Hawgs & Dawgs; Sailin’ & Sloggin’ Under the Southern Cross!

March 13 and we were anchored at the Vivorillos Bank, tiny spits of sand jewels along a 3 mile long reef off the corner of Honduras & Nicaragua. Sailing here was 150 miles due east into the easterly tradewinds and the route has earned a well deserved reputation as one of the world’s worst.

After waiting for three weeks at Guanaja, the easternmost of the Bay Islands, our weather window produced nothing worse than playing a bit of DodgeSquall at night & otherwise tedium & lots of slogging to weather. We motorsailed all 150 miles, not a bit of “real sailing” or relief from the purring noise of our Nanni Kubota diesel. The last 8 hours, we only made 26 miles, literally beating into 5-6 foot seas to get into the Vivorillos. Tedious, but not scary. Reinforcing why “gentlemen never go to weather”, as the saying goes.

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Strangest place we’ve anchored yet, like in the middle of the ocean and we just pull up into white sand behind a breaking reef and a few tiny sandspit islands and drop the hook.

Our time in the Vivorillos Cays was better than anything we’ve done yet. Grand Vivorillo Cay is the only cay big enough for anything other than the 8 palm trees lining the sand spit where the fisherman have a fish camp. The only other piece of land than sand spits, is the bird rookery mangrove island at the north end of the reef, which supposedly is much like being in the Galapagos, but only birds, no turtles or other wildlife.

Grand Vivorillo Cay

Grand Vivorillo Cay

Bird Cay in the distance with the sandspit that is the Vivorillos Cayes

Bird Cay in the distance with the sandspit that is the Vivorillos Cayes

Anchored with our buddy boats rounding the corner to head to Panama

Anchored with our buddy boats rounding the corner to head to Panama

During our exploration of “bird cay” we were treated to watching a baby booby bird hatch, but less than delighted at the overhead bombardment from hundreds of frigatebirds. After the cow crap episode last spring I’m beginning to wonder if I’m not starting a springtime tradition with different critters – I’d be perfectly happy to forego that tradition! It smells bad!!! I wasn’t the only one so favored though, I think 6 of the 8 of us were treated to the same crap …. so to speak! 🙂 🙂 🙂

Brand new baby booby bird!  Look beneath for the baby emerging from it's shell.

Brand new baby booby bird! Look beneath for the baby emerging from it’s shell.

Bird Cay, up close and personal.

Bird Cay, up close and personal.

Other than that, we spent 5 days, exploring the gorgeous water colors, spearfishing to the point that NO ONE wanted any more fish, all our freezers were full of grouper, lobster, conch, hogfish, snapper, you name it. The best location for spearfishing in the banks was a place nicknamed by cruisers as “Hawgs & Dawgs” — that’s because the largest & easiest to shoot fish were giant hogfish & dog snappers. “Hawgs & Dawgs” also has the biggest fields of staghorn & elkhorn coral that I’ve ever seen anywhere in the world, including Bonaire! I was running out of ways to fix fish for every meal!

Yet another hogfish?  But we're careful to only take what we can eat.

Yet another hogfish? But we’re careful to only take what we can eat.

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Hogfish on the reef

We especially enjoyed our Conch 101 festival … none of us had cooked conch before when sv Bruadair acquired 20 cleaned conch from local fishermen.

David pounded the conch so hard that he broke our fish cleaning board in half!

David pounded the conch so hard that he broke our fish cleaning board in half!

Splitting them up, I made conch salad, Lila made cracked conch & David made conch fritters, which we thoroughly enjoyed & toasted with martinis. We only had one international incident, did you know that in Norway “conch” means bankruptcy!!! Our Norwegian friends on SailAbout were a bit concerned, but we all enjoyed the conch which along with martinis & some rum drinks for those not willing (or smarter) to drink martinis! 🙂

David on the sandspit leading to Bird Cay

David on the sandspit leading to Bird Cay

Squid patrol hovering around our anchor chain

Squid patrol hovering around our anchor chain

UPDATE: just as we were ready to lift anchors a waterspout hit Bruadair (one of our buddyboats)! It directly hit his bowsprit, shearing the boat first hard to starboard & then to port, luckily, their anchor held, but I wasn’t fast enough on the camera to get the million dollar photo! Keep in mind, we were anchored maybe half a football field away & literally had NO wind, Damon on Bruadair reported their wind instruments recorded 35 knots as the top wind in the waterspout. Thank goodness no damage, and glad to report this was not an omen!

Red sky at night the evening before we sailed away from the Vivorillos, Providencia, Colombia bound.

Red sky at night the evening before we sailed away from the Vivorillos, Providencia, Colombia bound.

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