Photo: Surf breaking over the sandbar can easily broach a sailboat
Three vessels in line heading out through the surf, Bill and the sandbar pilot ahead in their panga, ourselves around twenty metres or so behind, then the Kelly family onboard their catamaran Ankyrios
. This was to be our attempt to cross the infamous entrance bar to the Bahiá Del Sol. Of course, many boats had made it over the bar out to sea before us, some had gone well, others had not. Whether it's down to good seamanship, good pilotage or just plain good luck is difficult to say. Like every other vessel before us, we'd crossed the sandbar once already, when we'd made our entrance to El Salvador around a year before.
The worst accident we witnessed crossing the sandbar was the American ketch Octopus Garden
. They'd timed it wrong, they broached in the horrible surf, tried to right things but then their standing rigging parted, nearly bringing down their mast. To make things worse, their rudder quadrant broke and they lost their steerage too. Dave was just one who went out with the fishermen to tow them back in. They were fine, but fixing things up in the Bahiá Del Sol would not have been be easy.
made it out over the sandbar ok. The surf was bad, but nowhere near the worst we'd seen. Bill waved us goodbye from his panga, he and Jean had become good friends over the time we'd been in El Salvador. Our plan now was to make the hundred miles or so south-east overnight to Golfo Fonseca, we would anchor behind Isla Meanguera before heading up to Honduras only a few miles north, we could then anchor off the Isla Del Tigre. This was the Kelly's plan onboard Ankyrios
too. But first there were the notorious long-lines of the panga fishermen, this supposed danger was always the subject of much talk amongst the Yankee and Canadian sailboats. What's your plan they'd ask. We didn't have a plan, it was easy enough. The numerous fishing pangas with their lights and long-lines waiting to ensnare sailboats were always two to three miles offshore, we stayed inshore as close as we could, we simply avoided the bright lights. Ankyrios
did not, but then the stupid pilot book says to stay two to three miles offshore to avoid hidden dangers, which Ankyrios
did. They got snared, they lost one of their sail-drive engines.
We headed into the scenic Fonseca gulf then anchored. We got boarded by the Salvadorian navy checking our papers, but we'd already checked out with customs and immigration in the Bahía Del Sol, our documents were in good order. These navy guys were friendly enough.
Golfo Fonseca borders three countries, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. From Isla Meanguera we made the few miles north to Isla Del Tigre in Honduras. We anchored off the picturesque fishing village of Amapala, went ashore with Ankyrios
and did the easiest checkin and immigration we'd done for a long time.
Dead easy... and it was free.
Please visit our SV Sänna website for more details of our circumnavigation voyage from the UK. Also at www.facebook.com/SV.Sanna. Like our Facebook page if you'd like to receive more news about our sail adventure. You can contact us here.
Read more about the mishaps and mayhem of Nellie, The Ship's Cat