Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools
The global site for cruising sailors
Sections
You are here: Home / Countries / Honduras / Honduras Cruising Notes: Christmas 2012

Honduras Cruising Notes: Christmas 2012

By Amanda & Mark, SV Balvenie — last modified Jan 29, 2013 04:06 PM
Below please find our cruising notes on Honduras where we spent Christmas and the New Year. We enjoyed it very much and have now moved on to Belize which is even better. This Western Caribbean is really quite a treat! Amanda and Mark, SY Balvenie.

Published: 2013-01-29 00:00:00
Countries: Honduras

HONDURAS - VIVORILLO CAYS, GUANAJA, ROATAN AND UTILA   
DEC 2012 /JAN 2013

Vivorillos Cays   15 50.249N  83 18.290W

7m sand with coral patches.

We had departed Low Cay north of Providencia (185 miles) at 9.30am the previous morning, had we known we would have been so close to making it in in daylight we would have left earlier.  We did however have a visual on the cays before sunset, the wind had died out after some lively squalls so we decided to try for a night arrival.

The lighthouse is no longer operational on the farthermost west island but there is an AIS signal transmitted advising there is an island there!   We do not have AIS so not much use to us, but our friends do and they picked up the signal.  We stayed west of the island in deep water then curved around and made our way very slowly in behind the shelter of the cays and reef.  The seabed was very uneven and we saw depths ranging between 4.5m to 8m.  There were no onshore lights just a couple of anchored yachts with lights which we saw and one with no lights that we did not see at all until the next morning – not good practice.

We had a peaceful night and left around 8.30am so did not go ashore.  Those that have stayed report a lovely spot to explore for a few days. No cell coverage.

Guanaja – Isla Bonacca   16 26.515N   85 53.432W

4.8m sand patch on edge of neighbouring small island.

Trip from Vivorillos (155 miles) took 25 hours so we timed our arrival through the outer reef system for a couple of hours after sunrise which gave us good enough light in clear skies.  There is no longer a lighthouse operational, however there was a bright flashing white (like a strobe light) that showed over 30 miles out. At first we thought it was in the water, but it is on top of the island, the distance made it difficult to tell.  There was also a constant bright white to the north of it also on the top of the island, visible same distance (very easy to think they were fishing line markers, but they never get any closer).

We entered south of Half Moon Cay, there is still a marker on the western edge of the reef to the west of it.  There is ample room to drop sails once through the first reef entrance behind this reef.  We went between Pond Cay and Bonacca with good light behind us and it was easy to see the couple of shoal patches.  Exiting on the eastern side of Bonacca was totally clear of shallow water.

Ashore ~  We took the dinghy over. About half way along the island there is a main dock with an indentation that we tied/locked to.  The Port Captains office was right there so we saw him first.  Then we had to go to Immigration - we were given a 90 day visa on our New Zealand passports, carry on past Port Captain to end of path and turn right, go almost to end (2nd to last), then you have to go back to Port Captain.  No charge for anything but we did hear of the odd cruiser being charged $US10 here and there.  All completed within about half an hour.

There is a bank with an ATM machine almost on the junction.  Exchange rate December 2012 was approx 100Lempara = USD5.  Maximum withdrawl was 4,000LEM.  On the path back to the Port Captain is the TIGO shop.  For onboard Internet we bought a simcard for 50LEM and a month data package which included 5GB for extra 500LEM, this worked very well for us including skype.  The lady set everything up for us, she was very helpful but basically didn’t say one word to us!  There were several small fruit and vegetable outlets and we timed it well as the produce boat arrived and had the best selection we have seen in a very long time.  A couple of ok supermarkets. Its a small place – everything is easy to find, no roads just all footpaths.  We did not stay the night anchored here as it was very busy with local traffic.  There is a new fuel dock and we understand it also has water.  Prices unknown.

Guanaja – El Bight/Sandy Bay   16 27.256N   85 52.247W

9m mud.

We came around the eastern side of Dunbar Rock and saw about 3.8m least depth.  Quite a rocky looking bottom and water clear, so we just went slow, once over the shallows there is plenty of water.  Most boats anchored a reasonable distance offshore to stay away from the bugs which weren’t TOO bad. Lovely anchorage, very calm water, peaceful and scenic.  Boats were standing by on VHF 72.  We did not see the piling in the anchorage noted in NW Caribbean Guide Book.

We stayed for Christmas, the Manati Lodge ashore serves good food and cheap drinks.  Good signal for phone/internet. We did a great hike over the island to the northern coast, we went with a local cruiser who knew the way, you would certainly get lost otherwise but there were some shorter marked paths.  Wear long pants as there is a lot of cutting grass.  We had lunch on the northern coast other side at the Green Flash Restaurant and they bought us back to our dinghies by boat through the canal cut for 600LEM for the 5 of us (lunch extra about 120LEM pp).  Tried a few spots by dinghy for snorkelling, nothing good and lots of little jelly stringers.

When we left we sailed inside South West Cay and outside the other reefs, visibility was good and we saw no obstructions or uncharted shallows.

Roatan – French Cay Harbour   16 21.244N   86 26.699W

9m sand/mud, some patches of grass.  We held fine but some boats dragged after sitting out gusts over 25knots for days.

Arrival with a brisk nor’easter behind you is a little difficult.  There is no lee from the land so seas do not flatten and there is really no room to tuck behind Big French Cay either to drop sails, so its head to wind and a free salt water wash.  Then it really was quite hard to see the channel in, but 2 boats had gone in before us so we just headed slowly for the entrance waypoint in the NW Caribbean Guide at 16 20.85N 86 27.00W, then headed due north straight towards land and flat water. You then leave a wobbly looking pole to starboard and start turning right towards the two buoys which look white but are very faded green (port) and red (starboard), they are about the size of little dinghy fenders.  They are close to land and stay close until you are past the houses and docks.  Think the least depth we saw was just under 4m.

There are several reef shallows in the anchorage but it is a good size and there were about 20 boats while we were there and could have taken more.  There is good protection from the reef and land but it can get choppy in high winds.

General calling channel 72.  Morning VHF Net channel 74 @ 9am.

There are 2 options for tying up, Brooksy Point which offers about 15 stern-to berths in a very protected pocket, they offer a range of services including laundry, wifi (not accessible in the anchorage) dive tank fills etc.  The other is Fantasy Island which can accommodate many boats side tied around the island.  They have fuel facilities, need to pre arrange.  We did not need to check in or out here but if you do it is necessary to get taxis to Coxens Hole.

Ashore ~ Dinghy dock to walk to town/supermarket – go back out between the faded red and green buoys turn right and then turn left.  Veer over to the right and tie up between some shrimp boats on a very dodgy dock.  Lock it, there normally seems to be someone around, they appreciated the odd can of coke.  There is an excellent Eldon Supermarket, best we have seen since Santa Marta in Colombia except for meats which weren’t great.  There is an ATM in the supermarket.  Close by if you walk west down the main road past the Petrol Station on the corner there is a fish market (on left behind big fence, closed weekends), excellent inexpensive prawns and also in here is a Gourmet Food Distributor very good selection of goodies but pricey, they will deliver to Frenchys Restaurant in the anchorage.  Carrying on down this road a little further is Ace Hardware on the left, LPG Gas Refill Centre on the right (240LEM for 9kg while you wait) then either further an open air mall with some clothing shops, banks, coffee shops and another supermarket (not very good).   Mike at Brooksy Point organises and takes an island tour on Fridays from around 9.15am to 3.30pm, USD20 pp including dolphin show (yes we see plenty of dolphins but it was ok).  You stop at West Beach for lunch (not included), a good way to see the island and Mike is very informative.  Brooksy Point also organises a pizza night (pizza are bought in) they were excellent.  We had a special dinner at Frenchys one night, mid range prices – nice enough.

Utila – East Harbour   16 05.598N   86 53.866W

7m sand, good holding in over 30knot gusts.

We had rather a lively sea state downwind from Roatan but the water does flatten considerably as you close on the harbour.  We only had our headsail out so didn’t need to turn to windward but it would have been ok.  The flashing light shown in the guide book is still there and operational, but the stake shown at the entrance is not.  Again we headed for the entrance waypoint of 16 05.15N  86 54.10W and slowly and carefully made our way in.  A bearing of 020M lines you up with a white painted church steeple, there is now a large wooden yellow house in front of the church but you can still see the steeple.  It clouded over just as we arrived so we found spotting the deep water and sandy anchorage patches hard, but there is loads of room.

Ashore ~ We took our dinghy into the dock at the Utila Lodge, it has no name water frontage but it is just to the right of the yellow house and church mentioned above and the dock normally has some white wooden chairs on it.  There is a dock inside the outer one and they were very receptive to us tying up there, it seemed safe day and night.  We didn’t eat there but had a few happy hour drinks.  Along their alleyway is a lady offering free Spanish lessons, need to pre book.  Across the road a bakery with good cinnamon buns, another bakery with good wholemeal bread on same side along to right maybe 5 minutes walk set back slightly.  We had lunch at Munchies - very average and they have slow wifi.  Had dinner at El Picante Mexican, its the bright yellow and red wooden building waterfront, it was ok, think they have a dock too.  A few stores/mini markets scattered around town with varying quality of fresh produce, you really need to visit them all and pick through.  Bush’s general store has a slightly chilled room for veg and reasonable frozen meat selection.  They also have a petrol pump outside.   Our TIGO internet connection in our dongle worked very well at anchor.

Quite possibly the rudest staff member at Immigration we have ever come across, she was obviously not having a good day, only spoke Spanish and absolutely no attempt to go even the slightest bit slow. Port Captain is next door, go there next, they are both on the big ferry dock, there was no charge for checking out.  We had to get photocopies of something for Immigration and there is an internet/copy place set back in a garden also on the ferry dock..

Bank is on the corner by the ferry dock.  The Jade Seahorse is on the road inland from the Bank on the left a little way – its straight out of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and definitely worth a look.  Street food empanadas were cheap and tasty.

We had planned to stop at the Water Cays on the western end of Utila enroute to Belize but there was too much swell and protection did not look to be adequate.  We did leave that way though, sailing over the shallows which was a touh heart stopping when the water got very clear.  Don't think we saw anything under 5m from memory.

OVERALL

We enjoyed our stay in Honduras immensely, the wind howled through much more than we were expecting but that is part of life on a boat.  We didn't have any security issues and never felt unsafe, we locked the boat when we left it and set our alarm at night.  We locked the dinghy in Roatan and Bonacca.  We did however stick to the main anchorages so didn't get to experience as much of the Bay Islands as we originally intended.  They are more Caribbean than Central American, very laid back and most enjoyable - worth the stop for sure.

Amanda and Mark
SY Balvenie on Year 9 of our circumnavigation

www.yachtbalvenie.blogspot.com and   www.balveniescruisinginfo.blogspot.com

Share |
Countries
Albania
Algeria
American Samoa
Angola
Anguilla
Antarctica
Antigua & Barbuda
Argentina
Aruba
Ascension Island
Australia
Azores
BIOT (Chagos)
Bahamas
Bahrain
Barbados
Belgium
Belize
Bermuda
Bonaire
Bosnia
Bouvetoya
Brazil
British Virgin Islands
Brunei
Bulgaria
Cambodia
Canada
Canary Islands
Cape Verdes
Cayman Islands
Channel Islands
Chile
China
Christmas Island
Cocos Keeling
Colombia
Comoros
Cook Islands
Costa Rica
Croatia
Cuba
Curacao
Cyprus
Denmark
Djibouti
Dominica
Dominican Republic
East Timor (Timor Leste)
Easter Island
Ecuador
Egypt
El Salvador
Eritrea
Estonia
Falkland Islands
Faroe Islands
Federated States of Micronesia
Fiji
Finland
France
French Guiana
French Polynesia
French Subantarctic Territory
Galapagos
Gambia
Georgia
Germany
Gibraltar
Greece
Greenland
Grenada
Guadeloupe
Guam
Guatemala
Guinea-Bissau
Guyana
Haiti
Hawaii
Heard, McDonald & Macquarie Islands
Honduras
Hong Kong
Iceland
India
Indonesia
Ireland
Israel
Italy
Ivory Coast
Jamaica
Japan
Jordan
Juan Fernandez Islands
Kenya
Kiribati
Kuwait
Latvia
Lebanon
Libya
Lithuania
Macau
Madagascar
Madeira
Malaysia
Maldives
Malta
Marion & Prince Edward Island
Marshall Islands
Martinique
Mauritania
Mauritius
Mayotte
Mexico
Monaco
Montenegro
Montserrat
Morocco
Mozambique
Myanmar (Burma)
Namibia
Nauru
Netherlands
New Caledonia
New Zealand
New Zealand's Subantarctic Islands
Nicaragua
Niue
Norfolk Island
Northern Marianas
Norway
Oman
Palau (Belau)
Panama
Papua New Guinea
Peru
Philippines
Pitcairn Island
Poland
Portugal
Puerto Rico
Qatar
Reunion Island
Romania
Russia
Saba
Samoa
Sao Tome and Principe
Saudi Arabia
Senegal
Seychelles
Sierra Leone
Singapore
Sint Maarten
Slovenia
Solomon Islands
Somalia
South Africa
South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands
South Korea
Spain
Spanish Virgin Islands
Sri Lanka
St Barts
St Helena
St Kitts & Nevis
St Lucia
St Martin
St Pierre & Miquelon
St Vincent & the Grenadines
Statia
Subantarctic & Southern Ocean Islands
Sudan
Suriname
Sweden
Syria
Taiwan
Tanzania
Thailand
Tokelau
Tonga
Trinidad & Tobago
Tristan da Cunha
Tunisia
Turkey
Turks & Caicos
Tuvalu
US Virgin Islands
USA
Ukraine
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
Uruguay
Vanuatu
Venezuela
Vietnam
Wallis and Futuna
Yemen
Add/Update Your Business
If you would like your business to be listed, or the details are wrong, please update your business