YACHT  DELIVERY continues: Part Two – El Salvador to The United States  –  6th October 2008 – 2nd February 2009

Leaving DIGNITY behind at PMO, Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela, we caught the bus to Caracas on Oct 5. We spent the night in the airport and the following morning boarded the flight to San Salvador, via Peru and   arrived at 3.30pm in pouring rain.

Views from the plane over Venezuela and Peru.

                       We decided to spend a few days in San Salvador and visit a few sites in the city before returning to the yacht, unfortunately it rained most of the time.

Barillas Marina sent their driver to fetch us for the long drive back to the marina where we would prepare for the next leg of what was to become another frustrating journey.

Barillas marina staff had looked after the boat, aired it and cleaned the bottom.

We arranged for a mechanic from the fishing fleet to check the gearbox. He arrived in the late afternoon, listened to the engine, said the gearbox sounded bad, checked the oil in the reduction box and told us that it felt like normal multi grade when it should have been high pressure 80w90 . The mechanic returned the following week with oil for both the engine and the gearbox. He changed the engine oil and the gearbox oil which was full of bronze grit and advised us not to go above 1,500rpm and to change the oil as often as possible.

 We spent 17 enjoyable days in Barillas marina. At its excellent restaurant we tried Pupusas, a traditional El Salvador dish as well as an excellent tilapia fish, chips and salad for $8.00.  The manager of the marina, Heriberto, went out of his way to help us, as did the grounds staff and restaurant personnel.

Crocodile sunning himself

Eventually we plucked up the courage to leave and as per normal the panga came to guide us out to Jiquilisco Bay and to the waypoint beyond the sand bar.  A fifteen knot breeze gave us wonderful sailing that day; we did 7 ½ knots.

El Salvador Coast

Then, motoring for a few hours, we noticed the oil pressure had dropped – oil was leaking out of the engine somewhere! We added a gallon of oil; pressure back up. As wind increased from the southwest, 8 knots to 12 knots in flat seas, we had enjoyable sailing with full main and genoa. Fifty miles past Madero, the wind died and we had to motor. Suddenly the oil pressure dropped again. At this point we did not have any spare oil left so we decided to turn around and return to Madero.  There was no way we wanted to repeat our visit to this Mexican port but with the oil problem, no wind, and the dreaded Tehuantapec looming we had no choice. Once again the Navy boarded us on both arrival and departure, each  time with drug sniffing dogs and four Mexican Navy officers armed with fully automatic weapons. It cost $12 a day to anchor.  We went out to buy loads of oil. Our engine room check revealed a horrible oily mess. We drained the oil and put new oil in then fitted a new oil filter . . . .  started engine and ran it for 15 minutes – cleaned the bilges – cleaned the walk in area in the engine room – grease and oil everywhere. As we left the anchorage the depth and wind instruments went into code lock! Why RayMarine ever put this option in is beyond me! It serves no purpose because if someone steals your instruments and finds they will not work without a code they are highly unlikely to return them to you. What is worse when this type of glitch happens you are suddenly without at least one very important instrument, the depth sounder. The wind instrument I can live without! Of course this scenario escalated the stress levels to a great degree as very soon we would be going through Tehuantepec where it is advisable to stay as close to the shore as possible. Now we must hug the shore with an engine losing oil, no depth sounder, and a dicky mainsail: talk about stress!  With two reefs in the main and the small genoa, the wind got up to 25-30 knots from the stern and we were doing 8 knots.

About 60 miles off Tehuantapec, estimated wind was 40-45 knots gusting to 50 knots on the nose: lousy at any time but we had to do it overnight. We motored about 1 mile offshore, seas coming over the deck and into the cockpit.  The mainsail tore again so we dropped it and continued with only the small genoa, motor sailing throughout the night.

The Mexican coast:

                       The following morning brought calm seas and no wind. We motored the last 40 miles to Huatulco; a lovely coastline, miles and miles of beach and mountains in the back ground. Turtles abounded.  We passed through the narrow channel to Chahué Marina Huatulco.  Moorage $230 for the week! Distance from Barillas: 260 miles. This part of the delivery was 70% motoring and 30% sailing.

We met a sail-maker living on board a yacht who gave us a quote for mainsail repair, saying it would take about 5 days.

                  We cleaned the engine, as best we could and started it to try and find the oil leak. It turned out to be at the alternator bracket: the bolt into the engine block was missing. We re-fitted a new bolt: no leak, cleaned the engine room again as well as the cockpit area.  We bent on the repaired mainsail and made another good wipe down in the engine room.

              The town was about a 4 km walk, the main plaza was surrounded by handicraft stores, church, boutiques and restaurants, all clean, attractive and with friendly locals.

We searched for de-greaser in all the garages, to no avail. At the main square we had our first Mexican meal, I tried the Oaxacan Mole dish: chicken rolled in chocolate, with black beans and hot sauce. Delicious!

We visited the Parque Guelaguetza and walked up the hill and down to Santa Cruz, the next bay area.

Next fuel stop was Acapulco, another 260 miles.

We picked up a mooring in the huge bay. We booked for 3 nights at $1.25 per foot per day. The moorings belonged to Club de Yates, a lovely marina where we could use all facilities, including the pool.

Acapulco is a very busy city with 3 million people living round the bay and up in the hills.  There are thousands of blue-n-white Volkswagen taxis.

         We visited San Diego Fort, Papagayo Park, the square, artisan market, Cathedral, shops and restaurants.

Accapulco Cathedral and Town Square.

We walked up a steep hill to La Quebrada, the famous cliff divers sight where we paid $3.50 each and went out on the ledge to watch eight muscular divers.

With great anticipation we watched as two by two they dove off the cliff, safely into the sea. WOW!!! Awesome!!

La Quebrada

The Divers

042We went to Don Pepe restaurant for dinner in the square.

Next stop was Zihautanejo, 115 miles, and anchored off Playa Principal.

The southern part of Mexico was lovely: long beaches, rolling hills and not over populated.  We bought delicious tilapia fish in the supermarket for dinner.

Zihuatanejo

Wind was up so we had full genoa and main and motor sailed for the following 3 days to Banderas Bay, Puerto Vallarta 340 miles.

Mexican Coast                                                                                            PUERTO VALLARTA

Sunset – Banderas Bay

We went to La Cruz marina, $30 per day.

Puerto Vallarta is in Jalisco State, in the CENTRAL time zone, and La Cruz Marina in Nayarit State in the Mountain Time zone.  Jalisco time is an hour earlier than Nayarit time. At Zaragoza marine hardware store just a few minutes from Marina Vallarta we bought gearbox oil and v belts.


Shopping Centre

We enjoyed a Shrimp Quesadilla with five different sauces, guacamole, tomato and onion, and hot sauces, and a guava juice for $5, excellent! We took the bus to the centre of Puerto Vallarta about 15 miles from the La Cruz Marina.  Walking along the boardwalk, one can admire the bronze statues by renowned artists which adorn the Malecon.

Beach sand -Artwork and beautiful Bronze Statues along the boardwalk.

In El Centro there are many small shops and sprawling craft markets.  Isla Rio Cuale, the island between El Centro & Colonia Zapata, offers a serene atmosphere away from the traffic noise: lovely gardens, craft market, and Cultural Centre.

The River Cuale- Puerto Vallarta

Elizabeth Taylor’s house overlooks the bay. Puerto Vallarta also has a Wal-Mart, Sam’s, and Liverpool centre.  We fitted the new v belts and put oil in the gearbox.  Puerto Vallarta was the last place for a warm water swim.

November 28, we approached Cabo San Lucas, 330 miles up the track. It is located at lands end where the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortés adjoin.  Luxury hotels along the beach front, daily cruise ships, and jet-ski’s.!!!

We anchored in about 20ft and a good distance from other boats, as wind shifts.  By mid-morning the anchorage was very busy with pangas coming and going all day, ferries to and from the cruise ships, and jet-skiers criss-crossing back and forth, sometimes only yards from our boat. The wake from all this was constantly rocking the yachts and made the dinghy ride to shore somewhat challenging. It was cold during the night and warm in daytime.  Went by dinghy to Marina Cabo San Lucas and had to pay a $3 fee per day for the use of their dinghy dock.

Cabo San Lucas-Shopping Centre                                                                                           Marina

Lands End

We went to the Rui Hotel where they had a Mariachi Band playing.

Cabo San Lucas Anchorage

Lands End –      Leaving Cabo San Lucas

We took on fuel and after couple of days in Cabo, we motored 205 miles into the wind to Magbay for a lovely overnight anchorage.

MAGBAY

Leaving Mag Bay -early morning

We sailed for 8 hours then tacked: big swells and wind about 15-20 knots, increasing overnight and this is when the mainsail tore for the third time in very cold and threatening conditions.

Bahia Asuncion

A yacht leaving this area contacted us with weather information, saying the Santa Anna winds would start blowing during the following night from the East.

We anchored in Turtle Bay, 375 miles from Magbay, and by midday the Santa Anna winds started blowing. We stayed on board, with increasing wind. By afternoon it was blowing 20-30 knots plus and we could not see the town for dust.

The following day we called the water taxi, $2 per ride, and went ashore to Enrique a restaurant owner who also deals with boat requirements. We organized filling gas bottles and getting fuel to the boat.   A cold front was on the way, so we put 5200 sealant round leaking vents.

Turtle Bay – Views to Anchorage

Water taxi driver

On Monday December 15, friends Maggie and Graham on TWO WISHES left at about 4 am. They were also sailing to San Diego, their home port. We motor sailed the following two days and decided to go to San Quinton Bay to overnight and in the morning to decant fuel from the containers.

San Quintin Bay

Isla San Martin

In the early hours much sooner than predicted the wind shifted to the southwest. We woke up at 3am to this wind, so we decided to leave and fill tanks later. The wind increased, it turned very cold with horrible seas. We tried to fill the tanks at sea, and two containers fell overboard.  So we had to anchor off St Martin Island which offered some protection from the wind to do the fuel transfer. We had to drive the anchor out in 30-40 knots of wind, rain squalls with tons of water washing over the deck. With no main and half genoa we just made it past Point Colnett: too close for comfort, about 1 mile off a lee shore, the westerly wind pushing us toward the land.  After Point Colnett we stayed well off shore, six miles at least, rolling big time!

Punto Colnett

We arrived off Ensenada in the early hours, 280 miles later, and went into Cruise Port Village Marina for 2 days.

Ensenada

Entrance to Ensenada Marina

We bought a heater for the boat, (a first for this tropical cruiser! Something northern sailors take for granted.) and waited for the next weather front to pass.  Maggie tried on some wigs for fun, bought one.   Huge Mexican Flag.

Ensenada Fish Market

Downtown Ensenada

Maggie, Graham & us went to the  El Rey Sol Restaurant for dinnner.

We visited the  Civic Centre in Ensenada

Dave enjoying a Burro Lunch

On December 23rd we departed for San Diego, a 62 mile passage. We went alongside the Police Dock to check in and moved to the Marina, at $10 per night for the first week and $20 for the second week. Boaters are only allowed to stay two weeks maximum. Another big cold front passed through with small craft warning, rain and 35 knots wind: glad we were in!  Christmas Day was very cold and windy & rained all day.

SAN DIEGO

View from Marina area

Later we explored downtown San Diego: the waterfront, the Horton Plaza, The Gas Lamp Quarters and to the American Plaza for a ride on the trolley to Old Town.

American Plaza  -Trolly Ride

We visited old town -San Diego

There we met our friends Maggie and Graham who took us to the Balboa park, home to 15 Museums, 1,200 acres of lush gardens, a botanical building housing about 2,000 tropical plants, beautiful orchids etc.

Beautiful orchids

And more orchids

Walk around the gardens in Balboa Park

The owner of  ¨Colibri¨ flew to San Diego and we all went to Fiddlers Green for dinner.

We drove to Fallbrook  to visit our friends.

Ann & Herman – Fallbrook

With Maggie and Graham, we tried the delicious sourdough bread with clam soup, excellent. We also visited the San Diego Zoo. The $30 entrance fee was well worth it. The highlight was seeing the pandas, polar bears and orangutans.  We enjoyed San Diego very much.

Lunch with Graham & Maggie

Maggie & I went to the San Diego Zoo

Then it was on to Oceanside to check out the marina and book a berth.

On January 3 we motor sailed 35 miles to Oceanside Harbour Marina: 900 berths, restaurants, and trendy shops. It was a very tight maneuver to get in to the visitors berth.

Oceanside has the longest pier on the West Coast, 1,942 feet long.

Surfers – View from Ocean Side Pier

Downtown – view from Library area

Downtown Oceanside

Catalina Island -Sunset

Catalina island

We went to the fuel dock then motored all day along the coast, heading toward Catalina Island.  It seemed like millions of lights from the city of Los Angeles, a contrast to lonely days at sea.

On Wednesday January 7 we arrived in Ventura, some 120 miles from Oceanside docking at Ventura Isle marina: END OF THE JOURNEY – 4,900 miles.

VENTURA – Southern California

We explored at leisure. Ventura Harbour has many restaurants, specialty shops, Channel Island National Park a Visitors’ Centre.

Ventura Marina area

The Ventura Pirates  – A Fun time in Ventura!!!

Marina Area

Ventura Beach & Marina Entrance

We toured downtown Ventura, Mission San Buena Ventura, walked up a steep hill behind the Town Hall to overlook the town and bay area: lovely views.

Downtown Ventura –  Views from top of  Hill

Downtown  Ventura

We visited  the Catalina Ilse  Marina and surrounds

Ventura Beach

We went by bus along the coast to downtown Santa Barbara, visited the Court House, and ascended to the tower, which offers 360° views of the city, mountains, ocean and the offshore islands.

Inside the Court House – Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara Courthouse

2nd  floor in the Court House

 The waterfront  area – Santa Barbara

We walked down State Street, which was very crowded for the film festival week.

Downtown  Santa Barbara

State Historic Park – Site of Royal Spanish Presido of Santa Barbara

Back in Ventura we walked through organic farmlands to the shopping mall

Views to Santa Cruz Island   —-  Daniella & Mark, who live in San Francisco came to visit us for a couple of days.

Our three weeks in Ventura was very enjoyable with near perfect weather.

       Once the delivery was successfully completed all the boat problems seemed minor. The opportunity to visit interesting countries, chat to friendly locals and meet new friends left wonderful memories that will be with us always.

On Friday January 30, 2009, we boarded the airport shuttle which drove along the coast to Los Angeles airport.

Los Angeles Airport   – LAX

 Then it was on to Fort Lauderdale for the weekend. Monday we flew from Miami to Venezuela. After two months sailing up the Pacific coast of Central America, Mexico, and the United States we experienced no small degree of culture shock on our return to Venezuela.


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