We’re in Day #38 of the State of Emergency here on the Honduran Bay Island of Roatan in the Western Caribbean and we’ve been missing sailing our 39 foot Beneteau Oceanis 393! We’ve been stuck in our beautiful, protected marina, locked down by the Stay at Home order that allows us out only 1 day per week for essentials, and we’re really missing being out there on the water, cruising over the waves powered by nothing but the wind and the sun. Being able to cast off the lines or pick up the anchor and just go is one of the most appealing aspects of owning a boat, in many ways it’s why cruisers own boats in the first place.
Being ordered to remain fixed in place is anathema to most folks in the sailing community. Being on lockdown is hard for those of us whose homes float for a whole range of reasons, but simply put, conditions on the sea are highly variable, meaning the anchorage or mooring field that is fine today might become completely untenable if the wind shifts direction or a storm system comes through.
Here on the island of Roatan, it’s quite common for boat owners to move their vessels from the north side of the island to the south side when certain norther storm systems come through. In some places in the other Bay Islands, like Utila, Guanaja, or Cayos Cochinos, there really isn’t any good holding if the normally prevalent easterly trade winds turn to the north. The same is true for all kinds of islands, in the Caribbean and around the world. Sure there might be a couple of decent anchorages, but there are only so many good sandy spots and they’re only good for so long. We’ve all got a clock ticking against us, and we’re not talking about climate change, we’re talking about hurricane season. Oh, goodie!
Hurricane Season in the Caribbean runs from June 1st through November 1st, which means pretty soon a lot of the sailboats stranded in place all over Central America and the Caribbean are going to have to make some tough decisions. Do they stay in place in potentially hazardous conditions that could destroy their boats or do they set sail for safe harbor elsewhere? If they go, what country will even take them?
We’re fairly certain the US would have to take us back if we decided to leave since we’re citizens but a lot of other people in the sailing community aren’t so close to home or might not even be able to sail back home before hurricane season begins. Here on Roatan we’re usually good, last one to hit was Mitch in ‘99 but most other parts of the Caribbean are not quite so lucky. Some seem to get hit every single season. This hurricane season is predicted to be especially gnarly, because that’s just what the world needs right now, natural disasters in resource poor Caribbean nations on top of a global pandemic and an unprecedented worldwide economic implosion.
Hopefully we’ll stay Hurricane-Free as well as Covid-Free on the island of Roatan, and we’ve got our fingers crossed that the national government or SINAGER or whoever is really calling the shots (JOH) will allow all the Bay Islands businesses to reopen so that we can all get back to work doing what we do best. We love sailing. It’s what we do and we miss it like crazy. We're also missing going SCUBA diving and just being in the water all the time.
How about you? What do you miss doing? What's the first thing you're going to do once the stay at home time has passed? Let us know in the comments or on FaceBook or Instagram or whatever you use and most importantly stay safe!