Thursday, September 17, 2015, we left Midland behind, once again, pulling our cargo trailer stuffed to the roof with stuff we may or may not need and mementos of days past. We couldn’t help but wonder if we would be purging our belongings once again in a year, finding we love sailing, or returning to land and unpacking our old life. We will leave those things to the future and embrace the present.
Our drive to Houston was long and uneventful, as most drives should be. We stayed in Kemah a night to store our trailer at a facility near where we plan on taking the boat back to. Our trip to West Marine had one purpose, to buy inflatable lifejackets (or inflatable PFD’s) for John and I and a harness for Zoey.
We couldn’t get standard lifejackets as they can be hot in the tropics for long passages and we also needed harnesses built in to connect to a Jack-line (a safety line you tether to on the boat when leaving the cockpit underway, alone, and in rough weather). The lifejackets fit very differently and we both found the brand which filled our needs and felt comfortable, happy we had tried them on before buying. This was no small investment at $200.00 a piece, but safety is not a place we skimp.
The inflatable PFD’s are not approved for child wear, so she still has a standard lifejacket. We bought a child’s size harness so she too can be tied to the boat for safety.
Our final bigish purchase was a pair of waterproof binoculars with built in compass. When at sea, knowing which direction the land or a signal light is in relation to you and knowing the direction of other vessels is a necessity. We found a decent waterproof and floatable pair of Celestron Oceana 7X50 for a great price.
While in Kemah we decided to eat at a little place called Hubcap Grill. The burgers were handmade and the topping options for burgers and fries are amazing. They even have some of their own beverage labels and Zoey said she loved their rootbeer. This is a place we will be back to.
In Houston we rented a car at the airport and drove our truck back to storage in Kemah. We spent the rest of the day “killing time”. We walked the Kemah Boardwalk and Zoey played in the fountain to cool down from the heat. We had snow cones at Kahuna Joe’s and finally had a few appetizers at Outback to complete our American snacking.
We chose to fly on a one-star budget carrier, Spirit, from Houston to San Pedro Sula, Honduras. People complain of the lack of leg room and lack of amenities such as snacks, drinks, pillows and blankets. The carrier can also nickel and dime you to death, charging for carry-ons and strict 40 pound checked baggage weight limits or your price goes up quickly by the Benjamins. But, we found with their fare club, carefully packing our bags to just under 40 pounds, and expecting nothing more than transportation there were no problems. We saved hundreds of dollars flying with them.
We were concerned of being stopped and forced to buy a return ticket, since Honduras requires a person to have proof that they will exit within 90 days. Online it’s suggested to buy an expensive, refundable flight to anywhere else, and get the refund, which can take months. We decided to provide proof of our boat ownership and slip lease agreement with the Roatán Yacht Club, and it worked out great.
Going through security we got stopped by, as expected, for our PDF’s since they have CO2 canisters. Per TSA regulations, they are permitted when presented with a lifejacket, so after a quick swab of the lifejackets and our butyl tape, used to seal our windows of leaks, we were sent on our way. Oddly our 400 ft of line didn’t raise any eyebrows. Everyone was super nice throughout the process.
Our flight arrived in San Pedro Sula, Honduras just after midnight. Our next flight on Avianica wasn’t for another 9 hours, so we found a corner of the airport lobby and Zoey and I curled up as best we could on the metal benches to get a bit of shut-eye before our next flight. John couldn’t sleep, so stood guard of us and our luggage for the night, though we felt pretty safe with an armed guard posted right near us and several armed guards just outside the doors. Nobody’s messing with these guys or us.
Getting on the Avianica plane, we had to walk across the tar-mat and climb the steps. I think this was a first for Zoey and she was all smiles. The short 30 minute flight was nearly empty, had legroom for John, cookies, water bottles, and even pillows. (Just a little more frill than Spirit.) Our low flight provided us with some amazing views, and before we knew it we were on the Isla de Roatán, exactly twelve hours after we left the United States.
Immediately we were offered a $20 taxi ride, which we may have been able to negotiate, but in my sleep deprived state I overrode John, who wanted to dicker, and told him it was fine. We sped through the streets to the Roatán Yacht Club.
Next, the boat.
Tip: Flying budget is worth the inconveniences. Spirit tips: 1) Join the $9 fare club, with the discounts it pays for itself. 2) Pay for your luggage (including carry-ons) ahead of time, it’s more expensive at the gate. 3) Remember that you are permitted ONE personal item with a few exceptions such as jackets, binoculars, umbrellas and the like. 4) Keep your bags at least a half pound underweight. Overweight baggage is $100 or more. 5)Put your heavy stuff in your carryon since there is no weight limits on it. 6) Print your boarding passes or they will charge $10 per person to print them. If it is an international flight and as with ours, print proof of inability to print them.