Stolen Kiss

Stolen Kiss

January 5, 2012

Once Around the Block. Finally we return to Stolen Kiss after 8 months!

After sad farewells to family and friends and 2 ½ days of travelling we made it back to a lonely Stolen Kiss. It was so good to see her sitting peacefully on a mooring just as we had left her!
An extended layover of 18 hours in LA was good to catch up on some sleep and spend lunch time down at a Manhattan Beach café. We have continually found strangers in the street in the States so friendly and offer a service second to none. So different to Australia!!!!!!!!! We had a bit of a win as there was no excess baggage to be paid on our 7 pieces of luggage! Although we were ok with Qantas, Taca Airlines was our concern. Mum’s xmas cake made it in one piece which is a good thing as we needed something to eat on board. It’s the furthest one of her cakes has traveled.

Although this year it appears that December would have been a better month to head south, we plan to leave by the 8th January. We are now in strong papagyo weather (strong gap winds of up to 40 knots at times). Our first anchorage will be a 230 mile or so leap to Bay Santa Elena in Costa Rica. (Weather window is looking good at the moment!) Clear water to boot, so we can swim off the boat once again. We so are looking forward to this! All we have to do is get over the bar! A different type of bar to contend with these days!!

Choice is an interesting concept. Heading south in chunder and frightening, squalls or clear skies and papagyos????????? I think we prefer the latter!!!!!!!!! However, having experienced the first papagyo whilst sitting here in the Bahia, this statement might need more consideration! We will have to cross the ITCZ at some stage. No doubt this will be on passage between Panama and Galapagos, and we have Ann and Terry to share this with!!! However once through, we have the SE winds for the rest of the journey. This will be a first for us (having A&T on passage and sailing through the ITCZ!) as in the Indian Ocean we followed it south, anchored in Chagos whilst it headed north over us, then managed to get north before it moved south!!!
Sadly, our time in Panama will be very short, which by all accounts, is an excellent place to cruise. However, the old adage of you can’t enjoy everyone’s paradise….you just have to find your own. We do have the whole Pacific to cover this year. Panama for us will be a busy preparation time for our crossing. We have a mainsail and dinghy to pick up. Bottom to anti foul, provisioning and a little fun to be had! We have a haul out date for Feb 7, so we need to get out skates on!

All is well on Stolen Kiss. Santos and his team had looked after the boat exceptionally well. There was a scratch along the water line from a log that had gone past, which, given the rainfall and amount of debris that had come through the estuary, was of no surprise. The guys had spent considerable time and effort protecting the boats. Out table had been varnished and now looked a little more presentable. I was quite surprised to see that the aluminium foil was still attached to the hand rails, blocks and lights on deck. Our effort of cleaning and wiping the insides before we departed 8 months previously had paid off as there was no mould or musty smell on board! Good old vinegar and Lysol!! Santos had also done some cleaning on board the morning of our arrival. The reliability and honesty of the guys gave us some degree of comfort in leaving the boat for so long. He is puttting together a website for those cruisers interested.
www.  So all in all, we would highly recommend leaving the boat in EL Salvador, in Santos' care during the hurricane season.

As we re-initialized the systems, we held our breath as we tried each one! Of course as the master had installed all the electronics, each one worked perfectly. To hear the engine turn over and purr quietly was a relief. It even sounds better from having a rest!! Laptops continue to become a challenge. Peter has just seen one advertised with no moving parts! I guess leaving them on board in the heat for 8 months is a little too much to expect. I am hoping our nav laptop will at least make it through the Pacific to New Zealand.
We had pulled all the halyards to the top bar one, and had them coiled at the bottom of the mast, with sunbrella wrapped and tied around them and the winches. The rain had washed all the salt out and they were nice and soft! Having the winches well-greased and covered has kept them in good shape. No doubt we will have plenty of time on passage to do some of these jobs! On looking at the flight path of our A380 as we flew back, we wondered what we were ever thinking now we have to sail back!!

 Every orifice around the boat had been plugged with rags or fly wire to keep bugs out. Good that we remembered to get the rag out of the exhaust before we tried to start the engine!!!  Not sure who got the biggest surprise when we untied the sunbrella wrapped around the mast winches and halyards as a family of bats had set up home!! They sure do poo a lot!!!!!!!!!!!!  As they flew around looking for a new home, we were diving to close the hatches!! Sam (who works for Santos) was helping at the time so between 3 of us, we managed to beat the bats to the hatches! Sam also helped Peter pump up the dinghy (which now looks even worse with more of the grey paint having flaked off to the pattern of the deck!!) and took it away to collect our outboard for us. Too easy! Santini, Santos’ father is a great outboard mechanic and has had it during our absence for maintenance and repairs.

Peter installed the new boat jewellery……..much easier to haul up the outboard now.

Moonshine and La Paloma arrived back on the same day as us. We are shared a van to go shopping and a small tour up to the volcanoes. Shopping in San Salvador on the last day of the year was perhaps not the best day to go, but we all managed the crowds and our driver took us to THE favoured papusa restaurant for lunch. The grand cost of $8 for 6 people for food and drinks!! We had left quite a few stores on board which were all in good shape. No crawlies!!

By the time we all got back and loaded the boats, New Year ’s Eve was spent on board, surrounded by noisy music and what sounded like a war zone for 8 hours with fireworks exploding all around us. The ½ hour before midnight on deck was beautiful watching the finale of all the fireworks! To our relief the locals were all partied out by 0030 hours and all was quiet for a sleep! Latinos are the party animals!

We had one day off to visit a volcano and surrounds. Unbeknown to most of us, except Ari, the beautiful mountain town of Alegria and the volcano were at opposite ends of EL Salvador, so essentially we had gone round a very big block in one day! A lot of travelling, but with views to die for!

The town square was heavily decorated for xmas.

Our restaurant that had a view to die for, overlooking the mountains in Honduras and down to Nicaragua, had their own personal guard. The government has employed the old guerilla's from the civil war. A good idea for these guys!

The gardens were very colourful and the orchids just divine!

Nearby Alegria, (as in any place in El Salvador) there is an old volcanic crater, that still has a strong sulphuric smell.  A flat piece of land is good for soccer.

The aroma of the coffee beans had us wanting.........

Half hour out of San Salvador (the opposite end of Alegria) is another volcano that last errupted in 1917. There is a small crater now growing inside the old one. The local people farm small plots of land inside the crater.

The way down the volcano, provides a vista of the sprawling city of San Salvador. The population is no bigger than Perth!

During our absence we decided to pay some local chaps who work at the marina to polish the topsides and stainless.  A fair price for them and for us, so we are all happy! Peter did feel a little uneasy about paying for something we could have done ourselves. The guys did a sensational job and the boat is sparkling in the moonlight!

One of our lifelines broke when Peter was leaning on it. Lucky for us it happened on the mooring and not at sea. Santos organised a beautiful stainless weld and Peter a rather impressive splice for the spectra rail until we get to Panama. At least there will be no confusion which is port!

 The bar was flat yesterday so we are hoping for a similar situation when we depart in a few days. We will just suck it and see!