Sailing around the Gulf it blows my mind that Sir Francis Drake hung out here in the early 1500's, giving the Spaniards a lot of shit and stealing most of their silver. But hay it was all good he did it for the Queen.
We were reminded of this one morning when whilst lying in our bunks at dawn on our first morning at El Tigre. We heard a couple of lads outside in a dugout commenting on Mandy, and saying it looked like a "barco de los piratas" (Pirate ship). Perhaps they thought we were Drake's men back to look for the bullion he reputedly left here.
He must have been made of iron for he came here in this and no radar to boot.
12 June 2009 | Gulf of Fonseca
We came in this:
This is Mandy escaping over the bar in Bahia del Sol, led by trusty pilot Rogelio
12 June 2009 | Gulf of Fonseca
A beautiful little volcanic island in the Gulf of Fonseca
El Salvador, east to Nicaragua
11 June 2009 | The Gulf of Fonseca
From the Southern Mexican border, through Guatamala, El Salvador and north-western Nicaragua, the coast is mostly unindented, backed by a flat hot, humid plain, good for agriculture but lacking in physical charm, with few enbayments or coves in which to anchor. It is pounded relentlessly, particularly in summer, by huge surf, generated in the Southern Pacific. Thus it is a Mecca for surfers, but a challenge for cruisers. There are a few commercial ports, mostly uninviting for small boats and a handful of estuaries, which although sometimes tricky to enter, provide tranquil anchorages surrounded with mangrove forest. The one exception to this pattern is the huge Gulf of Fonseca, more than 500 square miles, fronted by El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua and studded with numerous islands, islets, and rocks.
Our three weeks in Bahia del Sol, provided us a secure gateway for travel into El Salvador, flat water to complete some boat projects, the comforts of the hotel pool and the company of eight or ten other boats, yet it felt good to pull anchor and make our escape over the bar headed seventy miles south east to the Gulf and once more be on our own looking for solitary anchorages.
We spent more than a week here, moving seven to ten miles from island to island, seeing only one other cruising boat in that time. This is not so simple as winter on the west coast of Mexico. The rainy season is truly upon us, which means daily temperatures in the 90's, very high humidity and nightly dramatic and violent thunderstorms. The anchorages are either protected from the southern swells or from possible Papagayo (strong Northerly gap generated) winds, but not from both. The holding is excellent, which is fortunate since the nightly squalls generate impressive wind chop that rolls in turning Mandy into a rodeo horse for half the night.
All that said the rawness and power is magnificent to witness. Our entry into the bay was a portent of our whole stay. After a windless motor down we arrived off of Punta Amapala at midnight and reluctantly decided to go into the anchorage since it is wide open and free of hazards. As we motored in under a pitch black sky we monitored approaching storm cells and where possible the dozen or so shrimpers that were working the mouth of the Gulf and seem to operate in almost all conditions. Slowing to allow a cell to move across in front of us, the towering conical silhouette of Volcan Conchagua was repeated illuminated in tremendous flashes of brilliance whilst it was hard to know if the constant rumbling was thunder or the surrounding volcanoes growling at us. Two hours later we anchored in 30' of water three quarters of a mile off the beach and collapsed into our bunk, thrilled but totally exhausted.
After visiting three islands and three countries in the Gulf we moved seventy miles down the coast of Nicaragua, again accompanied by the nightly thunder storms, to the commercial port of Corinto, where after the usual paperwork dance with Port Captain, Customs, Health and Immigration we anchored two miles up the estuary, where we will lie for a few weeks enabling us to visit the capital Managua and Leon the intellectual heart of the country.
For those with the Gulf of Fonseca or any part of Central America on their future agenda buy the cruising guides from www.sailsarana.com/guide , they are up to date, accurate and well researched and a great place to start for an area that has little written about it.
Up the Limpid Lempa
29 May 2009 | Bahia del Sol, El Salvador
When in a safe tranquil estuary such as here several cruisers congregate. This is both good and bad. The bad is that we would like to spend time exploring the country we are visiting, and hanging with other cruisers reduces the time for that. The good are the fun times we have with the cruisers we are with.
Having spent 30 years in the racehorse business we felt it was time for a different kind of adventure.
Both originally from England we have sailed for fun for over 30 years. We have owned MANDY for five of those and are planning to head south for Mexico etc. in November 2008 - ready or not. [...]
When we get to Panama we will decide which way to turn; through the canal or across the big puddle. The eventual goal, whether by boat or not, is Galicia in north-west Spain where we have a ruined farm cottage and barn (pictures in the galleries) that we plan to restore.
We love our 3 grown children and our parents but this window of time is reserved just for us. It has been a long time coming. World economy sucks. So what?