Monday, January 31, 2011


West End, Roatan & Iguanas

Hummingbird Nest 
Yesterday, Jonesy woke me up with a gentle pat and softly told me that we were heading off to a new spot here on the island of Roatan - Yipppeee! I love spontaneity! He had listened to the morning side band radio cruiser's net and heard that the weather would be great for a day trip and that there were 4 mooring balls available in the Roatan Marine Park at the west end of the island.

So, after a cup of coffee to get the old brain engaged I secured some loose items in the salon area and closed the ports (windows) on the sides of the boat and got ready to sail.

We had a great 3-hour motor-sail and, with the help of friends, managed to pick up a mooring ball (a floating ball at the top of a heavy chain which is secured in the sand with a long (4 foot?) "sand screw". Anchors can destroy the reef environment so the Marine Park has set up these moorings. We paid $100 US for a month on the ball.  We can literally fall off the boat into some of the best scuba diving and snorkeling in the world.

But sometimes being spontaneous has it's drawbacks. We had sent our laundry out and wouldn't be able to take delivery 'cause we had left. Ooops. No biggie, we radio'd a fellow cruiser and asked them to pick up our laundry after it was dropped off at the Cruiser Green - outdoor gathering area in the marina. We'll get it in a few days maybe. Good thing we don't wear much clothing.

So, how about these iguanas? Big enough for you? Do you see the human's foot in the top of the photo? Right there in French Harbor where we were anchored for the past few weeks is Sherman Arch's Iguana Farm.

We took a stroll there and were "greeted" by a mass of hungry monsters. All throughout Central America we have caught quick glimpses of these ancient beasts high up in trees or marching across fields, but never so many in one place! And these guys were not afraid of humans, but were instead coming out to us. That's because part of your entry fee to this area is the chance to feed the iguanas. We were handing out taro leaves and they were munching away on the leaves right out of our hands. Isn't Jonesy brave?

So today we took the dinghy ride over to the West End village which is a funky Scuba Dive town. We checked out the restaurants, paid our mooring fees, got our "Lion Fish Killer" permits, and perused a few little grocery shops. After eating lunch on the boat, Jonesy checked out the internet (which has been down all throughout the islands for a few days and is back up) and I snorkeled with 2 friends from the sailing vessel Interlude for about an hour. Wow! and Double Wow! The fish were amazing! And tomorrow is another day in paradise.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Rainy day ramblings

I am finally making progress again on this Follow the Leader Aran Knitalong sweater although I am still a FLAKer slacker. Yes, it has been languishing for years on the needles, and no, I don't even need it anymore. But I'm determined to finish it for the orphanage in Kazakhstan. Some big kid will get a warm, tightly-knit wool pullover. I make myself work 2 rounds minimum each day. Creeping, creeping along (in Wool of the Andes, by Knit Picks in discontinued color 'rain').

After my brain, and hands get tired from twisting all of the cables on the sweater, I pick up my sock knitting to relax. These are a little pair of baby socks from my trusty Tiny Treasures pattern for the baby house in Kazakhstan. The yarn did all of the color changes for me, I just knit.

Then, because there was a lot of leftover yarn and the group needs another several hundred pairs of socks for the kids next fall, I knit a pair of 7" foot children's socks. These were soon finished, so I dug out a pair of teenager socks that I never finished (because I didn't take enough brown yarn on my trip to the states) and finished them (because I had found the brown yarn on the boat).

These are a wilder version of my Handsome Devil Socks pattern. The slip-stitch patterning makes a nice textured leg and top of foot which should be toasty warm too.

So, we're still in French Harbor/Fantasy Island at anchor in the rain today (yes we have internet on the boat!). Yesterday was sunny & beautiful and we both jumped in the water to cool off and get a tad of exercise. As we were drying off on deck we were lucky enough to see a big rainbow from the reef over the Fantasy Island resort and ending at the top of a jungle covered hill on the island. Picture perfect! I was too busy testing the swing of the hammock to get the camera out so you'll just have to trust me on this one.
Oh! There was other knitting progress made this past couple of weeks - I finally worked the 2nd armhole edging and sewed buttons on my Grass Creek Vest designed by Mabel Corbett. It's knit with pure Shetland wool - you know, from the isle of Shetland as in Scotland.

And I knit a cotton washcloth for a cruiser-friend from the January Dishcloth pattern from the Holiday Mystery Gifts group. The color striping was done for me by the yarn - Sugar'n Creme Striping worsted weight.
There was some "good watching" here in the bay this past week. This is a photo of our friend's boat s.v. Hooligan with a large barge & tug doing a 180 degree turn off their bow. Tim & Paula & dog-crew Nigel were ashore on a walk when this took place so I documented it for them. A brand new dry dock facility complete with 300 TON travel lift just opened up this past few days and this barge was one of it's first customers. I guess having large ships and barges moving throughout the anchorage is going to become the norm here. Of course we've always had the shrimp fishing boats coming and going as seen in this photo (the orange boats are shrimpers). The travel lift though is good news for us boat owners who now have another option for hauling our yachts out if need be.

So, that's been life aboard s.v. Niki Wiki - lots of quiet times, social outings, reading, knitting, cooking, and even a little boat repairs. Jonesy managed to caulk up the leak in the dinghy transom so our floor is now dry! And I smeared silicon caulk around the hard dodger to try and stop the drips that were leaking into our Navigation Station area inside. Well, the drips have slowed - but now it looks like they're coming in from the window. Next sunny day....

Friday, January 21, 2011


Another Opportunity for the captain

Yep. Captain Jonesy has had another "opportunity" to make boat repairs in exotic places. We have been having bizarre problems with our fresh water system. First, the water pressure pump got noisy and air would burst out of the faucets when you turned them on. The pump would also run for long periods of time - a lot, grinding and whirling.

So, Jonesy climbed down into the bilge and replaced the  fresh water pump. This is a tough job because he had to unbolt our reverse-osmosis water maker pump to get access to the water pressure pump. This is also why we always have spares on the boat - ya never know when stuff is going to let go.

We left French Harbor and Fantasy Island and motored just a little over an hour over to a more remote bay here on Roatan island - Jonesville Bight. This settlement is called Jonesville because a lot of the families are named Jones! We anchored in the bay, dropped the dinghy and went to explore.

Check out this bar (and brothel) which is really just an old boat anchored in the middle of the bay! We stopped for lunch at the famous "Hole in the Wall" restaurant on the water which is just that...a scruffy but tropically flavored open air restaurant.

There were plenty of critters about - several dogs and this beautiful Macaw.Because of a past injury to it's wing, it couldn't fly so he was free to roam about. The  boa constrictor on the other hand was an unwelcome visitor. What? Yep, boa constrictors are native to these islands. This one was just a baby and was hiding up in the raftors on top of one of the hanging tee-shirts (I told you it was a funky place - there are tee-shirts nailed to the ceiling). See his little head and body in the gap? I poked him from the bottom of the shirt - what fun!

Well, although Jonesy's replacement of the fresh water pressure pump did get rid of the air in the lines and the pump was running less often, but it still ran a lot. Oh, and the bilge pump which gets rid of water that has accumulated in the lowest part of the boat, kept running too - at least once every couple of hours at first, then a lot more frequently. Crap. And, even though we were making water from sea water, the tanks weren't filling up like they should. Over a period of several days we searched the bilge for water leaks. No sign of water anywhere!! No dripping hoses, pipes, units...nothing.

Finally, we saw the water trickling down - oozing from out of the fiberglass structure of the boat. Yep. some water line inside of the fiberglass was leaking. Great. Jonesy had spare tubing (again, with the spares) and he squirmed around the bilge and installed new lines to bypass the hidden ones. But, there were 4 hidden lines and he only had enough tubing for 2. Well, that DID slow the leak, but it was still flowing pretty good.

Not only were we concerned about the water leakage, but we were also waiting for our mail to be delivered to the island. Important stuff, like our replacement credit cards for the ones that creeps got the number and made fraudulent withdrawals. Oh, and a knitting book and a marine identification book too. So, we hoisted up the anchor and headed back to French Harbor to track down our package and get hoses to try and replace ones on the boat.

Yesterday, we picked up our package that had been held for ransom in customs. Why? Because we had to pay duties and sales tax on the 2 books and on my 4 knitted Christmas Stockings that were being returned to me from Knit Picks! It doesn't matter that I knit them, sent them to the states for the photo shoot, and now they were being returned - I STILL had to declare a value and pay. Also, my "author's free copy" of a knitting book with my patterns was in our mail and same thing, I had to pay duties on it. Geez - what a hassle.

Anyway, today Jonesy tackled the other 2 water lines. You guessed it. The one that was leaking the worst was the last one he replaced - #4. So far it's been several hours and the water pressure pump is quiet - ahhhhhh. Success. In case you're wondering if I helped - yes, I did my part. I stayed out of the way and fed the mechanic whenever he needed it. That's my job (and I knit).

See that black shiny grit in my hand? That's some of the "ash" from the recent volcano eruption in Guatemala! I have a little baggie of the stuff - it's so pretty! Imagine this stuff coming down instead of snow and you've got an idea of what Guatemala City had.

So, we're planning to head to the grocery store tomorrow to restock, then we'll head back out to gunkhole (move along the coast stopping at various "holes" or bays along the way) back up to the eastern part of Roatan island.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Jade Seahorse - Utila Island

Seahorse Utila 030
Seahorse Utila 003Sometimes we come across some real treasures on our travels, both natural and man-made. On the island of Utila, Honduras we discovered a unique little hotel called the Jade Seahorse. I was instantly drawn to this place and felt so at home and inspired that I think I could take up permanent residence.

Seahorse Utila 011Seahorse Utila 002What was so special about this place was all of the handmade mosaic, glass, cement, nautical "found" items, and wood crafts that went into creating a beautiful garden! There are meandering paths, tunnels, patios under the big trees and bridges all covered with mosaic work. Neal, the proprietor and master craftsman behind the project collects the funky artifacts and also makes some of the glass pieces himself. Inside the gift shop are stunning glass items for sale (not for life on a sailboat!). There are several cabins that visitors can rent which are quite decorative. We liked the name of this cabin - "Shagrila".
Seahorse Utila 024
How satisfying it would be to be able to express oneself artistically and at the same time provide an income. I can't imagine that I'd ever be bored - there's always got to be something more to build, add to, or change about the gardens.

So, skip the sterile and stodgy hotels and spend some time in Utila at the Jade Seahorse. It's a place you'll always remember!

Seahorse Utila 027
Neal - Proprietor of Jade Seahorse

Monday, January 10, 2011


Finished Object

It's not always nap time or happy hour! We do actually get things done. Jonesy replaced the fresh water pump yesterday (making boat repairs in exotic places = cruising). I worked a few more rounds on my cabled sweater (FLAK) for the orphanage in Kazakhstan.

And...ta-da...this is a photo of the finished sweater made from the big wad of wool that I won at the Knitting Retreat last fall. The yarn is a thick & thin merino wool that was dyed in 6 individually colored hanks. I had to plan very carefully on how to use the colors and the size (chest = 36") so that I wouldn't run out of yarn! All that is left is a small ball of the darkest yarn. Hmmm...maybe a matching hat?

Thursday, January 06, 2011



Roatan 006On Tuesday we left the island of Utila and motor sailed over here to the big island of Roatan - about a 6 hour trip. We arrived to calls on the radio from our cruising friends who were already anchored here. Then a couple of hours later we had a hearty welcome at the Happy Hour at the Fantasy Island Marina resort. It's so good to meet up with friends again!

Plans were made for a girls snorkeling expedition for the next morning and off we went! Notice the wet suits - the water temps are still a bit chilly. We were out on the reef for about an hour and a half and saw so much! Lots of small fish, giant sea slugs, and unfortunately 3 lion fish. These beautiful fish are non-native and are destroying the other wildlife on the reefs. It's a real problem that the Marine Preserve is working on. We hear that in Florida they are promoting them as food eating - that way folks will actively fish them out and they'll be greatly reduced in numbers!

Roatan 008After all that exercise, it was time for this girl to take a nap in the new hammock! Our old one finally fell to shreds this past summer after many years of service. Jonesy strung up the new one and I was soon swaying on the bow and "just resting my eyes".

Soon enough it was time for Happy Hour again and socializing. We returned to the boat and I cooked up the fabulous wahoo (ono) steaks that we had bought from a fisherman that morning. We like to coat them with cajun/creole seasoning mix and "blacken" them in a pan. As a side dish, I mixed up some instant mashed potatoes with garlic, cream cheese, and parmesan cheese. I made patties and coated them with seasoned cornmeal (the special precooked variety we can buy down here) and fried them in a little oil. Yummy!

We'll be here in French Cay Harbor / Fantasy Island for a least a week, maybe more. Then we're planning to gunkhole along the coast to other bays and cays we haven't visited before.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011


Life in Utila

Niki Wiki Utila Bay Islands
Niki Wiki at Anchor Utila
We've decided to stick around the island of Utila a few more days than planned because we enjoyed it so much. That and another big blow or a norther wind was coming and we felt secure in the anchorage.

Utila 040
Utila main street
We walked the main (paved) road all along the scruffy bayfront full of scuba dive shops. Then explored up the hill into the neighborhoods. There are so many funky little cafes and bars to visit! Some have docks so we can just motor our dinghy right up to their dock. Thus, we can keep an eye on both our big boat out in the bay as well as the dinghy tied up at our feet. This bay has been known among the cruisers as "Burglary Bay" because of all the thefts of dinghy engines and thieves boarding boats while the owners were ashore to take anything of value. But things are supposed to be better now (but we are still super vigilant).

The weather has been very cool - as in temperatures in the low 70's with constant breezes. Jonesy even has worn a sweatshirt and long pants at night! We've found that the cool temps have made it easier to do little boat chores, take long walks, and knit on heavy sweaters.  We still haven't gone swimming yet because the water is only 78 degrees right now. It will climb up to the 80's soon and we'll wait for then. Even the younger crowd is getting chilled on their dives.

002We bought Honduran TIGO internet SIM cards for our USB sticks today so we both have internet service on the boat at anchor! How cool is that? No longer do we have to risk losing our computers to the sea as we carry them in backpacks to shore for internet. But it also means that we'll spend less time on boat chores and knitting on things like these cotton Spa Cloths worked up in Sugar'n Cream yarn. And this little Garter Stitch Baby Blanket and Hat Set for the Holiday Mystery Gifts Yahoo group.Garter Stitch HatSometimes you just need a super easy and quick knit. My problem was finding a model for the hat! So I wandered the streets of Utila and came across this adorable little baby. Photos were taken, and then I left the blanket and hat with the mother. Garter Stitch Blanket She is still probably wondering who was that crazy lady and why did she knit for my baby?

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