Passage to Vivorillo Cays Honduras
Steve & Carol
Fri 5 Apr 2019 00:19
For the passage it had been arranged by the Rally organiser Suzanne that we were to be be monitored by the Colombian Guardia National who were going to pass us over to the Honduras coast guard, we were told to transmit AIS if we had it so they could follow our progress - (6 of the 10 boats do).
We all set sail at around 6 am the following morning the 9 rally boats were joined by Respite - an American boat heading the same way as us, Lulu went ahead a couple of hours before as they felt they were a little slower then some of us - maybe a couple of the other slower boats should have done the same thing however it's up to each individual boat when they leave, during this passage we are sailing past Nicaragua and along the Honduras coast which has a reputation as being a bit of a pirate hotspot so we had decided to travel together - after a couple of hours with the faster boats well reefed - we had 2 reefs in the main and about 3 in the genoa, were with 3 other boats and were already 6 miles ahead of the last boat so we decided on the VHF that we would carry on ahead and break into 2 groups (Numa, Canapasia, Schloss Ort and us) - we wanted to catch Lulu so they weren’t by themselves for the most risky area, in the end there were 3 groups, the 4 of us (all with AIS) and Lulu who we caught up with by dark, then 2 medium speed boats (no AIS) and the final 3 (2 have AIS) stayed close together at the back.
Canapasia having a great sail.
We stayed close together in our groups, saw some lights on passage but nothing came directly towards us or passed too close to us, there was a vessel which appeared to be ghosting us for a while both during the night and the second day (could have been fishing boat or coast guard who knows as no AIS. Around 2.30 am I was on watch and heard chatter on ch16 between the 3 last boats - I couldn’t make out what they were saying and wasn’t concerned until one called for any S2R2 boats to write down anything they heard so Steve who had been woken by the chatter sat by the radio inside where reception was a bit better and wrote down what was said - it appears that Quicksilver who was the last boat in the Convoy was being boarded by the Nicaraguan coast Guard (who we had heard also rob boats or people dressed as them ) Honey Ryder and Annalena had been asked to turn around and head back to them and were doing so - we relayed this info to the rest of our group who hadn’t heard it on radio and stood by, we also spoke to Sabrina from Honey Ryder on the SSB as they were a fair way behind and VHF conversation was difficult and probably monitored. here we learned that Chris and Sharon were OK they were having their Zarpe and Passports examined. We thought it very strange that only the last boat was targeted for boarding (in the middle of the night with no moon in pitch dark??) and felt that had it not had the support of the other 2 boats it may have been a different experience for them? Who knows just our speculation!
We left the SSB on for the rest of the night and spoke to Sabrina again who let us know all was well and the 3 boats were all under way again - Quicksilver had sustained some damage when they were boarded and were shaken by the experience.
The rest of the night was uneventful, the following day the wind died so we were sailing slowly with cruising chute and mizzen in the company of Schloss Ort and Lulu, we were 30 miles from the Honduras mainland and 5 miles south of Cayos Cocorocuma when Steve spotted a fast openboat full of people heading straight to Schloss Ort (who were motoring) so called them on the radio to alert them - it however went past them and headed straight toward us so we started the engine, doused the cruising chute in record time and went full throttle ahead - something we never do, the boat headed for our stern full of people wearing life jackets, waving at us and looking somewhat dismayed at our behaviour, it passed our stern a few meters off and carried on towards the Cayos Cocorocumas - no doubt tourist on a trip to the islands - it really needn’t have headed straight for us or passed quite so close though!!
There were then a few rain showers and the wind died completely so we motored for the last couple of hours and arrived at Vivorillo Cays at about 1pm and anchored behind the reef - when we left we weren’t sure we would stop but after discussions on the VHF almost all of us did - only Canapasia chose to keep going to Guanaja another 150 mile - 24 hours away. the slower boats wouldn't make it there in daylight and with strong winds predicted for tomorrow night it made sense to us to stop, stay here for a day and start again on Monday morning.
The islands are deserted apart from Frigate birds, Boobies and flies! There are some coral reefs around the cuts which are good for snorkelling on and I did a bit of boat bottom cleaning for one of the other boats but apart from that we didn’t do much for the 2 days we were there.
The Honduras Coastguard - Armada national turned up and anchored a little way away from us and stayed there until we left, they didn’t try to make contact with us just watched over us, Steve from Wanderlust called them on the VHF and let them know our plans to leave and shortly before we left they upped anchor and headed off in the opposite direction to us.