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Friday, March 23, 2007

San Salvador

We took a trip into San Salvador, that place you used to hear on the news all the them about 15 years ago. It was surprising how Americanized that city was. Most of the products for sale have English labels. There was a hardware store unlike anything we found in Mexico, which had all sorts of stuff at normal prices.

As time marches on we decided to put our Guatemala trip on hold until the summer. Ocean Lady is going to explore the Mango Coast for surf while we wait for our mail to arrive to do our stupid taxes.

Here's a shot of Ocean Lady anchored in Bahia del Sol. It's a cool spot, isn't it?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

El Salvador -- Surf that boat!

What a fantastic trip down the coast of Guatemala! We had over 2 knots of positive current and many hours of great sailing at 7 knots! I was thinking it would take us probably 3 days to arrive in El Salvador, but we did it in less than 48 hours! The harbor we were thinking of entering called Bahia del Sol has a famous entrance that is only passable at high tide and small surf. We we arrived we found two boats who had been waiting for 5 days for the swell to calm down enough to get inside. One of those boats was Sonrisa with our friend Ryan on board. He'd been stuck out there waiting and waiting.

And so we did what we swore we would never do: enter Bahia del Sol. The last couple of years we heard some scary stories from about 5 other boats about getting broached or knocked down in the entrance, several sustained damage. We watched the surf roll in and pound the shore and we figured there was no way we could get in. Ryan said the surf was a lot smaller and we would probably get in with the help of Murray (the local gringo business owner) piloting us in a panga.

So we prepped the boat and waited for high tide while watching the waves thunder. We got a call on the radio to prepare to enter and for all boats to up anchor. Two boats were coming out, but the four of us on the outside were coming in first. A catamaran, who was anxious to get in, was the first to head in towards the pilot (Murray and our friend Chad from the "Panga to Panama" fame). Not following or hearing the pilot's instructions they quickly ended up inside the breaking surf. Three waves pounded their boat sending spray about 15-20 feet in the air -- above their spreaders. Their pontoon came way up out of wave and I thought they were going to loose the boat. However the set of waves stopped and they were able to turn back out and then managed to get into the entrance and follow the pilot in.

After that, we thought ok, we can make it. Just stay in the channel. So we headed into what looked like an area of all breaking waves but turned into a narrow channel. We rolled heavily in some of the swells but they weren't breaking. Chad's calm voice on the radio was great as he talked us along. With waves breaking on both sides (but not near us) we managed to enter safely. Sherrell actually said is was fun "let's do it again."

Amazingly we are in El Salvador and happily anchored in Bahia del Sol's lagoon. It's beautiful, calm and well worth surfing the boat through the bar. We can even use the pool for free at the nearby hotel. Our next adventure involves an inland trip to Guatemala with our zoo!

{GMST}13|18.137|N|88|53.711|W|Dollar beers and free swimming pools!|Bahia del Sol{GEND}

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Out of the T-Pec

We rested for the night in Puerto Madero, which involved an entrance inspection and exit inspection by the Navy (including the drug dog), three visits to the port captain office, $75 pesos ($7.5) to API for anchoring a day, two runs to the fuel dock and a trip around town for blocks of ice. By the time we were finished with all that, I wished we hadn't stopped. But we used a lot of fuel fighting the current and to be safe we decided to pick up some more. And we did get a great night's sleep. I was glad we used Ocean Lady's dinghy with the 15hp engine because all those errands took us all day, and required many trips to all corners of the port.

Anyway, a pat on the back to us for having successfully crossed the Tehuantapec. The forecast for the T-pec has changed again and it's going to start blowing hard soon, so we're quite happy to have that nasty one behind us. In fact we are approaching the boarder to Guatemala and we'll retire our Mexican Courtesy flag. We're both feeling melancholy about departing Mexico, but it's on to new things!

In the meantime we're busy dodging shrimpers, long-lines, lobster traps, and pengas all while wishing for a bit more wind for sailing.

{GMST}14|34.47|N|92|23.5|W|Light SE at 4 knots.|Guatemala{GEND}

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

So far so good.

The almost total lack of wind in the Tehuantapec was a bit of a surprise, but it wasn't exactly unwelcome considering the alternative. What really did suck was the 1.5 to 2 knot adverse current that dogged us for almost 80 miles, forcing us to abandon ideas of sailing and chewing through our precious Liquid Wind by using the engine.

We've had some brief moments with wind. 12-15 Knots NE for about 3 hours and SW at 10-15 for a few hours, but other than that -- nada, just some light on-shore and off-shore thermals.

Jordan tried to attack a bird that had been using our boat as a rest stop. In the dark of the night her black body went bolting out of the cockpit and up to the bow and she froze. Suddenly it dawned on her she was on a moving boat in the water and fear took over. Fortunately this drove her back to the cockpit...stupid cat.

We're about 20 hours from Puerto Madero where we'll get some fuel and continue on south. We're currently further south and east than we've ever been (we're due south of Louisiana)!

{GMST}15|33.1|N|93|27.6|W|Technically out of the Tehuantapec wind funnel. Light SSW at 8knots.|Tehuantapec 2{GEND}

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Crossing the Tehuantapec

One of the windy parts of the world, the Tehuantapec can pipe up to hurricane force winds that can blow container ships 300 miles off course. We have been watching the weather carefully for this crossing and as I write this we are entering the edge of the dangerous part and we have NE winds of about 12 knots and for the next 72 hours there shouldn't be anything over 15 knots. If all goes well, in about 30 hours we'll be out of the nasty region and a lot closer to Central America.

We might stop on the other side of the Gulf in Puerto Madero, Mexico for some fuel. If we can get in about 100 miles of sailing we will be able to make El Salvador safely without stopping.

{GMST}16|07.004|N|95|05.5|W|NE Winds at a perfect 12 knots.|Tehuantapec{GEND}

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Our own dock

In preparation for a weather window for crossing the Tehuantapec (which is currently blowing about 50-60 knots), we decided to try the cheap seats in Marina Chauhue. They have an undeveloped canal with some small docks without power or water for about $0.25 /ft/day (which is about $8 per day for us). It took us about three hours of sounding the canal and the area around the docks in our dinghy to make sure it was deep enough. But now we have our own 60' dock in a quite location. It's a great spot to work on projects and we don't have to worry about noise or leaving stuff out on the docks while we work on it.

We might be here a while as the Tehuantapec is almost at hurricane force winds today. The harbor master here thinks that when the next weather window opens up it will be a long one, so it will be worth the wait. The Tehuantapec is nothing to mess around with this time of year.

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