Wednesday, February 6, 2013


The dinghy of our friends on Beez Neez hangs lifeless after being intentionally punctured and slashed by an unknown vandal.

      First, the good news. Espiritu enjoyed an uneventful one night passage from Roatan, Honduras to Belize, and is now anchored happily at Placencia, Belize. For the first time in many, many passages, there was not a single storm or engine failure. What a blessed relief.

 Honduras, statistically speaking, is one of the most dangerous countries on the planet. They have the highest murder rate in the world. Higher than Somalia, people. While most of that murdering happens on the Honduran mainland and is drug related, the island of Roatan is not an unviolent place.

 During our two months there, we heard stories. Like the one from our friend Al, an American expat with a beautiful waterfront home in Sandy Bay. When he had us over for dinner, he took us on a tour of the grounds. Pointing to his neighbor's high end home, he shared in passing:

"Yeah. He was murdered last night. They slashed his throat."

Sure enough, there was police tape around the area and a policeman guarded the area to prevent the evidence from being tampered with.

We were stunned at his lazze-fare reporting of this news. Just another day in Honduras.

 Mike and his pregnant wife Lilo, the owners of the Brooksy Point Yacht Club where we stayed in Roatan, live on the grounds in a lovely yellow house with their 3 children, Jean Pierre, Stephanie and Maria.

Maria and me. She speaks English and French, but Spanish is her native tongue.

Mike's house and grounds are surrounded by a high fence, but he's also got 12 German Shepherds roaming and protecting the property. TWELVE.

One of the 12 German Shepherds that guard Brooksy Point. The heart shaped water bowl is a nice touch. :-)

      So, security is a big thing here, clearly.

    Our friends aboard Beez Neez awoke one morning to find their inflatable dinghy slashed and partially sunken. No explanation was ever found.

     I thought I would wait until we've safely left Honduran waters before I shared the following story.

While in French Harbor, Roatan (Honduras) Espiritu was boarded one morning at 4AM.

   This is basically every cruisers worst nightmare, I think -- or anyway, it's right up there with storms, broken impellers and empty margarita pitchers.

  So, here's how it went down: We were sleeping soundly in the v-berth, when I heard Chris suddenly rouse and then sit perfectly still, like a hound, seeking and listening for it's prey. Then he yelled:

GET OFF THIS BOAT!!!!!!!!!!!

 We both bounded our of bed, scrambling in the pitch blackness. Chris had seen a shadowy figure in the cockpit. While Chris stormed towards the intruder, I headed straight for the nav station. I had long ago decided that if we were ever boarded at night, MY job would be to flood the boat with light. In the middle of a crowded anchorage, this is our best ally.


Chris's actions made me think of a heroic Harrison Ford character, firm yet non-violent. 

Chris proclaimed the command again as he stormed into the cockpit. Since Chris sounded every inch the captain that he is, the intruder promptly aborted the mission, obeyed the command, jumped off of Espiritu and back into his carved out canoe and quickly paddled off into the blackness.

 The old Texan aboard the boat next to Espiritu's called out loudly "You want me to shoot 'im?" from across the water.

 The intruder, fearful now, cried in a thick Caribbean accent: "Hey, mon, I only wanted some water!"

 Well. He may have wanted a bit more than that. Anyway, now that the spreader lights bathed Espiritu's deck with light, I was able to catch a glimpse of the guy as he rowed quickly away. He did not look or sound dangerous. He looked kind of poor, sad and scared.

 Chris and I hugged each other in relief. A quick check of the deck confirmed that nothing had been stolen.

This is a good time to share our secret weapon which, in my opinion, is the main reason this story had a happy ending: our burglar alarm.

But it's not officially a burglar alarm. It's a bug screen, which we made to cover the companionway hatch at night while we sleep.

The piece-de-resistance?   It's connected to the boat on all four edges with velcro, with it's tell-tale RRRRRIIIIIPPPPPPPPPPP! sound.

Our burglar alarm. It performed it's job well.

  Any intruder, fumbling in the darkness, would not see the velcro, and would unintentionally fire up the burglar alarm upon trying to enter the cockpit. It was this sound that roused Chris and put the crew into action.

  Well, as you can imagine, the next morning we were the talk of the anchorage. Everyone wanted to know how we felt. Did we feel angry?  Violated?

 Nope. I only had one emotion the next morning: gratitude. And relief.  Nothing was stolen. Nobody was hurt. In my opinion, this was a very good boarding. One where everything went right.

  Petty theft is everywhere, because there are unemployment and poor people everywhere. This guy -- while I did not want him on our boat, and I did not want to give him our things -- did not seem dangerous or violent.  I don't think he wanted to rape me or kill anybody.

  If you go to the movies or watch TV these days, all you see is uber-violent, sadistic murderers, killers and rapists.

Hey, kids! Let's go to the movies! 

           Call me naive (and many have), but I believe that the majority of crimes are not done by the guys you see in the movies.

The classic Saw II. While the film is rightly acknowledged for it's sparkling and intelligent script, it lacked the playful whimsy of Saw I. And as everyone knows, the nuance, script progression and deeply-wrought characterizations made Saw III the brilliant and unsurpassed cinematic achievement that it is. Well done, boys.  :-/

Ahem. (In case my sarcasm was a bit too subtle above, let me make it plain. Saw II? Never saw it. Never WILL see it. Or any of the other Saws.  I would rather have a root canal, AND an appendectomy at the same time without anesthesia before seeing or watching, or financially supporting anything in the slasher-porn genre. The ways in which these films are bad for society are too many to mention here.)

I hate to break it to you, but guys like the ones portrayed in these movies -- while they may actually exist, are very, very rare. I honestly believe most people (and even most petty criminals) are basically good, just trying to get through the day and feed their families. They don't want to hurt anybody. I certainly believe this of our "boarder."

They rationalize their petty theft with a shrug: "They're rich. If we steal their iPod, camera and computer, they'll just go out and buy a new one."

The problem with that statement above?

They're RIGHT.  Well, we're not rich, but...we would have found a way, eventually, to buy a new iPod, camera and computer.


 So we don't pack heat on Espiritu. And it's a good thing, too, because if we had, things might have ended differently.

 This was a very good boarding.

So now that we are Belize, it does feel like a different world. Placencia seems very, very safe. It's filled with gringos -- which many people would say is a good thing, but I kinda miss the real Central America. Ah, well.


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