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for Roatan, Utila & Guanaja

cover story


written by Jaime Johnston
photos by Thomas Tomczyk

It was a room full of captains. On the eve of the Roatan Municipality's IV Annual Fishing Tournament, a crowd of boat owners and crew met in West End for food, drink and the spirit of friendly competition on September 18. Fishing men young and old hurriedly filled in their registration while trading bets on who would hook the big one. The tournament's judges outlined the rules as onlookers admired the prize and trophies on display. At 6am the following morning, competition would begin, but, in the meantime, everyone gathered to celebrate the kickoff is fast beginning an annual tradition.
For the fourth year, the fishing tournament is organized and hosted by the Roatan Municipality. Mayor Jerry Hynds introduced the event in his second year in office. The planning committee members are D.V. Woods, Nicole Brady, Delcie Rosales and Mayor Jerry Hynds who has worked since August to organize the event. "It's a family thing, a part of the community," said Woods, "It got even better this year." Woods has participated every year and won the First Annual Tournament with a tournament record 432 pound blue marlin.
A record 27 boats registered for competition this year. "In previous years, we've had between 15-20 boats. This year, we actually had call-ins from boats from Utila, Guanaja, San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa, but they were unable to come; it would have put us up to 40 boats," said Rosales. This year marked the first international entry. A Cayman boat competed after traveling to Roatan.
The tournament is divided into three categories: Grand Champion, Ladies and Junior Competition. Each boat can carry up to four anglers and a Captain. All crew aboard ladies entries must be female and junior entries must be between 8-16 years old. Fishing opened at 6am on Friday, September 19 and closed at 5pm before opening again Saturday, September 20. There are few guidelines for the event which costs 1000 Lps. per entry. Rules state that trolling and drifting with rod and reel are the only legal fishing methods; fishing lines are not allowed to exceed 80 pound test. A judge panel was appointed by the Municipality to supervise the tournament; Curby Warren, Larry McLaughlin, Omar Anderson and Clint Bodden served as the four judges. "The role of the judge is to act as the official witness for weigh-ins and oversee the tournament," said Anderson.
On the first day of the tournament, competitors enjoyed sunny weather and calm seas. The crew of Miss Tricia, a 38-foot boat captained by Woods, hooked a big catch only two hours into the tournament. "We were fishing roughly around Big Bight and hooked a marlin around 8:30am," said D.V. Woods. Their Marlin weighed in at 210 pounds.
As captains called in their hook ups and fish boarded by radio, it appeared as though Miss Tricia's catch would withstand a day's competition to remain the leader. The crew from Miss Rosita had other plans.
After a slow day, Kevin Wesley and the crew of Miss Rosita decided to head back to Half Moon Bay. At 4:15, about four miles off of West End Point, they hooked a fish. "They were so excited, it was the end of the day and, here, they had hooked this big marlin," said Rosita Wesley, owner and namesake of the Miss Rosita.

Her sons Kevin, Quincy and Stephen were joined by Nicole Belvedere and Michael Rosales as the crew for Miss Rosita who has been entered until now in seven tournaments. The crew called in their catch and returned to Half Moon Bay at 5:59pm; their marlin weighed 215 pounds and took the lead after day one.
Day two of the tournament had an open start time, with some boats leaving before 4am. While the group was out fishing, there were children's activities hosted at Half Moon Bay. Games were highlighted by a Coca-Cola drinking contest, followed by a coconut bread eating competition. Contestants were cheered on by the audience who had started to gather for the weigh-ins; winners were awarded cash prizes by the municipality. As closing time approached, whispers of a big catch circulated and a crowd gathered around the dock. A 100-pound marlin caught by Julito Galindo's crew had created excitement for a possible new leader. Still the biggest fish were caught on the first day.
At 7pm, the three heaviest Marlins were delivered back to Half Moon Bay and strung up on the scale for display. After a 3-float West End parade and a few songs on stage from Sandy Bay's Sherwin and the Boys, the awards ceremony began. Between camera flashes and curious observers, the suspense was building for the announcement of the winners.
The panel of judges was joined on stage by Mayor Jerry Hynds and his assistant, Nicole Brady to present the awards. A total of 31 local businesses sponsored the tournament prizes. First place was a $1,000 rod and reel; second and third prizes were rods and reels worth $600 and $400 respectively. The trophies, gold-plated with marble stone bases, cost over $700 each. "The entry fee covered mainly the cost of the T-shirts and hats given to each participant; the sponsors cover the prizes and the municipality paid for the band and also some prizes," said Brady.
H.E. Ross of Bay Islands University announced the winning entries. In the Junior category, Shawn Cooper's crew walked away with top prize with an 18-pound barracuda. In the Women's category, Quality Time, captained by Delcie Rosales, won both third and first place. "It's been successful this year. I would really like to see more ladies in the tournament. There were only two entries this year" said Rosales.
In the Grand Champion category, third place was awarded to Bob McNab, whose 85-foot Bobby II was the tournament's largest boat; his crew caught a 40-pound sailfish. Second place was given to the D.V. Woods and the Miss Tricia crew for their 210-pound marlin. "It's about 99% luck. But you have to have quality equipment, keep it properly maintained and you really have to know how to set your reels," said Woods. First prize was awarded by Mayor Hynds to Kevin Wesley and the enthusiastic crew of Miss Rosita for their 215-pound marlin. The crew was met with praise from the Mayor and applause from the audience as they hoisted showed off their trophy.
After awarding the Best Storyteller prize to D.V. Woods, Mayor Hynds shared closing remarks with the crowd: "This is our fourth event and I really hope it becomes a tradition. This is one thing that should never change.




local news


Students from ten schools and six colleges marched through the tattered Coxen Hole streets for the Independence Day parade. Despite the heat on the city's dusty construction site, hundreds of people lined the roads through town to catch a glimpse of the marching, dancing and band performances.
A short ceremony was held on the grounds of Roatan Bilingual School (RBS) at 7am where Director of Education David Olivera and other local officials addressed the crowd. The parade began at the RBS and students marched through the thicket mouth, down Calle Ocho, and through Market St. to end in front of the Juan Brooks School. Each school group marched in uniform, with students performing dance routines in costumes ranging from cheerleaders and beauty queens to baton twirlers and cowboys. Students from Roatan Bilingual School marched with signs detailing advice for the parade spectators. "We carried signs about recovering our values and the kids were excited about it. We had an assembly to recognize their participation in the parade; I thought they did very well," said Profa. Maria Del Carmen of RBS.

The college bands performed a mélange of music as parents and friends cheered. "It was really fun. There are 17 people in our band and we practiced for the last four weeks to prepare for today," said Karen Ramires of Luisa Trundle School. The band from Jose Santos Guardiola (JSG) High School closed the parade with their dancing and music which attracted a following of over a hundred people. "We played 12 of our 20 pieces today, including our new ones. It's taken five months of practice for us," said Eugenia Anderson, a second-year Bachelor of Tourism student at JSG.


By Jaime Johnston

SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT J.S.G. Municipal Holds Open Town Meeting

Officials from the Jose Santos Guardiola Municipality revealed the results of an internal audit and a recent project listing at their open town meeting held on September 12. Over 40 people attended the meeting held at Escuela Urbanza Marco Aurelio Soto in Oak Ridge. Mayor Kerby Ducker and Vice-Mayor Arad Rochez were joined on stage by members of the Municipal Council.
Vice-Mayor Rochez presented a list of 29 municipal projects completed in communities in 2002-2003. Major projects included: new pumps for Jonesville water lines, construction of area bus stops, and funding for the construction of Camp Bay's water tank and Diamond Rock's community park. "We have demonstrated and proven that even with the little income that we have, we are accomplishing a lot," said Vice-Mayor Rochez, "While we are doing these open municipal meetings, we ask the people to help with paying their taxes and we are going to try to double our work in each community."
In his speech, Mayor Ducker addressed the government audit of the municipal completed in early August. "An internal auditor was sent to our office and everything is ok," said Mayor Ducker, "but, I would like you to know that about 70% of the people in this municipality don't pay taxes." The audit, prompted by a public complaint, was conducted by Lic. Juan Angel Zuniga for the Secretary of State in the Department of Government and Justice. In his report, Lic. Zuniga observed that the municipal project records were lacking proper job titles, specific project completion and payroll dates and didn't have some authorized signatures on budget items. "We have made some errors; I don't have a major in administration, but I have a good heart and I am honest," said Mayor Ducker. In addition to recommendations, Lic. Zuniga concluded his report by stating that "upon review, funds transferred to the municipality have been used for projects; this has been proven by documents and pictures."
During the public question period, Saul Arias asked the Council members to consider publishing their tax calculation process. Vice-Mayor Rochez responded, "We promise to do that; right now, I can give you the formula: for every 1,000 LPs, we charge 2.5 LPs over the catastro value."
by Jaime Johnston and Keila Rochelle Thomspon



by Kimberly Marks

On July 28, a new ferry came to town. She's called the Utila Princess and it looks like she's here to stay. When service began, many people wondered why Utila needed a second ferry. The Galaxy seemed to be doing a perfectly good job and customers were never turned away for lack of space. What did the Princess have to offer that we couldn't get before?
For starters, it has a pretty accommodating schedule. The Princess makes two round-trips from Utila to La Ceiba each day. Most conveniently, it allows passengers to leave Utila at 6:30am and return around 5:30pm the same day. In other words, the schedule makes it possible to take a day trip to the mainland without having to fly. In addition, the early-morning departure has been popular with backpackers trying to make their midmorning bus departures from La Ceiba.
Second, but no less important, the Princess has spacious freezer and refrigerated storage rooms. So, that day trip can easily include a round of grocery shopping. In fact, some folks have been traveling as far as San Pedro Sula for a day of shopping. To meet the needs of individuals and businesses, the storage rooms have two different rates: personal and bulk. According to co-owner Troy Bodden, several businesses on Utila have already caught on and are using the Princess' storage facilities to bring over fresh food. Denny Bush, owner of Bush's Market, agrees that the storage is convenient and uses the boat daily to bring over fresh vegetables, dairy, and meats.
Bodden says that the owners have started advertising to attract mainlanders to the Island which would open up another tourism market on Utila.
Designed for safety, comfort and utility, the Princess' layout allows passengers to explore the bridge and descend stairs into the bow, where additional seats line the sides. A "roll-on/roll-off" ramp on the port side makes it easy to transport small vehicles, including four-wheelers, scooters, golf carts, and motorcycles.
In addition to the Princess, a ferry building in the center of town has been underway for several months. About a quarter complete, with plans for 50% completion by December, the building will house a ticket office, two ticket windows, an ATM machine (the first on Utila), a cafeteria/snack bar, three public restrooms, cold storage, three office spaces and a covered open-air plaza. The ferry currently employs 16 people directly and several indirectly through the building construction.
The 120-foot aluminum Utila Princess has a maximum capacity of 250 passengers. Lately, she's been carrying between 60 and 80 people per trip, exceeding the owners' initial expectations and proving that Utila appreciates the kind of convenience the Princess has to offer.
Tickets for the Utila Princess cost 180 lempiras. The one-hour ferry rides depart Utila for La Ceiba at 6:30am and 3pm They depart La Ceiba for Utila at 9am and 4:30pm.

Read other issues of
the Bay Islands Voice

No. 1
March 27 2003
No. 2
April 10 20
No. 3
April 24

No. 4
May 8

No. 5
May 22
No. 6
June 5
No. 7
June 19
No. 8
July 3

No. 9
July 17

No. 10
July 31

No. 11
Aug. 14

No. 12
Aug. 28