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Logbook:   November 2005 to May 2006, Mexico to El Salvador

Click here for photos.

During the course of these six months, we spent time in familiar territory since we cruised the Mexican mainland the previous winter.  We visited a few new places along the way but enjoyed going back to some of our favorite anchorages.  We also did a few inland trips, which brought different experiences.   

We left La Paz in late November, crossed the Sea of Cortez to Mazatlan on the mainland, and then harbor hopped down the coast of Mexico.  Our son Erik joined us for a couple of weeks in January, and we celebrated his graduation from University of Kansas in December and the start of his career at Flack & Kurtz, a prominent engineering firm in San Francisco.   We made it back to Zihuatanejo for SailFest again this year, but this time we arrived a day before it started, so while we got to enjoy all the fun, our work on the event was minimal.  We arrived in Huatulco, our last port of call in Mexico in early March, and in early May, we left Huatulco bound for El Salvador in Central America. 

These months were a bittersweet time for us as we passed through favorite anchorages and places with special memories.  More difficult, though, was saying "adios" to friends we've made here - the cruising community is a very special group of people, and bonds are formed quickly.  Although we would be traveling to Central America in good company, other friends were staying in Mexico, "puddle jumping" to the South Pacific, and even a few were planning return to life on land.  There were lots of long hugs but never a firm "good-bye" as this world is small, and one never knows where we'll see each other again.

We visited the following places:

  • Mazatlan
  • La Cruz (Puerto Vallarta)
  • Chamela
  • Barra de Navidad
  • Tenacatita
  • Cuestacamate
  • Ensenada Carrizal
  • Santiago
  • Zihuatanejo
  • Papanoa
  • Huatulco
  • Bahia del Sol, El Salvador

 

Here are the details: 

La Paz, Baja California Sur (10/31-11/24).  We arrived La Paz on Halloween and left on Thanksgiving, so we were there about 3 weeks.  Coming back to La Paz was like coming home.  Since we spent 12 weeks here the previous Spring, we were familiar with the town, and quite a few of our cruising friends were in La Paz at this time.  We had a few boat projects to complete and had Slip Away hauled for new bottom paint and installation of a dynaplate and flexible shaft coupler. 

Passage to Mazatlan (11/24-26, 238 nm).  This was a 48-hour passage, mostly motoring, but the winds came up for a while on the second day, and we sailed for about 10 hours.  We left La Paz on Thanksgiving morning and caught a nice-sized dorado that afternoon.  Thanksgiving dinner was fish for us this year!  The passage was basically uneventful; however the weather was a little worrisome at one point.  Prior to leaving, the weatherman forecasted nothing unusual.  The first night out, we saw a fair amount of lightening ahead of us, and the next morning, we saw big thunderheads in front of us.  It was hard to tell how far away they were, but they were not registering on our radar, which reaches out 24 miles.  Then, we saw three waterspouts (mini tornadoes) reaching down from the clouds.  We didn't want to be anywhere near those waterspouts!  Fortunately, over the next couple of hours, this weather system dissipated, and we never got close enough to it for it to be a problem for us.  Another boat (Cat'n About - Rob & Linda), however, were about 20 miles ahead of us, and they got some rain and had to change course to avoid a waterspout. 

Mazatlan, Sinaloa (11/26-12/31).  We went to Mazatlan with three major tasks on our "to-do" list:  (1) varnish our teak, (2) install a wind generator and (3) travel to the Copper Canyon, and we completed those tasks.  We learned a lesson about varnishing in the winter time though - it's tough to get a couple of coats on and dry in December's short  days.  We were also looking forward to seeing the city of Mazatlan and spending the holidays there.  Mazatlan (population 340,000) is a major port, as well as a tourist destination, and Old Town is an interesting area with colonial architecture and historic monuments.  It was beautifully decorated for the holidays and the atmosphere was very festive.  We spent the month in Marina Mazatlan, where there was lots of holiday activity, and we enjoyed Christmas in the company of good friends.  Our friends Steve & Carolyn (Mutineer V) were renting a condo while having some extensive work done on their boat, and we celebrated with them at a get-together at their condo on Christmas afternoon.  For Christmas dinner, we joined our friends Bob & Kay (Kay II), along with their daughter Charlene, son-in-law Chris and granddaughter Chayne. 

Passage to La Cruz, Banderas Bay (Puerto Vallarta) (12/31-1/1, 178 nm, 31 hours).  We left Mazatlan in the early hours of New Year's Eve and were underway when the new year arrived.  Since we don't drink alcohol while underway, this was the first booze-less New Year's Eve for us in many years.  At the stroke of midnight, we were changing watch, so we gave each other a kiss, Jan took over the watch and Rich went to sleep.  The extent of our excitement at midnight was watching a cruise ship pass us, but we enjoyed the quiet New Year's Eve underway.  The winds were very calm during this entire passage, so we only got in a few hours of sailing.  We saw lots of turtles, though, and Rich fought a big marlin on the fishing line for about 15 minutes before a long-line release.  (In other words, he got away.)  Rich was pretty excited because the marlin did a number of jumps and some tail walks before letting go.  Jan was napping when all of this happened, so this could just be a fish story.  However, we were both awake for the whale sightings as we arrived in Banderas Bay. 

Although we didn't take them, we thought you might enjoy these photos of whales and a manta ray, taken by our friend Teal on Savannah.  The manta ray photo was taken in Banderas Bay and the whales in Manzanillo, a little further down the coast: 

   

La Cruz, Banderas Bay (Puerto Vallarta) (1/1-1/6).  While in La Cruz, we enjoyed getting together with friends for food and music at Ana Bananas and Philo's.  Erik arrived on 1/3, and we also spent a day touring Old Town Puerto Vallarta with him. 

Bahia Chamela (1/7-1/10).  Our passage from La Cruz was very calm, 99 nautical miles, 18 hours of motoring.  We were only able to sail for about 30 minutes on the whole passage.  As we left Banderas Bay, we again sighted whales, and they were very playful (maybe they were mating) as we watched them for about 20 minutes. 

Chamela was one of our favorite spots last year, so we were eager to share it with Erik.  The snorkeling was very good, and Erik quickly got the hang of spear fishing.  At one point, after snorkeling, we were in the dinghy talking about the great spotted eagle ray we saw, and the ray jumped out of the water right next to us.  He must have heard us talking about him!  We also really enjoyed hiking on Isla Pasavera and seeing the nesting boobie and frigate birds.  At one point, Erik commented that it felt weird having boobies watch him - usually he's watching boobies! 

After a few days here, we planned to continue on to Tenacatita; however Erik had developed a rash on top of his hands.  He got this same rash last year, but his visit was shorter, and it was just starting to show up when it was time for him to go home, and then it went away.  We were guessing he was allergic to something on Slip Away, but we could never figure out what it was.  It was bothering him enough that he thought he should see a doctor.  We e-mailed our friends Bob & Janey on Amiga who were in Barra de Navidad (40 miles away) to ask if they knew of a good doctor there.  They asked around and got a good recommendation.   

As we arrived at Barra de Navidad, Bob met us in his dinghy and led us to the anchorage in a lagoon - it's easy to run aground coming into this lagoon, so we appreciated that help.  After anchoring, he also walked us to the doctor's office, and then invited us to dinner on Amiga.  How nice!  Dra. Linda fixed Erik up with some medications, and his rash was gone in a few days.  We spent one night in Barra and then backtracked a few miles to Tenacatita.

Bahia Tenacatita (1/11-1/14).  Tenacatita is another nice bay for snorkeling, and it has a jungle ride that's better than Disneyland because the wildlife is real.  It's a popular anchorage, and there were about 20 boats already there, but it's a big bay with plenty of room for everyone.  We spent the next few days playing in the water, and Erik honed his spearfishing skills and brought home a few meals. 

Cuestacamate (1/14).  Between Tenacatita and Barra, there's an anchorage that most people don't know about because it's not in the cruising guides.  Bob on Amiga shared waypoints with us, and we enjoyed an evening to ourselves here.  (It's rare to find an anchorage to yourself on the mainland at this time of the year.)  It was also another good snorkeling spot.

Barra de Navidad (1/15-1/21).  We returned to Barra because it was time for Erik to head back home.  His flight was out of Puerto Vallarta, but we were not taking him back by boat.   He took a bus (~4 hours) from Barra back to P.V. for his return flight.  Barra's anchorage is in a lagoon that is very calm, although afternoon winds can pipe through there, but this is not a place to swim because the water isn't very clean.  Nevertheless, the town is nice, and we spent a few days here doing laundry and other errands and picking up a few provisions.  One day we took a bus and visited a neighboring town, Melaque, with our friends John and Linda on Nakia.  We also enjoyed watching the egrets here.  Every morning, a couple hundred of them would fly across the lagoon.  It was a beautiful site!  Jan had a hard time pulling Rich away from this anchorage, though, because of the French Bakery.  A French baker (he really is French) delivers fresh baked goods to anchored boats every morning.  Alternatively, one could go in town and enjoy the pastries at his bakery.  The croissants (especially the chocolate ones) were to die for!  We found ourselves at the bakery almost every day. 

Carrizal (1/21-1/24).  Carrizal is 22 miles down the coast from Barra, and it's another one of the quieter anchorages on Mexico's Pacific Coast.  For some reason, a lot of people don't stop here, but it's probably our favorite along this stretch.  The first night we shared this anchorage with Kalinga (George & JoAnn) and Blew Moon (Houston & Gail).  But then Blew Moon headed out, and we and Kalinga enjoyed it for a few more days.  Again the snorkeling was very good, and we found an area with a large number of giant hawkfish, one of our favorites to eat.  We shot five of them, invited George and JoAnn over for dinner, and still had enough for another meal for the two of us.  There was also some nice hiking here, but we soon found out it was private property, and we were asked to leave. 

Santiago Bay (1/24-1/29).  Carrizal to Santiago was only 6 nautical miles, and when we left Carrizal, we were determined to sail.  Winds had been light for the past couple of weeks, and we found ourselves motoring everywhere.  We waited until early afternoon when the winds came up (a little), motored out of the anchorage, set our sails, and hand-steered while Slip Away crawled along at 1.5 to 2 knots of speed.  Thank goodness we didn't have a counter current!  As we sailed along, George & JoAnn on Kalinga passed us by in their power boat.  Going slow wasn't such a bad thing, though, as we saw whales along the way.

Santiago was another of our favorite anchorages from last year.  When we were here last year, there were only 5 or 6 boats at anchor, but someone let the cat out of the bag, and we found about 20 boats this year.  But it, too, is a big bay with plenty of room.  Santiago Bay has a beautiful long beach, which is great for a long walk, and it's easy to catch a bus to town and a couple of large supermarkets.  Up on a hill to the left side of the anchorage is a very pretty resort, Palma Real, with a reasonably priced restaurant.  We went there one day with some friends for lunch, and the food was so good, our friends went back again the next day. 

Our friends Don & Marie on Freezing Rain also introduced us to "Hollywood & Vine" (aka the six-peso beer place) in the town of Santiago.  "Hollywood & Vine" is a corner tienda that sells cold bottled beer for six pesos (60 cents US), and you can drink it while sitting in a plastic chair under a tree in front of the store.  What more could you want?  We usually only saw 10-12 people hanging out when we were there, but we heard they had 40 one afternoon. 

Passage to Zihuatanejo (1/30-1/31).  We wanted to get to Zihuatanejo in time for SailFest, so we needed to get our butts in gear.  We left mid-morning on 1/30, hoping to sail, but the winds were light again, and we only managed to eke out 2 1/2 hours under spinnaker, and the rest was a motor trip (191 nm, 31 hours).  Again while underway, we hooked a couple of marlin on our fishing line, but fortunately, they released themselves.  Marlin are generally considered a "catch and release" fish; however, it's not easy for us to release these big fish if they get reeled all the way to the boat, so we are happy when they release themselves (as long as they leave us the lure!). 

Zihuatanejo (1/31-3/5).  We arrived at dusk and friends helped direct us to a good anchoring spot, as the bay was packed with 70+ boats.  It was an interesting change arriving in Zihua this year.  When we arrived last year, we knew one boat in the bay; this year, we'd already met at least half.  We arrived on Monday evening, and SailFest was scheduled to start on Wednesday morning.  On Tuesday morning, we were invited to the last SailFest planning meeting, as we had volunteered to sit on a panel during the "Northbound" Cruising Seminar and share our experiences cruising in the Sea of Cortez.  We spent the next five days enjoying the events of SailFest - from the Cruising Seminars and Opening Night Party through the Beach Games Day and Chili Cook-off to the final events of the Sail Parade and Beach Barbeque.  For the sail parade, we were asked if we could take some friends of one of the cruisers who was not going to participate.  We really lucked out, as our guests David & Elana brought along a  delicious lunch, and then David told us that he has a degree in meteorology.  He volunteered that if we ever needed weather forecasting assistance, he'd be happy to help.  (We took him up on that a couple months later.)  SailFest was another extremely successful event raising over $50,000 US for local indigenous schools. 

After SailFest, we spent another month in Zihua.  We're hard pressed to remember exactly what we did during that month, but we were always busy!  We went scuba diving one day (it was cold and visibility wasn't that good).  Rich organized a luncheon for Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA) members and prospects, and we also attended an afternoon get-together for the "Southbounders" group, a gathering of cruisers heading to Central America.  Friday nights were usually spent at Rick's Bar for their weekly jam session of local musicians who came in a played a few songs.  In general, though, we spent most of our time here hanging out with our friends.  Zihua was a crossroads for many cruisers - some, like us, were heading south; others were heading north to spend another season in Mexico and others were crossing the Pacific to either the Marquesas or Hawaii.  Since we knew we wouldn't be seeing some of these folks again for a long time, we wanted to make the most of our time together. 

Papanoa (3/5-3/8).  We finally pulled ourselves away from Zihua and traveled 38 nm down the coast to Papanoa, which is a small fishing village.  We anchored there by ourselves for three nights and decompressed from all the activity in Zihua.  We took a walk through town one day and were stopped by a guy named Alejandro, who just wanted to say hello and chat.  He invited us to sit on his porch and treated us each to a beer.  (He was the town's beer distributor.)  He didn't speak much English, but we managed to talk about his family and life.  We are so often amazed at how warm, friendly and generous the Mexican people are.  The next day, we took him some cookies, and his smile lit up his whole face. 

Passage from Papanoa to Huatulco (3/8-3/11 - 317 nm, 67 1/2 hours).  We had a long passage ahead of us and left Papanoa well rested and ready.  We didn't really have a schedule for getting to Huatulco, so we intended to sail as much as possible.  Although winds were fairly light most of the way (5-10 knots), we were patient and managed to sail over 44 hours (or 2/3 of the trip), sometimes crawling along at 2-3 knots.  We dragged our fishing line, and at one point the line went screaming off the reel.  By the time we got to our pole, it had stopped, and when we pulled in our line, the lure was gone - bummer!  We were visited daily by dolphins, and we also saw a number of turtles along the way.  As we were approaching Huatulco, we wanted to slow down to avoid arriving in the dark, but of course, that was the time the wind picked up to 15 knots, and the current was moving in our favor.  We were sailing under reefed headsail alone and still moving along at 4.5 knots.  And, then it started to rain.  Never a dull moment!  The rain started coming down harder, and we scrambled to find our cockpit enclosures to keep us dry.  We hadn't seen rain for several months, so we weren't really prepared for this.  We arrived Huatulco in the dark, but waited outside our anchorage until dawn, at which time the rain also stopped, and we anchored with good visibility. 

Bahias de Huatulco (3/11-5/8).  Huatulco is usually the last port of call in Mexico for most southbound pleasure boats.  The area offers a little bit of everything - beautiful bays in which to anchor; a modern town with good provisioning, restaurants and a movie theater; good opportunities for inland travel (we did trips to Oaxaca and Chiapas); and a marina with a manager who goes out of his way to help cruisers. 

Huatulco is made up of a dozen bays along the coast; eight of them are designated as a National Park.  We spent almost two months exploring, snorkeling and scuba diving in these beautiful bays.  There were very few cruising boats in the area, so we could often find an anchorage to ourselves.  The anchorages were sometimes rolly, but our flopper-stoppers (stabilizers hung off the side of the boat) did a great job of keeping Slip Away steady. 

The scuba diving here was the best we found on the Pacific side of Mexico.  Enrique, the marina manager, used to own a dive shop in this area, and he recommended several good dive sites.  We saw more spotted eagle rays here than we've seen anywhere.  The sea life was great - lots of fish, eels, a few lobster, a couple of octopus and turtles, a seahorse (very unusual!) and a nudibranch (in the snail family).  We also found some sites with beautiful colorful corals and sponges.  Visibility wasn't great but it was good enough - usually 30-50 feet.  The sea temperature was changeable - some days it was a comfortable 84F, and then just a couple of days later, it was a chilly 74F in the same place. 

Some of our favorite spots were:

  • Rescalillo - This was a good anchorage with great snorkeling all around this bay and especially on the reef inside the bay.  Just next door was a small bay named Jicaral, which was too small for the big boat, but a perfect spot to anchor the dinghy and snorkel.   We saw octopus in both Rescalillo and Jicaral.  We also dinghied from here over to Bahia San Augustin, which is said to have some good snorkeling and diving, but the waters there were always choppy and churned up when we were there.
  • Maguey - This was another good anchorage with excellent diving in a couple of places in this bay.  On our first dive here, Rich found a seahorse and a little later in the dive, Jan found a nudibranch.  Both are unusual sightings, so we were very excited!  When we dove the point between Bahias Maguey and Organo, the fish life was incredible.  At one spot, Jan counted 5 jewel morays and about 10 giant hawkfish, which is one of our favorite eating fish, but we couldn't shoot them here because we were in a National Park.  Our mouths were watering!
  • Isla Cacaluta - The anchorage here was fine for daytime, but we spent one night here, and it was really rough, even with our flopper stoppers.  But, it was close enough to other anchorages that we could come out, anchor and dive, and then move to a better place for the evening.  There was good snorkeling behind the island, a great dive on the west side of the island and an even better dive on the front of the island.  We saw a couple of lobster on these reefs, and on the front of the island, we saw beautiful corals and sponges and the biggest green moray eel we've ever seen in Mexico.  Also, while diving the front of the island, we saw a number of jellyfish - the kind with long tentacles.  We've rarely seen them diving and it was an uncomfortable feeling as neither of us wanted to tangle with them.  Fortunately that did not happen, and we were both wearing wetsuits which offered protection. 
  • Piedras Blancas - We anchored in Bahia Santa Cruz to dive these rocks that lie off the entrance.  We anchored the dinghy behind the rocks and then swam around to the front side.  There we found a cavern with five spotted eagle rays swimming overhead.  We just sat and watched them for a long time - what a beautiful sight!
  • Tangolunda.  There was a good anchorage in the bay right in front of the old Club Med (now Las Brisas Resort), but the snorkeling and diving were best around the island (Isla Tangola Tangola) in the bay.  There was a shallow, clear snorkel spot on the back of the island.  The front of the island was an excellent scuba diving spot, where we again saw beautiful corals and sponges, and we saw some bigger fish here than in other places. 

Our least favorite anchorage in Huatulco:

Bahia Santa Cruz.  This is the most convenient place to anchor to get to town for provisions or go out for a meal.  There is a large cruise ship pier in the middle of the bay, and on the right side of the cruise ship dock, the anchorage is very protected from ocean swell; however, it's a small area, the holding is not very good, and it's right near the entrance of the panga/tour boat marina, so there's a lot of traffic.  Additionally, the Mexican Navy usually boards any boat that anchors here.  We don't mind the Mexican Navy coming on board to check our papers, but we did mind the black marks they left on the boat from their military boots and the dirty pawprints throughout the boat from their drug dog.  (Our experience wasn't as bad as our friends Debi & Paul on Serenity - they have two of their own dogs on board, and the drug dog decided to mark his territory by peeing on their bed!)  And then there were the marks and scratches they left on the side of our hull when they rafted their boat up to ours.  The Navy also changes shifts quite often, and they don't communicate with one another, because they board the same boats numerous times.  The second time they boarded us, we were in the middle of unloading our dive gear from the dinghy and we had to stop and help them fill out their paperwork while we stood there in dripping wetsuits.  We managed to talk them out of bringing the dog on board a second time.  This dog (different from the first) was laying in dirty water in the Navy boat - we could envision him coming aboard and shaking himself dry in the middle of our salon.  

Our biggest reason for disliking this bay, however, is that we were robbed here.  We came into this bay one afternoon because we needed some provisions.  We beached the dinghy, went into town, and when we returned, we noticed that someone had stolen several lines (ropes) off our dinghy.  We were irritated, but we had spare line to replace it.  That evening we were invited to a friend's boat for cocktails and snacks.  Our friends were anchored on the right side of the cruise ship dock; we were anchored on the left, along with one other boat.  Our anchorage was just off a beach with a Navy outpost and big light, so we (incorrectly) felt it was a secure spot.  We left Slip Away at 6:30 p.m. and when we returned at 10:30, we found that someone had stolen all of our fenders, our stern anchor, boarding ladder, and the line for our roller-furling headsail.  All of this gear was hanging on our stern and starboard rails and lifelines, and we don't think anyone came on board Slip Away.  The thief just went down the side of our boat and took what he wanted.  The robbery took place at the start of Holy Week (the week preceding Easter, called Semana Santa in Mexico), which is one of their biggest holiday/travel times.  How ironic that they robbed us during "Holy Week!" 

Since we needed assistance from someone who was fluent in both English and Spanish, we went to Enrique, the marina manager.  Enrique helped us by translating our statement of what happened into Spanish, and taking us to the Port Captain and police to file the reports. We also made up a poster with pictures of the items that were stolen and offering a reward for their return, and we posted it around the panga/tour boat marina. After our first trip to the police station, we had to go back the next day to file a report with the "City Minister" (or some such title). The secretary typed up the report, and listed Rich's occupation as "retired" and Jan's as "housewife." (We did have to laugh about that!)  The Port Captain promised "strong action," but we never recovered any of the stolen items.  After so many great experiences in Mexico, what a shame for this to happen in our last port!

We did have one very good experience in Santa Cruz, however.  One evening around dusk, we saw a sailboat approaching the panga/tour boat marina under sail.  It was a large sailboat (about 45'), and this marina would not have been large enough for them to maneuver inside under sail.  We tried calling the sailboat on the radio, but they did not respond.  We then launched our dinghy and motored over to them and asked if they needed help.  There were three Mexican families on board (a couple of whom spoke excellent English), and they were very grateful for our offer of assistance.  We tied our dinghy to the side of their boat and guided them into the marina to their mooring.  They'd had a problem with their alternator, so their batteries had gone dead, and they were unable to start their engine.  The next day, they called us on the radio and told us they fixed their problem, and they wanted to stop by our boat on their way out to sail.  We looked toward the entrance of the marina, and they were already underway.  Since we had our flopper stoppers out to the sides of Slip Away, it was impossible for them to pull up next to us, but their driver skillfully backed their stern toward our starboard quarter, and they handed us some gifts - a bottle of Spanish wine, some honey, a basket of fruit and, most endearing, a drawing by one of the kids on board saying "Thank you my friends, Juanita and Ricardo."  We saw them a few more times over the next week, and they were delightful people. 

Passage from Huatulco to Bahia del Sol, El Salvador (5/8-5/12 - 474 nm, 90 hours).  There were those who thought we'd never leave Huatulco.  We could have stayed longer, but since hurricane season was closing in on us, we needed to get further south (below where most of the hurricanes form).  We finally tore ourselves away. 

The passage from Huatulco to El Salvador involves crossing the Gulf of Tehuantepec, which is on the Pacific side of the narrowest part of Mexico, and winds funnel through here from the Caribbean side often at gale force and creating very big seas.  Weather forecasters can generally predict the big blows (called T-Peckers), but earlier this year, a couple had to be rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard when they were caught in one.  The worst season for T-Peckers is October through April, so by traveling in May, we were crossing during one of the calmest months.  Before leaving, however, we got weather forecasts from several sources.  Enrique checked a couple of internet sites; we checked with Don on Summer Passage, the weather forecaster on several Pacific radio nets; and we had the benefit of daily e-mail forecasts from our friend David, the meteorologist who was a guest aboard Slip Away during the Zihuatanejo Sail Parade. 

Since all of our friends had already left Huatulco, we thought we might be making this passage solo, but just a couple days before our planned departure, a boat called Avventura came in, and we were able to buddy-boat with them.  We left Huatulco on a Monday afternoon, had a great breeze (10-15 knots from astern), and sailed wing-and-wing for the first 18 hours.  After that, winds were light most of the way, so we motored a lot.  But it was a good passage, and we easily settled into our watch schedule (the two of us alternating 4 hours on watch and 4 hours off) for four days.  While underway, we kept in regular radio contact with Captain Scott and his cousin Ryan on Avventura.  We traveled with a near-full moon, which was very nice.

We fished and caught a couple of nice-sized tuna off the coast of Puerto Madero (the last commercial port in Mexico).  The next day we also hooked a sailfish, but fortunately, he released himself. 

We ran into only one squall during our passage, and it was off the coast of northern El Salvador during our last night underway.  It hit us about midnight with 30-35 knot winds but not much rain. The squall lasted about an hour and it took another hour for the seas to calm down again, but the rest of the night was clear.

We arrived at the entrance to Bahia del Sol at about 9 a.m., which was perfect timing.  Entering Bahia del Sol requires crossing over a sand bar, which can be quite tricky.  A bar pilot comes out to help guide boats in at high tide.  High tide was at 2 p.m., so we had time to set our anchor, eat a good breakfast and get the boat ready for the bar crossing.  We heard of a couple of boats that had taken big waves on their stern while crossing this bar, so we didn't want anything hanging off our stern rail.  We tied our outboard down on the back deck, put our dinghy on the front deck and put our solar panels down below.  We closed and secured all hatches and duct-taped the louvers and edges of our companionway doors and batterboards, so if a rogue wave splashed into our cockpit, hopefully we wouldn't get much water down below.  Although conditions appeared to be good for our bar crossing, we didn't want to take any chances. 

At 2 p.m. Murray and Jim, the bar pilots, came out and directed us in.  Crossing the bar was a little more excitement than we prefer to experience on Slip Away, but we got in just fine. We surfed one wave, and unfortunately didn't look at our boat speed, but all those who were watching thought we were probably moving around 12-13 knots. After crossing the bar, we turned parallel to the beach to get to the entrance of the estero (lagoon). We caught one wave on our beam and it gave us a pretty good roll, but that was the worst of it, and no harm done.  We had several cruising friends anchored in Bahia del Sol, and they all watched the show - either from shore or a dinghy.  Fortunately, we didn't provide much of one, but they took some great pictures.  That evening, our friends Bill & Linda on Creola invited us to their boat for dinner, and we celebrated a successful passage and bar crossing with them and a couple other friends. 

We plan to stay here in Bahia del Sol through summer and early fall (the rainy season).  We'll spend the time traveling inland and working on some boat projects.  We expect to head south to Costa Rica and Panama in early November.