NW Caribbean 2011
 
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To Cuba '08
In Cuba '08-'09
Cuba to Minnesott '09
Off Season '09
NW Caribbean 2010
NW Caribbean 2011
Ron's Ruminations
Judy's Jubilations

 

The Adventure of "Getting There"

The best laid plans are always changing, and so it was with our departure date from Minnesott. Originally we planned to be on the high seas before the end of October.  In reality, it was December 2nd before we cast off.  Meanwhile, we had lots to keep us busy - finishing off projects, visiting with friends and a short unexpected trip home to Lethbridge.  We got to spend Thanksgiving with Shirley and Charlie - former cruisers turned dirt dwellers.  Charlie cooked up a delicious citrus stuffed turkey and Shirley created the rest which was soooooo good, we could hardly eat anything the next day.  We left with a big goodie bag which lasted for several days!

Charlie and Shirley put Martha Stewart to shame!

 

In preparation for his annual accident prone winter, Ron caught a "boo-boo" in his eye so Judy had to do the eye wash thing and then cover it up - after a few hours he was as good as new!  Maybe that will be his worst accident this cruising season???????

 

Ron practices being a pirate!

 

We finally got our act together and set out from Beaufort, NC, with Chris Parker's blessings.  He managed to get us as far as Charleston, SC before he advised us to pull in and sit out the weather.  That interruption lasted about 5 days before we got the go ahead to head for Fernandina Beach in Northern Florida.  Now one would assume that the further south we got, the warmer it would be.  The day we left Minnesott was the warmest day we saw before landing in Vero Beach in Central Florida. 

 

Out on the water we had so many layers of clothes on that we could hardly cinch up our life vests!

 

In Northern Florida it went down to -6 deg C (21 deg. F).  Of course, since we were on a mooring ball we were not able to use our boat heating system so we bought a "Mr. Heater - Buddy" portable propane heater.  What a difference that made!  We still had to wake up to a freezing cold boat but within 20 minutes we could no longer see our breath!

 

Judy dresses warmly to watch "Survivor" on TV in Charleston

 

We left Vero Beach in cool weather and arrived in Marathon, in the Florida Keys, a few days later.  This was to be our "staging port" for Guanaja in the Bay Islands of Honduras.  We were able to enjoy Christmas dinner with old friends and new at a potluck put on by the City Marina. 

Perry and Susan (Grace), Peter and Gail (Jabiru), Mel (Metal Magic) and Lynn and Don (Boomerang) shared Christmas dinner with us in the gazebo at the City Marina

Our fun was not limited to Christmas dinner alone.  We enjoyed breakfast at the Legion Hall, Chinese food at the Panda House and happy hour aboard Pioneer.  It was so good to meet up with old friends before we sailed off on our solo six day adventure.

 

 

 

Happy Hour on Pioneer is always good fun, especially inside our enclosure when it is cool outside!

 

We arrived in Marathon about 3 days before Christmas and left for Guanaja on January 2nd.  Our weather Guru, Chris Parker, predicted a great and very benign 6 day weather window for us. 

 

Sailing along the North West coast of Cuba on a beam reach

 

We thought that it would take 5 days but the wind was so light during the day we only managed a 4.5 kt average over the passage.  The nights for the most part were the best for sailing. 

 

Ron at the helm in the cool of the late afternoon

 

With our new radar and AIS we were able to spot ships and know exactly how close they would get to us.  In several cases we called the ships and they were very accommodating, adjusting their course  to increase the passing distance between us. 

 

 

A cruise ship, all lit up, off our port side at dusk

 

On this 6 day leg of our journey it was warm and very enjoyable. 

 

 

 

Judy manages to read a book on her watch as we sail around the north west capes of Cuba

 

 

 

 

 

Judy adjusts the screen brightness on our new Garmin chartplotter as the sun begins to set.

 

 

 

 

Calm seas were very typical at dusk.  By midnight the sailing was brisk and beautiful

 

Out in the middle of the North-Western Caribbean Sea we had some very calm days and were able to top up our fuel tanks easily. 

 

 

We could have swum off the boat as we topped up our tanks in the middle of the Caribbean Sea

 

Our last 24 hours were windless and very slow.  We were trying to time our entry to Guanaja at first light on Saturday morning so we didn't mind drifting around a bit and making only 3.5 kts.  To finally see land after 6 days at sea seemed very strange.  We had actually made it! 

A small key off Guanaja at daybreak

The anchorage at El Bight had only three boats so it was almost deserted compared to later in the season.  It is a good anchorage with excellent holding. 

 

 

 

 

Dunbar rock at the entrance to the El Bight anchorage

 

Unfortunately we needed to anchor out rather far to catch the most from the wind.  El Bight should really be named "El Bite".  There are tiny little mosquitoes that can really cause large itchy, swollen and weeping lumps all over your body.  Judy is very fortunate in that if they bite her, there is no reaction.  Ron, on the other hand is a magnet for the little critters and he breaks out in those large ugly itchy welts!   Even with the wind, which has been considerable over the past several days, the bugs still manage to seek out Ron.  Daily swabs with hydrogen peroxide, iodine and anti itch gel coupled with allergy pills have made Ron's life easier but not itch free!

Ron shows off his numerous mosquito bites!

 

Our check-in to Honduras was very easy and stress free.  On Monday we took the dinghy into the village of Bonacca (a small community built on two small keys with dwellings on stilts built out over the water)   We reported in to the immigration office and then to the Port Captain.  Everyone was friendly and very helpful.  Afterwards we explored the village and had lunch and  beers at a very nice and inexpensive restaurant on the water.

 

 

Sunshine, cool breeze and........

 

 

 

......a beer to sip on  in Bonacca

 

 

 

One of many canals on the island community of Bonacca

 

 

 

 

 

We discovered a beach bar in the anchorage owned and run by  Hans, a German ex-pat.  The bar is rustic and wonderful!  He cooked us  a delicious pizza in an outdoor barrel oven.  We had a great time with Karl (also German) and Marie from Engenium.  It was so nice to meet new cruisers and get some tips on life here in Guanaja.

Judy and Marie get a dancing lesson from two of the locals

 

 

 

 

 

 

Karl (Engenium) and Judy inspect the cooking barrel at the beachside bar in El Bight

 

 

 

Dusk at El bight

 

Our anchorage is very close to the fishing action on a small and a large scale.  Several large fishing boats are docked nearby and single fishermen in small boats come out to an area just behind us and catch fish like crazy! 

A lobster boat comes in laden with a fine catch

 

 

 

 

 

This fisherman paddled across the anchorage stopping every so often to bail out his cayuga!

 

There is one fisherman in the anchorage who doesn't need a boat at all - a dolphin.  He/She is the boss of the bay and takes great delight in cruising around Pioneer, blowing, and chirping.  Ron has named him "Rolf the Dolph"!

 

 

Judy's favourite daytime activity after a sleepless night with 35 kt gusts and driving rain

 

 

Ron relaxes during a rainstorm as he refills the peanut jars

 

 

One afternoon, the wind was coming from the southeast and so the north coast promised to be calm.  We set off in our dinghy to explore the northern beaches and were rewarded with about 20 sea beans.  At that point we were determined to pay a visit to Michael Rock on the north shore where more sea beans could be found as well as a long hike to a great waterfall.  Meanwhile, as we waited for the winds to be right, we enjoyed several parties with our fellow cruisers and ex-pats living on Guanaja.

 

Karl (s/v Engenium) and Wilma (the cook at Hans's beach bar) prepare tortillas and ribs for a boaters potluck

 

 

 

Chef Karl tends the ribs over the clay beach barbecue

 

 

We spent several nights over at Han's beach bar enjoying pizza cooked in the outdoor clay/barrel oven, sipping Salva Vidas and chatting with the other boaters.  The dock at Hans's place was a challenge for Ron and it took all of his concentration not to be a dock casualty again this year.

 

Ron hesitates and saves himself just in the nick of time!

 

El Bight was a very nice anchorage, well protected and with lots of local activity to keep everyone busy, however, the biting bugs were terrible on shore and at night on the boat.  Ron continued to suffer from bites.

 

Ron poses for the camera to display only a few of his many insect bites.

 

As daunting as the insects were, we still managed to have fun and socialize on the boat and on the shore!

 

Karl and Marie (s/v Engenium) enjoy a happy hour aboard Pioneer

 

 

 

 

The best parties of all were the pizza parties, of course. We will never forget the taste of a pizza fired in an outdoor oven!

 

Pizza party night with Karl and Marie (Engenium), Tom and Rose (Sojourn) and Moira and Dick (Equinox)

 

 

 

The pizza oven preheats!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pizzas are almost ready!

 

When we made our trips into the island community of Bonacca, we always paid a visit to the Hotel Alexander bar/restaurant.  The bar was a family affair and was the first time we had been served beer by a 13 year old boy!

Our bartender was the one in the yellow shirt!

 

After every outing we were very hot, no matter how many beer we had consumed. As a result, swimming off the boat has become a daily routine with a nice freshwater cockpit shower afterwards.

 

Ron inspects our dinghy as he floats around the boat to cool off

 

 

 

At this party at Hans's place, we were the only English speaking couple!

 

 

 

Hans is a  gifted fixer of engines, including such things as Honda generators.  Ours was suffering badly from a batch of bad gas and so Hans came to the rescue.  Boaters really depend on those generators and they can be very temperamental! One morning we took our generator over to Hans's place.  Before he started to work on it we enjoyed coffee in his outdoor kitchen and marveled at the animal/bird life that was a part of his living space.

 

These two parrots are bold, saucy and can talk like humans...

After coffee, Hans took our generator apart (without a manual) listened to it and cleaned out the fuel filter, adjusted a few other things and it started up just fine.  We hope it will continue to work, trouble free, until we return to the US and can get it serviced and some parts replaced by a Honda dealer.

Ron's hairdressing services were called for as soon as the women discovered that he was talented in that arena. 

 

 

Ron cuts Marie's hair on Hans's beach, while Hans's dog checks out the activity

 

While Ron trimmed Marie's locks outside, Judy helped out Amaia (Silver Cloud) with Cuban waypoints inside the bar.

 

Judy and Amaia share Cuban waypoints inside Hans's bar

 

 

 

Hans did not have the only place to party.  Just next door, the Manatee Bar/Restaurant was a favourite gathering spot for local ex-pats.  The Manatee served German cuisine which was very tasty.  One evening the entire ex-pat population plus cruisers showed up at the Manatee to help celebrate Annette's (one of the managers) birthday.  A great time was had by all!

The Manatee Restaurant in El Bight

The next morning we headed out to Michael Rock with another boat, Sojourn, with Tom and Rose aboard. The purpose of the trip was to experience the north coast when it was protected from the south winds, do a little beachcombing and take a 2 hour hike up to a waterfall. 

Leaving El Bight and Bonacca, we pass by the "dome house" (not occupied and for sale)

 

 

 

 

 

Pioneer at anchor at Michael Rock, Guanaja

 

 

Pioneer across the spit of Michael Rock

 

 

 

 

The anchorage was very protected by a reef and high hills.  What we soon realized, come nightfall, was that katabatic winds come down off those hills and would bounce us around and howl throughout the night.  It was a great night for ear plugs! 

All four of us managed to find sea beans on the beach and even the elusive Mary's beans (we found four in one afternoon!). 

Fishing camp at the trailhead to the falls

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judy enjoys a placid dinghy ride to the falls

 

The highlight of our trip to Michael Rock was the hike up to the waterfall.  The pathway up was rugged and obscure at times.  We had a guide that the best guide we have ever had.  He asked for no money, indeed, he did not want it.  He never spoke.  When we started to head off in the wrong direction, he would simply sit down and wait for us to figure out the right way (usually by looking up in the trees and seeing a wood arrow pointing the way).

 

The wooden arrow points the way!

 

We always knew when we were going the right way because he would be right there with us.  On arriving at the falls, we all (except for our guide) took showers in the high pressure wash!  Our guide just lay around on the rocks.  We had taken sandwiches with us and each of us shared them with our guide.  If you haven't guessed it by now, our guide was a dog! 

 

 

 

Our guide letting us know we were going the wrong way!

We have no idea who he belonged to.  He joined us when we started up the path to the falls and stayed with us until we returned safely.  If it hadn't been for his "sitting" behavior when we got off the path, we never would have found our way up. 

 

 

Scrambling over the creek bed on our way to the falls

 

The flora was quite remarkable and everything was covered by slippery moss. Mushrooms were hidden in the old trunks of trees and the skeletons of leaves were pasted on many rocks.

 

A leaf imprinted on a rock

 

 

 

 

Mushrooms in an ancient tree trunk

 

 

 

 

Exploring the water pressure at the falls was fun and very wet.  It was a good thing that it was not the rainy season!  There are few words to describe this experience - let the pictures tell it all!

 

 

We arrive at the falls

 

 

 

Our guide checks out the shower and decides to relax on the rocks instead

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judy tries out the shower-fall!

 

 

Ron is up next!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ron and Judy try to shower together in the mist from the falls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tom and Rose (Sojourn) get their opportunity to "mist" together

 

 

 

 

 

 

We carefully make our way back to the trailhead

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pioneer heads off for Roatan leaving Sojourn (an Alberg 37) who are heading back to El Bight

 

 

Our trip to the north coast of Guanaja was a great adventure.  However, considering the katabatic winds at night, the next time we would dinghy through the canal from Bonacca to the north coast and then take the 15 minute dinghy ride up to Michael Rock.  After leaving Guanaja, we spent one night in Lime Cay Bight, which was very pleasant but fairly wide open to winds from the east and south of east.  The next day we continued on to French Cay Harbour, where we plan to spend several weeks.  Ron is getting requests to cut the ladies hair here so he may be very busy.  There seems to be quite a cruising community here that has some organization to it.  Common happy hours, pot lucks every week,  morning net with weather, etc.  We have anchored behind French Cay in a sandy spot about 16 feet deep.  Our anchor is set well and we have held tight through several windy days and nights.  Next week we are expecting strong northerlies as a result of the blizzards in the mid-west and east coast of the US.  When the cold front gets down to us we will be looking at winds from 30-35 kts which will be tolerable in this anchorage but noisy and a bit bouncy.

Our view to the south as we sit well anchored at the back of the anchorage

 

 

We have settled in to a relaxing routine here at French Cay Harbour during these many weeks since late January.  Our plans to go to Belize have been curtailed because of the high and constantly fluctuating entry and exit fees for cruisers.  The negative attitude of the officials towards the cruisers makes it difficult to want to go there.  So, instead we have decided to spend the majority of our time here at French Cay.  When we head back to the US it will be from here that we leave.

We have a ready supply of local fresh fruit and vegetables from a small tienda in the town of French Cay Harbour.  It is a small family run operation and on school holidays, the entire family gets involved.  Ron enjoys kibitzing with one of the daughters who keeps track of our purchases on her calculator.

"La Contadora" at our local produce tienda

 

One of the first "cruiser events" that we attended was the duckie races followed by a pot luck supper.  We got to meet several of the cruisers in the harbour and that began our very active social life this winter.  Babsea was anchored nearby - it was great to see Barb and Bill again before they set off for Panama.

 

Judy and Barb (Babsea) enjoy a happy hour birthday on Babsea

 

Also at the happy hour was Moira and Dick (Equinox).  Moira told the best cruising tales in a very animated fashion which Ron tried desperately to capture on camera.

 

 

Moira tells the group her cruising tales!

 

Our normal landing spot for dinghies, when we go into town, is called the shrimp dock.  So named because the shrimp boats dock there in off-season. It is also the infamous dock that Ron fell through at the start of our stay here last year.  This year he has managed to avoid any such accidents, with Judy's help, of course.

 

Judy stops Ron from hopping on the shrimp dock before she has a chance to scout out all the rotten boards

 

While Judy is looking out for Ron's safety, Ron's job is to keep the new dinghy and old motor in tip top running condition.

 

At the shrimp dock, Ron cannot bare to look forward at the old rotten boards that he must cross to safety

 

Once we get into town, and before we get our produce and other groceries, we have to decide whether to have pizza at the Pizza Inn or chicken at the Rotisserie Aleman.  It is always a tough call!  As a result we have visited them both quite often.  The Rotisserie Aleman seems to be our favourite and we have made many trips there with several of our cruising friends.

 

Ron enjoys his chicken dinner at the Rotisserie Aleman

 

 

 

 

 

Water bags??? un uh - fly deterrents at the Rotisserie

 

 

Sandy and Terry (s/v Gambit) and Rose and Tom (s/v Sojourn) enjoy a lunch with us at the Rotisserie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maria-Elena (s/v Not So Interim) checks out the kitchen in the Rotisserie and learns how to prepare baleadas

 

 

Wayne and Elda (s/v Big Fun) patiently wait for their chicken to arrive at the Rotisserie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Always the ham, Wayne gives the fish a smooch as we leave the Rotisserie

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ron continues to be in demand as a hair stylist and so begins a bevy of beauties vying for his talent.  Everyone looked much better after their cut!

 

Elda (s/v Big Fun) is the first to try out the new hairdresser on the block

 

 

 

 

 

 

Norma (retired professional hair dresser) from s/v Mi-Lady is next!

 

 

 

 

 

Norma and Ron team up to cut Kathy's hair (s/v Jumbie)

 

 

 

 

 

Last but not least, Rose (s/v Sojourn) gets her head coiffed  

 

 

 

 

While Ron has fun with all the girls on the island, Judy polishes her sea beans to make pendants for them - sort of a reward for offering their heads up to Ron!

 

 

 

The jewelry shop is open!

 

We have met some wonderful people during our stay at French Cay Harbour.  They hail from Texas, Virginia, Minnesota and North Carolina.

 

 

Elda and Wayne on s/v Big Fun from Texas

 

 

 

 

Kathryn and Enrique on s/v Pelican (from Wayfarers Cove in NC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maria-Elena and Bert on s/v Not So Interim, from Virginia & Venezuela

 

 

 

 

 

Kathy (s/v Jumbie) and Judy talk Cuba on the back deck of their catamaran

 

 

 

 

 

Fantasy Island, the local dive resort, boasts many critters such as watusis, monkeys, deer, ducks, geese and several beautiful peacocks

 

 

Four times a week, in the early evening, the cruisers gather at the marina green, near the docks, for happy hour.  We have our own cruisers bar where the prices are very reasonable.  The bar is run by Jerry and Annie, the dockmasters.  Once a week we all head up to the Fantasy Island Bar for pizza and beer.  On Saturday night we gather back at the marina green for a barbecue (bring your own to cook) and pot luck.  So, five out of seven nights we socialize and then recuperate for two before starting up again.  It is a great way to meet new cruisers in the anchorage.

 

 

Cruisers Bar on the marina green at Fantasy Island

 

The entire area around us is beautiful and interesting.  From our boat we can see many interesting sights, such as.......

 

 

A local fisherman out to catch dinner

 

 

 

 

 

A local family out for a Sunday ride

 

 

 

 

 

Some kids having fun around Pioneer on a hot day

 

 

 

 

Rebuilding cabanas on the Fantasy Island beach after seasonal hurricane damage

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sun sets behind a bank of clouds as the day ends

 

In town, the sights are also very interesting, although a bit more hectic and less low key than the anchorage.

 

 

 

It's someone's birthday pinata riding in the back of this pick-up truck at the local grocery store

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kathryn, Enrique and Judy admire the local flora

 

As those special occasions such as VALENTINE'S DAY come along, the cruisers decide to celebrate with a very big party.  The venue was provided free of charge by Fantasy Island Resort - a palapa, a thatched roof, open-air tropical shelter.  The plan was for a dinner and dance.  The music was provided by Susie (m/v Cabaret), who is an experienced DJ with lots of great music and a sound system to match.  Susie's husband, John, was the main course chef. Cindy (s/v Andante) and Maria-Elena s/v (Not So Interim) were the dessert chefs.  It was an amazing meal and an amazing party!  We had to wear our foulies over our party clothes because there was a lot of wind and rain that night.  The outside conditions made the inside party even more fun!

 

Judy and Joyce (s/v Lady H) hold up the limbo pole while Laurie (s/v Liberi) pops under the pole and Kathryn (s/v Pelican) patiently waits for her turn

 

 

 

Susie (m/v Cabaret), our DJ, gets the crowd fired up!

 

 

 

 

 

Kathryn (s/v Pelican) and Fred (s/v Makai) try out a new fitness routine while Maria-Elena and Bert (s/v Not So Interim) check out their feet......

 

 

The active social life at French Cay Harbour has kept us very busy not only with parties, happy hours and pot lucks, but also with visits to other boats for dinner.  We had some wonderful meals aboard Not So Interim, Pelican and Big Fun.  The following pictures speak for themselves!

 

 

Some of the "Freddy Fender Fan Club" (to be explained later) relax aboard Not So Interim

 

 

 

Maria-Elena, our dinner hostess

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Identify the various dinner guests by their legs????

 

Judy has been giving Ron some time to enjoy working on various boat projects while she heads off to play Mexican Train dominoes and Mah Jongg.  Snorkeling with the girls is also a great draw.  On one trip, Judy lucked out finding a beautiful tulip shell which she has since cleaned and polished and now is on display in Pioneer.

 

Monster from the Black lagoon?????? Why no!  It's just Maria-Elena on a snorkeling foray

 

 

 

 

 

Dominoes is hard to beat on a windy afternoon!

 

On shore, within the anchorage area, is the Iguana Farm which is a destination for many people off the cruise ships.  The owners have encouraged the boaters to visit the farm, free of charge.  Last year we paid them a visit so this year we got our cruising friends together for another look. 

 

Rose (s/v Sojourn) and Maria-Elena herd their iguana for a close up picture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Freddie Fender Fan Club members - Kathryn, Judy, Wayne, Tom and Bert - relax in the shade at the Iguana Farm

 

At the Valentine's party, we heard that Tom (s/v Sojourn) was a cousin of Freddie Fender.  Big Fun, Pioneer, Not So Interim and Pelican were really excited about this news as they were all fans of Freddie and his famous song, "Till The Next Teardrop Falls".  As it turned out, the rumour was untrue, which was a real blow to the group.  To keep our spirits high, we banded together to form the Freddie Fender Fan Club and it was that group checked out the Iguana farm.

Elda tries to teach the iguanas table manners

 

 

 

 

 

A beginning banana - the iguanas love them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The official picture of the Freddie Fender Fan Club at the Iguana Farm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, back at the marina green near the Fantasy Island dock, plans were underway to build a deck for the use of the cruisers during afternoon get-togethers, games, happy hours and pot lucks.  Since the resort was replacing their old docks, there was lots of lumber available.  The nails were pulled and bent back into shape, the boards laid and hammered into place by the cruising males while their wives/significant others prepared a lunch for the "crew" and then hung around taking pictures or playing dominoes.  Ron always enjoys building things so he threw himself whole-heartedly into the project.

Ron gets a chance to demonstrate his thriftiness by refurbishing old nails

 

 

 

The "boys" begin "playtime"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Progress is made quickly as the decking begins to go down

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ron and Enrique position the final boards

 

 

 

 

 

Voila - a deck!  And it works !

 

Following the construction phase, the deck had its inaugural happy hour and several more post-construction events before the official opening of the Cruisers' Pirate Bar and Social Club. 

 

 

 

The "girls" enjoy a very "fun" conversation at one of the new deck happy hours

 

 

 

 

 

Happy hour on the deck is popular because the biting bugs hide in the grass!

 

At the official opening of the Cruisers Bar, Susie provided the music and the "mouth" .  Husband John organized the food - giant hamburgers, fries and a margarita.  The decorations of balloons, red table cloths and floral centre pieces were provided and set up by several of the cruisers. We ate and danced and had the best time, even better than the Valentine's dance!

 

Dennis (s/v Annah Foster) provided electronic piano dinner music during the meal

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chuck (s/v Windancer) and Skip provide live entertainment during part of the evening

 

 

 

Ron lets it all hang out for the YMCA dance!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judy gets her chance to "boogie" during the ladies only circle dance

 

 

 

Pioneer leaves her "graffiti" on the table cloth!

 

 

 

 

Our life on Pioneer is not all parties and fun.  We have basic things to attend to that, back home, would take a relatively short period of time; in cruising mode, however, these activities take between a half and full day.  Such activities include grocery shopping, laundry, hull cleaning, water making, charging batteries and fixing the things that break.  Knock on wood, the latter has not been bothersome at all this year.  Grocery shopping can involve a dinghy ride into the shrimp dock and then a short walk to the store or a long walk to another store with, of course, a stop for lunch at one of our favourite restaurants.  By the time the walk, eating, shopping and getting gas at the local station has been accomplished, it is time to get ready for happy hour!  So you can see, shopping is a whole day affair!  To be more efficient, we can take the free bus (supplied by the grocery store for the cruisers) from Fantasy Island to the shopping area.  We get two hours to shop and get fuel if needed and it takes only a half day.  The first day we tried out the bus, it was a windy, rainy day and we were very happy that we were not in our dinghy!

 

 Ron settles into the short seat on the grocery bus and gets the eye from Wayne (Big Fun)

 

The best part about the bus is the truck that takes all our groceries and follows us back to Fantasy island.  We can load up with fuel and all kinds of stuff besides our groceries and not have to worry about carrying them onto the bus.

 

 

The grocery truck heads back to Fantasy Island with all of our groceries

 

 

 

Close to the grocery store there are fresh veggies and fruit that can be bought from street vendors at lower prices.  The benefit here is that it is local produce as opposed to imported - and it tastes much better!  Having ready access to fresh produce enables us to eat delicious breakfasts of fruit, salad for lunches and stir fried veggies with out evening meal.

Fresh mango, bananas, pineapple, grapefruit and oranges topped with yogurt is our usual breakfast.  The napkin is compliments of our favourite pizza place on the island

 

On March 15th, we got together with several other cruising friends to celebrate two birthdays, Judy's and Wayne's (Big Fun).  The first order of the day was to try out the Chinese restaurant with its great dishes and reasonable prices.  Right on both counts!  Later on that day, we celebrated our birthdays again at happy hour at the cruisers' bar on Fantasy Island.  A good time was had by all, especially the members of the Freddy Fender Fan Club (photo taken outside the Chinese restaurant.

 

 

The Fan Club gets ready for the Chinese feast!

 

 

 

Dave and Ellen (s/v Cordelia) enjoy the birthday celebrations

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tom (s/v Sojourn), our accountant, prepares to pay the luncheon bill.  His wife, Rose, the treasurer, looks on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Freddy Fender Fan Club poses for a photo outside the Chinese restaurant

 

 

 

 

Judy and Wayne discuss the most sanitary way to blow out their candles (at happy hour)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rose (s/v Sojourn) and Marilyn (s/v Insatiable I) joke around at happy hour

 

 

 

 

Judy and Tom (s/v Sojourn) take a break from the beer at happy hour

 

Dockmaster Jerry and Dockmistress Annie are the ones responsible for setting up tables and provisioning the bar for happy hours, potlucks and parties.  Jerry handles most of the dock/boat related issues while Annie keeps the place organized and looking good. 

 

Dockmistress Annie gives Wayne and Elda (s/v Big Fun) grief over their bar bill!

 

 

 

 

Then there is Dockmaster Jerry proudly wearing his medal of honour for services to French Cay cruisers

 

Although we haven't spent much time over at CoCo View (another dive resort)  this winter, the few times that we have been there have been lots of fun with Wayne and Elda and the resort managers Deb and Mitch.  Deb makes the best "Monkey LaLas" (rum, Kaluha, Baileys, coconut cream and crushed ice).  Every Wednesday night they have live entertainment which is very good, especially when they play our Freddie Fender Favourites.

 

Bar games entertain the cruisers at CoCo View

 

 

 

We enjoy a good old western two step at Co Co View

 

Susie (m/v Cabaret) was not about to give up her party planning especially with St. Patrick's Day coming up.  The music was in the true Irish theme and played by Dennis (s/v Annah Foster).  There was a prize for the best costume, which was won by Rose (s/v Sojourn).  There was lots of dancing, singing along, guest entertainment and even the traditional party limbo which was dominated by John (s/v Up Jinks)

 

Singing and playing at the St. Paddy's Day party

 

 

 

 

 

Rose accepts the adoration of Gary after she wins the rum bottle for her rendition of a female cruising leprechaun

 

 

 

 

 

John (s/v Up Jinks) shows winning form in the limbo

 

 

 

 

 

Dave (s/v Cordelia) entertains the group with the song he wrote about "Bonacca Town"

 

 

 

 

 

Judy, Rose and Elda dance it up at the party

 

 

The next day after the St. Paddy's party, we had our first visitors from home to Pioneer.  Deb and Gary, good friends from Ontario were vacationing on Roatan so we arranged to entertain them for a day of fun in Pioneer country.  We visited the Iguana Farm, took a tour of Fantasy Island, did some snorkeling, ate lunch and dinner on Pioneer and attended the 4 pm. happy hour at the cruisers bar.  The weather was perfect with a full moon and pleasantly warm, dry conditions.  We had so much fun giving our friends the royal tour.  Now they both can picture us aboard Pioneer in the alternate lifestyle that we have chosen.

Deb, Gary and Judy getting ready to take the dinghy out to Pioneer

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judy and Gary feed the iguanas while Deb looks on from a respectable distance

 

 

 

 

 

Deb enjoys the dinghy ride as the moon starts to show in the sky

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This site was last updated 03/25/11