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Monday, March 17, 2008

Bar crossing and final T'pec thoughts

We are in paradise and happy to be quiet and still after five days and six nights of continuous travel. We had a perfect spinnaker reach yesterday afternoon, passing both of our larger companion boats. It would have looked even more like a three boat regatta if they had had spinnakers to fly also. All too soon the wind died and we motored the rest of the way to the river bar entrance.

We called the marina before 8 AM and they sent an angel to guide us in - literally, the panga driver's name is Angel. By 8:20 we were lined up behind him making our way through the confused wave chop, and by 8:50 we were through the worst of it and into calm enough waters for me to take a shower. Angel tied us to a mooring buoy at 9:50 and we got to work putting the boat away. To our surprise the official greeting party (marina manager, Port Captain, Customs, Immigration, and National Police) arrived within the hour to come aboard for our paperwork. This was very embarrassing because, even though I had read about the process countless times, I did not have the boat tidied up below, and we had neglected to put the customary soft drinks in the fridge. A C- grade for Nakia's first real foreign port entry (in Mexico you go to all their offices, they don't come to you). We will have to do better next time, but at least we had both showered that morning!

Once the panga returned all the officials to shore, it came back for the six of us to go in and complete the check in process with the marina and Immigration. For $10 each we got a nifty sticker in our passports which acts as a visa good for the four Central American countries which have signed the NAFTA agreement. Bad ol' Costa Rica is the lone holdout, probably because their economy is doing just fine without it.

Formalities completed we all retired to the club restaurant for our "first drink free" and lunch. Everything had happened so fast that we'd all missed breakfast and were starving. Knowing that anything alcoholic would knock me flat, and want to get the biggest bang out of the free offer, I ordered a mango smoothie without alcohol - it was heaven. John had his first Bahia, the local beer, and we sat back to swap war stories about the trip. Most of the rest of the group waiting with us last week in Marina Chahue wandered by our table, and we got to hear their stories too.

Between the 10th and 11th of March, nine boats departed Huatulco for El Salvador. One boat left Monday morning and went straight across to Puerto Madero. They had 14' seas and 30-35 knots of wind. Five boats left Monday night and followed split routes, with some going north and crossing 10-15 miles off the beach, and one or two staying close to the beach like we did. The former had regular, but large seas (green water over the bow) and the same high winds. Our group of three boats that left Tuesday night and the other "beach" boats had high winds but small waves. We definitely feel that close in to shore was the way to go if you had a forecast with any north wind component in it at all. It's a longer trip but so much more comfortable. If we had gotten a forecast with no north wind component to it for at least five days, then we might have considered the straight shot across. We also had at least a knot of foul current almost the entire trip. We're looking forward to hearing the stories of the boats which waited to leave Saturday and Sunday. It is so true that one of the hardest parts of cruising is waiting for weather!

We've signed up for the twice weekly free shuttle bus trip to town tomorrow morning. It comes complete with an armed guard (this entire compound/resort is protected by armed guards) so stay tuned for more!

Linda and John

{GMST}13|10.714|N|088|27.070|W|March 2008|Bar Crossing{GEND}

{GMST}13|15.789|N|088|29.159|W|March 2008|Barillas Marina{GEND}