We could have easily spent another week or two in Providencia,
but the weather forecast looked good for the 200-mile trip
to our next, much-anticipated destination: The Hobbies archipelago
(also called Cayos Cajones). The Hobbies are a reef system
with a few small islands located east of the Honduras/Nicaragua
border. It's out in the middle of nowhere, just the kind of
place we love, with pristine water and no city lights to obscure
Arriving around 9:00 A.M., we found not a single boat in
the anchorage. We navigated carefully to the "north"
anchorage waypoint and set the hook in a shimmering turquoise
pool behind a wide area of reefs and shoals. Now that we'd
reached Honduras, we were in the Central Time zone, the same
as Texas except no Daylight Savings. Listening to the Northwest
Caribbean Net on the SSB radio, we laughed at the familiar
twangy, southern accents coming across the ionosphere. Yep,
we were getting closer to home.
After a big breakfast, we were ready for a nap. Just as we
were dozing off, we heard an outboard motor and voices calling
out. Wearily we left our comfy bed and went outside to find
two fishermen in a skiff who wanted cigarettes. Before we
left Venezuela, we bought small packs of cheap cigarettes
for trading. A year later we still had them since all the
fishermen we'd encountered wanted nothing less than cold,
hard cash. Our visitors said they had nothing to trade, and
Nick told them we would trade cigarettes for fish and lobster.
So they sped off empty-handed, and we returned to our bunk.
Once again, we were about to doze off when the buzz of an
outboard interrupted our slumber. The nicotine-craving fishermen
were back with a big plastic bag containing two mackerel,
a dozen lobster tails, and several pounds of conch meat. In
exchange, Nick handed over a half dozen packs of the small
Venezuelan cigarettes (depicting disgusting images of black
lungs and rotten teeth, not just a bland surgeon general's
warning). We looked at our purchase with wonder. It was all
frozen. Where on earth was the freezer? We pondered the mystery
and the incredible deal we had just made: all of that seafood
for about $6 US! With the seafood in the freezer (minus two
tails set aside for dinner), we returned to our naps and dreamed
of lobster dripping in garlic butter.
After our first night we decided to relocate to the "south"
anchorage and tuck behind a small island for better protection
for the strong southeast wind. Here we found less fetch but
more swell that rolled the boat from side to side. When a
cup flew out of the cabinet, Nick promptly attached a swell
bridle and peace returned to our home.
From a distance, the tiny island appeared to be the site
of Mayan ruins, but it was considerably less impressive up
close when the ruins turned out to be tall stacks of lobster
traps. Two fellows lived on the island as caretakers. One
morning, Nick noticed one of them walking out on the point
and sitting on a lobster trap. What was he doing? Was that
a magazine he was reading? Hmmm.... Guess the tide provided
A fishing trawler soon arrived and anchored near us. This
made us a bit nervous, but they caused us no trouble other
than pumping noxious diesel fumes into our boat when they
charged their batteries. A few days later, Livin' the Dream
arrived, and Nick now had a spearfishing buddy besides his
hypothermic wife. Every day Nick caught fish and lobster until
we were starting to get tired of it. What a spoiled, rotten
thing to say: "Gee, I've been eating lobster every day
and it's just so same-old, same-old. What I wouldn't give
for a burger." Yes, we do get spoiled out here.
While in the Hobbies, we had our first cold front in two
years, another sign that we were getting closer to home. We
moved back to the north anchorage and found it surprisingly
well-protected. During the night, the wind screamed through
the rigging at 25-30 knots, and, just beyond the reef, the
seas raged at 10-12 feet.
After a week and half, we were ready to move on to Guanaja
in the Bay Islands of Honduras. In the company of S/V Damiana,
we relocated 14 miles west to Caya Caratasca on the northern
end of the Vivirillos archipelago. Someone had told Damiana
that this island had a bird sanctuary, so we thought it would
make a nice staging point before the overnight run to Guanaja.
As we approached the anchorage we said to each other, "we
are so screwed!" A howling 20-25 knot southeast wind
and rolling swell was whipping, unabated around the small
island. Shallow water made it impossible to tuck in and find
protection. We dropped the hook in a 2-3 foot chop with the
boat pitching and rolling. Nick immediately put on a swell
bridle to give us some tolerable level of comfort during the
night. This certainly wasn't the kind of conditions conducive
to a good night's rest before a passage, but the boat stayed
put and we got a few hours of sleep. Later, Damiana,
who had gone south, sent us an e-mail and explained that Caratasca
was not the bird island after all. They had found the birds
on another island farther south. Oh well. No harm, no fowl.
A small island provided some protection from
A beautiful view from our stern.
A long sand spit gives Dakota a place to
Offshore waves crash on the reef and then
become a calm pool on this grassy shoal.