Monday, December 14, 2015

Bahia del Sol


Twelve days in El Salvador – and loving it!
Kanilela with lots of sun shades at marina, anchor chain out to repaint depth marks
As previously mentioned, we entered Bahia del Sol by crossing the bar which is a narrow strait called Estero de Jaltepeque with the Puntilla on our left as we entered. The Puntilla is the tip of a 16 km strip of land with the open Pacific on its ocean side and a mangrove estuary on the other. A road runs down the middle of the strip of land that varies in width from as little as a few hundred meters to as much as a kilometer in width.
Bahia del Sol Restaurant/Bar - yep - $1 beers!
The Bahia del Sol Marina/Hotel is a little more than a kilometer up the estuary and their property extends on both side of the road from the ocean to the estuary.
A swimming pool - life is tough
The marina has about 36 slips but you can anchor in the river or rent buoys which are owned by either Santos or by Bill and Jean, the El Salvador Rally organizers.
Looking out to Isla Cordoncilla, sailboats on the buoys

There is a 30T travel lift and small yard for haulout near Bill and Jean’s but the entrance to the yard needs dredging and the travel lift needs tires and probably more work so it is not operational now.  The other yard, about thirty-five miles south at Barillas has dry dock ways for the shrimpers but we are told they no longer haulout sailboats. Not certain why but that leaves Puerto Chiapas about 250 miles north as the only haulout option now. Fortunately, we are good for now but others had read in the guide books that facilities still existed here.

The muddy brackish water of the estuary is surprisingly clean considering it is the out flow for an extensive mangrove swamp area with numerous single residences and villages as well as the town of Herradura on its shore, but it is not clean enough for swimming. The tidal flow of about 5 to 6 feet provides a constant flushing with ebbs in the 3 knot range and floods slightly less, hence the need to time your entry at the Estero to a slack high tide. Ideally, with very little open ocean swell hitting the coast as well.
Life on the estuary

A fisherman throws his casting net
Opposite the long peninsular barrier strip, the estuary is lined with numerous islands. Bill and Jean own an acre on Isla Condoncillo across from the marina. The residences and village on the island are off the grid, no power or roads, but lots of happy people. Jean is mentoring Isabela, an island resident, in marine fabric work and we have finally decided to get the dinghy cover, or chaps, made  as the sun will eat the PVC tubes if we do not get them covered.

Sam (presumably Samantha) and Dave from sv Isleñia are anchored in the estuary and have introduced us to several people, ex-pats and cruisers, and shared their expertise with the bus system. More on the buses in the next post but the ex-pats we met, Lin and Lou, have an open house swim and barbeque on Sundays at their beautiful house about three miles up the estuary. We had a fantastic time enjoying their hospitality and the interesting group of cruisers who had gathered.

We have only just begun to explore the estuary but today we road with Paul and Mary in their dinghy, four miles up another arm of the estuary to the small town of Herradura. It is a fishing village that has a good fruit, vegetable, meat and fish market as well as a fairly good sized food store that is very well stocked and much easier to get to than either the capital, San Salvador, or another town within 1.5 hours by bus, Zocatecoluca.
Approaching Herradura waterfront

As we approached launch ramp and pilapas, a boy of about thirteen signalled where we should tie the dinghy amongst the pangas and upon landing, introduced himself as Jonaton.  We were on the water side of a large open air pilapa style restaurant. There are no tourists in Herradura and only infrequent cruisers approaching from the estuary, so Spanish is necessary.
Pangas at low tide
We gave Jonaton a dollar to watch the dinghy while we walked into the village. People were very friendly and a little inquisitive. We stopped at numerous stalls in the market, buying excellent produce and then completed our provisioning in the small supermarket. Everywhere people are selling their offerings, working hard to perceive what you may want, but there were no beggars. Even the youngest work with the family and are always quick with a shy smile when talked to.

Mags, Mary and Paul at the Restaurant
Upon returning to the restaurant, we were greeted by Elsa with cold cervesas and menus. The avocado shrimp dish was excellent. While there we saw a panga arrive with two fishermen who began unloading sharks.
Several tiburones azules, blue sharks
They said they were tiburones azuls, blue sharks, about four to six feet long and one hammerhead shark close to eight feet. They had been out beyond the entrance bar and had been fishing for twenty four hours. They were tired but happy.
and one hammerhead shark

Jonaton was there as we finished our lunch, to help us load our purchases and give us a push from the shore. There are places on the estuary where there are no signs of anyone else but you and the mangroves. Then you turn a corner and see a local fisherman in a dugout throwing a cast net or pangas racing up river to sell their fish. The estuary is a source of life for many.

As we arrive back on the main arm, we crossed to a small marina, Paradise Marina, a few miles up from Bahia del Sol. There were four sailboats and a few powerboats moored and we visited with Steve and Rochelle from Channel Islands, California and Greg on sv Irie from Sausalito. As both location were highlights of our time in California, we had a good visit with them, learning about more sights to see in El Salvador and south. There was also a sailboat from Nanaimo, BC, but the owner was away.
Just another great day in El Salvador!

No comments:

Post a Comment