Huatulco to El Salvador

30 Apr

It wasn’t to long ago when we hated the thought of doing an overnighter, but now we’re doing at least 4 nights out! Oh well me and Katie are really excited to be leaving Mexico now though, we’re a little Mexico’d out now, the thought of seeing a new country is getting us through the thought of spending ages out to sea! Don’t get me wrong though we love Mexico and we will definitely be coming back at some stage!

Like I said in the last post, we all had dock showers before we left the marina at Huatulco, it’s getting really hot and humid now, day and night, it wouldn’t be too bad if we have cool nights at least! To make it worse the air conditioning is playing up now and is very temperamental!

The Tuanepec is proving to be an amazing fishing ground, in the first morning we had no less then 5 fish take the lures, one of them was definitely Dorado, most of them the hook pulled, but one of them pulled at the knot! I was not impressed with that one! To top it off they were all really big, nearly slicing my hand with the 200lb line! I was completely gutted for the rest of the day because of how many fish I had missed!

The first night was fine and we didn’t run into any difficulties, it was after that when the s@#t started hitting the fan! Silver Lining started getting problems with their engine, which meant they had to slow down a little, to cut a long story short, there were ups and downs along the way, one minute it was going great the next minute it wasn’t. All the time this was happening in the infamous Tuanepec! Eventually their engine packed up and threw a rod through the block (not good). This means they can’t use the engine anymore, now they are under the mercy of the winds, but like Ashley said, the reason we were out in the Tuanepec at that time is because there was no wind! If you don’t have wind or an engine you don’t make any progress! In effect they were drifting, and drifting is what we also did, we were not ready to leave them to it out in the Tuanepec! We stuck by them as much as we could, but even on the lowest RPM we took away from them, we actually had to anchor up one morning for them to catch up! We let them overtake us until we set off again!, the nearest place they could get in was a marina in Chiapas, which is still in Mexico! We can’t really go back into Mexico after we have checked out, but at least we can put the 15 horses in our outboard to work, maybe by towing them into the marina, it’s the least we can do! Anyway we finally made it to Chiapas, at the end of the leg we managed to run into some wind, that’s great for Silver Lining! But not too great for launching the dingy, the swell was big and the outcome was that the outboard broke! We couldn’t give a monkeys about the outboard, the main thing is that we have in effect lured Silver Lining closer into shore, that’s not really the best place to be when you don’t have an engine in bumpy seas! Silver Lining launched their dingy along side to get themselves into the marina, all we could do was stand by and make sure they were ok! Ashley did an amazing job of controlling the dingy while Élan took control of the helm! It was our last goodbye, it’s such a shame we couldn’t do it person but we’re sure we will bump into them soon enough, me and Katie were just glad they were somewhere where they could rest after such a tiring experience!

We carried on and entered Guatemala, we’re not planning on stopping here because it’s apparently too expensive to check in! When we entered I brought the Mexican courtesy flag down, it was a bit of an uplifting, private moment to myself, we had successfully sailed through a whole country together! It was in Guatemala where we experienced our first ‘squall’, it had to be on my morning shift, all night it had been lightening in the distance, I could see these large blobs on the radar. ( In the picture below, the radar screen is on the right and the chart is on the left, on the radar screen you can see the land on the left hand side, you can see how it coincides with the chart, every ring on the radar screen is 4 nautical miles. Ahead and to the right of us is the storm forming, most of it is around 16 miles away)

This must be weather showing up, it can’t be anything else! It was gradually getting worse and worse, it was when the sun came up when I could actually see this ahead! Time to wake Katie up, who was sleeping on deck through my watch.

Within the next 3 minutes the wind picked up from virtually zero to 20 knts, 20 knts isnt that bad to sail in but when it comes at you that quick its a bit scary! Again it wasn’t the nicest way to wake lee up to. It pelted it down so hard I couldn’t look over or around the dodger the rain hurt my face so badly! I suppose that’s why it’s called a dodger! The winds then got up to 32 knts, Katie really wasn’t happy about all this and was getting quite upset, she rode it out curled up in bed, I wish I could of just done that! As soon as the storm hit it was gone, this is pretty characteristic of storms out here! It is now officially rainy season in El Salvador so we should be seeing more of these squalls along the way. After everything died down Katie was fine, she actually slept through the end, it couldn’t of been that bad then! This must of been Guatemala’s way of welcoming us in!

Infact on my night watch the next night I could see the same thing on radar, big blobs forming and joining together, this time it was overland! I came to the idea that we needed to speed up to try and out run this mess, I don’t really fancy being in two storms in the same 24hrs!

We were all starting to get really tired of this trip now, instead of 3-4 nights it was 6 nights until we made it El Salvador, you can tell how unimpressed Katie was in this photo.

Bahia del Sol in El Salvador is the marina we’re looking to get into, it’s the only one with actual pontoons to tie onto, the others are all mooring buoys, the only difference is that we have to get over a pretty big sand bar to get into the esturary. Theres a pilot Rogehilo that comes out on his jet ski to guide you in over the massive breakers, because there’s the El Salvador Cruisers Rally there at the moment, Bill comes out with Rogehilo to tell you what to do in English. We spoke With the hotel there and they let us know what was going to happen, it looks like we’re going to have to wait till high tide to get over the sand bar. During the VHF call to the hotel, a lady called Jean told a little more information, she went on to tell us that we need to have everything loose strapped down, all the hatches need to be shut, if we have any pets or children on board to have them safely stowed away and if you have any cameras point them to the stern because that’s where all the action will be…. Right, is this lady being over cautious? It can’t be that bad right? We’ve navigated over sand bars before! Jean also told us what co-ordinates to anchor up on in wait for high tide. We anchored up, had a snooze, got bored of waiting and had an infestation of little fly’s annoying us for hours! We couldn’t wait for the go ahead call on the VHF. While we were anchored up we couldn’t help guessing where the entrance to the marina could be, all we could see on towards the shore were huge waves rolling then crashing, we could hear the roar from a few miles away! There must be some sort of snicket we’re going to find. A few hours later we hear…..’Solent, Solent, Solent, this is Bahia del Sol’ Yes! This is it, 6 long days at sea and now we’re finally getting into a marina! Bill talked is through getting to the entrance, he must of been able to see our mast over the big breakers, but we couldn’t see him at all on the poxy little jet ski! Katie said wouldn’t it be funny if we saw a little jet ski pop out over those waves, well sure enough that was exactly what happened!

Heres Rogehilo and Bill on the jet ski coming to guide us through the waves!

Rogehilo knows this bar like the back of his hand, it always admires me when I meet someone who has such a great ‘watercraft’, it comes second nature to them and I take my hat off to guys like Rogehilo! Bill was nice and calm on the radio to us guiding us through, but first we have to wait for Rogehilo to study the ‘sets’. Them out of nowhere we get a ‘GO GO GO’ and Lee floors it, I’ve never heard Solent sound the way she did that day!

Successfully through the first breaker! These photos don’t really do justice to how fun and nerve racking it actually was, it’s just not natural to use a 40ft sailboat as a surfboard!

We made 11knts on the second wave but it was a lot faster surfing the first one, none of us were paying attention to the instruments to be honest!

Our first proper view of El Salvador!

Still buzzing from surfing in we got Solent ready for docking up, when we got closer to the docks we could see a handful of people waiting to help on the dock, we made it in with no problems and before all the lines were tied we were welcomed into El Salvador with a cocktail each! I could get used to this! The port authorities and immigration were there to meet us to check in, everything was so easy, everyone was so helpfull, jean gave us a few information packs of El Salvador which was super handy!

But enough of all the boring stuff me and Kate quickly found the pool! There’s no cash onsite, everything’s signed for, beers are a dollar and the food is cheap, I don’t even have to go to the bar 30m away from the pool, everythings looked after for us!

By the sounds of it we have a nice little break here of 4 nights, that should be enough time to relax, I’m just worried of the credit card bill at the end! Oh well I’ll worry about that when the time comes!

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