About Us

Welcome to our blog, describing our voyage aboard Bravo, a Kelly Peterson 46 sailboat with homeport in Seattle, Washington. We headed south in 2010, destined for Mexico and beyond. Cheers, Adam and Cindi

"As for me, I am tormented by an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts." -Herman Melville, 1844

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bahia del Sol....'Bravo' goes to summer camp!!!

The last week has been eventful.  We cleared out of Mexico in Chiapas.  The "paperwork cha cha" was quite a process.  It included trips to the port captain and customs offices, and the airport for the immigration officer.  Fees were due, requiring trips to bank machines (or bank), and back again.  We were clearing out with two other boats, so we all went together, driven and greatly assisted by Guillermo from the Marina.  All told it took nearly 4 hours, and we were told that this was very quick!!!  I can see why people often use an agent to help out.  The next morning, the navy and port captain came by to inspect the boats, with along with drug dog "Gamma", a friendly german shephard.  Fresh brewed Chiapas coffee all around, Bravo passed inspection, and was free to leave Mexico, in fact HAD to leave within 48 hours.

Leaving Mexico was emotional for us.  This country has been so welcoming, and the people so warm to us everywhere we traveled.  It was also our intro to this cruising lifestyle, and a great intro it was..."Cruising Light" as we call it...everything you need is available, perhaps with a bit more effort than in the states, but with a bit of perseverence, it's all doable.  Not always the case as we venture further afield.

Breakwater leaving Puerto Chiapas
But we headed out, and immediately had the best sailing conditions that either of us could remember on this entire journey.  With winds between 15 and 22 knots over the starboard quarter, 'Bravo' flew along on the flat seas at a 7.5 knot average, quick for us.  And it lasted all day, and all of the first night of the two night passage past Guatemala to El Salvador.  But this created a real dilemma for us.  One that we've never faced before.....there is a bar crossing to get into the estuary in Bahia del Sol, El Salvador.  We can only get in at high tide, and a pilot boat is required on a jet ski to guide us across the bar through the breaking surf.  Getting there early would just mean bobbing around outside the surf waiting for the high tide at 11 am.  So the entire second day and night we had to continually work to slow the boat down...double reefed main strapped in way too tight, and no headsail, had us crawling along at 4 knots in the glorious sailing breeze.....ARGHHHHH, how frustrating!!!

Panga working his long line off the Guatemala coast.
Even 20 miles out, we passed many long lines floating between two unmarked buoys on our trip down the coast.  Actually they're not entirely unmarked.....oftentimes there is a scrap of black plastic bag tied to a stick in a floating plastic bottle!!!  A bit tough to see in the dark.  Happily we avoided snagging any, though there were several quick evasive maneuvers!!!

3 foot barracuda had a mouth full of razors!!!

Fishing was good on this short passage.  Report:  2 skipjack tuna, 1 baby dorado, 1 barracuda, 1 20 lb. jack crevalle, and finally, 1 nice dorado.  Quite the assortment!  All except the last were thrown back, but the dorado that we kept was a tasty treat!

We finally arrived at the pilot meeting place a bit early, and bobbed about with s/v Panache and s/v Belle Star, both also waiting to cross into the estuary.  The crossing has a serious reputation, but we were confident in both our jet ski pilot team and in 'Bravo' to hang ten and surf in safely. 

Note the pilot coming out through the surf in the center!

The waves looked pretty daunting from outside the line of breakers.  'Bravo' was the first boat called, and as the waves built behind us, the pilot would send instructions over the radio......"big push coming.....hit full throttle NOW.....a bit to the right.....looking good.....another push....." and so on, for a couple of minutes, and we were in!  Easy peasy!!!  As pilot Bill from s/v Mita Kuulu said later, this really was an ideal day to cross the bar.  The photos weren't as impressive as those taken of a few other boats earlier in the year in bigger seas, but we were certainly not complaining as we whooped and hollered and settled into the calm water inside the surf line.

Yeeeee hah.....we're surfing now!!!
We were directed to an open slip at the marina, where we were met by officers from the customs, immigration, and port captain offices.  They escorted us up to the AIR CONDITIONED office resort hotel at the head of the dock, we quickly handled the paperwork, and bingo, we've arrived in El Salvador, and hoisted the new flag.  I mean, how much easier could entering a new country be?????

So, what's the deal here, you ask.....the 'Bravo' crew in a resort?????  Are our heroes hanging up their adventurer's shoes and settling into a new cushy lifestyle???  Well.....a bit of yes, and a bit of no.....This is the destination of something called the "Cruiser's Rally to El Salvador".  Not really a rally in the traditional sense, it is rather a gathering place at this hotel/marina where cruisers are made to feel incredibly welcome, with activities, inland travel opportunities, and exploration of the local villages along the estuary all possible.  It's spearheaded by Bill and Jeanne, a couple of cruisers on s/v Mita Kuulu who visited here a few years ago and fell in love with the country, it's people, and opportunities for unspoiled tourism. 

Based on our first 2 days here, we get it!!!  Here we are at a beautiful resort with 2 pools, for $23/day at a dock (free at anchor).  Beers are $1, we get 30% off everything else at the restaurant and bar (already pretty cheap).  We took a 4 mile dinghy ride up into the estuary yesterday, to the tiny fishing town of Herradura.  Walking up the main street, we were greeted with smiles and waves everywhere.  Other than a few other cruisers, no gringos visit here.  Tourism is not part of their program, and we enjoyed the authentic ambiance of the town.  Picked up a few needed fruits and veggies, and dinghies back to the boat.  Spent the afternoon swimming a mile or so away in the estuary, at a palapa built on stilts, out in the middle of the bay.  People can just drive their boats out there and tie up to enjoy an afternoon in the shaded hammocks, enjoying the swimming and cold cervezas.  Very popular with the locals, it was a great way to spend an afternoon.

Practice makes perfect.....time to quit while ahead!
Adam took casting net lessons from bar pilot Rogelio and his friend Daniel.  They make it look really easy.  Always wanted to learn to throw one of these rascals...takes a while to get the hang of it.

We're now busy with boat projects, and planning some inland travel possibilities in El Salvador.  Volcanoes, Mayan villages, and jungles await!!!  Stay tuned.....


  1. Hello Adam... I can see you two have been doing great... I hope to see you soon both of you.. Take care and have more fun.. you have a lot to give guys.... very nice people. Adam and Cindi... Arturo Cordova MACAW TOURS

    1. Muchas gracias, Arturo! We're leaving El Salvador today for Costa Rica. Still have great memories of our travels with you! Adam and Cindi