Thursday, February 25, 2010

Holing up In Coxen Hole

West End, Roatan, as mellow a pot-holed one-road little tourist town as it is, is no place to be in a strong westerly wind, like the one that is coming with the latest 'strong, fast-moving' cold front. This one is 'closing down the East Coast from Philadelphia to Boston' says Armed Forces Radio.

The reef at West End is too deep to afford protection. The marine park protects its turtle grass by requesting visitors to use their moorings, but some of them are not well-installed. So each of the dozen or so boats moved out this morning. But no one else came to Coxen Hole, other than the one already here.

I wonder why not? Might have something to do with a cruising guide reference to a 'seedy eyesore of a town...dusty...unremarkable...not recommended...if you leave your boat unattended you will be robbed.' Not sure if I need an attendant to leave the boat, or if the boat will be robbed, or what.

I'm guessing none of this is really true. Blanket comments like these, both in praise and in condemnation, need a lot of seasoning. Sometimes you meet nicer people and have a better time in the unexpected places. So here we are, tucked in snugly across the small bay from the main street, waiting for the wind to come.

Coxen Hole, named for a 17th century 'mariner'/pirate captain, is the 'big city' business and political center of Roatan, indeed of all the Bay Islands. Yachts need to clear in and out here, but generally come by taxi from somewhere else to do it.
Cruise ships are coming here too, but most of the passengers are whisked away to 'snorkel-scursions' 'beach days' 'island tours' 'zip-line canopy tours' etc.

We'd have preferred anchoring on the north side of the harbor, but there looks to be shipping activity there. Good thing we left it clear. The New Star had a hard time getting his anchor up, even with his 7-man 'windlass' and he got quite a bit closer to us before breaking free.

The heralded screaming cold front, which did in fact carry a good forty knots at times, blew all night long, but thanks to our 33-kg Rocna and lots of scope, we maintained our position about 75 feet from the end of the airport runway, and from a pile of half-built block houses and half-collapsing wooden houses on the waterfront.

We've been to Coxen Hole by bus, and found it worthy of further study. Tomorrow my attendant and I will go ashore, and see if we can't prove the naysayers wrong.

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