Saturday, February 18, 2012


Changes & Knitters Meet

Life in the trailer park  mooring field here at the West End of Roatan island, Honduras has seen many changes in the last couple of weeks. The weather has finally cleared and we have the expected Caribbean trade winds from the east and clear, sunny days. Cruising yachts have been coming into the marine park and staying for a while before heading out to other destinations. Some folks, like us, just stay. The Roatan Marine Park made us a new "Host Vessel" sign for the boat as they know that we'll do this job for a few months.

We will miss our dear friends Michelle and Vern of the sailing vessel Enchantment who are sailing south to Panama for new adventures. Every crew leaves us with a memory - some more than others. Vern left us with a piece of his shorts attached firmly to the dinghy dock! One night when we were all returning from a group feast at the local rotisserie chicken open-air restaurant, Vern had a "wardrobe malfuntion" when a nail on the edge of the dock snagged his rear end as he (tried to) slide into his dinghy. He ended up in the water instead and with one less pair of shorts. Cruising is detrimental to our clothing. But we think of Vern and Michelle each time we see his rag strips from his shorts waving in the breeze (yes, they are still there.)

Some "cruisers" arrive in much larger vessels than in Cruise Ships! Now that Roatan has become a port-of-call for cruise ships, I had the fun opportunity to to meet up with Joan - a fellow knitter and pattern-tester from our Holiday Mystery Gifts Yahoo group and her husband! Not only did we have a lovely time chatting in the breezes, but Joan also brought me a ball of yarn supplied by Knit Picks for one of my designs (Gems Fair Isle Hat in KP yarn) for their Independent Designer Program.
Knit Picks sent it to Joan who hand-carried it on her cruise to me and that ball of yarn got to visit other exotic ports-of-call before it landed in Roatan (lucky little ball of a pretty blue marine colored Palette fingering yarn). THANK YOU JOAN!

There's been a whole lotta knitting going on these past weeks. I got the urge to make some little toddler vests for the Mittens For Akkol Yahoo group. The blue vests (size 2T) are knit with a sport weight wool donagal tweed. One has a touch of green alpaca yarn and butterflies in a hand-dyed wool, and the other has a heart design done in Jagger Spun 3/8s.

This wild colored vest (size 3T) is knit with some of my leftovers and odd balls of Koigu wools. This yarn is so soft!! Perhaps the little orange heart will remind the kids and their caretakers that we "mamas" who knit for them are also sending our love in every stitch of these warm pieces of clothing.

We "mamas" are currently putting together an eBook of our patterns, adoption stories, and more as a fundraiser for the parent organization the Motherless Child Foundation. That's what I should be working on a lot more, but there are limitations as to how much time I can spend on my computer due to power and internet issues. During the cloudy, stormy days we don't collect as much solar energy so we have to conserve or else run the diesel generator ($).

My HP mini laptop has been acting up a lot lately. It wouldn't start up and we had to mess with the BIOS. Looks like I lost my most recent updates to some documents in all that chaos too. The screen decided to be almost solid and flashing magenta for a few days too. Crud.

See that "stick" in my USB port? That's the modem to receive an internet signal out here on the boat. The signal is provided by the telephone company (TIGO) and we pay in advance by the time period. We usually buy a month for $US 27.

So Jonesy has had another opportunity to make a boat repair in an exotic location - the reverse osmosis watermaker blew a large crack in one of the caps to the membrane unit. How lucky are we that a fellow cruiser had a used replacement part onboard? Sure it was slightly cracked and leaks a little, but Jonesy managed to get the system back up and running. A simple phone call to the manufacturer (Spectra) in the states got us all the technical help we needed and our supply of replacement parts is already on it's way to us here in Roatan.

And along the "friends helping friends" theme, our good friend Cheryl of the sailing vessel Interlude allowed herself to be hoisted up our mast again to retrieve the end of our flag halyard line. So once again we can fly our courtesy country flag on the correct (starboard) side of the boat.

Me? Well, I sewed new shade curtains on bungee cording with clips for the cockpit. This was a chore left undone from my summer boat chore list. Didn't need these in the marina while we had the big canvas covers over the boat and it was too hot to sit in the cockpit. But we need them now, so that chore got completed.
Next, I hand stitched up several places where the zipper thread had rotted out in our plastic rain shields. I am still thankful for the cruiser on s/v Saucy Lady who we met years ago on the Pacific side of Mexico  and suggested I buy and use a "Speedy Stitcher Sewing Awl". This is a must-have tool a sailboat for all sorts of heavy-duty repairs. While I was at it, I knotted several zipper pull lanyards to make pulling the zippers up and down easier. You know I'll always jump at the chance to play with string.

On a windy, squally day this past week, Jonesy spotted a sailboat drifting quickly towards the reef dragging the mooring ball with it. It had broken free and there was nobody aboard! Jonesy put a shout out on the radio for help and quickly jumped in the dinghy. Several other cruisers followed suit and gathered at the wandering boat to try and push it away from the reef but the wind was too strong. A couple of folks climbed aboard and within just a few tense minutes managed to start the engine. It was a close call - the sailboat was within 15 feet of running aground on the reef. They took the boat over to a safe sandy patch and dropped the anchor (there are no mooring balls available as the marine park has been full to capacity).

The owners were shocked when they returned and very thankful to have had their sailboat rescued. They actually dinghy'd around to every boat involved in the rescue and personally thanked them. This particular mooring that broke was unusual in that it was a concrete encased engine block wrapped in chain and much older and of different design than the rest of the moorings out here. All the others are set with 6 foot sand screws deep in the seabed. Anyway, this beautiful boat has lived to sail away on more adventures.

I went night snorkeling too! What a hoot!! I went out with a group of friends who loaned me an underwater flashlight and we snorkeled the reef right behind our boats. We saw many lobsters, swarms of tiny shrimp (?) and many Tiger Tail eels out feeding. We even spotted a Parrot fish sleeping - he never budged. The biggest treat was that a very large (4 feet body plus a 6 foot stinger) Spotted Eagle Ray swam slowly within a few feet of us. This was exciting but a little scary at the same time.

OK - the battery on my computer is running low and Jonesy wants to head over to "town" now so I'll end this rambling post. All's well that ends well...

Friday, February 03, 2012



At last! I'm released from my vows of secrecy and can reveal this new design. SEA CRUISE SOCKS are the February/March 2012 featured sock pattern for the Six Sox Knitalong Yahoo group.

Inspired by the fishermen Gansey sweater patterning these socks have anchors and rope cables running down the leg and tiny sailboats on the foot. No, you can't have the photo sample pair as it has already been promised to a fellow sailing cruiser.

I've now started writing my sock patterns up in 4 sizes:
1) Child Large/Women's Small
2) Women's Medium
3) Women's Large/Men's Medium
4) Men's Large

For these Sea Cruise Socks, that meant that I had to chart and write out the line-by-line instructions for EACH of these four sizes - whew! Thank goodness for the team of eagle-eyed test knitters.

Naturally, I've been out snorkeling the reef a lot lately. The first day in the water I thought it would be wise to simply do a couple of laps swimming around the boat as I checked the screws in the sand for our mooring ball. Good idea. I got 3 leg cramps in just 2 laps! My muscles were screaming from lack of use over the long  summer of no real swimming.

But now these legs have remembered what they are supposed to do and I've been out bobbing along the beautiful reef. My goal this year is to see a seahorse. So I've been just hovering over the coral heads and studying what is going on a foot or 2 below me. The weather is still a little unsettled and one time a big squall came through when I was snorkeling. The rain crashed into the sea and winds were clocked up to 35 knots! On the surface, I couldn't see more than 5 feet in any direction. That meant that Jonesy (who always watches me from the boat) couldn't see me. For about 2 seconds it was terrifying, but when I put my face mask back down in the water - well, life was calm and normal down there. No currents, no lack of visibility and the reef creatures were going about their normal business. So I just did the same.

Here are some of the fish I've seen:

Hogfish and Groupers (yummy! but protected in this Marine Park)
Many kinds of funny looking Trunkfish interacting with each other
Queen and Spotlight Parrotfish
Long, upside down Pipefish
Foureye Butterflyfish
Banded Butterflyfish
Houndfish up near the surface
Caribbean Squid (so cute!)
Southern Stingray with a Shark Sucker
I swam with a school of Doctorfish and Blue Tangs, and watched while bigger fish were cleaned by smaller fish at "cleaning stations". But still not a single seahorse...yet. No worries, there are many more opportunities in the coming months and like knitting, I simply enjoy the process.

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