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November 2007

photos at bottom of page (text that refers to a photo is followed by o)

On November 3, we made it across the sand bar at Bahia Del Sol to begin our journey.  We pulled anchor at 7:45 and were across the bar by 8:30.  There was one rather large wave that came through, but we hit it just right and it was no problem at all.  The kids were very excited by the landing on the back of the wave, they thought that after going straight up the face, the big splash down on the backside was pretty cool, but Mike and Nancy barely blinked.  Once out to sea, we took turns at the helm o.  It was very calm seas and quite pleasant for our first jaunt after two and a half years on land.  We motored a lot and sailed a bit too.  While underway there is time for hanging out, which the kids love to do up on the bow o.  Mike is rarely sitting down, he is usually adjusting or fixing something o.  The first day we were very lucky to see a beautiful rainbow o.  All was going quite smoothly until we noticed that the oil pressure was acting strangely.  There was a bit of wind, so we sailed on as Mike did a quick assessment and decided to do an oil filter change to see if that would correct the problem.  It seemed to work, so we kept going.  The oil pressure then dropped completely a short time later.  The engine was immediately turned off, but this was no problem as we had nice wind.  Mike again went to service the oil and check out the problem.  First, he reviewed all of his engine books and manuals to find any clues as to what might be the problem.  He did another oil filter change and we crossed our fingers.  The oil pressure was still acting up, so we continued to sail into the night since there was nice wind.  We had eaten dinner and Mike and Nancy were having a rest with Fletcher at the helm.  Fletcher was really excited to do his first night watch, and what a first night did he have!  We should have only been a couple of hours from our destination in the Gulf of Fonseca.  We heard a loud thump, like we hit a turtle or log, Mike went up on deck and looked around.  He did not see anything out of place, and checked in with Fletcher, who was doing fine.  Mike was just getting settled back into bed and dozing off, when about 15 minutes later a big gust hit.  Nancy gasped a bit as we heeled over and Mike went back up to see how things were.  He was shining the flashlight on the sails to see if they needed any adjusting with the increased winds.  What he saw was quite frightening and made him let out a squawk.  The mast was bent over at a crazy angle.  A few moments of controlled panic later, we had the boat turned into the wind and were trying to figure out what to do.  The noise that we had heard a short time earlier was the chain plate breaking o! This is connected to the shroud that holds the mast up.  We are so lucky that we did not lose our mast, especially with the increased wind and gusts!  We definitely had someone watching out for us! So, here we are, can't use the engine and can't sail (at least not the way we want to go).  We can sail on the opposite tack, which is back the way we came.  There is a marina a few hours back up the coast, but it is another long difficult entry.  We decide that this is our best option, so we limp along through the night.  When we were within five miles or so of the entrance,  there were lots of small local fishing boats out.  Mike decided to let us just bob around until daylight.  So, with no engine and sails down, we just hang out for the rest of the night.  We were about five miles off shore, so we felt pretty secure even though we were just drifting.  As the sun rose, Mike once again was in the engine room trying to assess what the heck was going on with the oil pressure.  All of his books said that it is rarely your gauges, so don't bother checking those.  Since he was at a loss as to what to do next, he decided to check all of the wiring to the gauges.  He found some issues and rewired from the oil pressure sender to the gauge.  The wire did have a problem, and voila, we were on our way.  As we were approaching the entrance we caught our first fish of the trip o,  a 31" crevalle, we cooked him up that night and he was so good.  He fed us for three meals.  We continued on and made our way without a guide into the entrance to Bahia Jiquilisco o.  The entrance was very obvious so we just went for it.  A bit rolly and long, but not too bad after our night at sea.  We had to check back into El Salvador and pay our fees again, since we had already checked out of the country the day before.  This ended up working to our benefit, since Mike's visa was very close to expiring anyway.  Now we had another 90 days and we did not have to worry about it.  There is a boat yard next to the marina, so as soon as we were checked in we went to talk to them.  It took a couple of days to figure it all out, but in the end they were able to get the part fabricated for us.  We also replaced the one on the other side and inspected the plates on the rest of the boat.  All of the others looked fine, so we had two made for the main mast and just replaced those.  Barillas is a very nice place to be for a bit.  There is a beautiful pool, great showers, and a bus with AC to take you to town a couple days a week for shopping.  Very nice and easy.  It was a nice rest stop even though we had only been going for one day!  This estuary is also home to many birds and even crocodiles o which were always lazing about on the shore very near our boat, fun to watch.  A week later we were back in business and ready to head out.  Immigration came to our boat at 5am to check us and two other boats out before the mandatory guide boat led us all out to sea.  Once again, we were on our way.   The kids took turns at the helm o and got some school done too.  In the afternoon, we were approaching our destination.  We were almost there when we hit a log which bent our propeller blades.  We cut the engine, checked things out and then limped along into our anchorage.  Finally, we were anchored at an island again o.  This is something that we had all been longing for.  It was so much cooler than being in an estuary and there were no bugs!  Very nice and pleasant.  We went to shore and explored the beach the next day o.  We spent three days there, swimming, doing school and exploring.  Mike spent some time in the water straightening the prop blades which he was able to do with his Herculean strength!   We headed back out towards an anchorage in Nicaragua, finally!  On the way we caught another crevalle, again super delicious.  We marinated it and cooked it on the BBQ, it tasted just like a very tender juicy steak.  Really amazing.  Nancy had really been wanting to get to Nicaragua, so was very excited to finally pull in.  We were at a beautiful bay with a very nice Navy guy who checked with us regularly to see that we were doing fine.  There was no immigration there, so even though we were checked into the bay, we were not checked into the country.  The navy guy was very worried about his neck should anyone find out that we had been to shore!  He did let us explore a bit o, and like we said he was so nice.  He would call us in the morning to say good morning and see that we had a nice night and then he would call at night to say good night and to let him know if we needed anything!  He liked Hopper, but was afraid of Sia!  We found a great beach for body surfing and had fun in the water.  We pulled out of this spot and headed for San Juan del Sur.  We had big winds on the sail down the coast, Desiderata was heeled over more than we have ever done before.  There are some seasonal winds in this part of Central America called Papagayos.  They blow over from the Caribbean to the Pacific during the dry season, December thru February.  These can be gale force winds.  So, now that we are out of squall season, we have Papagayos to contend with.  So far, they have been blowing for the past three weeks pretty consistently.  One nice thing about them is that you stay close to shore with these winds and there is very little swell built up.  So, the seas are pretty calm.  We flew down the coast and into San Juan del Sur.  On the way we caught another fish, a sierra o, and had some great ceviche.  We arrived in town and checked in with the navy, but we had to wait until 5pm to check in with immigration, so we walked around town and got oriented.  The town is very small, with a small mercado, a few food stands, and some tourist restaurants.  It is very comfortable and there are many gringos here that have bought property and are settling in.  It is a surf oriented town since there are many good breaks near by.  We may try to get another surf board while we are here.  One day we loaded up the dingy and took an hour ride to a small bay that is a good beginner spot o.  It was a nice trip down the coast and the waves were perfect for us.  Fletcher dominated the spot, catching more waves than anybody there o.  He is having a great time.  There are small jellies in the water and the stings hurt, but are not horrible.  We had Thanksgiving dinner at a local restaurant that caters to the travelling gringos.  They had turkey and all the fixin's.  For breakfast we had turkey bacon and an apple cranberry cobbler.  So, while it was not the normal Thanksgiving, we tried to stick to the theme.  We started to prepare for our first inland trip to Granada.  We met a nice couple on one of the other boats that was willing to come check in on Hopper and Sia while we were gone.  We were only doing a one night trip, so we were not worried about them.  We left plenty of food and water out.  Hopper did get to go to the beach everyday, but if worse comes to worst, he does have a spot on the boat that he can relieve himself.  Granada is only about two and a half hours away.  Along the way we saw many horse drawn carts, either for transportation or hauling.  The horse is still very much in use here.  The country side is so beautiful.  Very fertile soil and many different crops are grown.  The people are super friendly and warm and it feels very safe.  Our driver was very informative and helpful.  We arrived in Granda and sat down at the square for some breakfast.  It was very pleasant and quaint.  We next walked down to the waterfront of Lake Nicaragua where we enjoyed the cool breezes o .  We spent most of the day walking through town, going to churches and museums o and seeing the sites.  We found a cute little hotel to stay and were quite comfortable.  It was half a block off of the square in a very quiet family home o.  We had two separate rooms that included breakfast for $30 total!  We went to the local open air mercado to get snacks for our planned excursion the next day.  We sampled some local Nicaraguan food in the town square for dinner o and had a very pleasant time.  Our favorite thing was climbing the bell tower of the oldest church in town.  From the top, the views over town and the surrounding area were beautiful o.  The next day we planned to hike a volcano to a cloud forest reserve.  We left early and made it for the first transport up to the top.  It was very windy and drippy and cool.  We had forgotten to bring rain gear, so we asked if we could have some trash bags.  It was a very beautiful two hour walk around the outside of the crater.  We did not see much in the way of wildlife, but very beautiful plants and neat to be in a cloud forest.  We waited back at the research station and talked with other travelers.  There was a family from Colorado there with three kids.  They were from the same town as Mike's aunt and it turned out that they both knew her!  Small world.  Then, on the shuttle back down the mountain we met some people from Big Sur that knew many people that Nancy used to hang out with in that area.  Smaller world!  Mid way down the mountain there is an orchid and butterfly exhibit.  It was fun to walk through and see all of the pretty plants and butterflies.  As we walked down the last part of the mountain to the highway to catch the bus back to the boat, it started to pour.  We covered ourselves as best we could with the remains of our plastic bags, but we still got soaked.  We returned to the boat for a couple of days to catch up before we headed out for our next excursion to the volcanic island of Ometepe.  We arrived early in the morning and got a ride to the other side of the island.  This island is made of two separate volcanoes that are joined by an isthmus.  It is like another world, a garden of Eden.  Agriculture is very big with the fertile volcanic soil.  Lots of horses, cows, pigs, chickens.  They grow wheat, rice, corn, sesame, plantains, coffee, and bananas.  Also, tobacco, mangoes, papayas, tangerines, oranges.  Very beautiful.  Our first day we found a room and then went out to see the pre-Columbian petroglyphs o that are up the slopes of one of the volcanoes.  We rode in the back of a truck and had a very nice fellow show us the stone carvings and explain what they were.  It was sort of a rainy, blustery day, but we had brought rain gear with us this time.  We even had an extra for him and he was very impressed.  This fellow also had a horseback riding concession, so next activity was a ride for the kids o .  They had a fun time riding a long ways down the main dirt road and then back along the beach.  Mike and Nancy got to take a nap.  We saw our first Capuchin monkeys and some other cute critters that we got to play with o.  After a rest, we walked down the road a few miles to a fresh water spring.  It is gorgeous water with a fun rope swing.  We spent quite a bit of time here enjoying the water while watching and listening to the parrots flying overhead.  On the walk back to our room, we stopped at a funky little beach restaurant and had dinner.  Once we returned to the room, we all enjoyed showers and then went back out for dessert.  It was a very fun and full day.  The next day was still very blustery, so we decided to head back on an earlier ferry than we had originally planned.  We took the bus back around the island, went to a museum in the main town on the island and then made our way back to San Juan del Sur.  The next day we got back to work on the boat to get ready for our next jaunt which would take us to Costa Rica.  There was a sail that needed to be repaired before we could head out.  The problem was that with all the wind it was difficult to lower and then raise a sail.  We got the sail down and had the sewing machine set up on deck o.  The repair was not pretty, but it should hold.  Next we needed to do laundry, stock up on food, fuel, and get into the internet to load up this website.



Please click to enlarge!


Leaving Bahia Del Sol, El Salvador


What happens underway... hanging out, adjusting sails, rainbows.

The broken chain plate, doesn't look so bad, but it was quite scary and could have brought the mast down!


The first fish underway, very exciting and very delicious.


Emergency stop into Barillas, El Salvador to hopefully get the chain plate replaced.


On a mooring ball in Barillas, there were crocodiles on shore just a few yards from the boat.


Desiderata is all fixed up and the kids took turns at the helm.


The results of a run in with a log... the propeller blades are bent.  Our refuge this time was an island in the Bay of Fonseca.


Finally in Nicaragua, very beautiful.


Fletcher caught another fish, a sierra, as we were closing in on San Juan del Sur.  Fletcher on the beach with Desiderata in the background.



Surfing safari by dingy.

Our first inland trip was to Granada, Nicaragua, the oldest city in the Americas!  Lake Nicaragua, old adobe walls, marketplace, old churches, bell tower views, traditional food, archeology, our hotel.

We went on a Volcano-Cloud Forest hike.  Windy, rainy, drippy, and very beautiful.

Our next excursion was to a volcanic island in the middle of the lake, Ometepe.  On the ferry, the beach, local fauna, petroglyphs, hike to a spring, horse rides.  We love this island, very tranquil

On deck sail repair before we head back out to sea... next stop Costa Rica!


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