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Nice stop at Swan Island, Honduras

By Val Ellis — last modified Oct 24, 2017 12:59 PM

Published: 2009-05-14 15:41:41
Countries: Honduras

We stopped at Swan Island (Honduras) on our way from Key West, FL, USA to Colon, Panama. There isn't a lot of info out there on Swan Island for yachts, so here's what we found...

The island was occupied by 7 young members Honduran Navy (in our case, 16-26) who do a 45-day rotation at "Isla Cisne", so the reception you receive will be somewhat dependent on the commander and group that is currently stationed there.

The dock is very rough concrete and will wear through lines quickly, but the guys on the island don't have a boat, so you have to tie up there for them to board and search the boat. We anchored afterwards because of the motion of the boat and damage to the lines.

They did a reasonably lengthy but polite search and seemed to be mostly interested in undeclared guns although they did ask about drugs as well and had lots of questions I didn't quite understand regarding Cuba. The detachment on the island didn't appear to speak any English and will meet you well-armed, so be prepared with a bit of Spanish, patience, and friendliness.

These guys are bored! This particular detachment spent the mornings working and then went hiking, beachcombing, and swimming/diving in the afternoons. It's a miracle they were all able to show up on the dock in uniforms with low-cost M-16s as quickly as they did.

In general, the anchorage at the southwest end of the island had good holding, although it doesn't have a tremendous amount of swell protection.

We stayed a couple of days and enjoyed several social interactions with the Navy guys. We swam & dove with them, beachcombed, enjoyed an island tour, and played volleyball. I speak enough Spanish that we could have decent conversations and this group of guys was fairly friendly. As the rotation changes every 45 days, it's hard to say what you'll find, but it appears they're likely to be young, bored, and responsive to friendly, low-key overtures.

They didn't have any sort of customs/immigration capacity (they wrote down our passport numbers, names, etc. in child's school notebook that seemed to be the offical commander’s logbook) so don't expect a zarpe, passport stamp, etc.

There were no supplies to be had although they were growing plantains and asked us about fresh water although they didn't offer any (they use the roof to catch & store rainwater and probably could possibly have spared some).

S/V Pura Vida
May 2009

Oceanic says:
Oct 24, 2017 03:37 AM

Sounds as if Swan Island/s hasn't changed much over the years... The CIA used to operate Voice of America Radio transmitter station from there and "pumped" propaganda into Cuba on a regular basis in the 60's and early 70's. The old station buildings were still there along with a grass air strip on "Big Swan Island" "Little Swan" (just to the East) was inhabited by mostly Marine Iguanas and Blue Footed Booby birds that nest on the Island. Honduras used to keep a slightly larger "defense force" on the Big Island of about 13 soldiers. Attitudes towards boaters was very relaxed and polite until about 1981-82 when they began to spend much more attention to vessel searches (we trained them). I would NOT want to ride out a hurricane there! Oh yeah.... take the guys some beer if you want to make friends!