Why Go Cruising? Lucky Enough…

Here’s a post I wrote while were in Bodden Bight, Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras.  It summed up why went cruising and what we love about it…..
Sometimes you’re lucky enough just to sit and watch the world go by.  Two nasty northers (cold fronts), one of which contributed to the total loss on a reef of another cruising sailboat, caused Winterlude to anchor for safety in Bodden Bight, Roatan  home of  the little town of Jonesville.  When forced to slow down and just become a part of the community, life becomes more relaxing.

Jones Bros. store in Jonesville, Roatan. Convenient dinghy dock!

Kids in Jonesville are getting ready to go back to school and reveling in their last few days of freedom.  Only the month is different, in the U.S. school usually starts in August, here on Roatan, it’s late January.    At the busiest store in Jonesville, the Jones Bros. Store,  Miss Jeannie is busy unpacking school supplies.  The two youngest Jones children, ages 2 and 3, tired of pushing boxes, helping unpack toilet paper and Pringles, are sound asleep on the painted concrete floor, heads resting side by side on a burlap bag containing red beans or rice, right in the middle of the cereal aisle! 
Lest you worry about the tykes being asleep on the floor, their older brother, six years old, had just finished mopping it twice, so I’m sure it’s clean!  A tabby kitty rubs against my leg as I’m browsing the fresh veggies  the front and back door are both wide open to allow the seabreeze to waft through.
Miss Jeannie’s store is a real find in cruising land, a place that offers everything from a new butane lighter to light my propane stove to fresh shrimp to an ample selection of groceries to hot fresh baked tortillas with refried beans  oh, and the school supplies!  Plus a welcoming dinghy dock where as long as we shopped at the store, we were welcome to leave the dinghy to explore the rest of the town.  Of course, we asked permission first.

Jonesville’s one street

This afternoon three older boys are fishing off the wooden dock just north of the Jones Bros. Store.  The boys actually have fishing poles, the first we’ve seen kids fishing with poles –  they usually have just a handline to haul in their catch.  These three are too busy playing to actually CATCH a fish, but they cast the rods again & again & again for hours and hours.

Just north of the dock where the boys are fishing, a wooden house sits, on stilts, like all the local houses, jauntily painted bottom half bright blue, top half white with a red metal roof.   An unpainted deck leans out over the water and more boys are enjoying catapulting themselves from the deck railing, splashing into the Bight  swimming ashore, climbing back up & repeating the pleasure.  These boys are a bit younger, maybe 8  10,  than the fishing boys on the next dock south.

Typical Jonesville waterfront real estate

Kids are everywhere –  it seems every kid 10 years or older has a 15 foot fiberglass runabout (flyabout?) with a 15 hp Yamaha outboard or maybe they’re just borrowing the family car!    Other kids are paddling wooden cayucos, splashing, fishing, jumping out, climbing in,  island life goes on. 

Love this sign, in a tiny community with one road, the sign, sponsored by Bimbo bread, says “Drive Slow” … or my translation
“Bimbo, Slow Down”! 🙂

There’s a white two story business on the waterfront, between the Jones Bros store & the shipyard  just inland from the rusty hulk of a sunken boat & a demasted, abandoned sailboat that likely carried cruisers just like us before Hurricane Mitch visited, wiping out parts of Roatan & most of Guanaja in 1998.  

We haven’t figured out what this business does, there’s a small cement mixer, an air compressor, lots of coiled black hoses hanging on the wall and a generator sitting in the front “yard”.  Must be break time: several employees just piled out the side door, using the air compressor to give new life to their well used soccer ball. 

Occasionally a 25′ narrow wooden boat putts by with 4 or 5 tourists aboard taking the mangrove canal tour.  These boats are very distinctive, they look like overgrown canoes, but have inboard Briggs and Stratton engines  and an outside rudder gracing the stern, a tiller with a T bar and a string at the end that the helmsman pulls to turn the boat.  The passengers are sitting single file down inside & the sides are so high that usually only their shoulders & heads are visible.

Three guys in small wooden cayuco (this is the type carved from one tree trunk) paddle by greeting us in English, then resuming their conversation in Spanish  the entire island seems bilingual  even the yellow-headed green parrots!  The Bay Islands native language is English with their British heritage, but now owned by Honduras, most speak both languages.  And sometimes they’re very offended if you speak to them in Spanish, firmly letting you know that they speak a lilting musical style of English – I find it easier to communicate with them in Spanish!   🙂

ICW, Roatan Style

This part of Roatan, the middle, south shore, has its own Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) with the series of mangrove canals connecting Caribe Point Bight, the next one west of Jonesville all the way through to Calabash Bight, past OakRidge & Fiddler’s Point Bight. The controlling depth is 2 feet of murky mangrove water  contrasting from the aqua blue of the bights —  overgrown completely and forming mangrove tunnels only wide enough for one boat!  When two boats converge (somewhat terrifying at the speed the locals fly about in their runabouts), one has to pull over & wait.   The local runabouts are all named, many with an American influence such as “The Fockers” and “Bling Bling” & “Dolphins”.

Garage on ICW on Roatan

Locally gasoline is sold out of an unpainted shed sitting on the end of a rickety dock in front of the “yellow house”.  There is no capability of storing the gasoline in large tanks & then pumping it.  They siphon it into gallon jugs and then into your gas containers so they know how many gallons you’ve gotten.  P.S.  Later, our Honda Generator wouldn’t work … as luck would have it, a cruiser anchored near us was a mechanic … there was water in this gas and it clogged up our carburetor… thank goodness for those that know more than us!

Getting Gas at the Local Bodden Bight Gas Station

Local legend has it that behind where we’re anchored here in Bodden Bight, ringed in bright blue Christmas lights, is the local whorehouse  it’s a bar built over an old blue ferrocement hull sailboat with no rigging  we assume it’s floating, but it could be aground.   The barmaids ply visitors with drinks & ????  the quarterberth & V-berth are supposedly intact in the hull below.    Apparently they were run out of the next community east, OakRidge, because of the decibel levels from wild partying.   Thank goodness the new location hasn’t caught on yet & the visitors & noise levels for now are minimal.     Jonesville is a very conservative 7th Day Adventist community and Miss Jeannie at the aforementioned Jones Bros Store told me “Dat’s a very bad place — very, very bad”. Hopefully Jonesville will be as successful as OakRidge in their quest to drive them away!

BJ’s … is she really the “Crazy Lady on Caroline Street” … another legend?


OakRidge has another resident & businesswomen of relative fame  BJ, who owns & runs BJ’s Internet Café, Bar & Backyard (the restaurant on the dock)  was the real life example for the Jimmy Buffet song which features “the crazy lady on Caroline Street” referencing Key West.  If you get to Bodden Bight, do not miss visiting BJ’s!

Hole In The Wall


We’re not sure that the Hole In The Wall is still open, but “back in the day” Back in Jonesville, we enjoyed the famous steak & lobster all you can eat feast at the Hole In The Wall restaurant, a Roatan institution.  For $15 U.S.  we were “limited” to only THREE lobster tails, all the steak & shrimp we could eat with accompanying garlic mashed potatoes, cole slaw, fresh baked bread, red beans and lemon dessert.

Each evening, noisy parrots and macaws squack combining with dogs barking & roosters crowing to make a cacophony of noise often overshadowed by the waves crashing on the reef just outside the entrance to the Bight.  The other day, an acquaintance asked if he could borrow a tool to adjust the timing belts on a couple of roosters!!!   They don’t seem to realize that all night long is not their correct timing! 
That’s it from Winterlude & Jonesville.  Everyone enjoy their next couple of weeks & we’ll see what adventures we can conjour up for our next installment!

David & Jan, s/v Winterlude
Anchored in Bodden Bight, Roatan, Bay Islands


Speak Your Mind