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Bringing Back Jolly Roger
by Thomas Tomczyk

A Barbados Boat is Rescued Back to Life on Roatan and Prepared for a Voyage Home
The Jolly Roger workmen pull up the mast's gaft.

Roatan is often a graveyard for sailboats. Some of them rusting and molding away, are still beautifully wearing shades of all glory of transatlantic crossings, memories of violent storms and demanding passages. Brick Bay, Fantasy Island, Coxen Hole and Oak Ridge are dotted with boats that once were the pride of their owners and objects of desire for onlookers. One can see sailboats on side of the road that haven't seen water in a decade and possibly never will.

One such boat was on its way to a slow demise when a taxi full of slightly tipsy Barbadians drove by. "We couldn't believe our eyes," says Martin Bynoe, one of the men in car. "Suddenly we look to our left… and holly shikes… that is Jolly Roger!," said Joe Peterkin, a Barbadian living on Roatan, about a boat that in bad shape and slowly taking on water.

The three energetic Barbadians: Martin Bynoe, Allan Kinch and Richard Greenwich, came to Roatan after seeing an ad on the internet advertising Black Pearl, a La Ceiba built wooden party boat that is now anchored in Las Palmas. It was for sale for $1.2 million and topped the interest of the Barbadians looking for a boat that could enter the booze navy serving the island's tourists. The islanders examined Black Pearl and decided to pass on the sale. "She was built badly," said Bynoe. For the Barbadians it was destiny: the Jolly Roger line, famous in Barbados, was meant not to be lost.

Jolly Roger is a Barbados registered, 114 foot double masted schooner. The boat was most likely built in 1966 on a beach in Petit Martinique, an English speaking island belonging to Grenada. "She was built on a beach and rolled out to sea on logs," says Kinch, another Barbados man, pointing to the Los Fuertes strip of land by the Texaco fuel station where Jolly Roger was being repaired and refurbished before her journey back home.

The 141 foot schooner on dry dock in Los Fuertes.

Originally there were five Jolly Rogers, and the Roatan schooner is Jolly Roger number one. Over the years the other Jolly Rogers sunk: two off Trinidad, one off Antigua and one off the Grenadian coast. "They went up and down and in between the islands all the time," says Chris Worme, a Barbadian who was contracted to come down and help rebuild the Jolly Roger. There are still a few boats that perform these duties in Windward Islands, but much more on a commercial scale.

In the 1960s and 1970s the Jolly Rogers hauled cargo, mostly beer between Saint Vincent, Saint Martens and Grenada. "Grenada didn't use to have a brewery back then so all the beer had to be brought in," said Kinch. Kinch, an owner of several Barbados businesses, has decided to bring the boat back to her original shape and, in some ways, function. The plan is, by New Years Eve, for Jolly Roger to become the largest party boat on Barbados, with hundreds of paying guests enjoying beers on its forty-four-year-old deck.

In 2004 Jolly Roger was bought by Alvaro Alamina, a Belizean who brought the schooner to serve as a party boat in Belize. The boat soon found itself in Panama, then ended virtually abandoned and tied to a dock on Roatan. All seamed doom-and-gloom for the forty-four-year-old-boat until four slightly tipsy Barbadians saw her leaning on a dock in Oak Ridge.

Since September this beautiful old Jolly Roger is being restored to its long-lost glory. She has pylons supporting her sides and dozens of blue tarp draped across her top deck. At the height of the work 35 people, like ants swarm in and out of her bringing out old, damaged elements. The workers bring new things: all new electrical wiring, new pieces of wood to replace rotten ones.

The boat's construction crew is full of energy. There is a mixture of languages and accents. Spanish, Bay Islands English, Barbados English, American English. There is good energy all around and everyone has a slightly different reason to be smiling. The Barbadians feel like they are bringing a piece of their island history back home, and Roatanians feel pride in helping to bring an elegant ship back to her glory.

The Barbados men were friends nearly all their lives. They grew up within a couple of miles from one another, right next to the sea. "It's quite an adventure. For boys from Barbados to take her [the boat] home is quite something else," said Worme. "They [the tree owners] called me up one day and asked: 'what are you doing tomorrow? We have a boat here on Roatan, would you like to take a look at it?" said Worme. With uncombed, long grayish hair, the Barbados man has been around the sea all his life. "This island is just like Barbados. Maybe a little longer and a little less wide than us… and we cut down all the trees to built hotels."

After heavy rains and storms, the work on Jolly Roger hit a crescendo in mid November. The Roatan rain delayed the crew by four weeks and pushed up the schedule. "We have a rain season in Barbados, but not like this," says Worme.

Dozen pieces of metal weighing half a ton is pulled up by ropes by eight men. This is the top of the 1,000 gallon metal gasoline tank that will increase the range of the boat. A 525 horsepower John Deere engine was lowered next to two fuel tanks designed to contain 1,000 gallons. There are brand new generators and tanks capable of carrying 1,000 gallons of water.

A four millimeter fiberglass shell was placed over the 44-year-old hull to make the boat stronger and more watertight. Eight rolls of 50' fiberglass and 16' rolls of 25' fiberglass were used to waterproof the boats hull and deck. Everything on the boat is brand new: new generators, new engine and electrics. Mack Sail custom made the boats red sails.

Jamel Lister and Richard Gordon working with Mack Sails out of Florida laid out 2,000 feet of wire, two large electrical panels and we are still not done. "We came down to bring the sails and a bit of electrical, but it turned out to be much more than a bit," said Lister. The Americans installed the mast's gaft up and the set up of the sail.

Much of the equipment needed for the boat came in three metal containers. "We had no problem with customs. It's been great," says Worme. Bucket brigades of people have helped to bring the necessary parts to make Jolly Roger sail once again.

While Kinch prefers not to disclose how much he paid for Jolly Roger, he admits that the boats three owners will spend around half a million dollars fixing her. "Around $200,000 of that was spent on Roatan," says Kinch. "DV Woods [a French Harbour building supplies store] just loves us."

Balancing a boat of Jolly Roger's size and built isn't an exact science. "They found old metal cogs that crushed the sugar cane and used it for boats ballast," says Worme. Jolly Roger contains a treasure chest of East Indies history: below its deck there are discarded, old huge wheels and cogs taken from sugarcane plantations. Some of this metal is well over 100 years dating to Barbados' sugarcane history.

The re-balancing of the boat with ballast will take some trial and error. Old, rusted chains should be used to rebalance the boat. "We are going to have to do a few tests to make sure she will not flip over in rough seas. She mite lay down on her side and she might not come back up," says Worme. "It's not much of a sailing boat to tell you the truth. We'll be going strait into the wind and that's what this boat hates. It likes sailing 90 degrees to the wind."

Richard Greenwich is designated to captain her on her return voyage and the crew plans to take it easy with the sails and do most of the journey home using its brand new motor. "If anything happens, we can always make it to Jamaica," says Worme, who hopes to be in Barbados for Christmas.

Barbadian Chris Worme supervises work on Joly Roger.

Jolly Roger is full of exotic, not common anymore wood. Purpleheart wood, prized for its strength and beauty, was used in parts of the wood decking. "To drill through it is like 'forever'," says Lister. In fact the boat is full of exotic woods. It's like a living mosaic on South American and Caribbean lumber, with pieces of raw wood stabilizing the hull. There are sections of the boat made out of Mahogany, Pine and teak. The two masts are of Wallaba tree. Probably because "over the years people had to take out different planks of wood and replace them," explains Worme.

"There was a lot of discussion and looking around for the right people and had a relationship to wooden boats," says Worme. The Seth Arch dry dock crew is much more used to working on metal shrimp and lobster boats.

The Barbados boys found Jolly Roger pretty much by accident. She was an out-of-context "half sunk" boat leaning against a dock at Oak Ridge. In a matter of weeks she should regain her place in Pantheon of rich oceangoing Barbados history. "Everyone in Barbados is very excited we are bringing her home," says Worme.

"We can make Haiti from here, it's like 1,400 miles," says Worme about the planned voyage home. The Jolly Roger crew will have to travel northeast into the wind, to Haiti then Antigua, "then down the chain to home."

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Reporting from Honduras By Thomas Tomczyk

For the last Two Years Honduras has Been the most Dangerous Place to be a Journalist

 

The Honduras journalists killed in the last few years were all male, were all shot, and come from print (20%), radio (40%) and television (60%) organizations. CPJ report breaks down the "source" for the Honduras journalists' killings in a fallowing manner: 20% were killed by a criminal group, 20% by government officials, 20% by local residents and 40% by a political group. What is particularly disturbing, CPJ states that 80% of the murderers have gotten away with "complete impunity."

I've been asking people who is perpetuating this violence against media representatives and why. "Who knows, there are lawyers being killed in Honduras all the time too," was the response I received from an island lawyer with an office in Tegucigalpa. "They [Honduran journalists] blackmail people that they will write a story critical of them unless they get paid not to, and they get killed," said a mainland business owner.

"The society is reacting to the unethical practices of journalists, and other liberal professionals in this manner," said another La Ceiba businessman. He said that doctors, psychologists, lawyers, fiscales are also targets of violent crime. "Honduras crime against journalists is abstract, it has no face," he said. "People don't believe in the legal system. The value of life has been reduced," explained still another La Ceiba businessman.

The concept of who is a journalist in Honduras is different than in the United States or Europe. Many Honduran Journalists are really "media personalities" with strong opinions, vocal political stance and obvious economic interests outside their own profession. Honduran journalists are elected to public offices and continue to work in journalism without recognizing any conflict of interest. An added element to the phenomena is that in Honduras life is cheap and many business problems are easier solved with a "hit" than a legal arbitration.

A report of Reporters Without Borders states that this year Honduras has been classified as the most dangerous country for members of the media. The report described Mexico as the most dangerous country of the world, where clashes between drug cartels and government troops had claimed the lives of 13 journalists since January. Honduras and Pakistan are at second place on the list with nine deaths each. "Ahead" in numbers of war zone countries of Iraq and Afghanistan, Honduras is by far the smallest country in this group and leads by far in journalists murdered per capita.

While journalist in Pakistan and Iraq are killed for being too close to the story, in Mexico they are victims of the drug smuggling gangs that try to intimidate them. Unlike in Mexico the media in Honduras applies self-censorship and doesn't do investigative reporting pieces on organized crime. The self censorship goes from the top down, from the publishers of newspapers to individual reporters.

There have been nine journalists killed in Honduras this year. The violence hit a peak in March, when three journalists were killed. Committee to Protect Journalists [CPJ] lists five Honduran journalists whose motive for killing is confirmed. The other seven are listed as having unconfirmed motive. The CPJ list doesn't disclose that three Honduran journalists left the country in fear of their lives.

I originally thought that the Honduran journalists may be killed for threatening the economic interest of the country's rich elite. While three journalists were indeed killed in the months following the 2009 coup, I believe the reasons for the continued violence are far more complex. While several of the killed reporters have been involved in politicks on pro-Zelaya angle, others have taken a strong pro-Micheletti stance.

There were several journalists who have been accused of extortion, using their position to make people pay to keep their name out of the news. A killing that has particularly resounded in the North Coast of Honduras took place on March 11, when David Meza Montesinos,, 51, a renowned la Ceiba street reporter was killed after a long car chase that ended up at his home's doorstep. He was shot multiple times by four assailants. According to the CPJ report some Meza's professional colleges believed police may have been behind the killing. These witnessed acknowledge that their late colleague was known to extort money from sources.

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The Dengue Watch by Giordana Toccacelli

Dengue Fever has hit Honduras Hard, Bay Islands Less

One of the people who contracted Dengue was Kristofer Goldman, an American resident in Sandy Bay. "It started with fevers in the evenings for about seven or eight days, and because it wasn't that bad I didn't go to the doctor, just took ibuprofen for the pain," Said Goldman.

A few days afterwards he had become dehydrated and felt ill. Goldman went to the Woods Medical Center in Coxen Hole where he tested positive for classic Dengue. The centers doctors sent him home and prescribed acetaminophen.

A couple of days later he woke up with a splitting headache. He called Dr. David Williams for a house call and credits him with saving his life. Dr. Williams diagnosed Goldman with 41 C fever which was beginning to give him hallucinations. Dr. Williams told him to head back to the hospital where he was diagnosed with malaria in addition to Dengue. "My wife's fifty-something cousin on the mainland had the same symptoms and died, so I was lucky," Goldman said. "If I hadn't gone to the hospital and received the medical attention I did I think I would have died."

Goldman says that he doesn't know where he contracted Dengue and Malaria, but his work as a music teacher takes him to places throughout Roatan. According to MHUHR 11, the mosquitoes carrying the Dengue virus breed in stagnant water containers and ponds especially plentiful in poor areas of the island. Houses with no running water use these containers to store water and offer an increased risk to health of the people living the area.

Staff of the Municipal Health Unit Health Region Number 11 in Coxen Hole, from left to right: Adalberto Mejia, Helena Martinez, Yuddy Feurtado and Mario Pacheco.

With an escalating number of reported cases of Dengue on the mainland, Roatan Municipal Health Unit Health Region Number 11[MHUHR 11] is moving towards controlling potential upsurges on the island by documenting infected patients and organizing and coordinating awareness campaigns in affected neighborhoods. The highest number of documented cases on Roatan in 2010 has been 42 in one July week.

According to MHUHR 11 this is not significantly more than previous years. "There haven't been nearly as many cases on Roatan as there have been on the mainland," says Hilaria Martinez, statistic specialist and Head of Epidemiology at Region #11. The MHUHR 11 governs all the health systems on the island and oversees matters of disease and epidemic prevention, regulation and administration.

There have been no reported hemorrhagic cases of Dengue on the island only classic Dengue cases have been diagnosed. Dengue is a febrile illness affecting infants, young children and adults with symptoms ranging from a mild fever, to incapacitating high fever, with severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pain, and rash. "There has been no need to transport any sick person to the mainland for treatment, and no one on the island has died from Dengue," says Dr. Adalberto Mejia, also with the municipal Health unit. Dengue has been spread out more-or-less evenly over Roatan, with a slightly more concentrated number of cases in Coxen Hole and Sandy Bay.

Bay Islands Ink by Thomas Tomczyk
Two Tattoo Artist Come to Bay Islands

"They can be good artists, but they use the wrong machines, ink and needles," Mandy says about the Mara tattoo artists. Discomfort is just one risk in getting a tattoo. There is a risk in receiving a tattoo from unsterilized needles contaminated with Hepatitis, HIV, hemophilia or herpes which can all be passed from person to person if the needles are not sterilized, or changed for every client.

Mandy had a tattoo parlor for five years in Tegucigalpa, then in La Ceiba and since 2008 he works in Utila and Roatan, shuttling between the two islands depending on the demand for his services. On a good day, Mandy can make two to three tattoos and that same amount might be performed in what he refers to a bad week. The cost of the tattoos ranges from Lps. 250 to Lps. 5,000. It all depends on the time it would take to create the tattoo, designing it and then inking it in.

Mandy says that Americans like to play with their bodies. Europeans are more determined and specific about what they want as a tattoo. For foreigners, the matching of quality and price makes getting a tattoo on the Bay Islands an attractive option. In the US a tattoo artist might charge around $50 an hour for their services. In Europe that could be as high as $250 an hour.

A tattoo session can last only four-five hours at a time. "Some people come for a session but their skin gets to sensitive to continue," says Mandy. For tattoos that require more then five hours, multiple sessions are scheduled two-weeks apart. The biggest tattoo Mandy has performed on Utila so far is an underwater marine scene with turtles, manta rays and coral. "It's for an Australian girl that lives on Utila and came here 12 times over six months," says Paredes.

While black and gray tattoos typically last a lifetime, color tattoos do fade with time after 15-20 years. "With a lot of sun the skin grows over the tattoo and covers it up," explains Mandy, who sometimes works on other artist's tattoos, reinvigorating their colors that fade with time.

"Mandy is a legend in Honduran tattooing. He was the first one that started and does great work," says Scarlet Lopez known as La Gata, a Coxen Hole tattoo artist who has been in the business for eight years. Since March, she has been working on Roatan on a busy street in Coxen Hole. "Sometime people don't trust me because they think a woman can't make good tattoos," she says.

La Gata expresses that most people want tattoos that are small and designs that are common. What she likes is doing tattoos on women, complex art pieces that involve advanced techniques and mixing of colors.

La Gata feels a lot of competition from street tattoo artists who undercut her prices and don't use proper hygiene or equipment. Tattooing is a competitive business, her "Cat Tatoo" [sic!] studio was already robbed and her tattooing equipment now likely serves someone in a back alley.

Mandy's tattoo parlor on Utila and the walls filled with photographs of tattoos he performed

Almost certainly there were tattoos being done on the Bay Islands when the archipelago was a pirate haven. A few hundred years later the practice is returning to its Honduran birthplace.

Today, hands down, the best tattoo artist on the islands is Mandy, or more formally Miguel Armando Paredes. Mandy, 37, first began tattooing on Utila in 1988 when he was only 14-years-old. He first made his own tattoo machine and worked out of his mother's house. A visiting French tattoo artists guided Mandy in his first steps. His first tattoos were placed on his own arms. While today they look simple and a bit faded, they still remind him of his beginnings, there is the closed fist, a cross, a Hebrew star and a big dipper.

In Honduras, having a tattoo can carry a life-long stigma. Having a visible tattoo makes it more difficult in getting a job. It is because many people here associate tattoos with gangs and gang violence. Honduran law associates Gang Tattoos with "illicit association" and a person sporting such tattoos risks getting arrested when spotted by police. To avoid easy detection, there are many gang members who no longer have tattoos.

According to Paredes, girls who want to leave gangs approach him to have their Mara or gang tattoos covered up. He uses images that reshape the signature gang tattoos into a more acceptable art. Using faces, clowns and cars he covers the signature of the gangs on the ex-gang member skin. If that is too difficult, he sometimes places a rectangle across their unwanted ink marks.

Wahooed out by Thomas Tomczyk
First Wahoo Fishing Tournament Rewards Skillful Fishermen

Smaller boat owners who can't really compete in billfish tournaments in the Bay Islands had their day. Sherman Arch from French Cay brought in the biggest fish, a 48.5 pound Wahoo caught off Cayos Cochinos. The French Cay crew also placed first in the combined weigh category with three Wahoo amounting to 94.5 pounds.

At 6:05pm a car brought in a 30 pound Wahoo. "It's from a boat that broke down. But they called in to let us know they were coming," said Doug Hayes, Barefoot Cay tournament coordinator. At the end of the day 11 fish were caught and weighed and the biggest one came out to be a 48.5 Wahoo. All the sign-in money went towards the prizes and was paid out as a percentage of the purse. The first prize, $350 or 50% of the sign in money went to the winning boat - Miss French Cay.

One of the tournament participants, Douglas Whitney, an American resident, decided to trot between the North side of Barbareta to Pigeon Cays. "We hooked three Wahoo and landed one," said Whitney, captain of the 19 foot Island Adventures boat based at Fantasy Island. "We fished with live tuna and, we think it was a shark we hooked into, and it spooled our entire rod. We just lost the drag and broke it so we wouldn't loose the entire line," said Whitney, who brought in a 31 pound Wahoo, using an islander lure with a strip of tuna behind it. Whitney first fishes for tuna to use it as bait for bigger Wahoo.

The Crew of the winning boat- Miss French Cay: Gale Arch, Loni Dangler, Karl Carter, Samuel Arch.

While fishing for billfish is typically an ego stroking activity, fishing for Wahoo equalizes the captains with big and small boats alike. It is also a way to catch some great tasting fish. "We thought it would be a good idea to organize for small fishermen. We're against billfish fishing," Said Joseph Jackson, local tournament organizer from Jonesville.

Fifteen boats registered for the Sunday, November 16 tournament, based at Barefoot Cay. The competition lasted from 6am to 6pm. The pelagic fish tournament gave points for catching Wahoo, tuna and mahi-mahi, the biggest fish being Wahoo. The original tournament was scheduled in late October, but was cancelled due to threats of hurricane weather in the area.

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Hello to BIBA by Thomas Tomczyk

First Ever Awards Recognize Islands’ leading Businesses

The winners of the 2010 First Bay Islands Business Awards 2010:

  • Excellence through Education - ANACARIBE
  • Excellence in Promotion of Entrepreneurial Spirit - Port of Roatan
  • Excellence in Human Resource Development - ANACARIBE
  • Excellence through Social Responsibility & Community Contribution - Bananarama
  • Innovation through Technology - ACME Sanitation
  • Excellence in Tourism - Iguana Farm
  • The Green Award - Keyhole Bay
  • Most Promising New Business - San Simon Beach Club
  • Entrepreneur of the Year - Loren Monterroso
  • Business of the Year - Serrano Industrial
  • Lifetime Achievement Business Award - Meade Hyde
  • Press Award - Leonel Vides of Radio Caracol
Loren Monterroso accepts the BIBA award as "Entrepreneur of the Year."

On November 15 the Bay Islands Chamber of Commerce celebrated its 10th anniversary. This year the Chamber held its first Bay Islands Business Awards at Henry Morgan Resort in West Bay. The November 12 gala and ceremony brought in around 150 Roatan business leaders. The event was sponsored by Port of Roatan.

"An incentive and appreciation must be shown to all business for their efforts of staying afloat during our country's political problems and market downturn," said Ana Svoboda, president of the Chamber of Commerce. Svoboda emphasized the difficulty of doing business on the Bay Islands in a recovering global economy and aftermath of 2009 political crisis in Honduras.

Three prior presidents of the Chamber of Commerce received plaques of recognition: Rita Thompson de Morris (2000 - 2006), Andrés Cardona (2006 - 2008) and Salvador Díaz (2008 - 2010). The gathered business people observed a minute of silence to recognize the death of Arnold Morris, a Roatan businessman and longtime resident, who in 2004 was arrested on Roatan, handed over to the FBI and served a jail sentence for fraud.

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