Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Current location: Bahia del Sol, El Salvador
I have to confess that when I was younger, I was a bit crazy and partook in some questionable activities. One of my favorite youthful antics was climbing out of a little four seater Cessna airplane, stepping out on the wing and hurling myself off of the plane to plummet towards earth. I laughed and screamed the whole 10,000 feet, “this is Aaaaaawesome”. My only regret is that I did not pay the extra $50 to get a video (my friend, Weber will confirm that it did actually happen). I have shot automatic weapons in Vegas, flown an airplane in Petaluma, repelled down an apartment building in Chico, partied at Mardi Gras in New Orleans, ate from a chicken carcass at Munich’s Oktoberfest and hung upside down by boot straps in Mexico while doing a tequila shot. I’m sure as my father reads this, he is cutting me out of his will. In my defense…it was all my brother’s fault (see how I can still throw you guys under the bus?).
I have definitely had my share of mediocre adrenaline inducing activities, but crossing the bar at Bahia Del Sol pleasantly brought back those endorphin inducing chemicals. I also realized that I missed it over the past several years. Something happened when I had children; I got more careful and cautious which is understandable considering I am currently an active facilitator in two little people’s lives. Middle age also has reminded me that mortality is true and real. I am indeed going to die someday.
BUT…as the character Andy Dufresne said in one of my all time favorite movies, Shawshank Redemtion, “It comes down to a simple choice, get busy living or get busy dying.”
Honestly the pictures and video do not do the entry justice, but you sailors out there will understand. It is not often that you purposely bring your sailboat into 6to 7 foot breaking waves. I guess the story begins with our 3:00 a.m. arrival outside Bahia del Sol, where we anchored a mile offshore in 40 feet of water. Ben promptly fell asleep in the cockpit and I took it upon myself to play Solitaire on my Iphone and watch out for passing boats.
You see, there is a prize for any woman who drives the boat across the bar and we decided that I would drive our ¬¬¬5 ton boat over breaking waves at 8:00 a.m. Needless to say I was a bit nervous (but I wore a cute, striped sundress and a Hawaiian visor for the occasion…see photo).
When the sun was up, we cleaned the cockpit of any loose items, tucked away things down below, put on our life preservers and harnessed in. J.P. had cowardly (a.k.a. wisely) decided to sit down below and read his book. Mickey volunteered to be our official photographer and snuggled up against the companionway. Brave and courageous, Molly was at the wheel with Ben standing closely by. The pilot, Rujelio, who has been bringing boats into this bay for years, along with Bill, the leader of the El Salvador Rally, came out to guide us in on a jet ski. Ben immediately noted that Rujelio had his dream job and put it on his list of “Things I Want to Be When I Grow Up”.
As Ben explained that there would be a clear opening where the waves were not breaking as big, Bill told us over the radio to approach the set of waves to the west and stop. I was not comforted by the fact we were headed for the set of waves I had spied earlier and said, “huh, those seem pretty big”.
As we approached, I did what any sane, brave, adrenaline junkie mother of two would do….I bailed!! With the distinct sound of “CLICK” from the harness, I was out of there, declaring loudly and with utter certainty, “I’m OUT!”
Soon after our 10 year old photographer’s own declaration of “I’m sooooo out!”, was followed by a graceful and quick dive through the companionway down below (I swear I haven’t seen that kid move so fast in his life…well , except when he saw the crocodile while body surfing in Tenacatita). Dutifully, Ben took over at the helm with a huge smile plastered to his face. All was as it should be!
The first wave passed under us and I quietly said to myself, “This is not so bad!”
Then the next wave in the set approached and as I watched it, I was convinced it would break at the stern and douse us with a flood of water (the sailing term of “getting pooped”). Amazingly, we rode the top of it and it broke perfectly as we surfed atop it, hitting 13.65 knots. Keep in mind our average speed is 5 knots with our max hull speed being around 7 knots. With the wise words of “Holy Crap!!” from the new photographer (come on… holy week was coming up), we surfed a third wave and were safely across.
One of my favorite moments occurred when Bill greeted us with a hearty, “Welcome to El Salvador!” We had made it safe and sound. As Ben and I yelled and danced about our cockpit, Rujelio, the pilot turned to Bill on the jet ski and said, “I think they are having fun!”
Indeed, my new best friend, indeed!
P.S. Ben will post a blog soon with some great photos!
Here's the Youtube link for the video of the crossing:
One must dress appropriately for a bar crossing!