’s something I like. Our bartender with her bouncy blonde curls poured us each a shot, and I examined it through the opaque plastic. Stupidly, I asked if there was a time limit, and even if there hadn’t been one in place before, there was one for me now. 4 shots in 2 minutes.Ughhh. But there was a free shirt of my choosing at the end, and I couldn’t turn away now. Not allowing myself to even sniff the substance for fear that it would go nowhere near my mouth, I rose my glass to cheers my drinking partner, and threw the drink down my throat, doing a short little dance after where your face gets scrunched up, your tongue sticks out, and you run in place for a few seconds, sure this will make the horrible taste in your mouth go away.

One down, three to go. The taste wasn’t quite as horrible as I expected it to be, lots of spices such as cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg, seemed to come to the surface. It still wasn’t an easy drink though, and I forced myself to take the remaining three shots before my brain could catch up with what I was doing. I had taken them all, and in under the two minute time limit. Success never tasted so…earthy. Given that both my drinking partner and I had passed the challenge, we went to the collection of shirts where we riffled through every size, color, and style, until we each found one that suited our taste. Surprisingly, I did not go for the pink tank top.  It wasn’t long before the Guifity hit me full on, and I was a silly mess, changing into my new top in the alley next to the bar, and escaping both my chaperone’s gaze to wander down random docks and begin taking photos of nothing in particular.  It was time to put me to bed.  When Matt had gotten me back to the boat and tucked in to the v-berth, I rolled over and asked “What time is it anyway?”, thinking I’d finally cut loose and partied with the youngins.  ”It’s 8:30″, he replied.  Huh.  Not even out past cruisers midnight.

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Guifity

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pink skid row shirt

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 *Since some certain friends and family are starting to remind me that my life is beginning to sound like a never ending booze cruise, let me clear one thing up.  I don’t drink much.  Usually one, maybe two drinks, when I actually do drink.  A wine here, a beer there.  And since I don’t drink much….I’m usually past intoxicated at that point.

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Bienvenido a Utila

Saturday June 15, 2013

utila 1

After I was able to just keep my eyes open long enough for the end of my shift at midnight, it was time to wake Nate up for his 12-3 watch. The first morning had been pretty difficult waking him up from his sleep, basically having to kick him in the head, but yesterday had been much easier. I made sure to make just enough noise as I was coming down, getting out of my harness and using the bathroom, that it might help rouse him out of his sleep a little. Bending over him I shook his arm while loudly whispering, “Nate, wake up!”. Nothing. I tried again and again with the same result. Ok, maybe a hard shoulder shake would do it. Three attempts at that and he was still out cold. I stood there for a second, laughing to myself, wondering how hard I should try before giving up. There wasn’t much I could do about loud noises since Matt was soundly slumbering two feet away and I didn’t want to take the chance that I’d wake him as well. I shook his shoulder a few more times, and even tickled him with a feather pen we had on the nav station, although I’m sure all that did was make his dreams a little more interesting for the next few minutes. (Just know that I was very sleep deprived and found it incredibly funny at the moment.) Running out of options now, I grabbed the end of his pillow and swiftly yanked it out from under his head. His eyes fluttered open and I just laughed, telling him that he was the hardest person to ever wake up, before throwing the pillow back in his face. Making sure he tethered in, I gave him a run down of his shift now that we were getting closer to land and then made my way down to my bunk where I was able to comfortably pass out for the next six hours.

I knew that if the speeds we predicted held up as planned we should just be pulling up to the harbor at the end of Matt’s 3-6 shift and I could just throw on the engine to bring us in the last couple of miles as my shift began. It worked out so well that even though he was only going on 4 hours of sleep, he decided to keep pushing on when his shift ended and only woke me up when we were about a mile outside of the harbor so that I could bring him the quarantine flag to put up. Reading the chart plotter very carefully, we positioned ourselves to ride between the markers and the narrow channel with coral flanking each side. A couple of other boats were anchored in the harbor and we took a spot pretty far back, knowing that robbery of yachts was an issue in this area, and thinking the further we were from land, the safer we would be. As soon as the hook was dropped we went through the normal routine of putting the boat back in order and dropping the dinghy down from the deck. I could tell that Nate was getting antsy to get on land as soon as possible, so I packed up all our paperwork as well as the handheld VHF, and drove myself to shore to begin the check in process which would then let the guys on shore as well.

Having no idea where to park my dinghy since nothing in the area was clearly marked, I accidentally went to someone’s private home and trampsed through their yard before finding out I was locked in from the road and needed to find an alternative route. Bringing the dinghy to the fuel dock, I locked it up and began wandering the streets in search of customs and immigration. From what I could tell, Utila looked to be one popular main road that housed three things. Restaurants, hostels, and dive shops. Walking from one end of the road to the other I could not find customs or immigration, and finally broke down and asked the heavily armed guy outside of the bank. He pointed down a little side road to the ferry dock, but also mentioned that it would not be open until Monday. Hmmm, here it was, first thing Saturday morning, and I was being told that I wouldn’t be able to check in for another 48 hours. Which legally meant, that no one besides me was allowed off the boat for the next 48 hours. This was not going to make the guys very happy. Making sure to find this out for myself I went to the offices anyway, which as correctly described, were locked shut. It was before 9 am though, so I just pulled out my Nook and holed up on a porch until business hours started. But no one came. Pulling the VHF out of my bad, I hailed Matt to let him know what I’d been told. He suggested I ask every person on the street what they knew about the offices, so I did. I asked the grocery store clerk, the dive shop clerk, and yet another bank guard. All with the same answer. The offices are not going to be open until Monday. Yet…none of these people could wrap their head around the fact that I was a cruiser that came here on my own boat, and I needed to check that boat, along with myself and my crew members, into the country. To them, I was just another backpacker that flew into the mainland and took a ferry here so I could dive the reefs.

Getting back to Serendipity, I relayed all this information to Matt and Nate. Although we’re not normally the kind of people who do this, and I’m in no way recommending it, we decided to say ‘screw it’, and pretend to be those backpackers that everyone thought we already were, until I could legally check all of us in a few days later. Technically, Nate was a backpacker anyway, he just got there by alternative methods. Loading the guys into the dinghy, we all went to shore to get Nate checked in to his hostel and find some food and internet. It’s nice to know that there’s someone else around as desperate to find it as I am. Parking the dingy once more at the fuel dock, Nate didn’t even get two steps on solid ground again before he was on his knees kissing it. No, really. We asked him what he thought of his three and a half days at sea, and he responded that, although he’s glad he did it once, and given the chance to go back in time he’d still make the same decision, but there was no way he’d ever choose this mode of transportation again. We don’t blame him. Half the time we’re asking ourselves why anyone would want to travel this way.  For an interview about our passage that Nate’s wife, Jenn, gave him on their blog, click here.

After finding Nate’s hostel and dropping his bags off, we set off in search of food, although I had already spotted a few places on my many loops of this road, and already knew which ones offered wifi. First stopping at the bank to withdraw some local currency, we settled on a little place called Munchies and slumped our tired bodies into the plastic seats. Nate and I were logged in with our computers and on Facebook like we hadn’t seen internet in years. Our food was eaten in record time, although my egg sandwich was not quite what I was expecting. It was just scrambled eggs on top of a piece of bread that looked like it was just pulled out of the bag, and placed between the two was a room temperature slice of cheese that looked like it had just been pulled out of it’s wrapper seconds before it went on my sandwich. But it was food, and I didn’t have to make it, so I was still happy. Out on the porch, we bid adieu to Nate, making plans to at least meet up again on Monday morning so I could get his passport back to check him in, and then Matt and I were back at the boat to sleep for hours and hours and hours. For the rest of the afternoon we actually did all the same things we had been doing on passage to keep busy, reading books, watching movies, or napping, but somehow, all of these things seem 100% more enjoyable if you’re flat calm while doing them.

  utila 2

See, he couldn’t wait to get off.

utila 3

 

utila 2

Nate’s dive hostel.

Munchies Restaurant Utila

breakfast 2

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