Sunday, March 27, 2011

EL SALVADOR!

How exciting - we're finally on our way! We have thoroughly enjoyed our visits to Mexico with an incredibly diverse country and super friendly people. We have learned that you can't judge Mexico and its people by the sensationalist media reporting. We never felt threatened or insecure personally or for our property. But now, after spending 1.5 years, not to mention other trips in the past through various parts of Mexico, we were feeling it was time to move on.

We left under an almost full moon on the 22nd as we motored down the coast with no wind. We had planned on crossing the feared Gulf of Tehuantepec with "one foot on the beach". This means staying very close to the shore, where the possibility of the often treacherous winds that funnel out of the northern Gulf of Mexico won't affect you. If a sailor is hit with winds, you don't want to be out in the middle where seas can build to humongous heights. But shortly after starting out from Huatulco (our staging area for the crossing) and upon getting close to Salina Cruz where normally you would start feeling any effects of strong wind, it became evident that the forecasts were correct and the air was idle so we decided to veer right, away from the shore, for the more direct and shorter route straight across.

Now the downside of waiting for no winds is it's likely you will be doing a lot of motoring, something that a "sailor" would rather not do. We started out motor-sailing a bit with 6 knots out of the SE. There was a definite current pushing southward and we crabbed 10 degrees to port. But all in all, it was virtually a windless passage, as predicted by weather-guru Don Anderson.

The treacherous Tehunatepec??

We made short order of the succulent Dorado fish that Jordan finally caught after his lengthy drought with a line trailing off the stern of the boat.

Striking blue and yellow colours change to dull grey when out of salt water

We had a very safe and benign crossing of the Tehuantepec and reached the Guatemala border of Central America around 02:00 after 2 full days at sea. We didn't stop anywhere along the Guatemalan coast as it is not very "cruiser friendly" in the sense that it lacks protected stops with facilities (but we will visit via a land trip from El Salvador). 

Now paralleling the coast about 25 km off shore, we passed into El Salvador waters shortly after midnight March 26th. It dawned on us that we are now becoming serious sailors when we think nothing of starting out from one county, sailing past another without stopping, and sailing over half the way down the coast of the next country before turning in.

And that we did, arriving at the "meeting room", a waypoint outside of Bahia del Sol, at 17:45, a day earlier than expected. To pass from the open ocean to the inner waters of the bay, you have to cross a shallow sandy buildup shoal that has, particularly at low tide, breaking surf. So it is a must to time the crossing with as much water under our keel as possible, i.e. high tide.  Next high tide: the following morning, so we set anchor (N13°16.223' W088°53.840') with a depth of 15 m under us, in fairly calm waters and toasted ourselves of a job well done and arriving at a new country! We were one of 4 boats waiting there.

Throughout our passage from Huatulco to El Salvador, we saw so many lackadaisical sea turtles, leaping rays, and even spotted a shark that came right up to our stern with its intimidating dorsal fin and swishing tail visible! We were also treated to a visit by hundreds of dolphins coming at us from all angles.

So graceful, one of many dolphins leaping

The next morning, the organizers of the El Salvador Rally contacted us and said a sea-doo would come out to meet us and guide us in over the surf. They arrived and signalled us to follow at full throttle. We only had a couple of not real steep waves that picked us up from the stern and gave us a boosting ride

Here we come!

Apparently we picked a good safe day to cross. Once clear of the bar, waiting dinghies escorted us about a kilometre or so up the bay to the marina and hotel facilities. It had been a week since any boats were ushered in, so when we arrived at the docks of Bahia del Sol Marina (N13°18.060' W088°53.533'), not only were we met by the Rally organizers but there were a whole bunch of other sailors there to welcome us in including two great friends, Lue and Claes of SV Whiteshell II, who all made us feel so welcomed.

4 comments:

Carolyn Daley said...

Hi you two, Great blog.. and thanks for letting us follow along with your journey. Good for you for finding a windlass day or two to cross the dreaded Tuantapec... well done. Jordon, what's your secret for fishing.. you seem to catch more than most..? Anyway, take care and keep writing.. thanks again. Carolyn & Kathy

The Intrepid II Crew said...

Congratulations on reaching El Salvador - we were so glad we could 'chat' briefly on the Southbound net while you were getting ready to go...and that you had a great T'pec crossing! We've just reached Guaymas and will get Intrepid II ready for the summer before heading home. Look forward to catching up on your blogs again.

Ellen said...

Hi Jordan and Judy
Glad you made it safely to El Salvador. Congrats. We are following your blog and making mental notes for ourselves next year. Have fun exploring new territory. Say hi to Lou and Clase for us.
Cheers
Ellen and Ian
sv Kasasa

Don Anderson's daughter said...

Hi, I am your "weather-guru Don Anderson's" daughter. I'm sure you've heard the news of Don passing away on April 13. It's on Latitude 38; plus you can read his obituary online at the Ventura Star newspaper, and you can get more info on Facebook at Donald James Anderson or go to summerpassage@gmail.com to see the comments from hundreds of other sailors, if you haven't already. I've been surfing the net to get some pictures of Dad for our memorial program. I loved what you wrote about Dad. :) Safe sailing to you and your family ~ Carol Anderson Ramirez