When we last heard from the Schulte family, they were waiting out the hurricane season up Rio Dulce in Guatemala. But now a new season has started, and they’re on their way again. The Schultes, Pat, Ali, their daughter Ouest, 10, and son Lowe, 8, just reached Little Cayman Island on their 1986 Grand Banks 42 Bumfuzzle, and they’re happy to be there.
In late November, the Schultes, from St. Paul, Minnesota, topped off their fuel tanks, giving them about a 1,000 nm range, and headed out into the Caribbean, staying a while in Roatan, the largest of Honduras’ Bay Islands, where Ali’s mother and two sisters joined them for a short vacation. They snorkeled, swam, enjoyed paddle boarding.
Writing on their blog, bumfuzzle.com, Pat said that Roatan was becoming one of their favorite cruising destinations, although they found a stop near Fantasy Island marina troubling: “Literally hundreds of plastic bags were scattered among the coral and tangled up in the turtle grass. The condition of the Caribbean, in general, depressed me. There’s just a fraction of the wildlife I’d expect, and everywhere I turn is plastic waste.”
The family celebrated Ouest’s 10th birthday and Christmas on board, and at the end of December, finding a perfect weather window, cruised 350 nm and 40 hours over to Grand Cayman Island (with dolphins playing in the bow wave; see the picture above). They arrived in George Town in the middle of the night, and then found some surprises.
For openers, Grand Cayman reminded them of Miami. “To be honest,” Pat wrote, “on land the Cayman Islands aren’t our kind of place. Everything is insane expensive, especially for those of us that have grown so accustomed to Central American prices.”
But, he added, nobody cruises to the Caymans for what’s on the land. They all loved diving on the wreck of a ship just 50 feet off shore in 15 feet of water.
But an experience anchoring off Starfish Point, where tour boats brought passengers to see the starfish, left them shaking their heads. They expected to see hundreds of starfish there. “Instead,” Pat wrote, “we found a sandbar with a few dozen people milling around and just two starfish. Make that four. We found two next to each other, but within seconds a tour operator walked up and asked, ‘are you using these?’ and then picked them up (keeping them underwater) and carried them over to his boat where he set them down gently and called his group of tourists over to see. Oh. My. God.”
Looking for more authentic experience, the Schultes picked up their anchor when a weather window opened up, checked out of customs and cruised 75 miles over to Little Cayman. Read more: