Expedition Around North America
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Colon (Panama) - Roatan (Honduras)
(January, 15 to 27, 2009 )
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Leg 15
Colon (Panama) - Roatan (Honduras)
(January, 15 to 27, 2009 )

January 27, 2009 (time onboard = UTC - 5)
Coxen’s Hole, Roatan, Honduras
16°18’N – 086°32’W
20H30 local time

After a dark night without traffic, the sun raises on a heavy sea. The wind is light, we are rolling a lot till the moment we reach the South of Guanaja Island who protects the basin from the swell. Then we can have some speed again, sails are not flapping so much.
In the middle of the afternoon, we can see houses and the intense green of the vegetation. We arrive next to “Banco Smith” just before the sunset. This reef marks the entrance of Coxen’s Hole, the main village of the island where we will clear in with customs and immigration. We approach the village in calm waters and go on the west side of the islet “Big Cay” where we cast anchor. It’s 6 PM, the birds songs fulfil the atmosphere of the village. We are in Roatan, end of the 15th leg of the expedition.
The GPS indicates 15233 Nautical miles since departure.

Was onboard for this leg, from left to right : Pierre-Charles Gueroult (France), Vincent Berthet (France), Randy Falkner (Canada), Olivier Pitras (France), Lee Wolf (Canada), Marie-Rose Lefevre (France), Laurent Ceresoli (France).


Crew Colon - Roatan _ Vincent Berthet

Crew Colon - Roatan
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
January 24 -25, 2009 (time onboard = UTC - 5)
Cayos Vivorillo, Honduras
15°50’N – 083°18’W
18h30 local time

We set sails as soon as possible to enjoy this beautiful day. We clear the reef and point to the North-West towards “Cayos Vivorillo” 25 nautical miles away. The gentle breeze push us to destination.
Before noon, one island is in sight, then breakers appear everywhere while we’re approaching. It looks like a good shelter. In fact there are in total three islets. Four fishing boats are at the anchor. Their drag net are hanging on both side giving them looking as cormorants. We choose a place where there is sand, next to the breakers in three meters. A nice place to discover the reef.
In the afternoon a party goes to dive and comes back enthusiastic about the reef.
Tomorrow Sunday, we will film what’s going on down there and will leave for Roatan on Monday.


Island _ Photo Pierre Charles Gueroult

Island
Photo Pierre Charles Gueroult
(Click to enlarge)

 

Fishermen from Honduras _ Photo Pierre Charles Gueroult
Fishermen from Honduras
Photo Pierre Charles Gueroult
(Click to enlarge)


Coral Watching - Vincent Berthet
Coral Watching
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)

January 23, 2009 (time onboard = UTC - 5)
“Cabo Falso” reef, Honduras
15°30’N – 083°03’W
22h40 local time

When we wake up, the wind blows from the North-East again. We can hit the road, Jack !!. This change in the direction of the trade wind was connected with the huge low pressure system building on the East coast, off shore Novia Scottia. A monster that size could hit the Europe with violence.
We set our course to the North-West toward another reef. The sea is big, wind still strong, we are going fast. At noon, breakers everywhere in front of us indicate clearly the reef. We approach carefully, water is not so clear. While on the lee, we decide the shelter is good enough for the night. Once more, we cast anchor in the middle of nowhere. Only breakers and a mast of a wreck give us marks, no Islets, no wildlife.
We will finish to cross the continental shelf that way, navigating with the daylight only. In the afternoon, every one
keeps busy with his or her own job. When the sun sets, the whole crew gather with pleasure to share the dinner.


Intervention into the hold _ Vincent Berthet

Intervention into the hold
Photo Vincent Bertet
(Click to enlarge)
January 22, 2009 (time onboard = UTC - 5)
“Media Luna” reef, Honduras
15°10’N – 082°39’W
22h20 local time

The weather is not an invitation to sail this morning. The wind is still strong, the sky is heavy. We will spend one day more in here. It’s ideal to do couple of technical maintenance, logistic and bureaucracy job.
Tomorrow the wind should come back to the north east.


Anchorage in the middle of nowhere - Lee Wolff

Anchorage in the middle of nowhere
Photo Lee Wolff
(Click to enlarge)
January 21, 2009 (time onboard = UTC - 5)
“Media Luna” reef, Honduras
15°10’N – 082°39’W
22h30 local time

It was strange to spent a night at the anchor with the feeling we were navigating. Well, we had a good sleep and are ready to approach the reef. Three Islets are in sight, soon we can see a fourth one, which not appears on the chart. Breakers, everywhere in the North indicates the presence of the reef. We enter a small “bay” and seek shelter behind a coral zone just awash. The rest of the reef is under one, two may be three meters of water and does not stop the chop. Scattered patches now and then give the landscape the fool nuance of turquoises colours. Our anchorage is safe, wild and remote but safe.
Just after noon, a dark wall of clouds appears at the horizon. Soon, huge black clouds roll and break above us bringing a powerful wind. Predictions of the weather forecast are confirmed, we are in a gale of North North West. The boat is fitted with heavy weather procedures. When the night come, we can have a beautiful evening while the wind is whistling in the rigging.


Sunset - Vincent Berthet

Sunset
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
January 20, 2009 (time onboard = UTC - 5)
South « Arrecife de la Média Luna », Honduras
15°03’N – 82°37’W
23h15 local time

The wind turns North making our route longer. While entering on to the continental shelf, the swell is calming down but a nasty chop persists, we are going slowly. It sure now, we will not make it before the night. Then we keep going to the West North-West towards the “Edinburgh reef”. We tack just before the night towards the “Alagardo reef” trying to go as far as we can under the “Savannah reef”.
The night is dark. Soundings are not exactly those expected, then we cast anchor in the middle of nowhere, off shore, in 16 meters of water, waiting for the light.


Mascot - Vincent Berthet

Mascot
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
January 19, 2009 (time onboard = UTC - 5)
South West of “Banco Quitasueno”
13°53’N – 081°50’W
22h30 local time

It’s already late when we leave. The wind is strong. We establish a very small set of sails and start our route against the wind. Two hours later, the sun sets. The sea is choppy, “Southern Star” has a hard time going in to waves. Couple of squalls are passing by but fortunately with no power. Our route in deep sea gets smaller and smaller. We will soon enter on to the continental shelf, which is 20 meters deep in average.
It will be tomorrow with the daylight.


Sailing - Vincent Berthet

Sailing
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
January 18, 2009 (time onboard = UTC - 5)
South West of “Banco Quitasueno”
13°53’N – 081°50’W
23h30 local time

The sun rises on the huge reef who protects us. Its ascension reveals all turquoises coloration of sand banks. We move further in for a better protection under the coral barrier.
This anchorage incites us to relax and take a day off. The permanent team is pleased with that because it will be the first one since months. That is a nice way to celebrate the eighth month of the expedition.


Providencia reef - Vincent Berthet

Providencia reef
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
January 17, 2009 (time onboard = UTC - 5)
Reef north of “Providencia” Island
13°30’N – 81°21’W
23h55 local time

Sailing close the South West point of “San Andres” Island permits us to check our GPS and chart. Everything seems OK. The swell calm down. We peacefully sail on the lee of the Island when a violent squall comes. It was impossible to see it in this darkness. We rush to reduce sails, the wind is strong and makes the manoeuvre difficult under a heavy rain. So far, showers were not so strong. Now we know. Couple of minutes later, we enjoy the rain who gives us a nice refreshment.
In the morning a zone of shallow waters, incite us to tack. The sea is beautiful, the current favourable, we are quite satisfied with our actual fate. At noon, “Providencia” Island is visible on the horizon but we have to sail another 12 hours to reach the north part of the reef. The night is dark when we arrive. We cast anchor when we find protected waters without penetrating too far in the reef. We will see that tomorrow with the sunlight.


Reaching Providencia  - Vincent Berthet

Reaching Providencia
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
January 16, 2009 (time onboard = UTC - 5)
South “San Andres” Island, off shore coasts of Nicaragua. 12°23’N – 81°41’W
22h15 local time

At Dawn, we’re already off shore Costa Rican waters. The sky is grey and protects us from the bait of the sun. A bit after noon, we enter in to Nicaraguaian waters. Our route leads us towards the group of reefs and Islands who lays off shore that coast. For now, we are heading wind and we will see where it brings us. We don’t see any life, what a difference with the Pacific !! .
Just before dusk, it becomes evident we will sail on the windward of “Cayos Albuquerque” and South of “San Andres” Island. Not long after the sunset, we can already see the glow of the island. Since Colon, we did not see any traffic.


Staysail and yankee - Vincent Berthet

Staysail and yankee
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
January 15, 2009 (time onboard = UTC - 5)
Panamanian Coasts
09°50’N – 080°18’W
22h05 local time

It is 4 PM and we are ready to leave. We sail alongside the west jetty. Numerous cargo ships are at the anchor waiting for the transit. Soon, we feel the swell telling us stories from off shore. We are encountering head winds, fairly strong, up to 25 knots, stronger under the showers, but we are going on well and we are comfortable under reduced sails.
The night is coming and the glow of Cristobal Harbor behind is the only thing which connect us to the the coast.


Leaving Colon - Vincent Berthet

Leaving Colon
Photo Vincent Berthet
(Click to enlarge)
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