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Captain Log ID: 945
Title: Occurence Report
Boat Name(Id): Sea Sprite ( 2454)
Sailor Name(Id): Hans-Martin Fruergaard ( 6446)
Geo Region: Belize
Date of Occurance: 2007-06-09
Latitude: N 17º   28.32'
Longitude: W 88º   14.88'
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Earlier log from "Sea Sprite":  
Newer log from "Sea Sprite":  988
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Here comes a short report of our travel experiences since we left Cartagena 18 January 2007.

After a night stop in Rosario Islands 30 NM south of Cartagena we continued with an early morning departure (0600, 19 January 2007) the cruise to San Blas, Panama 200 NM SW of Cartagena. The crew was H-M, Carmen, David, Kenneth and Jens-Mikael and Magnus (visiting crew members from Copenhagen). The crossing was quite tuff due to unexpected strong wind and wave height (4-5 meters) and of course Carmen was sea sick most of the cruise. Arrived Barbeque Island in San Blas 29 hours later all of us very tired and exhausted.

We spend some nice and peaceful days in San Blas archipelagos visiting Nargana, Porvenir, Nalia, Nonomulu and Isla Carti. Had some minor technical problems with Sea Sprite like dirty fuel filter, starter motor electrical connection and of course the lack of an anchor chain which resulted in a dragging Sea Sprite at 0300 in the morning and a very close bypass to an anchored American Yacht (where forced to used conventional anchor rope, very well handled with the strong arm forces of Jens-Mikael alone). No damages happened but after 4 times exercises trying to reset the anchor we finally left the place for a more secure bay 4 NM south of Porvenir Island. I can assure you Jens-Mikael learned to understand the work behind pulling up a 60 KG CQR anchor 4 times during 30 Minutes.

Our Danish crews left us in Isla Carti for their own expeditions around Panama and the return flight to Copenhagen. The rest of us continued for a 10 hours cruise to Isla Grande and next day further to Portobelo for maintenance and a new anchor chain. The stay in Portobelo became much longer than planned due to the repairs and in the meantime we made some expeditions to Colon and Panama City.

Finally the 25 February was all ready for next crusade, Colon 20 NM west of Portobelo (good for taxfree shopping), Rio Chagres 12 NM west of Colon with the 3 first locks into the Panama Canal and the river itself was full of big crocodiles swimming around Sea Sprite. So the time for a dingy ride has to be planned during day time avoiding the creatures bides.

After Rio Chagres was next step Bluefields and Bocas del Toro 136 NM west of Rio Chagres. Bocas del Toro are build like Venice, houses on poles and a lot of Islands to cruise between. We where forced to stay a bit longer than planned due to no water available because lack of rain into the water containers in the whole town and of course the marina where we had docked.

With full water tanks we finally left Bocas del Toro and next stop was Puerto Limon in Costa Rica where we anchored Friday April 13… All is fine except Kenneth who got an infection in the mouth (baby behavior, what ever he see end up in his mouth). Puerto Limon was not a place for visiting yachts, rolling waves and noisy tug boats was disturbing the night sleep and we decided to shorten the stay for an earlier arrival to next country, Nicaragua.

>p> We have now been cruising in Nicaragua since 18 April and spend a wonderful time here in this poor country. Yes the majority of the people are very poor, but also proud and extreme friendly and open minded toward the few tourists they meet. Can you believe I have not seen or met an other yacht or sailboat since Bocas del Toro Marina and that makes Sea Sprite to the sensation or locals meeting point of the day in every harbor we have been arriving to. Of course we have to answer a lot of questions and many of them are of same nature most of the time, but as said before they are all friendly asked and also requires a well-mannered answer.

A small example on what the people perform to assist us happened in Bluefields Harbor. We had asked for the possibilities of water and diesel supply at our docking position and the answer was positive they will make necessary arrangements strait away. The result was two men coming with diesel drums, a piece of a 1 ½ inch hose and a 5 gallon bucket. One of the men then started suction the diesel from the drum into the bucket for further suction into the tanks of Sea Sprite (100 Gallon all together). I asked the man if he liked the taste of diesel and he answered “I hate it, but what to do for a way of living”.

The next was the water supply; very simple they had called the fire brigade who came with an old fashion fire truck and managed to fill our water tanks and also clean up the mess on the deck after the diesel refilling (spilling) procedure.

At April 23 we left the mainland of Nicaragua and are now anchoring at Corn Island, again Sea Sprite is the only private yacht, a small Island group with 7000 inhabitants. The majority lives by fishing Shrimps, Lobster and Red Snappers. There are also some few foreign tourists arriving by plane from Managua which create some kind of income for the local population.

The reason why we left the mainland is because of lack of VISA for Carmen (Colombian need a VISA on almost all countries in N, C & S America) we faked the lack of VISA by referring to the sickness of Kenneth, but the emigration officer was very bureaucratic and refused to let Carmen stay in Bluefield for more than 5 days. We then decided to sail to San Andres, a Colombian Islands Group 120 NM east of Nicaragua, and during the way, 40 NM east of the mainland, we passed Corn Island where we now intend to stay for another 5 days before continuing to San Andres.

Any how we will for sure return to Nicaragua on another occasion and then have the formalities correctly organized for Carmen’s arrival. Some times it is annoying with all these VISA formalities which have to be cleared in advance.

Kenneth are fully healed again and both children love spending the day on one of this beautiful beaches around our anchoring position. The water is extreme clear and there are plenty of coral reefs to explore in close dingy range from Sea Sprites. The weather and water temperature is very nice and I am sure I don’t have to specify the climate conditions for you… you already know what I have in mind (air and water 30 C).

For the time being I don’t know if there is an internet café in Corn Island from where to mail you this letter, but if none found I for sure will mail this in San Andres instead. Our plans are to stay in San Andres & Providencia Islands during whole Month of May and there after will we continue to Bay Islands in Honduras. In Honduras we also have to visit the Capital, Tegucigalpa, to apply for Carmen’s VISA into Guatemala and Rio Dulce. We will hide Sea Sprite 30 NM west of the entry to River Dulce during the Hurricane season between July and October. This is not so bad since we instead then have the opportunity to explore the Maya Indians Culture and the country side of Guatemala.

Back to our experiences as a live aboard cruising family…

The 2nd of May we left Corn Island in Nicaragua for a 15 hours planned cruise to San Andres 92 NM east of Corn Island. There you see I managed to obtain a new permission by the Immigration in Corn Island to stay in Nicaragua for 2 more weeks; not bad by a virtually old man or what do you say?

The 15 hours cruise to San Andres became 20 hours motor sailing in 2-3 meters waves and 15 KTS wind on the bow; did I ever tell you that “WE LIKE TO SAIL WITHOUT THE ENGINE RUNNING IN THE BACKGROUND”. Some surprises showed up during the cruise like temporary high engine temperature (water pump fan belt adjustment) required me to make a visit to the engine compartment, with Sea Sprite rolling and drifting along the waves, and Carmen to hand me the tools. Sea water intake became late on contaminated and a second visit to the engine compartment was required to clean out the dirt from the sea intake filter. Don’t worry it was generally not so bad a voyage, as you might imagine from above, it’s just some times a mess to perform repairs in open sea. This time it was all simple items to correct, but as said before, when sailing long distance you have to be your own plumber, carpenter, engine technician, plastic repair expert, rigs and sail expert etc. etc…

The 2 first night anchored we outside the Yacht Club in San Andres, but found this facility a little bit borrowing and therefore moved Sea Sprite to Nene’s Marina, a few blocks south of the Yacht Club, where people around us are more naturally help some. For the first time in 2 Months can we again enjoy the view of other sailboats around us (only 5).

Our first goal in San Andres was to visit the Consulate of Honduras to obtain a Visa for Carmen. To our surprise the Consul denied issue any Visa due to Carmen’s lack of an USA Visa. Whatever both Visa’s have in common was difficult for the Consul to explain for us and in anger we decided to leave him and instead on a later occasion ask other Honduran Diplomats for an explanation of this strange Visa requirements. Personally I think that the Consular in San Andres was lazy and didn’t want to make the paper work required and therefore just waved us away with a stupid explanation. Through internet we contacted an agency in one of the Bay Islands in Honduras and he guarantied there won’t be any problem for Carmen obtain the Visa after our arrival at Bay Islands. The agency will organize all paper work necessary the same day of our arrival. Time will show if he is right; if not then again I will use my personal charm at the Immigration office.

We have explored the most of San Andres during our stay here and the city are divided into 2 parts; the fancy tax-free but expensive shopping area quarters, with hotels, beaches, restaurants and night life for the tourists and the normal quarters for the local peoples doing and living. We are docking between these two quarters and have therefore plenty of opportunity to visit both areas and find that some days is it better to visit the tourist area and other days nice to go to the cheaper normal quarters instead. We find that the activities offered tourists here in San Andres are very similar to what is being offered in Cartagena.

The Internet Service is a very, very slow and time consuming experience and that is the reason for not being online for our chat activities. I will check the possibilities to attach a few pictures on this email before we leave San Andres at the end of this week.

Our cruising plan has changed a little bit due to the Visa issue problem for Carmen. We now intend to sail direct to Bay Islands in Honduras, 400 NM NW of San Andres, and make two anchoring stops en route on reef islands in Nicaragua and Honduras 130 NM and 110 NM apart. I prefer to leave an anchorage at the late afternoon, cruise during darkness to avoid the strong sun light (on my closed to perfect looking body) and arrive at next anchorage during the morning light before noon.

Then after 1-2 weeks in Honduras we will sail direct to Belize City, 160 NM WNW of Bay Islands, to organize the Visa’s for Guatemala, Mexico and USA. Afterward we intend to sail around in the archipelago of Belize before going south to Rio Dulce in Guatemala. I still expect to arrive Rio Dulce during the first week of July and we will stay there until the end of October.

We left San Andres in the afternoon at 16 May for a comfortable 120 NM cruise to Miskito Cay in Northern Nicaragua. There you see back again to wonderful Nicaragua and again without a Visa for Carmen; the Naval and Port Authorities just didn’t care about that lack of stamp in the passport and instead asked us to pass by the Port Office to pay the official fees (15 USD) if staying longer than 3 days. After 2 days resting without leaving Sea Sprite (was lazy, to much work to prepare the dingy), the area didn’t look so interesting to explore, surrounded by very low water level and typical Mangrove covered shore lines; this combination guarantee a lot of mosquitoes just looking to attack us and such out our valuable blood.

The next cruise was from Miskito Cay to Guanaja Isla in Honduras 260 NM; I found this Island to be more geographical convenient than our first thought, Isla Roatan, which is positioned 310 NM from Miskito Cay. So again at noon the 19 of May we started the trip with all 4 sails set (Jib, Stay, Main & Mizzen) due to a favorable wind from East. Unfortunately this wind changed direction 3 hours later, so the engine has to be started for motor sailing and this became the sailing condition for the next 41 hours. Wind almost constantly ahead all the time, also after I changed the course according the sailing plan with up to 60 degrees, the wind just insisted to stay ahead of us for the reminder of the cruise. Any how one good thing happened; there was not more than 1-1.5 M wave height, so Carmen had a comfortable rest as long as the children allowed it. We have bought a small transportable DVD player, so the children can watch “Barney” and similar children programs on the screen and by this way give us some hard needed breathing room.

At 1000 o’clock Monday 21 May entered we the harbor of Guanaja and again the typical non-visa problems started. The permission promised us by email from Roatan was not valid in Guanaja so after 2 hours negotiation and 1 hours interview of Carmen the Immigration Officer gave us 5 days entry permission for Carmen, but without any official entry/exit stamps in her passport. Never mind we decided, or had to accept, to stay in Guanaja until Saturday and wait with further adventures in Honduras until we might return on a later occasion.

Guanaja was interesting due to no road constructions done on the whole Island. All transportation was performed by water taxis or private owned water vessels. This mean that all houses build on the Island has to be located close to the beach or shore line. The only town for shopping and other city activities was located on an own little Island and contained the only asphalted street in Guanaja, a walking street along the major shopping area. We where during the whole stay docked along a private slip on the City Island, but found after a while that the cockroaches’ where to many and danger’s to close to Sea Sprite so we decided to leave the Island before Saturday morning.

At 0800 o’clock Friday 26 May we continued our crusade to Belize 160 NM from Guanaja. Can you believe under what conditions… Again MOTORSAILING all the 25 hours to the City Harbor, located 5 Miles south of Belize City. The trip was elsewhere OK with a few rain showers / thunderstorms during the way. Most of the weather was located off track and was easy to plan around due to the radar picture and the Moon Light from above.

The Marina is OK, they have an excellent Restaurant and Bar, a private Beach, 24 hours security guard and safe docking facilities. The only thing to complain about is the 25 $BZ (13 USD) taxi ride to the shopping areas in the City. You know I have a wife who always forgets what else she should have bought from the City!!!

On Saturday will we make some cultural “Maya” expeditions, especially Carmen has insisted on this touring and Saturday seems to be a good day for this trip. Personally I find that Guatemala and Mexico can better show up with the more impressive Maya Constructions and interesting sights, which means we defiantly also, will make some expeditions into this field in Guatemala and if time permits, also in Mexico.

The Visa business are now improving, yesterday we organized Carmen’s Visa for Guatemala (one hours paperwork only) and on Monday we travel by buss to Belmopan to have the family interview with the Embassy of USA on Tuesday. We intend to wait with the Mexican Embassy until we return to Belize in November and just want to assure the American Visa in advance. The American approval seems to shorten the Visa procedures for other countries in the Caribbean area.

Hope you now have the right kind of weather to become busy in the outdoor activities, I am sure you already know how the weather & water temperature is around us here in Belize….

We are all in good habit, healthy and in excellent shape and defiantly enjoy this wonderful way of living (might it never take an end).

The Crew of Sea Sprite