I wonÂ´t bother filling everyone in on Guatemala, as the next thing that happened is quite a bit more interesting.
Elsie and I were a bit late getting into El Salvador on Monday and as the sun went down, we made our way through the breakers, which were huge, sending the boat, left, right, backwards, surfing down the waves.
We actually made it through those not too bad when out of nowhere a major storm hit… within minutes the boat was just being tossed everywhere…
We took on a lot of water and I tried to continue to maneuvre the boat to safety, as well as closer to shore in case things got really bad.
There are tons of shoals outside of Bahia Jiliquisco, where Barrillas Marina is, so we kept hitting bottom as the boat was completely being tossed around by the waves… we took on lots of water, but Elsie helped bail some out so we were still in decent condition.
But we kept getting pounded by waves, and were almost constantly hitting the sandy bottom… finally after about an hour of that a hole must have opened in the boat because the whole boat very quickly started to fill with water.
We called Mayday via the VHF but heard no response so we assumed no one heard us. My cell phone couldnt dial out for some reason, but Elsies, which is on Fido, said “Emergency Only”, she said we should dial 911 and I just laughed figuring there is no way that would work.
It worked! But it took me 10 minutes, while standing in waist deep water on my boat to even get across to him in Spanglish that we were on a boat and needed help… eventually after 20 minutes he got us through to the Navy, but they told us they didnÂ´t have any boats and it would be 3 hours before they could come.
This was bad because we were now pretty much almost completely submerged. To add to the difficulties, waves were continuing to pound us and right when we needed the dinghy most, it broke loose and was gone.
It was very dark, incredibly wavy (think washing machine) and as far as we knew no one even would be coming for three hours.
We had our life jackets on and just tried to hang on… we were getting pounded constantly by waves… somehow Elsie and I were very fortunate that all of the things that were being broken off my boat (like a propane tank that went whizzing by my head) didnÂ´t hit us. I tried my best to shield ElsieÂ´s body with my body.
Interestingly, the GPS stayed operational until the boat was completely submerged and I knew that we were getting closer and closer to shore, getting pushed in by the waves… at one point it looked like we were less than 200 feet from shore… it was then that things got really rough and the boat was almost completely under.
I managed to wrestle my surfboard loose from under the water, put Elsie on it, and after getting smoked into the boat a few times (again miracuously, no major injuries… my hand got cut up a few times but nothing to worry about at all)… finally we got away from the boat, with Elsie clinging to the surfboard, and me trying to hold it steady so it wouldnÂ´t tip in the waves.
After about 20 minutes of kicking in the direction of where I thought shore was, the storm ended and it became very calm… we kept kicking and paddling for about another 30 minutes and were beginning to worry that the shore wasnÂ´t as close as we thought.
It was then that Elsie noticed a boat coming towards us… if we didnÂ´t wave and yell they probably would have ran over us, which would have been a totally fitting end to that day… but they saw us, stopped and hauled us in their panga.
It was a bunch of cruisers from the marina… apparently everyone heard our distress signals but we couldnÂ´t hear their replies for some reason… they had to wait about 30-60 minutes for the storm to end before coming out… they said even up inland, with protection, that storm was really bad…
So, anyway…. boats gone. Elsie and I are totally fine… We are probably going to go into town and get some clothes and stuff today… I managed to keep our passports and credit cards in my pocket so we are fine.
Elsie will head back to Vancouver in a couple days… she was incredible out there… she stayed calm… and all of her working out really helped numerous times as we had to hang on to the boat amidst huge current and waves… all in all she is good… she doesnÂ´t even seem to upset…. but obviously I owe her a huge apology. Through it all, my only concern was to get her to shore, and thanks to a lot of luck, and her calmness and strength, we made it.
As for me, I currently have nothing at all… someone lent me some denim jean shorts and a t-shirt. And since I donÂ´t have a home either I think I will likely spend the next couple days deciding where and what I want to do… I might even take a plane down to Panama for a few days since I am so close and check it out. I wonÂ´t be getting a boat again… 1 year was enough… so I think I will likely just try to pick a city/country I want to live in for a while and hop on a plane and go there and get an apartment for now.
My phone was toast, so the only way to contact me currently is via email… but donÂ´t worry I am totally fine. Actually, I feel great… there is something very freeing about not having anything, and I am actually just excited to move on to the next adventure.
I donÂ´t know if I will bother keeping up this blog much past updating what country I end up in but I might, so check back and see if ya want.