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Francis Drake's Headquarters

Posted on Thursday Apr 19, 2007

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El Tigre, Honduras.
Report to the King of England. April 18, 1578. Two small strange craft not of wood sailed into the harbor. They traveled against the wind as if moved by magic. There is much idle talk about the origin of these little ships as they claim to be from the United States of America and fly no flag I've seen before. One Portuguese captain claims to know the northern country all the way to the ice has no idea of this country or craft. We have dispatched two of our fasted ships to sail north to sight for this advanced technology. They travel forth with great haste. While not armed or hostile they do keep cats and dogs on board (possibly as livestock).

Were even a small fleet of armed craft such as these with strange sails, rigging and some magic way of moving without wind to arrive in Golfo de Fonseca, we would clearly be out maneuvered and defeated. I respectfully request military assistance to this region.

Your Humble Servant,
Sir Francis Drake

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Bahia de Fonseca

A nice breeze from the E allowed us to sail upwind for about 6 hours yesterday, making the 58 mile run much more pleasant. We rounded Punta Amapala where we met some nasty current waves that slammed into the hull and rolled and pushed us around. It was a naughty little stretch of water but we made it around into this nice bay that few people know about called, surprise, Amapala. We have a bit of a NE wind, but according to all the weather predictions I've managed to find it should just be a thermal effect and not a papagayo (strong gap winds that would make this anchorage dangerous).

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One bar we're glad to leave

Posted on Saturday Apr 14, 2007

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Well we watched the swell go down over the past few days and we were hopeful that a high tide around noon conditions would be good enough for us to escape. Murray and Collette our helpful guides over the bar gave us the go ahead to raise our anchors and proceed to the entrance.

So I started cranking the windless, careful not to loose the handle again. When we had about 25 feet left to pull up it tightened and pulled the bow down towards the water. The anchor was stuck on something! Damn! Sherrell drove the boat around like mad. We did circles, we backed up, we rammed the thing. About the only thing that seemed to happen was our bow dipped towards the water with all the tension of us pulling on that anchor. About 10 minutes into this struggle I decided I'd better dive down and see what's going on and get it free. We're not going to miss our exit window!

Sherrell told Murray and Collette we were having trouble while I put on the snorkel gear. The other boats were already underway, so we felt the panic set in. I dove down into the murky black water and once I got my face up to where the anchor was supposed to be (visibility was about 1 foot), I saw the anchor was really buried deep. After some digging I found the shackle, so I new I was getting closer. A few more dives on it and I had dug a small pit. Now the only thing we could do is use the boat engine to really try to crank it out.

I climbed back in the boat and Sherrell gunned it again. We dipped the bow down and puuuullled, but no joy. So we tried again at a little different angle. Suddenly we were free! I cranked the sucker up, tied everything down, closed all the hatches, and we floored it to catch up to the group.

Fortunately the swell was small and we climbed a few 3 footers on our way out, but no waves broke on us. Man were we glad to have made it out! Bahia del Sol was a great place and we had a lot fun there, but we were ready to go.

We had a great sail for about 14 miles to some unknown beach. The next major anchorage is too far to arrive in daylight. So we are at this VERY rough roadstead and in the morning we'll bolt out of here for somewhere nice.

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New Stories for You

Posted on Thursday Apr 12, 2007

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Well, it’s been a struggle to find some time to put together a cohesive story of the past 6 months of traveling.  It’s hard to exclude photos and stories, but I think you’ll agree it’s long enough!  You can find it on the home page under “Our Stories with Photos” as “Southern Mexico to El Salvador 2007”.  Or follow this link

http://www.sailsarana.com/mexico/mexico.htm

 

If you have subscribed to our newsletter but didn’t get a notice of this update it’s because I’m having difficulty getting through spam filters.  In fact if you have an AOL email account, you’ll probably never get a message from me.  They’ve decided that we’re just a domain for spam and I’ve been unable to get them to unblock us.  So all our friends using AOL, feel free to email us with an alternate account or just to say hi.  It’s not that we’re ignoring you!

 

We would love to hear back from you!

San Salvador

Posted on Friday Mar 23, 2007

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

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

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

El Salvador -- Surf that boat!

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

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

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

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

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

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Out of the T-Pec

Posted on Thursday Mar 15, 2007

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

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

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

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So far so good.

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

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

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

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

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Crossing the Tehuantapec

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

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

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Our own dock

Posted on Monday Mar 5, 2007

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

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

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