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Santa Elena to Playa Coco

24 May

Having the ultimate chill out time, swimming, fishing and reading at Santa Elena, the itchy feeling of moving again was beginning to take a hold. This little gem was certainly ‘up there’ on the list, by no means are me and Katie wishing this away, it’s just to exciting to see what’s waiting for us round the corner…… possibly the next little gem?

It’s an easy 35 miles to Playa Coco, so it should be a nice easy hop down, we can take it nice and easy, no real reason to rush. It was a very straight forward passage until we started seeing the ‘tell tale’ signs of our friend the thunder storm! Better start getting everything tied down and secured…..probably won’t be needing the shades soon either!

We were a few hours out of Coco and we could hear Talaria talking to Saben on the radio, they had left Santa Elena at first light and were already anchored in Coco, to our dismay it was apparently chucking it down over there, so it looks like we’re going to be getting a bit wet anchoring up, we love the rain though right? Anyway the squall engulfed us in its 30knt winds, face stinging rain, roaring thunder and blinding lightning for about 45 mins then died right down, leaving us with just the rain, it really cooled the air down though. We came into the anchorage at Coco a bit fresh, but it didn’t take long to get settled down. As much as we liked to, we couldn’t take a walk around the town as we weren’t actually checked into Costa Rica, instead Katie knocked up a roast beef hash from a tin for dinner, it was actually really, really good considering it looked and smelt like cat food! Coco managed to show us that she’s competing with the best, giving us this amazing sunset on our first night.

We need to go into Coco for the simple but important reason to check in to the country, we have done this for every country we’ve visited, you go and see the relevant Authority’s, which are typically the Port Captain, Customs and Immigration, they ‘make sure’ everything’s in order in terms of passports and boat documents etc.

It was a relatively pleasant experience for us, thankfully, we bumped into Talaria and Saben on the high street, they had been given the wrong paper work by the officials, which means they have to go and do everything they did the previous day again, bit of a nightmare but at least it gave us a bit of a ‘heads up’ to make sure to check everything before leaving. The only senseless thing we found out that day, is that the Port Captain is on the beach, the Customs is at the airport and Immigration is half way up the main high street, you would of thought they would have the offices all in the same place, oh well, after a few taxi rides and $60 down we were done with the official stuff, time to find somewhere to eat! Our taxi driver told us about Papagayo seafood along the high street, we were too tired from rushing around with paper all day to be bothered to find anything else, besides there’s a lot of fishing boats moored up out in the bay so it must be decently fresh! Papagayo seafood definately stands out from the crowd of restaurants around here, they serve you from…..a boat! The whole place is plastered in fishing gear, nets, buoys and hooks, it certainly has character!

Playa Coco is a completely different atmosphere from Santa Elena, its a lot more touristy, but it’s so good to have the different variety of places to keep it exciting. Being a place where people come to holiday theres tonnes of souvenir and other shops lining the main street, Katie found a little boutique after dinner that we popped into but left empty handed, I think the girls more then deserve having a butchers around clothes shops, after being dragged around nearly every tackle, hardware and marine shop along the pacific coast!

Most of the shops along the street are literally just shacks, I found this one that was built around the biggest tree, talk about utilising space!

It was a good idea to leave when we did that first evening ashore, as we were launching the dingy, the sky started clouding over, leaving everything looking like you were looking through yellow lenses, just as we stepped foot aboard Solent the heavens opened, luckily we managed to collect some of it in the water tank. I think the plan for tomorrow is to properly explore Playa Coco, well the main street at least.

Cruising up and down the main street all day was, interesting, there’s a lot of shopping plazas dotted around, that charge extortionate amounts of money, stuff exactly the same as someone selling from a shack down the road but 3 times the price! That’s the biggest give away by telling what a place is going to be like, the price of things, me and Katie realised this wasn’t going to be another El Salvador unfortunately! I didn’t see El Salvador selling these though….

We came across an ‘English pub’ along the strip, this could be interesting, walking past a tout came out to see us as we were checking the menu, he was only from Louisiana in the states, Katie told me that’s where the TV series True Blood is based, it didn’t really give us high hopes of this place….maybe me and Katie could get a job there to add authenticity? To be fair to the place though on Sunday’s they serve Shepperds Pie and a Roast Beef Dinner with Yorkshiiiiiire Puddings, we will definately be up for a bit of that!

It’s thirsty work all this walking, we came up with the brilliant idea of checking out a little bar we could see on the beach from the boat, walking down a little snicket to get to the beach we ran into the biggest pig I have ever seen,

He was a right miserable sod, mind you I would be if I was tied up to a wall, we said hello to him…. At a distance! As we were walking off a few dogs came out of a garden, one of them went straight up to the pig, to be honest I’ve never seen a pigs face light up….but it did! They were both really happy to see each other, the dog even started licking the pigs face! Maybe he tasted nice!

Do you remember the moustache and beard trimmer I found….well I bottled it, I couldnt take it up to the till, even in a foreign country where no one knows me! Cruising is all about improvisation though, so out came the good old kitchen scissors and onto the swim platform I went, this could take a while!

Sunday soon came around, and that meant Yorkshire Puddings! We went back down to the English Pub, to try some of their ‘famous’ English dinners, we couldn’t wait hopefully it’s good! Katie went for the Shepherds Pie and I chose the Roast Beef!

Surprisingly it was actually really good, the thing I’ve personally noticed is that the beef is really good here in Costa Rica where as I haven’t really had a good bit of fish here, I suppose I need to give it more of a chance though! We all thoroughly enjoyed our Sunday Lunches!

On our last day in Coco we went back to the bar on the beach as they have a nice little swimming pool, you get to use it just by ordering drinks so we took full advantage of that! Me and Katie found a hammock and we started messing around with that!

Me and Katie had one last walk along the beach before we had to head off, we walked the length of the black sand beach, along the way we came across loads of blokes pumping bait like I do at home, we went up to one to have a look in his bucket, we were expecting to see worms but instead saw the strangest little creatures called Marucha’s, they were like a slug/prawn/centipede thing, they really were weird!

When we came over in the dingy earlier we loaded it up with all the water containers we could find, we needed to find a tap somewhere ashore because the water on Solent was non existent. At the end of the day we went back to a bar we had brought a lot of custom to over the days and asked them for a favour, without hesitation we were showed to the outside tap round the back, the best thing about Costa Rica is that you can drink straight from the tap basically anywhere!

We kind of got settled in that bar after a few drinks and thought it would be good to get something to eat out, we have a super early start tomorrow and no one wants to be cooking and washing up at this hour! There was a cool looking place a few minutes walk away called Beach Bums, it was always thriving whenever we walked past,

We all ate dinner there then made our way to the dingy to get back to the boat, Beach Bums served us well and we were all stuffed for the short trip home! I nearly forgot to mention Katie’s little friend she met in Beach Bums, she has a habit of attracting the odd ones!

Setting the alarm clock for half 3 in the morning is not my favourite thing to do to be honest, we have a long day ahead of us to Bahia Carrillo, apparently it’s not the calmest place to anchor up but it saves us doing an overnighter!

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Santa Elena

23 May

We have this whole massive bay to ourselves basically, it’s so fortunate that it’s a national reserve, god knows what would of happened to it if it wasn’t, the bay is very nearly land locked except for the opening to get in, this means the water is flat calm, apparently it can blow a bit in here, we’re tucked right in behind a hill so we should be just fine! I expect if it wasn’t a reserve, being so protected, it would be crawling with beach bars and water sport noisy-ness. Costa Rica is the ‘greenest’ country in the world according to the New Economics Foundation (whoever they are!) and ranks first in the Happy Planet Index. There is great wildlife out here, the marine life is teaming, judging by all the sport fishing activity around, it’s covered in jungle, so there’s lots of Parrots, Monkeys and even Sloths. We’re actually in rainy season here now so it should be getting even more ‘greener’….just like home (kind of)

We’ve generally been mucking about on the boat, fishing and swimming, the water in Santa Elena is really clear and free from any ‘sea scum’, and it’s nice and warm! As I was saying before its rainy season in Costa Rica so everyday we get at least one storm come through, it’s nice to watch it happen from a safe anchorage, it’s another thing being in it! At least we’re topping up our fresh water though!

Here comes the rain!

Rain obviously means fresh water, fresh water means drinking water and showers! You can probably tell by the way I’m banging on about the rain, but it’s sad to say, me and Katie have actually missed the good old rain! Alright, ok, it is a tad more bearable out here because it’s still warm when it rains, you really don’t realise what you have until you loose it! Katie got down to business and started collecting the water from the downpours, and she done really well!

Every little helps, it’s actually really thirsty work too!

While Katie was busy gathering important life ensuring water, I on the other hand went for the shower option! After all, I need to keep my new golden locks in tip top condition!

Lee started feeling better, we could tell this, not by monitoring his health, but by the way he set up a halyard swing! We figured this wouldn’t be the normal behaviour of a sick man. Basically a halyard hoists a sail up in a vertical direction, all the way to the top of the mast, we tied it off so it wouldn’t all tangle half way up the rigging, then all you do is simply run off and swing out into the water, so much fun, this provided tonnes of excitement!…..simple minds n all!

There’s only so much swimming one can do, it was time for a hike. There’s quite a few rambles around this reserve, we settled on the walk to the waterfall in the end. Launching the dingy felt good, I can’t remember the last time we went out on it, me and Katie are gagging for a bit of sand between the toes, we’ve done the pools for now. So we packed the bags with the essentials, water, bug spray, camera etc and were good to go! We put in the GPS co-ordinates into the handheld and off we went in search of the waterfall. As soon as we landed on the shore we were covered in Mosquitos, we are in the jungle now the mossie’s have no mercy anymore! Everyone doused themselves in the bug sprays and headed on our way!

It was so tempting to swing off this, while beating my chest, howling like George of the Jungle, would probably pass on the jungle attire though!

Along the hike we got absolutely got caked in mud from the previous rain, there were puddles everywhere and you could see the Mosquito Larve in them, constantly you could hear the high pitch buzzing passed you ears (am I starting to make you itch yet? Because I am writing this) The ‘route’ to the waterfall took us down a stream, lined with rocks and vegetation, great, at least we get to clean our footwear! In all seriousness it was an incredible surrounding to be in, we had it all to ourselves, only sharing it with the wildlife, including huge spiders!

After a good 45 minute scramble up the stream we came to the waterfall, granted it wasn’t the biggest in the world, but it was still our own secluded, tranquil little spot. It was also a chance for me to practise using the camera in its manual mode!

The best thing about this place, is that it has a fresh water pool deep enough to properly swim in, so we all jumped in, even Katie did! It was an awesome end to the little trek, having a dip in fresh water to cool off, the bottom of the waterfall was just like a jaquzzi, the rocks were holding in the heat, along with the shallow water higher up, so the water falling was warmer then the natural pool we were in, it was great!

After getting back from the trek we made it back to Solent, and out came the fishing gear, as I’ve always told Kate, fishing is a great way to chill out and pass time, I don’t think she realised all the times I’ve gone, but I think she did this time, she was at it for hours on end, and her patience paid off at last, she caught her very first fish, without any help from me, even unhooking it on her own! She told me that she was studying how the fish were behaving, adapted the little lures to that and ended up with a fish…..maybe katie is finally coming round! Oh and Serena caught two puffer fish, I think he may of been the same one, to say the least he was a bit tricky to unhook!

 

While Katie was fishing and I was reading, I heard her shout ‘wow!’ I ran over to see what she was going on about, she was staring at something on her hand, it was only until I got closer I saw what it was, it was a golden bug! Very bizarre!

Oh remember me telling you about Katie ‘seeing’ things on her watches? It turns out that what she was really seeing wasn’t a figure of her imagination, or UFO’s, they were infact Fire Flies! The reason we found out is because the whole of Santa Elena bay lights up with the little creatures every night! We were cooking dinner down below and it was dark out, I looked out the window and saw this green/yellow light flashing on the window, I thought someone was shining a laser pen through for a spit second, until we realised what it was! We all went out into the cockpit to get a better view of their mesmerising light show, it was fantastic, as far as the eye could see, the dark night was lit up with a dancing light show, amazing!

We’re getting some cracking sunsets here as well so I’m going to leave a few shots I managed to get of them!

By the way guys, if your reading these posts but haven’t yet followed by email then please, feel free to, it doesnt take long and makes it so much easier for you to follow our adventure!

El Salvador (Bahia del Sol) to Costa Rica (Bahia Santa Elena)

18 May

Spending 11 days in El Salvador was a brilliant way to kick back and relax a little, it got to a point though when we thought we were never going to get out of Bahia del Sol, that place is just way to easy to get sucked into spending everyday by the pool…not too easy getting out though it seems! Every time we set a day to leave something popped up (weather mainly), the main thing was getting the sandbar crossing on a good day.

The last day we had there was probably the most fun me and Katie had while in El Salvador. I was in the pool when everyone was going up to the green with Bocce balls (Bowls), they told me to get everyone on Solent rounded up for a game, so I jumped out and ran back to the boat to get the guys, Serena and Lee were up at the office checking us out of the country for the next day, so it was just me and Katie, making our way up to the green it suddenly darkened over and we could feel the first spots of rain, even these two were not silly enough to be out in it! If you look in the barrel you might be able to see to Macaws

The guys had already started playing and were in 2 teams, me and Katie split up to be opponents by going on separate teams, anyway it was a great afternoon away from the boats and boat talk! We got through a few beers…even Katie was sinking them! I dunno it seems whenever you mix alcohol and a large expanse of grass, cartwheels, handstands and other somersaults always come out! Katie was cartwheeling her heart out with the others. Unfortunatley as we lost the light the bugs started coming out so we made a move back to the pool, by that time it was absolutely chucking it down, we were all soaked and a little tipsy so the inevitable happened….we all ended up in the pool fully clothed!

In this photo you can see Katie, Nicole, the two little brothers Micky and JP, their mum Molly and Lee, I think all the others are out of frame but there were quite a few of us in there at one point. Then came the bomb and bellyflop competitions, all acting like big kids it was great!

Do you remember the fruit gathering trip me and Katie went on the other day? Well we got the coconut out to have a go on that, I could of really done with a machete to be fair, so I could of taken the top of in one swift movement, hopefully impressing Katie, but no, we didn’t have anything other then a hacksaw with 32 teeth per centimetre which was do-able, it didn’t really look bushman like though! The water from it was well worth looking like a tit Infront of the locals though! Maybe I should get the hacksaw on that beard of mine, I think it’s past shaving now, though I’m getting quite fond of it!

The day we left the tide for getting over the bar was around midday-ish, Serena and Lee wanted to take Solent over to a boat handy-man called Santos, he has a handfull of moorings opposite the marina, he’s really cheap and does great boat repairs, it turns out he’s a welder by trade so I got chatting to him, he told us that he went to his dads welding workshop in the city when he was only 6 years of age!!! Serena and Lee got him to sort out a dive under the boat to clean the growth off the hull, theres a couple of sacrificial anodes on the prop shaft that need changing and there’s still a little rope still on the prop from our crab pot in Mexico that needs taking off. He gathered two of his ’employees’ to do the cleaning while he done the anodes, he came aboard for a beer after and told us his story, which was well worth listening to. When the other guys were finished cleaning Solent’s bum we gave them a beer each, which was cracked open straight away, they deserved it!

Bahia del Sol from Santos’ mooring

 

Rogehilo the pilot took the jet ski out to the sandbar to check the situation over there, Bill who jumps on the jet ski with him to relay the instructions in English wasn’t around for a few days, so it was Ben’s job to take us out, Ben is Molly’s husband, Micky and J.P’s dad, they all live on their boat Knee Deep, we were having dinner with them one night, Ben let on to us that he had told Bill that when he ‘grows up’ he wants to go out on the jet ski! We were glad we bumped into Ben and Molly, they are the most coolest people! So anyway we got called on the radio by Ben letting us know that everything is good to go! While having the radio on we heard a boat that was waiting outside the sandbar to come in, they had run out of fuel, Ben and Rogehilo were going to take them a jerry can on the jet ski, balancing inbetween Rogehilo’s legs! This bloke was going on about having a swarm of Bees around the boat, asking if that’s normal and what he should do about it, fair enough, if it’s a regular occurrence then someone might be able to tell him what he could do about his bee problem, but as we were coming upto the sandbar, all of Bens attention is taken up with translating what Rogehilo is saying, then relaying it to us and generally guiding us through, his job is made much, much harder when someone keeps asking him what they should do with their Bee problem. I suppose the boat waiting to come in didn’t quite realise what’s involved with crossing the bar, just like we didn’t when we were waiting out there, not expecting to be surfing the boat over crashing waves. Lee’s bringing Solent up to the bar, we’re all tethered in with life jackets on, waiting for Rogehilo and Bens instructions….The previous day getting two other boats Talaria and Saben out, the jet ski flipped twice, chucking Rogehilo and Ben into the raging surf! We finally got the shout from Ben to throttle full speed ahead, seconds into doing that an alarm started sounding from the engine dials, no one said anything at first, we were all hoping it wasnt happening i think, all wishfull thinking, until Serena plucked up the courage to ask what it was, it was the engine overheating alarm, Lee told me to run down and just check the Volvo, so I went below and everything seemed fine…..although this is not the place we want anything bad to happen, especially to end up with no propulsion, if we turn beam on (side on) to one of these breakers we will certainly be getting wet! Everything went smoothly, Ben does a great job of calming things down! We made it through but didn’t really get any decent photos this time, even if we did, they dont really do it any justice whatsoever, it’s a ‘you have to be there’ thing!

Ben and Rogehilo on the jet ski, the only photo that didn’t have any motion blur

We were through, said our thanks and goodbyes to Ben, threw in a few waves to them both and headed on south to Costa Rica, it’s 204nm so its going to be a two nighter…easy right. While we were still in the area we could hear Ben calling another boat in Bahia del Sol, he was telling them that the tide is starting to turn so they were planning on getting the ‘Bee’ boat over the bar as quick as possible, oh and he also said that the jet ski is running on fumes now as well, if they don’t get back within 45 minutes to send a search party out! Sod’s law ain’t it, they were sat on a jerry can of petrol 5 minutes ago!

The first evening we started seeing the tell tale signs of weather developing on the radar, and sure enough it thundered and lightninged all night, to the left, to the right, behind, Infront and over the top of us, Katie doesn’t really like thunder and lightning so I slept on deck with her through her watch, just as we went down it started chucking it down, right through till the morning!

The next day Lee was sleeping a lot, Serena thought maybe it was just the rubbish night before in the rain, but it turns out he had some sort of fever coming on, that’s not really good news out here, it could be anything, most worrying Malaria or Dengue Fever. But we all got on with it and let the skipper rest, I chucked out the fishing lines after not seeing a Booby flying around for a while, honestly within 5 minutes I heard the bungee fling back (it only does that after something goes for the lure) I’ve developed an ear for that now, I looked over the solar panels and to my excitement I saw a Mahi Mahi chasing the lure, I showed Kate and hoped it would go for a take again, we have no meat on the boat now so fresh fish would be a lovely meal! It might even do Lee some good! 10 minutes later we had him.

They have the most amazing colours and it’s a shame to take it for the plate, but we literally have nothing, we actually only put the lines out when we need food now. After thanking the fish for dinner he was filleted and eaten within half hour! You can get fresher then that! It was delicious, we had it barbecued in foil with pepper and lemon peel, over a bed of Quinoa rice! Unbeatable!

It came around to my watch, the second night didn’t seem as bad as the night before, but as always something happens on my watch, I started seeing the formidable weather conjuring up something nasty for us on the radar, great!

That mass you can see on the radar isn’t land, you can tell by looking at the radar overlay on the chart, it’s weather, it builds up out of nothing….and follows you! This one we managed to outrun pretty easy but it was touch and go for a while! On Katie’s watch I was on the cockpit floor asleep, I woke up to hearing Katie on the walkie talkie to Serena, going on about some flashing lights floating up into the sky, she must be really tired, if she’s now starting to see things!

Finally making it into Santa Elena, me and Katie were asleep when the anchor went down but woke up to a lovely little spot! It’s pretty cool waking up in another country, we woke up to complete silence, only the sound of the parrots, maybe even a few Howler Monkeys and fish splashing around the boat….. No jet skis, cruise ships or pangas, bliss!

Lee was still feeling pretty rough so we had a nice lazy day just listening to the wildlife, fishing and reading. We got in touch with Talaria from El Salvador, who arrived a day earlier then us, it turns out they had a rough time of it, 7 hours of waves crashing over the bow…… We were lucky, this time!

I think we’re going to hang around here for a while, at least until the skipper gets back on his feet, we’re more then happy with staying in a place like this though, if we were back home we would be stuck at work, daydreaming of a paradise like this! We are very lucky!

Bumming around Bahia de Sol

16 May

We’ve been here longer then expected mainly due to the weather, the swell over the sand bar in the entrance of the esturary has been a bit too big to exit. It’s nice here but we’ve kind of gotten into a routine that consists of, getting up for breakfast, going to the pool, having a few beers, updating you guys, then finally grabbing dinner. That’s completely fine and we’re not complaining at all, it’s just a bit ‘samey’. Katie come up with the idea of taking a walk down to the beach, if the swell is too big to get out then there should be some big surf down there, plus we need the exercise! It’s only about a 10 minute walk up to the beach, along the way we bumped into a few locals around here.

This little calf was bouncing around the foal trying to play with it, the foal didn’t really know what to do
and hid behind his mum most of the time

We had the beach to ourselves basically and it was great to have a casual stroll listening to the mighty roar of the crashing surf, as per usual, as soon as Katie was on the beach she found herself a poking stick to poke everything in her sight that looked interesting, mainly dead things! Eventually we put the stick to a creative use and came up with this! When we get the use of a laptop we thought we could use it as the heading image for the blog maybe.

Or do you think maybe this one

It was a great way to spend the afternoon together, it was nice to feel a bit of sand between the toes again! On the way back to the marina we found a pile of Coconuts, we sneaked up to it and Katie pinched one before the gardener saw us, there were also a few Cashew trees dotted around the place, the ones our guide pointed out to us the other day were too far out of bounds to get, we managed to find one were I could lob a flip flop up to knock a few fruits down! All this getting free food malarkey is becoming quite addictive, it’s definately fun!

As soon as the parrot saw the booty we had come back with he was straight over to us, I gave up one of our Cashew fruits, but I wish I never had now, I took a few bites then left it, maybe we should look up these Cashew fruits, it’s not a good sign the animals leave them! Hopefully he’s just a very picky parrot!

The Mayan tour

15 May

While we’re here in El Salvador for a bit, it would be nice to see some of the country, we organised a day visiting the Mayan sites that cover El Salvador. Mainly all of Central American is Mayan, Mexico was the place the Aztecs hung out and further down is where the Inca’s are. The tour van picked us up from the lobby here in the resort early, me and Katie have been really excited about this, we both loved learning about the Aztecs etc in school, now we’re actually getting to see some of the sites similar to the ones we studied in school! Getting a tour is quite a lot of money but we have the advantage of having someone explain everything to us…in English! We also get an air conditioned van, water and security, hopefully we won’t have to use the latter. It was 7.45am and we were waiting for the tour guys to get here, then we got chatting to these 2 guys! They live in a tree in a barrel that’s on it’s side nailed to a branch, we were watching them for a while, they go up to this door and knock for someone to come and get them their breakfast, clever things!

Success

Watching them more we saw that they ate the bread until they got to the crusts, they would then dip the crusts into their water then eat it!

The tour guys showed up and we all got introduced to the driver, who speaks no English and the tour guide who was extremely friendly, as we were driving out of the hotel he pointed out a Cashew tree out to us, there’s big bits of yellow fruit with the Cashew nut (which is the seed) hanging out of the bottom, he told us that the fruits are ready on that particular tree, we were told that the nut unprepared is actually poisonous, you have to cook the nuts in a fire, that then burns all the poison off, no wonder they are so expensive. We will have to look at that another day!

This signs a little different from the ones we saw in Puerto Vallarta!

Our first site we’re on our way to is called Joya de Ceren, its past San Salvador so we’re in for a bit of a drive. Joya de Ceren is an Mayan agricultural site, this is where the normal people lived, growing cocoa, corn and other stuff, it’s very different to the other sites around here mainly for a couple of things, firstly it belongs to the Mayan people, not like the typical Mayan pyramids that belonged to the royalty of the Mayan world, the other reason of its significance is how preserved it is, it’s only preserved the way it is because it was covered by volcanic ash a few times. The archeologists have learnt a lot from this site because when the volcano nearby erupted, the people fled leaving everything the way it was. It’s likened to Pompeii becuase of the volcanic material preserving everything, but there is one huge difference, here at Joya de Ceren they have found no human body’s! We walked through a little museum there and our guide explained everything to us, you can see he’s quite passionate about his history. Basically this site was found by complete accident in the 70’s, like most of them, some guy was landscaping the land here with a bulldozer, in the middle of doing this he accidentally hit a corner of some sort of structure underground, he informed someone about what he had found, it was so lucky that the land here was public land, if it had been private land it would of been ignored and bulldozed anyway! Apparently, it came out recently that there was a site similar to this one, but it was on private land so they quickly got rid of it, so they could build over it! In the museum it had loads of information about the area, they were able to get moulds of half eaten corn cobs, bowels with bean soup still in them, these people really did just leave everything to save themselves!

Above is a picture of a house, you can see all the layers of volcanic material this place was covered with, all the wood has been put back in, everything like that burnt away in the intense heat of the ash, putting it back in adds structure, it also shows you the building skills that were used!

They used a wood similar to bamboo to add structure to the walls, exactly the same techniques used today with re bar and concrete. Apparently it was very earthquake proof because of this, this area is extremely seismic. This wall was knocked over in an earthquake before the volcano erupted all those years back, these buildings are extremely sensitive to the elements now so they are covered over with big roofs to keep the rain out.

Walking over to the next lot of in unearthed building our guide pointed this out to us, we didn’t know what it was at first but he told us it was cocoa beans… Chocolate! The ones in the top picture are very young beans and are not ready yet, the ones below are ready, we didn’t pick them though unfrotunately!

Here’s a few more pics of the settlement, they didn’t build everything in one place, they slept separate from where they stored food and the kitchen was detached from them, incase of fire I think.

In this one you can see the layers of the ash again, the archeologists quite often leave lumps of this just to stop something falling down, doorways etc

While everyone was in the toilet the guide showed me a mango tree with all the mangos around it on the floor, I picked one up and ate it, it was really good, the guide ran over to get a bag and picked them all up, I was a bit gutted because I thought he was keeping them, but infact he gave them to me to keep for dinner! Here’s a bad photo of the cashew fruits

We were finished up and Joya de Ceren and were on our way to the next site, which was called San Andreas, it was a ten minute drive away down the same river, obviously their source of water.

San Andreas is different from Joya de Ceren because it’s a ceremonial site (where they do the infamous human sacrifices), this is the place the kings hang out, inbetween the pyramids they have their own ‘highway’ a raised path to get around, the higher you are the more important you are, the kings and queens have to be higher then everyone else!

There’s not as much cocoa around here but there is coffee, coffee only grows well in altitude, at sea level it’s a bit too hot for the plant, but it won’t produce if it’s too high, it has to be just right for it, we must be at a sufficient level because these look good to me!

We walked through the little museum there, we were shown a little about how the royalty lived back in the day, one thing that stood out to me and Katie were how beauty was a big thing amongst them. They would attach beads on string to a babys forehead that dangle Infront of their eyes, being crossed eyed was thought to be beautiful. We also saw a kings skull in the display, the guide pointed out the teeth of the skull, the front 4 teeth had holes in their faces, they had ground out these hole so they could implant the stone Jade into it to show wealth! They did all this with just alcohol and no anaesthetic! The skull had been ‘modified’ I’ve pinched this image from the website but it shows how they used to do this while childrens heads were soft! Completely crazy nowadays!

These pyramids are constructed of volcanic rock, then they slapped on a smooth concrete type material to keep it all together. Here these are covered in grass, they keep it covered, again to protect it from the elements.

After San Andreas we made it over to basically the otherside of El Salvador, along the way we’re going to stop at a big volcano then for lunch to break the day up a little. In the volcano there’s a lake formed in the crater, the volcano isn’t actually active anymore and it hasn’t been for ages! While we were driving to the top, I was thinking maybe we could go for a quick dip!

I couldn’t believe the scale of this thing, it will probably be a day trip in itself to go swimming in the crater lake! We couldn’t get a picture to show the full view of it it was so big!

It’s a shame we didn’t have lunch with the view of this in the background, but instead we jumped in the van and headed of somewhere else for lunch. We didn’t get told where we were going for lunch but everyone’s starving and can’t wait! We eventually made it to ‘Lovers Steak House’ near the city Santa Ana. It was obviously somewhere where the tour goes often because the guide knew everyone there, it was heaving in there, they still quickly knocked us up a table for six, I ordered beer and the guide told me that this place was also a sports bar, so with every beer you get a little snack with it, I got the breaded prawns! It was nice to sit down for lunch, we had a chance to chat to the guide on mutual grounds, it turns out the guy was a tour guide on the weekends and an English teacher during the week, he was telling us about the recent truce between the rival gangs which was helped by the catholic church here, he was also telling us about all the other work the government out here is doing about education for the younger kids, to try and eliminate gang culture from a young age! We’re getting the impression that the country does actually want to change and seem to be getting things done about it, infact El Salvador had its first day without any killings for 3 years, only a few weeks ago! Anyway lunch was great, the food was the best food we have had for a good while, perhaps the first in El Salvador!

As we were in Santa Ana we went to the town centre to have a quick look around. Santa Ana has a lot of Italian influence, the Italians actually came over here and built a church, streets, town halls and even a social club, people who are from Santa Ana even have Italian second names to this day! The church of Santa Ana was built by Italian architects, they built it with clay brick, which they then carved after while the bricks were in situation.

It was amazing inside, it’s quite popular as well, every service they hold they have to have three of them at different times of the day, just to accommodate the sheer amount of people who turn up to go to them! It was a flying visit in Santa Ana, we went to a italian built theatre that’s been recently restored, that was also pretty spectacular, sadly none of the photos came out good enough though!

We did see this sign while we were in the square, you would of thought it would go without saying, but someone obviously thought people need reminding!

After Santa Ana city centre we had only one more place to see, Tazumal I think he may of been saving the best to last!

Tazumal is a massive site, most of it isn’t excavated yet, most of these sites are totally forgotten about , they all start out as just big hills, people build on then eventually find out they are building on amazing history, most of Tazumal is mixed in with other peoples houses, because they were just going into the dense jungle to get rocks, they didn’t know that they were taking rocks from Tazumal! They have found tombs, palaces and loads of other things, it’s still being excavated to this day by Japanese archeologists

So the deal with the Mayan calendar, it’s to do with something, maybe the sun god, being born every 57 or so years, the calendar that everyone thinks means the world is going to end, does infact end on the 21st of December, it doesn’t mean that the world is going to end though it means that the calendar is going to restart, they also build extensions onto their pyramids, in this photo below you can see the different stages of the construction, 57 years apart, everytime the calendar restarts

Steve I think his name was, was the main guy over here, he was an American archeologist, who discovered a lot for our understandings of the Mayans today, he loved it so much he became an El Salvadorian citizen before he died recently, he even lived in Tazumal, can you imagine living with that in your back garden?

While we were walking past his house the guide said to keep your eyes on the floor because the rain washes away the mud and you can sometimes find Obsidian, its a dark natural glass that forms by lava cooling down without crystal growth, the Mayans used it for spear heads, knives and other utensils, apparently it’s being used by companies that make medical tools, because it is so sharp! Anyway Katie found two bits of it and the guide gave her another, the Mayan people offered it to the gods in the ceremonies, that’s why we can find loads of it after it rains, one of Katie’s pieces looks like its been worked by hand! It’s an incredible feeling to have something in your hands that someone else was holding around 2000 years ago!

Walking around the site we came across a graveyard, only recently it was the day of the dead over here, the people come down, tidy up the graves, bring new flowers and just generally be down there.

When we were finished up at Tazumal we went over the road into a little shop, (obviously one of the guides mates again), it was a Jade shop, jade was the treasure of the Mayans, not like the gold in Mexico. Apparently when the Spanish came over to invade they asked the Mayan people to bring them their treasures, when they were brought the Jade the Spanish basically laughed at them, and made their way to Mexico to find real treasures! Jade is actually getting to be more expensive then gold, apparently a while back it was $3000 an ounce! It’s a really hard stone and the only thing that can cut it is diamond! This lady and a fist sized chunk on her top shelf, our guide got it down to show it to us, it was a carving of a god, the nose of the guy was a different colour to the rest of it, when asked how much it was, she told us it wasn’t for sale! We all brought our birthday Mayan charms, a little like the birthstone back home, it wasn’t that expensive but the lady told us it was real jade, she continued and scratched the jade a piece of metal, she told us if it was imitation jade it would of scratched the hell out of it! It was a nice souvenir for a great day out!

We saw this little guy outside the shop I don’t think he was for sale though

Now we’re in for a near 2 hour drive home, it was well worth it though! When we arrived at the marina we took all of our empty bottles and said our goodbyes! As we were walking off they shouted us back and gave us our bag full of the mangoes! Free food!

 

Bahia Del Sol, El Salvador

12 May

The last piece I published explained the exciting way we got into the marina here, thought the surf etc. I don’t think any of us really realised until later on that we’re going to have to go through all of that again sometime soon, to be able to get out! But anyway we’re here now and that’s the main thing. We’ve been here for 7 days now, we leaving tomorrow (Tuesday) it’s been great here, there’s a bar/restaurant at the end of the dock and the pool just a hop, skip and a jump from that! Me and Katie have mainly been taking huge advantage of the pool, but we have also ventured out to see some of El Salvador. A couple of days after being here we took a walk along the massive surf beach, the beach is covered in actual tree trunks that have been uprooted, I’m guessing from the esturary, maybe floating out into the sea with the tide running, then getting smashed onto the beach by the surf. There’s also a lot of rubbish on the beach, especially flip flop and trainer soles, but there not wasted by any means out here, the locals use them to start fires! The roar of the surf along the beach is another little reminder of how powerful the sea can be! We walked all the way down to the entrance of the esturary where we came in the other day, Katie spotted another sailboat out there anchored up, they must be waiting for the pilot along with the high tide to get over the bar, i wonder How they were feeling at that moment watching the surf? There’s a little village down there with a few bits and bobs, they had plenty of stares for us though, the people of El Salvador are a lot more interested in us over here, they are super friendly here though, the staff in the resorts are always friendly, but that’s their job to, it’s not until you get out away from the marinas and resorts to see what people really think of you, so far so good! There is a big big problem here with gangs, there’s two main rivals the Mara 18 and Mara Salvatrucha, we’ve heard lots of mixed stories about visiting El Salvador relating to this, I’m sure we will be just fine!

One evening most of the people with boats here were all in the pool, drinking cold beer and exchanging stories, someone came up with the brilliant idea of running up the road for Papusa’s! England has fish and chips, Mexico has tacos and El Salvador has its Papusa’s, it’s sort of like a tortilla stuffed with cheese and meats.

This is where the magic happens

There must of been 15 of us turn up at this small place, you should of seen their faces! They coped really well considering, me and Katie four Papusa’s to share with two drinks, it only came to just under five dollars!

After we finished up we ran over to the beach because Zachary has quite a bit of kerosene to get rid off, so a bonfire down the beach with a few beers was on the cards. I don’t think we will be needing shoe soles to start this particular fire though!

Zachary with his fire

We organised a driver to take us into San Salvador for the day, Lee needs to get yet more boat bits, we fancied going along for the ride so we could see some of the capital of El Salvador! The driver didn’t speak a word of English, then there’s us with very little Spanish, we worked it out anyway. Along the way we got pulled over by the police on the main road, it looked like some checkpoint, quite a few vehicles were getting pulled over with us, I think our driver may of got a ticket I’m not sure, but after 5 minutes we were on our way again

The driving here is probably just as bad as Mexico, our driver was freely overtaking stopped busses at speed, it only takes someone to step out from behind it, he did slow right down for the cows in the road, i suppose one of them would make more mess of his van! It was around an hour and a half to get to San Salvador, it was a good way to see the places along the way,

All around on the roads you see people hanging off the back of trucks, busses and pick ups, all generations of whole families in the back of a Toyota pick up! These two blokes were hanging off keeping hold onto stacks of plastic garden chairs

When we got to San Salvador the thing we noticed were all the armed guards outside the shops and businesses, this is going back to the gangs, the will come in order the owners to give them an amount of money for them to disappear for a week, if the owner refuses then things get violent. Thats why these uniformed guards are patrolling the front of places, not just little guns either, they have big old pump action shotguns. When we arrived at the boat shop the guard opened a sliding metal gate for the van to drive in, then we were locked in out of view! It turns out the boat shop wasn’t that great and we left empty handed, we went into a DIY shop and got a few things then went for lunch, we stopped at a Wendy’s, it’s a burger restaurant, but the burger meat isn’t frozen rubbish, you can even order a jacket potatoe instead of chips, I well fancied a KFC but everyone fancied Wendy’s, which did actually look better then KFC, I wasn’t let down either! It was a good burger! After lunch we popped into Walmart to get some grub for the boat, as we had the van we can replenish the dwildering beer stock! It was a good place to get some bug spray and something from the pharmacist for Katie’s bites, we’re getting eaten alive out here, poor old Katie has 19 bad ones all over! The stuff we got seems to be working now though! Serena had done a bit of looking around the Internet to see what we could see while in San Salvador. One thing that is in abundance around here are the churches and that’s what we went in search of, we had the directions for Iglesia el Rosario (Iglesia translates to church), we gave the directions to the driver and he took us straight there. When we pulled up to it in the van the driver pointed to it, we all looked at where he was pointing, looked at each other and all thought naa that can’t be it! This place is in the top 3 things to see in El Salvador, but it looks derelict!

We got out and the driver went to park up while we had a look around, i can’t see us being here too long though, walking up it Serena was saying ‘let’s just go home, we’re all tired, this isn’t what we thought it would be!’ we were all kind of in agreement until Lee walked up to the doors, he promptly told us this is the place we saw on the internet! So we went in and was completely awestruck! They have built the walls out of concrete but they have inlayed coloured glass pieces into that concrete, so when the light shines through you get an amazing coloured light show! These photos don’t do it any justice unfortunately!

After Iglesia el Rosario we made it back the van, along the way the street was packed with all sorts of street vendors selling lots of delicious smelling foods, me and Kate were still stuffed from Wendy’s, even though this stuff looked amazing we really couldn’t face eating anything else! Lee on the other hand fancied himself more Papusa’s

He got 8 Papusa’s, salad and some sauce to go with the Papusa’s all for a dollar! I had one to try and they were pretty good, these didn’t have much cheese in them but more veg which was different! There were plenty to go round and even the driver had a couple! We had been at it all day and we were all shattered so we told the driver to get us back to the marina, he must of been pretty tired after running us around all over San Salvador!

I didn’t have enough time to get my phone out to take a shot of this lot, I managed to get on after we passed, these guys rule the road out here, sometimes there’s proper real herds of them in the road, their not to quick to get out of the way though! Any way as soon as we get back I’ll be visiting the pool for a nice evening swim!

Our journey through Central America

8 May

Now that I’ve finally caught up with where we are now, I should probably let you know what our plans are for in the near future! Another one of our rough and ready pictures I’m afraid, but hey it works! The red thin line is where we have sailed so far, all the way from Ensenada, through Guatemala, to where we are to this day, El Salvador. Thats a total of 2,461 miles! We’ve clocked the majority of those these last few weeks!

The thicker green line is our planned route through to the Panama Canal. We will be stopping in Costa Rica on the way down, I’m not sure how long were going to be there for but me and Katie are hoping it won’t be a flying visit! Costa Rica is supposed to be a sweet little place to experience. We’re going to be skipping Nicaragua because it’s meant to be rather expensive to check in, it’s not nice skipping whole countries the way we are but we need to be south ASAP, like I said before we’re chasing weather, because of this we shouldn’t be staying places for too long, so what’s the point in spending so much money checking in, only to be in a country for a couple of days? If worse comes to worse, we can dive into any of these places and anchor up in an emergency, it’s always best to have options, especially now knowing how easily something can go terribly wrong, after witnessing what happened to Silver Lining!

It may take a while to get Solent’s and also our documents sorted for transiting the Panama Canal, the least we need to sort is a Pilot to guide us through the Canal on the day and maybe line handlers. So currently we don’t know how long we will be waiting to transit. Then there’s the actuall transit through the canal, me and katie are super excited about, especially now we have been reading up on it! In a nut shell the Panama Canal connects the Atlantic to the Pacific. They began the work way back in 1880 and it was finally completed in 1914, the reason the idea of the Canal came around is because it’s too dangerous to sail around Cape Horn, having the Canal there decreases the amount of time it would take to get around the dangerous cape by half, that’s actually quite a significant amount! Just like a normal canal there’s a series of locks you have to travel through, the only thing is, your not just tied up to another yacht like you are in Eastbourne locks, your tied up next to huge tankers. Hopefully It should only take us a day to get through in all.

Once we’re through the Panama canal I think we’re going to the San Blas Islands to hang around out there for a while, that’s the black line we’ve put on in the picture, i think the plan is to wait out Hurricane season until thats over and done with in the Carribean (that’s the grey line with the big question mark slapped over it) who knows what’s after that! Its so hard to keep to a plan, it changes every day so it’s hard to say what we’re up to!

Thats the general plan anyway, the purpose of this post is to explain what we’re going to be up to next, we have exciting times ahead of us and we’re really looking forward to that!

El Salvador seems to be a great place, it has definately served us well as a decent place to relax, we have ventured out of the resort only a few times since being here, but ill get that all into the next post! But for now it’s time for bed!……it’s a hard life!

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!

Acapulco to Huatulco

24 Apr

The best thing about leaving late at night is that one night is already nearly over! We actually left Huatulco a bit to late, we should of left before dark because there’s quite a few mooring buoys dotted around, anyhow both boats made it out without problems. The night was pretty uneventful, just the way we like it, we’re still seeing the odd tanker here and there but other then that nada! Its 235 miles to Huatulco. I was on the last watch, 5am till 8am, we made it to Huatulco pretty early so, we were hanging around outside the marina, this time we contacted them before hand, so we had a confirmation! Me and Élan were chatting on the VHF when I noticed a blob on the radar, we have a thing called AIS receiver onboard, basically all the big boats have to broadcast their information, things like their length, beam and draft, their speed, name, whether they are powered by engines or sail, their name and destination. It’s really useful to us, the radar will get a fix on bigger boats out there, but when your bouncing and rolling about, it confuses it and doesn’t tell you the correct speed or heading. But with the AIS it’s a separate signal so it’s as good as it gets in terms of heading and speed, although the captain has to physically change the status, name and destination etc, which is what had happened that morning, I was chatting to Élan first thing in the morning, I see the radar return for the tanker, check the AIS and it’s telling me that his current status is ‘at anchor’! We should be fine on our heading as it is, if he’s not moving, so I carry on nattering to Élan, look at the radar a few mins later and this blob has covered 2 miles closer to us! So I checked the AIS again and it’s now telling me that the current speed is 18 knts, and his heading is straight for us! He was still stating he was at anchor though! You really do have to check, check and double check! We turned the boat around at that point to get out of this guys way and he passed us at a safe distance. Lee was up at that point and he could smell a dodgey smell coming from downstairs, so he rinsed the sink and thought maybe it was the bin, I could smell it aswel, it smelt like an eggy sulphur sort of smell, it was getting worse, Katie even woke up because of it! Then we found out it was the batteries! The floor was getting hot, so I killed the engine and quickly got some tools down to Lee

To say the least Lee wasn’t very happy, the battery was only 5 months old and cost an arm and a leg, it could of been something to do with turning the air conditioning on while we’re underway, it’s amazing how hot the battery got, we chucked it onto the swim platform at the back incase it decided to keep melting and creating heat. I made sure Katie was alright and not poisoned by the gas, opened the hatches to let some air in, then got back underway!

There wasn’t anyone at the marina that spoke English, so we had to ask Ashley to ring them instead, as she is really good at the lingo, I do believe this was the maiden voyage for their new dingy! It must of been put together ok because it didn’t sink! Ashley worked her magic and communicated with the marina, they told us to just come and pick what you want! Lee and Élan weren’t really up for that so we went in from the anchorage by dingy, had a look around, they picked out the slips, job done!

The marina in Huatulco is the only marina there, Huatulco is the place to stop off before leaving Mexico, this is the reason we’re here, it’s somewhere to check out of with customs and immigration.

The first night all the over guys went out for dinner, while me and Katie stayed behind, we fancied pizza so we knicked Silver Linings recipie and had a go ourselves.

It wasn’t as good as Silver Linings, but Katie did a great job as you can see, it’s so much better then eating out we think!

The next day Élan asked if anyone fancies a bike ride into town, because he needed to go to a bank, they have a pair of fold up bikes aboard their boat, I was well up for some of that! It felt like the old days at the half pipe!

Little Apollo came for the ride, he ran along side all the way there and all the way back, it must of been 4 miles in total in over 30 celcius heat! Bless him! He kept pulling over and pretending to cock his leg, but all he was really doing was just trying to get a quick rest! The next day me and Katie went to the beach, as we were leaving Élan told us to take the bikes, Katie’s always wanted a fold up bike so how’s the time to try one out!

Because we hadn’t eaten out for a while we thought we would join the others and pop into town, the food was definately different in this state, the others spent the last day eating grasshoppers, a local delicacy apparently, we were interested in what we would be eating that evening! Theres lots of hotels around here, but it seems it’s a place the locals go on holiday, thats why we were told the best places to eat are the hotels, because of the turnover i expect, its a shame because it this reason the independent restaurants don’t do too well, the street food looked great though! We went to a hotel downtown, the service was great and the beer was cold but the menu was average, the dish me and Katie ordered wasn’t anything special at all, I would much rather our handmade pizza! But the tortilla soup was really good, I have them mostly every time we go out to eat, and this one was up there with the best! Tortilla soup is a tomatoe based soup with shredded tortilla, a kind of mozzarella melted in, onion, peppers and chilli hmmmmm! After that we went to an ‘Irish bar’ that the other guys had scoped out, a nice pint of Guinness wouldn’t go a miss, but I haven’t got high hopes! It was relatively pub looking, Guinness posters plastered over the wall, Bono and George best portraits and……bottled Guinness

And a dart board!……with only 2 darts

The barman was really welcoming, he was from Mexico City and has lived in Huatulco for several year, apparently the original owners were Irish, now a Canadian owns it, he was explaining how he loves English rock and roll, The Rolling Stones etc, he even brought out a drink of Huatulco, Mezcal, it’s different from Tequila, het old us it’s different because there’s a high demand for Tequila around the world, for this reason it’s mass produced to satisfy demand, Mezcal is not in as much demand as Tequila so they can afford to take their time ‘handcrafting’ it. They extract the heart (piña) of the agave plant, which can weigh upto 40kg, they then cook them for 3 days in a earthen oven, this underground roasting gives the Mezcal it’s signature smokey flavour. After the Piñas have been cooked they mash them up and put them in big vats and barrels to ferment and age! We got these pretty good shots ‘on the house’ with salt and lime. Personally I thinks it’s a load different from Tequila, mainly because of the smoked flavour, but apparently it should be the other way round, Tequila is twice distilled where as Mezcal is only distilled once! It was a good night out and a great way to try and get rid of our pesos because the next stop is another country!

The customs and immigration came over to the boats that day, we all got new stamps in our passports, everything was honky dory! We were officially checked out of Mexico! It was funny because the immigration bloke told us he didn’t like the feeling of the boat moving so he had to get off, we were docked up and weren’t moving at all!

We had to get some more food and water so me, Katie, Serena and Ashley went to the shop to sort all that out! The dock cart had seen better days, it was in bits when I dropped it back off to them!

While we’re here I want to get some more fishing gear because we’re getting dangerously low! We was in town and I went to the Yamaha shop to have a look around, the lures are expensive, but if their going to catch food for us it’s a done deal, I’ve tried making lures while we’re out, their good but we’re yet to catch on it! I picked out the lures and got the price, it was going to go on the credit card, I got it out for the bloke and he asked me for ID to go with the card, I haven’t had my ID since back in San Jose Del Cabo when I lost my wallet, what a bummer! The most generous guy I have met, Élan, stepped in with his card and ID, don’t worry mate I haven’t forgotten and will get it back to you soon! On our last night in Huatulco we planned on leaving late in the evening to get to the start of the Tuanepec at sunrise! I’ll give you a little insight to the Tuanepec, it’s the last stretch of sea in southern Mexico, the reason it can get extremely windy out there is because there is no high land protecting it from wind coming from the Carribean and the Gulf of Mexico, the guides say to keep in close to the shore so there’s less chance of the seas building up further out, apparently there’s either no wind out there or there’s gale force winds daring you to cross, there’s no happy medium basically! But there seems to be a great weather window for at least 5 days out there! Just what we need! That’s the reason we want to cross it during daylight hours quickly to get out of the danger zone come the night! We went out to a cheap pizza place the evening we are leaving, just so no ones cooking and we still have pesos to get rid of! It was great pizza and a pretty cool place to eat, we then grabbed a taxi back to the marina to get the boats ready for the get go! Rushing around in the heat instantly brings a sweat on so after filling the water tanks up and getting her ready we all had a shower, when you have water on tap you really want to make the most of it! Especially when we have at least 4 nights at sea to get to El Salvador!

 

Zihuatanejo to Acapulco

20 Apr

‘Going loco down in Acapulco!’ know that one? Well that’s were we’re going to next, it’s 112 miles away so it’s an over nighter, but we’re getting used to them now and their not that bad! On the over nighters you get a good chance of catching fish, you get two of the best times for catching, dusk and dawn. The lines are out, I’m afraid we lost another couple of lures, the favourites from Ensenada, we also had something bend the hook out straight on the ceader plug, I didn’t see what it was but it must of been massive to bend a size 10/0 hook! We didn’t have anything on the way down to Acapulco, it’s probably mother natures way of telling us not to be so greedy, we only had a couple of brilliant Dorado the other day! On my night shift I did have the ‘green’ Dolphins make an appearance for me! We do the night watches on our own now and their only 3 hours long, we have 8 hours of darkness, which means everyone gets a good amount of hours to sleep/rest in between shifts.

We got into Acapulco bay quite early, as we were coming in a little old man was slowing going past us in his panga, I waved and shouted good morning to him, as soon as I acknoledged him he bombed it over to us, he was telling us that he has a mooring ball we can hook up on, when asked for a price he said we decide! His mooring was slightly better then some of them around us!

The boats weren’t any better

 

We stayed on it for a little while before deciding it’s probably not the best idea to stay on it, we anchored up right next to the main beach, in the shadows of all the skyrise hotels, where theres hotels there’s banana boats, jet skis and para sailers! The water here is probably the worst looking colour we’ve seen, infested with rubbish, scum and jellyfish, it was so bad you couldn’t see the last step of the 3 step swim ladder, but I feel as bad as the water here so out came the bucket for bath time! At least i could see if there were any jellyfish in the bucket. Fingers crossed we’re in the marina soon to get some water!

That night was interesting on the anchor, every so often the hotels would let of a handful of really loud fireworks, they didn’t half make me jump! With the dishes piling up it was decided we were going into the marina! But it was Sunday and everything comes to a stand still, it’s family day, no one really works, which didn’t go in our favour trying to get hold of the marina, we got hold of someone in the end and it was confirmed we were docking up in there. Me and Katie couldn’t of been happier, it’s the only time we can just jump if the boat and have a wander around.

Solent and Silver Lining

And wandering around is what we done, and blagged our way into the ‘private members only’ yacht club ha!

 

At first me and Katie didn’t really know what to do, we had the two bar tenders running around after us making sure everything’s ok, I should stop saying that I know a little Spanish, because when I say that they always go off on one and I don’t have a clue what they are saying, he could of been telling us that we’re not aloud to be there and me and Katie are just nodding and asking for beer and lemonade! It all worked out though and the two bar tenders were actually quite a laugh! The marina has a lighthouse that’s basically their mascot, but your not aloud up there, it has stairs and a balcony at the top, en route to the little boys room I found the gate that leads up the lighthouse, open!

I shouted Katie up and we were hiding from the bar tenders incase they told us off, i think it was a case of what the don’t see doesn’t harm!

Theres a Costco in Acapulco, it’s a great place to go to get provisions for a boat because everything’s in bulk! The main mode of transport here are the taxis, Beetles! Mexico is crawling with them!

It was a bit tricky to get two boats worth of food, water and beer in one little beetle so he called his mate with a bigger car for back up!

Incase your wondering Katie didn’t have chilli the night before!

We fancied some good old sight seeing, there’s a fort near the marina, so we bundled up all our laundry and grabbed a taxi to the laundrette, dropped that off and walked to the fort. We like a good old museum, especially around here because of all the Spanish invasion and all the old trade runs, and of course pirates!

One of the many cannons looking out into the bay of Acapulco

While Serena was researching places to see around here, she came across a place where people cliff dive every night on the hour, sounds interesting, we grabbed a cab and instructed the driver to take us to this place, he knew straight away and was telling us loads of handy stuff for around there! There’s a restaurant up there where you can eat dinner and have the perfect view of the cliffs, it was 400 pesos (£20) that’s for a 3 course meal and 2 drinks of choice! Not bad really! In between the dives there was Mexican dancing on a little stage which was brilliant, they were dressed in animal costumes etc, the meal wasn’t great to be honest, but I suppose your paying for the location! I don’t have any photos of the diving, only videos, I know I keep saying it but Ive still gotta get round to putting them on! The cliff divers boomed in the 1950s and there’s a wall in the restaurant with lots of famous peoples signatures on, along with the old photos of them.

Lee and Serena went out for a meal alone one night, so we stayed in for dinner, its cheaper! Anyway we get a knock on the boat, I go out and see who it is, it’s Élan with a plate of pizza! They made it all in a pan, the base consists of wholemeal flour, water and a pinch of baking soda, cook that in the pan until its nice and crispy, add the toppings and whack the lid on to melt it all! Incredible! A nice cheeky little starter!

The last night was a rush again, we didn’t end up leaving until around 10pm, we managed to get everything sorted, including re assembling Silver Linings dingy! We’re off to Huatulco after this place a few over nighters but it’s cool! We had fun in Acapulco even though all the hotels make it feel like its just out of the 80s!

Leaving Acapulco at night