Our fourth day at sea found us in El Salvadorian waters, and so once again we
had a little flag ceremony, lowering the Guatemalan flag and raising the pretty
El Salvadorian flag. As this was to be our last day at sea, I decided to do
a little fishing and try to add some protein to the larder. I rigged a 7"
green and yellow squid lure and let the line out behind the boat.
By now my concerns about our fuel range had largely abated. As we passed
Bahia Jaltepeque, another potential refuge and home of the Bahia Del Sol
Marina, at 9:00 am, we only had another 60 miles or so to go to Barillas,
and had covered a whopping 460 miles. The fuel gauges still read "1/2",
and even though I knew they were incorrect and we actually had something
closer to 1/3 tanks left, it was pretty clear at that point that we would
make Barillas with a comfortable amount of fuel remaining, without even
having to tap the "emergency" fuel stored on deck.
At about 8am, a fish hit the line.
I reached over and threw the clutch on the reel to set the hook, and
almost immediately I could see the green iridescence of a Dorado as he
jumped out of the water about 200 yards behind the boat. I had really been
hoping to catch a Dorado, which is also known as Mahi-Mahi, as they are
really good eating, nice white tasty fish. After all the Skipjack we
had caught, this was the first white-meat fish we had caught since the
Sierra, way back at Isla Isabela.
I brought him forward to the boat and he didn't put up too much of a
fight, being a rather small guy, for a dorado, at about 8-10 lbs.
When I gaffed him and raised him out of the water, we got to see first hand
the color changes that these beautiful fish go thru. The fish flashed
green and yellow, and the spots took on a pretty deep blue color.
We had heard of a new way to kill the fish, one that didn't require
batting them on the head and creating a crime-scene-like spray of
blood. We opened a beer, which I poured
into the Dorado's mouth. Sure enough, after about half the beer, he
stopped struggling and peacefully died.
I wanted to catch another one, and so kept the line in the water for
about another hour. After an hour of not getting any hits, I decided
to put the rod-and-reel away and clean the Dorado. I had also learned
a new way to clean them from the guy who told me the beer trick
in Huatulco, and so rather than cut the head and tail off and gut
it, this time I merely cut the fillets off of the fish and threw
the rest of the fish, guts, head, and tail still intact, off the
back of the boat. We got about 6 lbs of nice looking fillets from
him, and in his honor had a quick sashimi snack of a few strips
of the raw meat. It was delicious.
After cleaning the fish, and then cleaning the cockpit where I
clean the fish, we straightened up the boat and got ready to take
her into Bahia Jiquilisco. I went below to empty the heads,
and to my dismay found that the port head's macerator was jammed,
and the head would not empty. Oh well, a problem a day seems
to be the motto of a boat owner, and there was nothing I could
do about it at sea.
So, about 1:00 p.m., an hour from the bay, I radioed Barillas
Marina and they sent a pilot boat out to meet us. At 2:00,
as we crossed the Lempa Shoals, we met the pilot boat at the
agreed upon GPS rendevous coordinates. He then led us on the
9 mile track into the estuaries and up the river to the marina.
At 3:00 we tied off on a mooring, and almost immediately the
Aduana (Customs) guys came to the boat to check our passports and
give the boat a quick inspection. When everything was to their
satisfaction, we joined them for the trip back to shore where
we went to the marina office and checked in, then to the
handy on-site immigration office to get our El Salvadorian
visas stamped into our passports.
Barillas Marina is very nice, and quite inexpensive, at $11/day,
which includes the use of the pool and a complimentary shuttle
into the nearby town of Usulutan twice a week. The official
currency of El Salvador is the U.S. dollar, and apart from the
$10/person to get our visas, there were no other fees required
for checking into the country. In fact, after we got all checked
in, Ameretta, the marina manager, took us over to the restaurant
bar and told us that included in the marina package was one
So there we were, having rum margaritaa, in this tropical paradise, very reminiscent
of Jamaica or coastal Louisiana - hot and humid, but very pretty -
after having completed 520 nautical miles in just over 80 hours.