This passage was almost too good to be true… one of those trips where you don’t want to say anything for fear you might jinx it (causing a giant squall to appear on the horizon and swallow you whole), but really, broad reaching on flat seas with 10-15 knots of wind, a gorgeous blue sky above, a fish on the line behind us, could it be any better?!?
Not that staying up all night doesn’t make you sleepy… 🙂 But notice the lack of lee cloths?? That means this was *really* a smooth passage 🙂
We officially checked out of Mexico on Friday (so we could leave super early on Monday). The Marina Chiapas staff kindly drove us to all the various officials (port officials, immigration, customs, Port Captain, navy) so we could collect our paperwork and pay our fees (cost us $24 to get our ‘Zarpe’ — our international exit paper). This was super exciting for us, and also a giant relief.
Why a relief, you ask? Well because in true messed-up-paperwork-fashion, we had a small problem with our papers. See, when you enter a country you’re supposed to get a paper called an “Entrada”. That’s your official entry paper. It has your boat’s name, your name, your date of entry, and your other pertinent details on it. The problem with our ‘Entrada’ was that Brio entered Mexico with her former owner, under her former name, in 2005. Then we technically bought her in Delaware (because you’re not legally allowed to buy or sell a boat in Mexico — a point I’m still confused by, given the number of boat brokers down here), so paperwork-wise, she basically just ‘appeared’ as Brio, owned by us, in Mexico in 2011 *poof!* with no paperwork to prove the point.
Now don’t think we didn’t try to fix this situation — we talked to the damn broker (who advised us to walk in to the Port Captain’s office and lie straight to his face and tell him that our boat ‘just arrived from the USA’ — a rather long trip???)(but don’t get me started on boat brokers); we talked to other cruisers who had bought their boats down here (didn’t get a definitive answer); and we even tried to ‘hire’ an ‘agent’ for ‘a fee’ to ‘fix’ our problem (if you get my drift) but he basically said there was nothing we could do. We were in a weird gray zone that nobody wanted to deal with!
Case in point? The La Cruz port captain, when he asked for our ‘Entrada’ and I told the truth (“we bought our boat here so we don’t have one”) started yelling “no, no, no, NO!!” while waving his hands over his head and plugging his ears. No exaggeration. Rather than listen to any more of our story, he stamped our papers and sent us on our way.
So long story short (shorter at least 😉 ), we were super worried about what the officials would ask for when we wanted to check out of the country. How could they not ask for our entry papers when we were trying to get exit papers?? We have literally been talking about this, stressing about it, worrying about how it would end, since we bought the boat in 2011…
And in the end? What happened when we tried to check out? Nothing. They asked for the last port’s papers (inside Mexico), we handed them over, they stamped our papers, and we were on our way! Just like that!
I don’t want to say that this would be the case for everyone buying a boat in Mexico and struggling to get an ‘Entrada’, because I do think it’s probably a port-by-port thing where different officials ask for different paperwork… but I do know that in Chiapas, in 2014, they didn’t care if you had an Entrada or not 🙂
So ‘Zarpe’ in hand, we were officially moving on from Mexico!
Mexican flag coming down…
…and El Salvador going up 🙂
It was 240 nm from Chiapas, Mexico to Bahia del Sol, El Salvador, and we had to time our arrival with high-slack so that we could safely come across the bar entrance. Some boats advised us that ‘it should be a 41-hour trip’, but really? This is Brio we’re talking about. If we can sail at 3 knots, we will! So we left with lots of time to spare, and ended up arriving in El Salvador the evening before our planned tidal entry.
We caught a nice fishy a few hours out…
And after a bumpy (but uninterrupted!) sleep anchored just outside the Bahia del Sol estuary, we awoke to a gorgeous sunrise over the volcanoes, ready to cross the bar 🙂
It felt stressful (now I know why I’m getting wrinkles)…
…but we had an amazing pilot boat guiding us in, and in the end it was as easy as could be.
First impressions of El Salvador?
These guys know how to welcome cruisers! We were greeted at the dock with a welcoming crew bearing rum drinks, filled out our El Salvador ‘Entrada’ papers (*happiness*) while downing said rum drinks (well… I drank both of them actually, since Jon doesn’t drink :D), and then spent the afternoon checking out the pool, anchoring the boat just off the marina, zipping around in the dinghy, and sampling ‘pupusas’ (the El Salvador equivalent of a taco — delicious!!!!).
Our pupusa dinner out (including drinks) cost us $4.50.
That might actually have Mexico beat?!?
So all in all, a smooth exit of Mexico, a dream-like passage to get here, an easy bar crossing, and good living in Bahia del Sol.
Cruising does. not. suck.