Providencia and Roatan
December 14th and were ready to leave Panama. One last trip to Colon for provisioning, a delivery of spirits from the free trade zone, a final farewell party at the marina bar and we are off.
Traveling with friends John and Deb aboard Orion 1, we headed for the island of Providencia. John took this short video of us shortly after leaving Panama. https://youtu.be/L8RKP3zhfZ0. Providencia is part of the Republic of Colombia located approximately 300 miles from Panama. We planned two nights for the passage, but due to the very favourable winds, by eight o’clock on the second night we made landfall and were faced with a night entry into the anchorage, not something either of us wanted to do but the alternative was a rough night in 35 knot winds outside the harbour, fortunately the approach channel was well marked and we anchored without incident.
Providencia is a mountainous island midway between Costa Rica and Jamaica. The pirate Henry Morgan used Providencia as a base for raiding the Spanish empire, and rumours suggest that much of his treasure remains hidden on the island, sadly we did not find any! Forts and cannons dating back hundreds of years can be found scattered all over the smaller sister Santa Catalina Island. The island is highly dependent on tourism but is very laid back with friendly people. The main means of transportation is scooter, bike or golf cart. It was here we spent Christmas waiting for a weather window North to the Cayman Islands but after two weeks with no change in the weather pattern we changed destination and set our sights on the island of Roatan in Honduras.
On Jan 2, 2017 after celebrating New Years with two Swedish couples we had befriended anchored in the harbour, we weighed anchor and set sail for Roatan. We planned for a two night trip to cover the 300 miles but in the end it took 4 nights. Last minute reports from various sailing sites told of pirates operating near the route we had planned so we changed plans and stayed 20 miles from the area adding an extra 6 hours to the trip. We sailed the area at night without the use of lights or the AIS transponder, however,. the major delay was due to transmission problems aboard Orion 1 with its complete failure occurring about 120 miles from out destination. The wind dropped and without the use of the engine we spent two days making at best 3 knots.
We radioed ahead to Fantasy Island Marina as we neared Roatan requesting help to bring the powerless boat safely into the marina. As we approached the channel leading to the marina three dinghys from the marina were there to help. Two tied to Orion 1 and the other guided Genesis. Within a half hour Orion 1 was safely tied to the dock. It only took a few minutes to learn our escort was from New Perlican in Newfoundland the very community where three women had gracefully given us ten pound of cod fillet last summer. Later as everyone involved in the rescue were sitting around the dock having a beer John noticed a monkey leaping from his boat with something in its claws and went to investigate. After a quick look in the galley he returned on deck yelling that the monkey had stolen his nuts!! Everyone had a good laugh including the monkey now perched in a nearby tree pitching peanuts at us.. A few days later they raided our boat when we were away and stole bananas and Mary’s cookies.This would not be our last encounter with the little devils.
The island of Roatan is located 30 miles off the north coast of Honduras atop the worlds second largest coral reef. The reef attracts many fish, and is world known for its excellent scuba diving. Roatan is the largest of the Bay Islands at about 77 kilometres (48 mi) long, and 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) at its widest. The island has a number of beautiful beaches, all of which are public. It was originally an English colony but later ceded to Honduras resulting in a mixture of English and Spanish speaking natives, many speaking both languages. It is here we would spend the next month waiting on parts all of which were subject to import duties of 30 to 45 percent making it a very expensive place to do repairs.
The resort, that the marina is a part of, was very obliging to us giving us the use of the beach, bar, restaurant and Wifi. We rented a car for the month and explored every part of the island enjoying the local beer and cuisine at its many bars and restaurants. The dock masters Steve and Debbie hosted a little bar at the marina that was the site of many very enjoyable functions including movies, potlucks, BBQ nights, ladies night and many more activities. As in Panama we made many friends that we are sad to say goodbye to.
By Feb 10 all the repairs were complete and we waited for a weather window to our next destination Isla Mujeres Mexico.