[050912; 1825 UTC,
Offshore El Salvador
N 13 degrees 07.2/W 088 degrees 49.2]
Last night was cool and very quiet, allowing us to hear clearly the sound of waves crashing on the peninsula that protected us from the sea. Our sleep was intermittent as we knew that it would be these waves that we would have to face with Carina in the morning.
Saying our goodbyes had been difficult. On Friday, we exchanged kisses and long, hearty hugs with teachers and islanders at the Isla El Cordoncillo school dedication fiesta. This confirmed what we had hoped, that we'd truly made friends here. (The fiesta was an amazing and lovely event and we'll write more on this later.)
Our cruising friends staged a bon voyage party on 60 'Encanto on Saturday, complete with mounds of food, bottomless boxes of Chilean wine and non-stop chatter. On Sunday, between check out trips to Bahia Del Sol, the Salvadoran navy and the immigration, and for last minute supplies, we were visited by many and shared more hearty hugs. Last night, friends Denis and Michele whisked us away to dinner aboard their boat so that we could keep Carina in her "ready" state for the morning.
Apprehensive but ready, we pulled our anchor at 1300 Z (0700 local time) this morning and motored east toward the Estero Jaltepeque bocana. A set of blessed Tibetan Buddist prayer flags fluttered from the port spreader, complimenting the Salvadoran flag flying from the honored starboard spreader position. A small parade of dinghies escorted Carina (and Bay Fill with Gary and Kate aboard) through the anchorage and past the dock where taxi driver Jose Osorio stood waving and smiling.
As we approached the bocana, the waves appeared to fill the entire outlet to the sea. Upon closer inspection there were periods of calm or "windows" that Colette and Murray, the pilots, thought would allow for safe passage. Radio transmissions from the pilots suggested that we keep coming and follow them. We were coached that timing is critical. We were to hang back and let waves break ahead of us or move quickly to get beyond them before they broke.
Bay Fill went first and took only one serious wave as they slowly moved south out into the Pacific. Carina's transit was not as tranquil, though Philip's steady piloting assured that most waves slid under us before they broke. Unfortunately though as we were transiting the bar, waves began coming closer together and Carina could not acquire enough momentum between them to power up before they broke. One large powerful breaking wave did finally cover us completely and soak us (including Jake who was unwilling - until he got wet - to stay below) though Philip kept Carina's bow perpendicular to the waves and we were soon beyond danger.
We haven't made it too far yet as winds are very, very light. We are continuing to sail whenever we have steerage-way since we only have about seventy miles to go to the anchorage within the Golfo de Fonseca and plan a slow overnight run. If the weather pattern we've come to expect holds for today though, a nice afternoon breeze should pick up. What we DON'T want to see is another fierce thunder and lighting storm that is so common this time of year. We've had some close strikes but haven't been struck yet, though two boats close to us in the anchorage were struck and sustained damage.
In spite of the soaking we got going over the bar we feel almost gleeful to be back out on the sea and traveling south once more. Jake may even be starting to forgive us.
Philip and Leslie with el gato supreme, Jake
Underway southbound offshore El Salvador