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Stories picked from the Headlines
The newest dive boat on the island sunk on her maiden voyage to Cayos Cochinos at 2pm on Tuesday the 21st of June. Sixteen passengers endured a four hour wait in the rough waters five miles offshore until rescue boats arrived.
“We were preparing to spend the night, I thought we could make it if we have to but I was worried others would go crazy or drown” said Anne Marie Tessie, Quebec.
The dive boat from Coral View Resort was on a day trip and had decided to return home early due to the weather.
“On the way back water was coming up on the boat, they knew something was wrong and turned the boat around, they made all the right decisions” said Dr Hal Beyer, passenger. Events took a turn for the worst as water engulfed the boat “I looked up and saw a wall of blue water coming towards us, I couldn’t even see the top of this freak wave” said Phil Richards, Manager of Dive Operations. Everybody grabbed their gear and got in the water, the boat went under within ten minutes.
Captain Farrel threw an anchor onto the shallow bank below to stabilize the boat and local crew members stayed on the bridge to send out may day calls. Three Utilian crew members decided to attempt the four mile swim to shore while the remaining thirteen passengers clung to a stretch of rope secured to the boat. Non-diving passengers without BCD's grasped at floating items from the wreck to keep their heads above water.
“Captain Farrel gave my daughter his BCD, he`s at the top of my list of excellent people” said Donna Beuer, six year resident of Utila. They group had to battle 12ft swells while avoiding debris from the wreck and leaking diesel. “When we were all being sick from the fumes we had to hold onto each other to stop ourselves drowning” said Jean David Beaulieu, Quebec.
Spirits were maintained by the Americans of the group who told jokes and rallied together. Two may day calls reached Cayos Cochinos where Roger Remington of the Plantation Beach Resort quickly relayed the message to Utila and sent out his boats. “Everybody with a boat was out trying to help, the waves were just too big, we had to turn around” said Chris Muñoz, part of the local Utilian search team. “Even the Utila Princess diverted its afternoon course to help search for the stranded passengers.” he said.
The group was eventually rescued by two boats from Cayos Cochinos just before sunset. “When the launch found us it was on its way back, it had been searching for hours, pure luck!” said Miss Tessie. The three swimmers were spotted soon after by the rescue plane and the exhausted group were taken back to spend the night at the Plantation Beach Resort where accommodation was provided by Mr.. Remington.
The boat was recovered the following day and several failed attempts were made to tow it back to Utila alongside the diesel freight boat that brought the group home. “We left Cayos at 1:30 and didn’t make it back to Utila until 7:45, we were tired and felt helpless” said Alex Chalmers. The boat and most of the equipment has been salvaged and Coral View Resort is operating as normal. “One thing went wrong, the boat sunk. After that everything went right” said Mr. Richards after the event.
Utila’s cemetery has recently received a clean up. The refurbishment included a new coat of paint, unfortunately many of the inscriptions were painted over. Attempts have been made to remove the paint and restore the memories.
A shoot out took place between Audley Banks and Austin Thompson on the 2nd of June. Mr. Banks received a bullet wound and was hospitalized in La Ceiba. Charges were not pressed, the Police state that the shot was fired in self defense, this is backed up by the two types of bullets found on the scene. It is thought the dispute was over land.
An ATM was installed at the BGA bank on the 25th of June. The 24 hour service will dispense cash in Lempiras only and accept the following cards: Plus, Cirrus, Clave, Visa and Mastercard.
Two Utilians and one tourist were caught spear fishing off the dock of Alton's Dive Shop on the 8th of June. The trio opted to spend the night in jail after refusing to pay the fine. “Its not fair, as a tourist my fine is ten times more than the others, I don't have the money.” said the accused tourist.
There is now a full time Dentist on the island. Dr. Flores from San Francisco, Honduras, is working out of the old Cento de Salud and is back by popular demand. She plans to move up to the new building shortly.
Road works have been continuing throughout the central area. Disruption will be kept to a minimum however congestion is unavoidable. The Mayor plans to have the entire central area fully repaired by the end of the year.
Firstly, I would like to apologize for the inconvenience caused by the road works and ask the community to please be patient. From now on I will be dedicating resources and efforts into repairing and constructing the streets. I feel improved roads are a necessity and a good use of your taxpayers money towards the well being of the town. Thank you again for your cooperation and I hope you look forward to smoother journeys around the island by the beginning of next year. Here are some of the activities that kept the municipality busy last month.
Working together with Hal and Donna Beyer in their generous efforts to ensure all schools have computers, fifteen more have been distributed. Shipping and freight costs and one computer was also sent to the police station. The Municipality will continue to cover the shipping and freight costs.
Due to the increase in Dengue fever on the island which I am sure you are all aware of, I have been spraying the island with an environmentally friendly poison to rid us of the disease carrying mosquitos.
I recently traveled alongside the Mayor of Guanaja to sign an agreement to secure 1.3 million dollars to be spent on projects in Utila. The next step is to explore which projects can be successfully completed with this sum.
Campañado received the much needed new trash bins this month and several new septic systems.
20 jobs were created for the road works which will take place on and off until completion at the beginning of next year Thank you again for you support and please feel free to approach me with any municipal issues or concerns. I’m always available to hear your opinions.
Comments such as “Ooo It is sooo hot“, “I’m sweating even while doing nothing“ or “You can fry an egg on my stomach” can be heard all over Utila during these past weeks.
With the high temperatures and humidity the relief of a breeze to ease the sweating is desperately needed.
Here on Utila temperatures normally range between high 70’s and low 90’s Fahrenheit with a yearly average of 85° F(29 ° C).
Combine that with a an average humidity of approx. 82% and you’ve got a heat both islanders and tourists find very hard to beat.
April through to September are usually the hottest months reaching temperatures up to 95°F (35°C) whereas the lowest thermometer readings can be found during October through to March, dropping down to lows of 67°F (19° C). Rainy season kicks in during October through January with a whopping yearly rain fall of approx. 100 inches (254 cm). “The year 2005 is going to be one of our record years for high temperatures.” says Jimmy Gabourel, a weather specialist who has been recording daily weather data on Utila since 1978.
The heat, however, does not only cause discomfort but may even result in dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heatstroke. Divers especially should be aware of the dangers of dehydration “Dehydration is a contributing factor in almost every dive accident” said “Jungle” Jim from the Hyperbaric Chamber. Recommendation to drink 3-4 litres of water especially when diving..
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