Captains Corner

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

El Salvador Finally In Our Sights. But First, Chiapas Mexico!

On the 8th of February we packed our two, 20 lb. exhaust expanders, filters, diapers for the engine bilges, towels, rags and loads of other boating products we needed, some small items for other boaters that they ordered and we were delivering, put them all in FOUR huge canvass duffel bags and left for LAX at 9 p.m. for an 11:30 flight, with an eight hour layover in Mexico City.  Believe it or not, it was the only flight we could get.    And, let me not forget, we also had Aggie and a big crate for her because she needed to travel as cargo.

Expander.  We had 2 of these!

We arrived at LAX, put through all four bags, 
Aggie (all dressed up, with bows) and her crate and had four carry-ons.  Jewell carried one expander and I carried the other.  We both had big computer cases with all our electronic items.   

 At 10:30 we were going through security and we were stopped by TSA.  It seems that our expanders could be weapons (do you think it is possible to pick up a 20 lb. piece of steel and throw it at someone???) and needed to be checked into luggage.  With only about 10 minutes to spare, we repacked one carry-on bag with both expanders, threw in some towels we had wrapped them with, and Jewell did her best OJ Simpson impersonation and ran with a TSA woman back to ticketing. Jewell had been quite upset about all that was happening so I stopped on my way to the gate and bought her a present of a 1 lb box of Jelly Belly’s.

The last time I saw these!

Meantime, our plane boarded and we were five minutes from the doors closing.    I started to worry that Jewell would not make the plane and notified the agent that my dog was on board and I needed to get off the plane or they needed to wait until she arrived. Frantic calls were placed to the ticket counter to try and find Jewell. Just as they were going to call and remove Aggie, Jewell came running to the plane.  Another $150.00 later (for a 5th bag), and with the help of the TSA agent, Jewell boarded and the doors closed behind her.

In Mexico City we collected our 5 pieces of luggage, our dog, our dog crate, and three carry-on bags and attempted to go through Mexican customs.  (We, however, left the Jelly Belly’s on the plane.  Separating Jewell from Jelly Belly’s is tantamount to losing a child.  Needless to say, I haven’t heard the end of it!!!   “Where’s my Jelly Belly’s” is a constant cry on the boat.)

Oh, please, don’t make me write about what happened next!!!!   Jewell says I must……so, we were stopped once again by Mexican City customs.  Paid our customs penalties, and were able to put our 5 bags through to Huatulco, grabbed Aggie, her crate, our three carry ons and went into the airport.  And, guess what…..we couldn’t go past security without depositing Aggie for transport on our next flight.  Which meant she would need to be in the crate for our 7 hour stop over and the flight to Huatulco.  We didn’t have it in us to do that to her.  So, we sat outside of ticketing, which was in the front of the airport right by the front doors.  I never knew Mexico City got this cold (about 45 degrees).  So, rather than sitting in a comfortable club, we were stuck, with Aggie, in ticketing.   It was so cold that we had to buy blankets.

Finally at 11:30 we went through ticketing, gave them Aggie, went through Security, and boarded our plane.  You’re just not going to believe this!!!!  Upon boarding, we smelled something that was so foul we gagged (as did the other passengers).  The holding tank broke.  They picked up the center carpet to explore the problem, and then decided to disembark us.  The floor was very sticky from the carpet tape from the removed carpet.  Every time we took a step, we walked out of our shoes, which were sticking to the floor.  I’m NOT kidding.  Back we went, by bus, to the boarding area.  So now where is Aggie??  We kept scanning the tarmac hoping she was not sitting out in the cold and all the engine noise.  Finally we saw her.  We were worried and she was sound asleep waiting as we were for the next plane.  It took an hour and a half, and another plane arrived.  Finally we were on our way.

We arrived with no other incidents.  Took a huge van to the Marina, Lucio met us and all was well.  Our dear friend Chris helped us put the expander on the port engine.  He and Jewell even let me  help.  Yes, don’t laugh, I bet you didn’t know I even knew what tools looked like.  Voila.  The finished installation.  

See proof I did help!
Installed and ready to go.

I asked Jewell out of kindness if she wanted me to go with her to the markets to get the provisioning done for the passage, and usually she takes pity and says “no I’ll go”.  But this time she says yes why don’t you come with me.  OY.  So here I am trying to remain interested.

OY!  I can't believe I am in Super Che' the market in Huatulco.

On the 13th of February we left Huatulco.  This is the part of the crossing you all have heard us talking about. The Tehuantepecs.  The winds through this pass can reach upwards of 60-75 kts an hour with waves up to 20-40 feet.  They have blown tankers 200 miles off shore.  The reason for this is the small piece of land that separates the gulf from the pacific.  It is only 175 miles wide.  So when the winds start blowing in the gulf and the Caribbean they funnel straight into the Gulf of Tehuantepec, Here is a map:

They tell you that the safest route is what they call one foot on and one foot off.  Meaning 1 to 2 miles off shore in about 60 feet of water.  The only time it is not necessary is if you have a good weather window of about 5 days. And then you can take the rhumb line that would run straight from Huatulco to Puerto Madero.  After our prior experiences, the Universe took pity on us and flattened the T-Pecs allowing us to take the rhumb line and cut out about 50 miles off our trip.

Calm seas during the crossing.

After 30 hours of travel we arrived in Chiapas/Puerto Madero approximately 12 miles from the Guatemala border. 

This is a map of the areas we have visited.


  1. WOW, What a time you wonderfully adventurous women have had!! LOVE you both so much and hope that it is smoooooooth, fun and worth it all from here on out. Keep up the BLOG we just love it too. Mary

  2. Love you guys and miss you terribly. Be safe and keep us updated...

  3. We're exhausted just reading this. This gives a new meaning to Yachting. You must have earned your Lion & Wolf badges by now. Keep the diary entries coming, be safe
    and know you are missed. Yates & Vince

  4. You gals really know how to travel!
    Sounds like you received Classe Primaro from the airlines.
    You're damn lucky that you're pretty and know how to negotiate---I'm sure I would have ended up in the Customs Jail. Now, back to the adventure:
    As for 'living right'== what a fantastic weather window. Again great karma and lots of research paid off.
    Congrats on the putting the "T-Pecs" behind you.