We arrived in Roatan after about 4 days sailing from Cayman. Parts of it where uite rough with a lot of wind but we did good speed. We managed to arrive before noon at French Harbour or Fantasy island. Fantasy island is a resort on a private island but they also have a small marina which they do not care about too much anymore. But they have a fantastic couple working as dock masters and they help the cruisers with everything even if you are out on anchor. So they called their go to taxi guy and he took us to the main town to check in at 2 places and we stopped at the grocery store on the way back for just 25 dollars so it was nice even if do not usually take taxis.
Honduras is a lot different from Cayman where we come from. We arrived in Roatan which is one of the Bay Islands about 30 Nm off the coast of the mainland. The Bay Islands were English colonies before they gave up all colonies. This means there are a bit more English speaking people here then in Honduras in general. Good for us since Hanna is the only one going hard on the Spanish course and this is a good Spanish start for us. The mainland is supposed to be a bit unsafe with some drug cartels fighting among each other but The Bay islands is a lot calmer and Roatan has a lot of tourism as well. But So far this place been nice and welcoming.
We spent about a week here. Chilling and did some snorkeling and diving and just enjoying a nice place. There is some other boats here and there is a get together at the bar pretty much every evening with a nice barbecue potluck on Saturdays. We enyoyed the company for a change since we do not meet that many other cruisers in these parts of the Carribean.
We also started a new project. Anders had found someone building a foiling kite board online so of course we have to give a try as well. So far we are missing some stuff to complete it but the foil and mast is almost done and now we need to build the actual board as well. We went around pretty much a whole day looking for supplies but it is really hard getting stuff here in Roatan. We liked it here and will probably come back before we leave Honduras. On Sunday morning we headed of to Guanaja the eastern most and least populated of the Bay Islands.
Now it was time to move up to the northern part of the island. Arriving there you see mile after mile of beach and high-rise hotels. This was a bit touristier then we are used too. There are literally people everywhere. The beaches were full of sunbathers in beach chairs and kids playing in the water. But we anchored of the beach in front of the hotels. During the daytime you are more or less surrounded by tour boat doing all kind of things. There were boats parasailing, jet-skis, sailboats, windsurfers, kite-surfers. But this place was full of life at least.
We were going to stay here for almost a week since Hanna was doing a Kite surfing Course here. In the meantime Anders and me Were kiting a bit as well. But this was a tough place to kitesurf the winds were quite gusty and a lot of people around. So we had problems getting upwind. But we got some riding at least and Hanna did enormous progress on her 4 day course. So now we are awaiting the next place we can kite again.
After finishing up all the kiting we did a hike on the northern part of the island. It is a nice place when you get away from the hotels there was a lot of nice wilderness and paths to walk. We then headed back to the airport anchorage to leave Jenny of to fly home, but first after having a good bye wine and pizza night on the beach until the mosquitos scared us away.
After Jenny flew home we prepped the boat and stocked up for the crossing to Jamaica and then we were off for a whole new country and our first longer crossing in quite a while.
Now it was time for a visit from Anders sister so we spent the day cleaning the boat a bit and Anders then walked to meet her at the airport. She was going to spend 2 weeks with us here in Aruba. We spent the first few days in the same anchorage doing some snorkeling, checking out the town and just chilling.
Anders sister also brought us parts that I thought we needed for the generator that has not been working since Grenada. After a completely disassembly of the generator I found a non-functioning diode in the rotor. They were hard getting by so I could only order them on the internet to Sweden. After changing the diodes there was no difference. So after another check on the old ones it turns out they were fine I had just used my faulty multi-meter. So back to the beginning and now I found 2 broken wires on the windings in the stator. So after some soldering and not a very nice looking repair it was finally up and running again. Too bad I did not do a proper diagnose the first time though.
One day we decided to hike a bit on the southern part of the island so we took a local bus and started walking. We were walking on the road for a while and then more or less in the non-existing bush finding an old mine shaft on the way but we were unable to check it out. By noon we arrived at Baby Beach one of Arubas most famous beaches and after some swimming we decided for a beer at the Flintstones restaurant. Sitting there waiting to order we got approached by a girl asking if we wanted to see some caves. We looked a bit confused and were a bit skeptical having read about the caves here but turned the idea down because of them being really touristy with entrance fees and so on. But she talked some more saying they were 3 girls wanted to go but had turned around because they were afraid alone and the just wanted us as company. So we squeezed in all 7 of us in there small car and drove away. About 5 minutes later we stopped in the back yard of local neighborhood. We were of course a bit confused. This can’t be a entrance to the caves. But we walked through some fence and started seeing some caves underneath us. And after climbing down an old three we came to a big cave entrance and started walking in to the cave. And it was huge, easily the biggest cave I have ever been to. It just continued on and on forever. i think it was about a kilometer long and really hot. The cave were apparently only known by some locals and the local girl driving us had heard about it from her husband working nearby. So we felt really lucky.
After finishing the first cave they asked if we wanted to do another cave and we said yes but we drove back down to the beach again. So we were once again a bit confused but the next cave was an old mine shaft a few meters underground and we climbed down through an old pump house with the ladder rusting away as we climbed it felt like. I was just thinking what our German safety engineer Daniel would say about this one. So we came down to a long tunnel with crystal clear water. We walked in it for maybe 15 minutes before we got bored and tired and turned around. They did not know how long the tunnel was either. So after finishing the cave our guides even drove us back to the boat. It was an amazing day and we thank them so much for taking us.
Then we moved south to another anchorage that was really nice and it were supposed to be next to a sunken airplane and another wreck. We spent a few days there hanging out, snorkeling and I did some work on the boat while the others were at the beach. We did not find the airplane since the water was a bit murky where it was supposed to be. But we did find the other wreck. A small tugboat where Hanna and I got to try some freediving with a buoy when we met some free divers looking for the wreck as well. It was fun and they had a few tips and tricks for us. This was a really nice place and we were the only cruising boat around.
Before going to Aruba we had heard very little and mostly bad or at least not good things about it. One fellow cruising boat skipped it because he was afraid customs would confiscate his wine. A lot of comment online said it was a messy check in with a rough dock you had to use. We had almost not heard any positive. But we arrived and called port control on the radio before entering the harbor in Oranjestad just to be sent away to Baracadero a nearby port instead. So we kind of thought this started out bad as well. But after some more radio contact we docked at a nice wooden dock next to some fishing boats and I was off to check us in. We had printed some papers beforehand and the immigration check in was the easiest friendliest so far. So off to the other side of the port for customs clearance a little bit nervous that they would search the boat completely and find stuff to complain about. But the customs office were more or less a tea party of middle ages women. They were talking high and low about everything and processed my papers quickly and sent me off without any boat inspection or anything. We had to leave our spear gun with them though. So all expectation were completely wrong and it was the nicest easiest check in so far.
We went off to anchor close to Oranjestad and right by the airport since Anders sister were arriving in a couple of days to visit for 2 weeks. One good thing about Aruba they have cheap direct flights from Sweden. there were only 2 other cruising boats there so definitely not crowded.
We checked out the town the next day and continued walking by the water or at least by the main road. We were going to check out a bigger supermarket to do some shopping. But the first supermarket was closed for ever and the second one was one of the strangest one we ever been to. They had a huge place with a lot of shelves but almost no stuff in there. Instead of stacking canned food behind each other to get as much as possible on the shelves this was the opposite. A whole shelf of a meter was filled up with maybe 5 cans instead. The whole store was the same. Felt a little like the apocalypse was on its way here.
We bought a couple of things anyway and headed across the road to the beach were there was some big happening. It was court after court of beach tennis. So they had maybe 40 courts for a big world championship tournament. But it was an open tournament so there were people of all levels playing everywhere. We sat down for a while in the big arena watching a game of doubles of some of the world’s best players apparently. It was nice and a bit surprising finding it there. Then we headed of finding a normal big supermarket and then walked back home to the boat.
Aruba so far starting out nice even though the beer could have been a bit cheaper.
When arriving in Bonaire after pretty much exactly 5 days we thought that the Bonaire regatta was going to end the day before. But of course this was not correct. When getting closer to town we saw a lot of boats coming out for some sailing competitions. The problem with this is they only have 40 moorings that you have to take if you don’t want to get in to the expensive marina. There is no anchoring at all in Bonaire. Some people have had problem with not getting a mooring and having to leave or go in to the marina. But we were lucky despite of the regatta and got one of the 2 last moorings.
So I headed off finding the customs office and after some looking around for a while I find it only to be told that I needed the whole crew with me when checking in. So back to the boat and getting Anders and Hanna and our spear gun that we needed to leave with them as well. The check in then went very easily and we went off paying the mooring in the marina. In the marina we also found Lotte, who sailed with us up in the northern Carribean, on her boat. So we said hello and got treated with some coffee. She then gave us a ride back to the dinghy before heading off to work. We then ended up in the middle of a giant floating party in the middle of town. We sat at the bar where we had parked the dinghy and the water in front were full off boats and people floating around on floating toys drinking talking and playing a lot of loud music. It was pretty cool but we were still tired after sailing so after a couple of beers at the bar we dinghied back to the boat and rested for a bit. Later on we headed back in to town and spent the evening with all the festivities due to the regatta. We also met a couple we knew from Grenada so we hanged with them for a while.
Bonaire is famous for its diving. You can pretty much get a decent reef dive of any point of the island. We dove from the boat on its mooring and got an ok wall dive right there. They also have a lot of moorings all around the island that you ca use to dive from. So just tie up with the sailboat and dive. It was really nice and we should probably have been diving more then we did. But we got our first night dive and a nice wreck dive and some more so we were more then happy.
Otherwise we spent the days chilling doing some small shores and got driven around by Lotte showing us the island. We helped Lotte and Alejandro on their boat trying out their new mainsail and got some afternoon sailing in the bay and it worked out fine. We also had a few nights together with them when they showed us the town and the local foods.
We had 2 little bit bigger problem in Bonaire. I was gonna finish service the windass since I started without the service kit in Grenada. Anders brought a kit from europe and also a new piece that was cracked. But of course the new piece did not fit properly. It is always nice having to take to the angle grinder the first thing you do when buying new spares :). But that part worked out good and the windlass is serviced just to find out we need a new part again. This time it is the dog clutch that got bent. Probably me who did not put it back correctly in Grenada. But that one is only used for manual operation of the windlass.
Our watermaker also stopped producing water, which is never a fun thing to discover. So after some troubleshooting I manged to find that the problem was in the pump. So ripped the pump apart to see what could be wrong only to find a nice troubleshooting manual. The manual then says first, “do not remove the cir-clip in the bottom of the pump”, of course i had started with removing the cir-clip. But with the pump completely disassembled the problem was the magnetic drive to the pump that had slipped on the pump shaft. Apparently a fairly common problem. So talked to spectra about a new piece but they had stopped selling those and wanted to sell a whole pump for 760 us dollar instead. So we molded the old piece with epoxy and it now works like new again.
It was a really pleasant couple of weeks and Bonaire was a nice place with awesome diving and a relaxed atmosphere.
On our way from Grenada to Martinique to pick up Anders from the airport we decided to stop once again in Carriacou. There was a special hash this weekend in Carriacou that we were gonna run. When leaving Grenada I had measured the distance so we would get there before dark but I had done something wrong or remembered something wrong. After motoring the last bit to be able to anchor in some light we dropped the hook just after the sun had set. But all was good and we settled down and prepared for the hash the day after.
The next day we woke up and prepared for the hash. It was a really hot day and around noon we gathered with a couple of hundred other people to sign ourselves in. After some waiting we jumped in to some buses and got a ride to the starting point. After some more waiting it was time for the start. It was really hot and the course started out with a climb up on the second highest point of the island. It was the toughest hash we had run so far. It was so much up and down all the time, but it did go through lot of nice scenery.
After finally finishing the run we got treated to some included barbecue food and of course a few beers. We spent the evening with some other cruisers and hashers and at one point we were standing outside of a bar next to the town dock. Some fishermen came and started loading really big fishes on to the back of a truck. One of the fishermen stopped by us and offered a big piece of kingfish to the girl next to me but she said no but he then turned to me and I happily said yes. So suddenly I was standing with a beer in one hand and a 5 kilo piece of fish in the other hand, What do I do now??? But after some quick organizing by a friend of ours that lived on Grenada the fish was soon packed in a plastic bag with some ice from the bar and put in the dinghy for later. So we invited anyone who wanted for lunch the next day on the fish.
The next day Hanna ran the live hash that was a hash that was created at the same time as the runners were running it. There was a lot of circles and wrong turns to be made on this one. In the meantime I took the bicycle to the next town to check us out of the country. After having Some grilled fish for lunch together with Nick and Sarah we sailed off towards Martinique in the sunset.
We arrived in St Georges after a calm sail down the coast. But when we came closer to the town and were beating in to the wind to get to the anchorage we saw a charter boat going against us with his foresail sheeted on the wrong side so he was barely moving. We changed course to get close by to ask if he needed any help but he only pointed on the back of his shirt and waved. So we sailed on and half an hour later we saw another boat doing the same thing going in another direction. So we concluded this was an opposite day regatta and just continued to the anchorage.
In St Georges the anchorage is a little bit outside of the town in between the town and a big beautiful beach called Grande Anse. We spent a few days checking out the town and surroundings. Grenada was supposed to be a bit of a vacation in this long vacation of ours. Anders was heading home for some weeks for a wedding and to work a bit. Hanna and I wanted to just have some time when we didn’t move around too much, to meet some people, do some work on the boat and just get some routine for a little while.
There is a big community of cruisers in Grenada and therefore all sorts of activities happening. Most of them is happening in the southern bays which is quite a walk away so we put on our hiking shoes and went 5 km for some volleyball. There were also flee market for boaters so we got some fun new stuff. Otherwise we spent our days chilling and doing some boat work that had been on the list for a long time.
After some time it was time for my Birthday. We started out the day with some mimosas and later on some internet to make some calls home to the family. We spent the rest of the day with some nice food and later on we made our way to volleyball with some fellow cruisers. After the volleyball we went to Nimrods a pub nearby for some refreshments. A really nice day ended with a bus ride back home again to the boat.
It was now soon time for the big Carnival in town. We had heard from some other cruisers that you could go in the carnival by buying a package from a company. So Hanna and I got up at 4 o clock in the morning and walked to Carib the brewery to buy our package. The package included some bling with lights and a shirt so everyone looked the same.
We sent Anders off to the airport to fly home and then it was time for Carnival. It started out with something called Jouvert really early in the morning where everyone that wants to be in the train get smeared with used engine oil. It was a crazy experience with some mixed feelings about it. But at least we tried the local customs. We arrived at around 6 in the morning and were quite late so everyone were pretty much completely black from oil and we got some of it as well. Hanna a bit more than me.
After the Jouvert everyone disappeared home to rest after having partied pretty much the whole night, so we did the same even though we cheated on the time a bit. Later on we met up with Paul and Miles two Australians whom we had met a few nights earlier on the volleyball. We had a couple of drinks before we got in to the main event for us. The big carnival train that was starting in the evening and continued throughout the whole night. We started walking at about 10 p.m. and we found Carib our supplier of drinks and music. We then pretty much walk/danced/tried to fill our beer mugs the rest of the night. We were around 200 people just in the Carib one all dancing with light in the hats, swords and necklaces. At around 3 a.m. we were too tired to continue and started to walk back home to the dinghy and got to sleep well tired after a full day of Carnival.
The next day was the so called fancy mas, the more pretty train with everyone who actually knows what they are doing. We kind of forced ourselves out of bed and went in to at least have a look. So we stayed for an hour or so but they were so slow on getting the train started so we only stayed for the first part of it. Later that week we did a dive with Paul and Miles before they flew back to Australia for some vacation and we lifted up the anchor and sailed down south to the southern bays instead to see some new surroundings.