Ahoy from the crew of the BlueJacket!
We arrived at Marina Barillas in El Salvador after a bumpy 260 nm passage from Puerto Madero, Mexico. We were then met by a panga from the marina who guided us up the 10 mile estuary to the marina, which isn't a marina in the sense that one typically envisions one. The marina only has a couple dozen mooring balls and a very nice shed system where locals store their small boats which the marina launches with a tractor. I can only guess that the reason that the marina is located so far up the estuary is that it's one of the few places along the estuary where there's power and road access.
Aside from the estuary, the landscape of the area is beautiful. There are multiple active volcanos in the area, including one that erupted just a month ago! They create a stunning backdrop to everything and it's quite interesting to watch puffs of steam belch from the volcano's caldera. Oh, all of the green in the above satellite image is mangroves.
The area is a UNESCO World Heritage site, which I assume was created to protect all of the wildlife which live there. My favorite time of the day is the hour or so before sunrise when the sky is full of flocks of birds making their daily move towards the coast and the sounds are just amazing. The cacophony of the birds calling to one another is amazing to listen to and there are all kinds of interesting pops, clicks and the occasional crashing sounds made by something large moving around.
There are alligators, including what was described as a 6 meter (20') big boy who is reported to live there. You see them regularly along the mangroves or sunning themselves on the mud banks at low tide. This did a great job of mitigating my desire to get in and check out the bottom of the boat...
Clearing into El Salvador couldn't had been easier. All of the officials came out to the boat via a marina panga and filled out all of the paperwork in short order. They did a brief inspection which entailed opening 2 cabinets and declined my offer to look further. Checking out was even easier when they met us at the pool in the afternoon prior to our departure and did the paperwork to clear out. The next morning at 5 AM we were met by a smiling and jovial immigrations officer who stamped our passports so that we could leave!
When we arrived we were greeted by our friends from s/v Endorfin and Eternal Bliss. They had arrived 2 days earlier and we thought that they would be ready to head S, but they were quite content to stay for a few more days, which was great for us as we had been going non-stop since arriving. One of the first things that we did was to take a hike into the jungle to see the colony of spider monkeys who live there. The villagers who live there called them and within a minute or two you could hear them crashing through the tree tops and they quickly scampered down to meet us and get fed bananas. You don't think that they've done this before, do you?
The marina itself is a very nice place to spend time. They've got a wonderful 3 tier pool and restaurant/bar that serves basic food. The staff is extremely helpful and even managed to get our propane tank filled. Even more difficult was getting Art's (Eternal Bliss) tank filled as he has a California tank with special filling valves that don't look like anything that I've ever seen before and it appears that the normal fill valve has a back-flow preventer which keeps it from being filled in the normal way.
From Barillas we'll head 35 miles down the coast to the Gulf of Fonseca, which is the intersection of El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. Given all of the history of the area, that should be an interesting stop!
-- Geoff & Sue
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