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