Posts Tagged ‘Sailomat 601’

The Panamanian Roller Coaster

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

And what a ride it is.  We’re here in paradise, working on Elysium, making changes to her that we hope will enhance our living on and sailing experience. The ups and downs at times are extreme.

We sold our 12′ Achilles inflatable… finally. I was going to title this blog “Buy High and Sell Low”. For it seems that only other people find great deals and we always seem to provide them. But then, I remember a fellow cruiser; Danny, who bought an ABI Aluminum Rib and after one day of ownership decided he didn’t like it, so he sold it for a $1,000.00 less then he paid! Sounds a lot like a new car purchase and truth be told, with the cost of all our dinghies and what we sold them for, we’ve lost much less then what we would have on any day we drove a newly purchased car off the lot.

Right now we do not have a dinghy, and we’re tied to the dock.  Our new AB Dinghy is in Panama City and we’re looking forward to having her. Our 12′ Achilles (which I loved) but which seemed to not love me back, is now serving another diver. The dinghy seemed to want to run free and some readers may remember the two times she went missing; once in the Bahamas where she was stolen and we luckily got her back… a bit damaged but usable, the other in the San Blas where I loosely tied her to a cleat and while telling stories (lies) at dinner Charlie (our host) counted dinghies and said one was missing. But she didn’t get far and with the help of the other guests the dinghy was recovered. Now I hope she finds her new home more to her liking.

With our new dinghy we’ve purchased a set of wheels; yes, you heard me right, wheels.  On the Pacific side the tides are so great and the beaches not as pristine that to visit them you need to haul your dinghy up beyond the tide line. (Tides are in the double digits there). So we’ve to attach them and as she has a hard fiberglass bottom I’ve purchased a rubber rub strake for the keel so beaching her won’t wear the fiberglass away.  Add to the list when we receive her we’ll make a cover for her while cruising and one for her when she’s deflated and set to carry on the aft deck.  Lots of work yet.

The unexpected was our generator which we are still sorting out.  Greg, a cruising mechanic has been working with me on the rebuild of the generator. When we first tore into her he found one of the rings frozen in place by carbon deposits. Thinking, hoping the frozen ring might be the cause of minimal compression he cleaned the rings and the head and put it all back together.  While torquing the head bolts,  he found two that didn’t want to torque down properly. As correctly tightened as we could we turned the hand crank to see if now we had any improvement in compression … and we didn’t. Back apart the generator came and we made a list of what parts I needed to order. It wasn’t looking all that bad and I proceeded to contact a supplier in the US and order the parts.

Bad Kubota Head

Bad Kubota Head

Perfectly timed Roger showed up (the cruiser friendly Panamanian driver) and I could send the head with him to Panama City for a valve job and general clean.  Off he went, and we began the task of getting our ducks in a row for the rebuild.

To receive the parts I needed to fill out some forms and work with the distributor and a retailer to enable the parts to be shipped. I would use FedEx as they are the most reliable for fast shipments to Panama and they deliver right to the boat. I contacted  Mary at  South Eastern Power (the Kubota Dealer for this area) and she had her retailer contact Carlos at Power Solutions handle the billing and  fax the paperwork back and forth.  Actually I faxed to the states and they emailed back what I needed.  With the order mostly completed Roger called. As there was horrible phone reception on the boat all I really had was a timed record of his call. I grabbed the phone, hopped off the boat and went in search of a good signal. Walking down the dock and around the marina until I had 3 bars.  I called Roger back and discovered a new let down. The head on the generator was cracked.  Oh-Oh! Greg never saw any crack, I never saw a crack, yet they said it’s cracked and un-repairable.

I anxiously called Mary to find out if my parts had been shipped. Nope! They were still in the queue waiting to be picked up. I added a new engine head to the order. That necessitated another round of emails to guarantee payment and a new calculation for the shipping cost. Thus another day added before they would ship. Next week, I would hopefully have the parts and have the heart of our cruising comfort working again. (As an FYI- the generator runs the high output alternator, the water maker, and the refrigeration compressor).

All there was to do now was wait.  And while we waited the dinghy almost sold and then was sold.  I say almost because the new owner came to look at it and he made an offer W/ couldn’t refuse. I’m never really happy selling anything, always believing I should have gotten more. Anyway, he left a deposit and in hindsight I should have accepted his offer on the contingency that he take it all now. But I’m not the best salesman and I didn’t add that clause. So during the night we (mostly I) worried about anything that could happen to the sale of the dinghy. We worried for naught for the following day he showed up …eventually.

The deed was to be completed at 11 ish. It was raining, Light squalls would roll through filling the dinghy up with water, I would empty the water then it would rain again and I would empty it again.  The dinghy was sitting on the dock fully inflated. He emailed me that he would be here closer to noon. Ok, we wait. Noon came and went. No buyer. Yeah, we would be able to keep the 100 dollar deposit but we didn’t want the dinghy and a 100 dollars. We had a new dinghy on the way and we didn’t want two … again.  About 3pm he showed up in the only break in the rain and some greenbacks came our way and the dinghy went his.  Later I discovered that at 1 ish or so he emailed that he was on his way. Thus our emotional roller coaster drop wasn’t as far as thought but there was a splash zone on the way.

With the dinghy gone we could again focus on Elysium. We began to prep the shear stripe / cove stripe that Lyman Morse neglected to paint.  We had given Dave the marina yard manager our old never to use again Poly Glow.  This deal was way better then “Buy High and Sell Low” as we had bought it and now were giving it all away. But on a boat there is no room to carry what we won’t be using. Only thing is; I forgot we needed to remove the old Poly Glow that was on the stripe before we add the new Signature Finish paint. Back to the new yard manager, Edwin, to explain what we needed and hopefully get some back. Edwin was kind enough to locate the Poly Glow stripper and we felt lucky; he didn’t ask for any money! We returned to the boat and proceeded to prep the area for painting.

Sailomat-Wind-Vane-Paint

Sailomat-Wind-Vane-Paint

With that part of the paint project completed there was a steel boat in the yard that was being sand blasted. I wan’t happy with the paint on our Sailomat Windvane. The blue paint (which I never liked that color on the wind vane) was pealing, cracking, and falling off. I approached Edwin about the smallish job of blasting the 6 items while there was a crew on the other boat project. He agreed to bring the blasting manager by that afternoon and give us a price.  He did and the price was too high.

They said $110 would do it. I balked. Maybe the one good time in my life when I did.  We are after all in Panama and the minimum wage is about $25 / day.  I figured I could, with Rudy (another cruiser friendly Panamanian driver, Colon based), find a shop in Colon that would bead blast them for less then $50. So I explained what I intended, that in the US I had some blasting of small parts done at an auto shop and this should be about $50 bucks in the US.  They agreed, I could get it done for $50. I would deliver the parts to the work area and they would remove all the paint.  Sweet.  I hate grinding away, stripping paint!

The following day no one worked. The sky never turned blue, and rain continued to wet the Earth off and on for about 6 hours. I was lucky as I didn’t yet have the vane off and in pieces and hoped by the following morning I would.

Finally off and in pieces I hauled them up to where the blasting was taking place and left them for the start of their renewal process. How sweet it is when things actually come together.

The pieces are cleaned and ready for etching, primer, and paint!  We’re making progress again. And!  FedEx shows up with my parts. Life is smoothing out.

Greg arrives the next am and we begin (mostly he) to put the heart of our cruising boat back in order. Piston in, bearings in, the end gasket is on and we begin to clean up the head bolts to put the head back on.  He discovered that the threads in two of the bolt holes are messed up. Remember the two that would not torque down correctly!  Most likely when Kubota put the engine together the bolts went in badly somehow or were fixed after the first assembly but before shipping.  I doubt Aquamarine had any need to do anything with the head and I never removed it nor even torqued the bolts (which I should have done). The end result is that there is a problem and the best way to fix it is with Heli-Coils. We stop work.  The plan is to go into Colon and at Garcia’s (which is a big bolt, nut, screw, place); pick up some M9 Heli-Coils. That’s the plan.

I went in expecting success. I don’t know why, I’m generally not an optimistic person but I’ve found most of the fasteners I need for the boat Garcia’s has.  I was disappointed. Garcia’s pointed me to another store and there too I was disappointed. Then I decided I needed to call Roger in Panama City. He could maybe pick up the Heli-Coils there and when he’s out this way I can meet him.

And that is were we’re at today. I’m waiting to hear if Roger has them or if I again need to order a set from the states. As they (Heli -Coils) appear to have a great deal of value for situations like this; should I need to order them from the states I’ll get a couple of sets. In the Pacific; I know I won’t find any. For now the ride has stopped. I wait for the next go around, knowing that the ups and down in life are all part of the experience.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Dos Dia

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

The day’s going smoothly, at least it was at first. I commented to W/ that this is “Rather Pleasant”.  She likes to use that phrase and I like to joke with it. It was rather plesaant. We were moving well, ahead of our schedule and the seas were not too bad. About 2 – 3 meters. There was enough of a breeze out that the sail didn’t bang back and forth. We were able to get some small things done in keeping us alive and in keeping all things working well.

Somehow, although we’ve had some good passages, we’ve not yet had the “perfect” passage.  When we needed to make a course correction I moved back to adjust the Sail o Mat  and saw that the piece I had just installed had began to slide out. This time it would NOT have permanently entered Davie Jones’ Locker as we did have the safety line on. Time to fix.  We disconnected the wind vane and W/ took the helm. I turned the windvane sail so the oar came up the way I could work on it, using the safety line, lifted it out of the water up to horizontal and then tied it off. There I went in search of the correct Allen Wrench and set about to put the oar back in the correct spot. Since it was horizontal it was easy to slide but lining up the hole in the oar tube with the hole for the set screw was going to be more problematic.  As I had lubricated the opening the oar tube slides in, as the tube moved a little in and out the lubricant was now smeared about 3 cm up and down the tube. I couldn’t find the hole.  Luckily to align the oar tube the first time I had marked on the bottom of the tube with permanent maker where the tube sat and the center. Finding that and placing it just so; all the while I was hanging out the stern of the boat with my harness clipped in, I was able to get the set screw snugged back down.  In the manual for the sail o mat there is no mention of how much torque to apply to the set screw. Also in the manual they say to “lubricate” the set screw! IMHO this is part of the issue.  Maybe someday I should remove the lubrication, clean the threads and use a thread locking sealant.  Right now though I won’t try that. Get the screw tightened down and get the wind vane back steering the boat.  I snugged the bolt down about as much as I could hanging over the stern of the boat.  That done I lowered the oar back  into the water and we set about connecting the lines again.  W/ and I discussed now that it would be best if I checked the screw  every 4 – 6 hours. Then I could tighten the screw if it needed to be.  If it wouldn’t move after two checks then I had good confidence that it would be fine.

Back on course we’re truckin.  Things are working well and we’re beginning to settle in for the night. Just as I retire we hear a “pop”.  One of the safety doubling  lines holding the block to the windvane let go.  We use a smallish line and it’s set in the Sun all year so I figure “ok”, just replace it.  The line is the small twisted nylon line you can buy in any hardware store. I cut some more line, weaved it around the block and the control line  and hook it up. Viola!  Again the Wind vane is steering. “Pop”!  It breaks. Damn!  Ok, do it again. “Pop”! DAMN! Investigate. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me!  I discover the knots are sliding on the line and letting go. It’s hard to tie a good knot in this line. The third time I tied a square knot and immediately behind the square knot tied another square knot, hoping that if the line slid, one knot would back the other up and tighten the first.   We reconnected  the vane gear and the boat is sailing itself.  5 minute, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, good!  Looks like I’ll be able to retire; sleep, again.

Overall the night went without further event.  At midnight  I turned on our aft nav light to light up the windvane and checked the set screw at our watch change. It hadn’t moved anymore. Great.  W/ went below for some shut eye and I took over the deck.  The worst thing about the wx now was that every so often we would get slapped up the side of the boat by a wave and the spray would cover a great part of the cockpit. All things outside were getting a salt water wash. This was by no means a good thing. Salt seems to encroach on anything near by and we endeavor to keep salt off our bodies and out of the boat as much as possible.

During our passage we had been keeping a SSB contact schedule with Passport and via the grapevine;  Wind Whisperer and Kiaja’sSong,  Mostly the signal has been best with Wind Whisperer and Kiaja’sSong as Aruba is open to the direction of our trip. Passport was in Santa Marta surrounded by mountains. Gary on Kaija’sSong had said we could expect some small showers and we did get a couple of fresh water rinses. Ironically they didn’t do much to remove the salt from the boat and they didn’t seem to flatten the seas. But with our foul weather gear on they didn’t do much to either of us. We just hid in the corner by the dodger and let the showers pass.

The following day I downloaded the new GRIBs.  Each morning I download a new set of them. The forecasters are quite good at 24 hours and beyond that we’re probably better off throwing the dice.  So far each days set of GRIB’s has shown us that we would have a good passage. This morning I downloaded them to see. Oh-Oh.  The forecast for the rest of the day is 30 kts or what Meteorologist say is “Windy”.  35 mph and about 55 kph.  We were in for quite a ride.

The day wore on. As the wind would push up to the 30 kts (Force 7 ) range the seas would built to about 5 meters

They grow em big down here!

They grow em big down here!

or 15 feet. Some would roll through quite large as different wave trains would combine. The wind and the seas and the green water from Río Magdalena are what sailors call hearabouts “Green Monsters”. Some would just be awesome to watch. And W/ would say some would be down right “scary”!  The large ones would roll us first down the hill then up the back side we would go. We’d watch the water boil at the top of the waves. The wind was blowing hard enough that as the wavelets would break the wind would blow the water right off the wave.  As exciting as it was it was wearing on us. The waves were closer together and the motion was a lot of work The only really good things were that the waves weren’t associated with the explosive wind gusts found in squalls and we would be making land fall tomorrow.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long