A few words about the Vivorillo Cays

I just realised that I didn’t say anything about the Vivorillo Cays in my last blog post – which is really quite an omission, particularly for yachty readers.

The Vivorillos are one of a number of Cays lying at the eastern end of North Honduras. Traditionally yachts have sailed around all these Cays passing to the north and the east of them. Taking this route on a South to North passage isn’t too bad because the prevailing easterly Trades are good for sailing up to them and then push you as you turn westward towards the Bay Islands or north west towards Belize/Mexico. Sailing from the Bay Islands to Columbia or Panama is a different story entirely because, to go round them, it is basically 180miles more or less into wind before turning south.

By anchoring in the Vivarillos it is possible to reduce the sail to windward by about 30 miles. This might not sound like a lot – but it is if you have just had a bad 150 miles! Although there are different schools of thought about whether a boat should anchor in the Vivarillos, many people have now started to do so. We have two friends [Allan and Patricia on “Nauti Nauti”] who tell us that they spent several excellent days there fishing and snorkelling and have been told by others that an overnight stop was no problem but on the other hand we have heard the occasional story of single boats being harassed/boarded by “pirates” from Nicaragua or Honduras.

There is also the issue of weather. It is only good for anchoring if it is relatively calm – but if it is calm and good sailing weather then maybe you just want to get on with the passage.

Another reason for wanting to continue with the passage is that there is also an even shorter inner route you can take which doesn’t go as far east as Vivorillo Cay. Basically it follows a 30m contour line approximately 12 miles off the Honduras coastline. This reduces the beat to windward by another 35 miles. Again, there are different views on taking this passage because of the proximity to the coastline [“pirates”?] and the possibility of meeting a fishing fleet with lots of nets out which, in the dark could be an issue.

We took this inner route. We saw several fishing/shrimp boats which kept well clear of us. At night they were extremely well lit. Since it was fishing boats who “came to the rescue” when boats were harassed in the Vivorillos anchorage we felt that having fishermen around was no bad thing. The inner route is also too fiddly for container ships and other large vessels to be bothered with so we were not concerned about having to look out for these.

There is a small [15 mile] section where it is necessary to turn more easterly again but we found that being behind the Cays and Reefs, although there was some increased wind on the bow, there weren’t the accompanying waves.

So, all in all we had a good run using this inner route.

Of course, it is up to each captain and crew to decide their preference and to weigh up each passage according to conditions at the time.

It is not necessary for me to give you a waypoint for using the outer route as it is clear from the chart when to turn outside the Cays but below are the waypoints for both the “middle” route [including the anchorage at Vivorillo Cay] and the “inner” route.

Middle Route:

15 50.620N   83 18.050W   Vivorillo anchorage

15 49.320N   83 18.594W

15 36.810N   83 01.390W

15 34.240N   82 48.990W

14 53.750N   81 23.670W

13.23.971N   81 23.585W   Providencia sea buoy


Inner route:

15 51.691N   83 53.496W

15 17.521N   83 11.644W

15 01.882N   82 57.491W

14 46.000N   82 30.000W

13.23.971N   81 23.585W   Providencia sea buoy


13 22.990N   81 22.731W   Good anchorage under Morgan’s Rock/Warwick Fort


Permanent link to this article: https://www.sigasiga.co.uk/2014/02/27/a-few-words-about-the-vivorillo-cays/

1 comment

    • Sharon Herwin on March 27, 2014 at 10:44 pm
    • Reply

    Great post… was asking a friend for some way points because we are traveling to Panama as well. they sent me your blog sight… Love it.!.. I am not sure if we ha ve met, or not. I sent several years in the RIo on a yellow steal hull schooner, we do have several friends in common…. KoKopilie, Jazz dip, and I am sure many more..
    Thanks so much for the information, and if you have a way of including me on your posts I would love it… you can find me at the above e mail or at Sharon Herwin on Facebook………….. Happy sailing and stay in touch Cheers

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