Archive for the ‘Provisioning’ Category

Panama – Almost Home

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

Panama

We……are……back!  It feels like home. For the most part Panama is home. People say home is where the heart is and our hearts are with Elysium. Our hearts, a good part of our soul, a lot of our money, and much of our time have gone into Elysium.

We made it back to Panama and through immigration and customs without incident. I figured coming from Peru there would be a little more scrutiny due to all the coco plants growing there but I was wrong. Hear that for those that know me… I was wrong. 🙂

Roger picked us up at the airport and with another Spanish School student the 4 of use traveled into the city. W/ and I planned on spending two days repacking, getting organized and then returning  to Shelter Bay and our baby who has been quietly sleeping away the time on the hard in the secure (sometimes locked) yard of the marina.

We are starting to know the city well enough that getting around is not an issue. We almost know the real price of the taxi’s; not the gringo prices, we know where to walk and where to eat.

Early  Monday Roger picked us up and we traveled to Shelter Bay Micro Hotel; we had reserved a room there, staying where we can get some work completed on the boat and then not having to pick up our mess nor live in a pig sty with the heat and

Ready for Some Lovin

Ready for Some Lovin

no muddy puddles and no place to cool off in. We arrived and there she was, sitting now in the work yard with covers renewed and still in place. We set about moving into our new digs and planning our attack. Unpack, change and then open up Elysium and see what’s what.

First things first, we noticed the painting we had contracted with Lyman Morse had NOT been completed. I wonder, what would Lyman Morse had done had they completed the painting and we didn’t fulfill our end of the contract?  I wasn’t happy with most of the prices Lyman Morse had given us but the painting was one thing we felt was reasonable and we signed the contract in November before we left.  Six months later Lyman Morse had not completed what was contracted for and had actually left Shelter Bay 2-3 months earlier. Good Riddance to Lyman Morse!  I will do all I can to avoid having any further dealings with Lyman Morse. Should anyone reading this account choose to work with Lyman Morse all I can say is…. Good Luck!

As far as Elysium goes; inside, she was a mess. Not that anything was destroyed but the last time we had visited her we simply put our gear aboard, replaced some awnings and left. Gear was everywhere. W/ set about to attempt some form of organization inside the boat while I removed the temporary awnings and installed our window air conditioner. Then we connected a water hose and began to wash away 6 months of boat yard dirt. Elysium begins her change from boat yard  “a rag muffin” to the good lookin’ girl she is.

Small Boat - Lots of Stuff

Small Boat - Lots of Stuff

Day two through launch we began the task of getting her ready to be in the water for another year or so. We spoke with Dave at the yard ( the new – old yard manager) and had the marina crew wax the hull, sand and paint the boat bottom. Not only are those tasks hard work they are jobs that if I can, I wish to avoid for the rest of my boating life. Besides, we have other work to do.  That being; lubricate all the thru hulls and replace the cockpit drain hose, replace the impeller and change – add the Speed Seal. And finally, clean, pack and organize so when she’s launched we can move back aboard.

The cockpit drain hose was always  1″ too short and once while offshore I discovered that the hose had actually come off the scupper in the cockpit. Luckily we hadn’t any rain nor shipped any water so it having slipped off was only a nuisance and nothing serious.  A little effort and luck with a hose clamp put the hose back in place; but always in the back of my mind I was concerned with it. We had purchased some new hose in Panama City and while the task of replacing the hose sounds simple,  from start to finish took a good days work for both of us.  Removing a hose on a boat is one of the most difficult tasks aboard, even for professionals. In Galesville, MD;   where we hauled a few years ago the yard manager told me that in a contest between a hose and an individual, most of the time the hose wins and it just needs to be cut away. Cutting some of the hose away I had planned on doing but I wasn’t interested in cutting every connection as at 5 bucks / foot here in Panama  I hoped to reuse most of the hose for that section on the boat. I did end up needing to cut off one small piece but no problem, I had enough hose to replace that piece.

Another day we spent on polishing the fuel that was in our tanks. We had set up a new system in the last year and now I needed to make sure all was working well. I had to do a little jury rigging because power to that area of the boat is  re routed funny as the the generator and its wiring are still non functional. Finally fuel in both tanks has now been cleaned down to 2 microns (that’s the filter I have in the big Racor).

While the pump was running I moved on to the raw water system. We replaced the impeller and I spent a good part of the morning looking for spare blades. I knew some were missing as if we ran the boat hard the temp gauge climbed up where it should not be. Thus on our last trip here we sailed some and idled the rest of the way. The tabs had found their way to the oil cooler and there I began to mine for them. I couldn’t see them but I could feel them in the entrance  and with a bent needle nose pliers was able to extract most to them. But there were still three doing their damnedest to evade me. It seems that none of the marinized diesel engineers  ever think to add a system for the catching of impeller blades so it was up to me to develop an ingenious way to gather the 3 blades still hiding. I tried tape stuck on the end of my finger but the water just didn’t want to stay out of the way. I tried tape on the end of a bent Cue Tip, and I tried small pieces of wire bend to grab those little suckers. Finally I remembered a sticky material we use with the coax cable , and stuck a bit on the end of my finger. I would gingerly reach into the space and hope to catch one of the pieces unsuspecting my lust for it, press down firmly on the piece and then slowly, every so slowly, remove my finger with the piece still sticking. After about 50 tries I had the final 3 pieces out of the cooler.  That completed I reattached the hose and then we added a Speed Seal cover to the water pump. I’ll report on the Speed Seal at a later date. So one day spent working on the plumbing and 3 days of rain. Yep, we’re back in the rainy season again. We didn’t feel best about tracking mud back and forth on the boat and our yard crew working outside ended up short on time too. We expected to be in the water after one week. Maybe expected isn’t the right word but hope is. This haul out took 9 days. Not bad, not the best but within reason.  We cleaned the prop and running gear, changed the engine zinc and made sure the systems (primarily propulsion) worked that we needed just to get Elysium to a slip.

On launch day for some odd reason the yard started rushing us. Victor; the lift operator, told me just prior to breakfast that we would be launching later that day.  After ordering breakfast he found me and said they were ready!  I was a slave to the yard so I left my warm food to chill and followed Victor to the boat. There I disconnected the power and readied the boat to be trailered  and travel the 100 yards to the lift for a final painting of the spots on the bottom the boat was sitting on and then slowly dropping her in the water.

Why is it just about every yard in the world is slow as nails until  they want to launch you, then they are in a hurry?  The paint went on the bottom spots and then I wanted to wait at least an hour. We wanted the paint to have a chance to dry and for some reason yards don’t, and I figured a minimum of an hour. Also the yard demanded a pay slip showing our bill was current so off I went to the office to pay up and then hide. It only worked for a bit. Victor was in a hurry, being pushed a bit by Russ who is part owner and sometime yard manager.  The boat was suspended about 1′ above the water, they waiting; not patiently, for the pay slip and to drop us in the water. As soon as she was wet I went aboard to check and make sure water was staying where it was suppose to; outside the boat, and then we could be on our way. It was here I discovered the reason why they were in a hurry. A catamaran was waiting a bit off the slip way to be hauled out. They were anxious to get us out of there so they could haul the cat.  Feeding off their need for speed and knowing that we were not taking on water we started up the engine. I heard a funny noise looked over the side and saw the lifting strap immediately over the exhaust thru hull. As Victor lowered the straps and they pushed us out the funny sound went away and I believed all was now ok. Once clear the slip I again checked  at the exhaust to make sure we had cooling wear. There was none!

I ran below; remember we had just changed the impeller and added the Speed Seal.  Luckily  there was no leak at the water pump, unluckily there was smoke in the engine room and the engine pan was full of water. I hollered at W/ to head to the nearest dock. We had a problem. I asked her what the engine temp was and she indicated the gauges were normal. I didn’t know where the water was coming from and I didn’t know where the smoke was coming from. We opened the cockpit locker to let out smoke while I looked for the issue. We crept towards the dock and as soon as I could get a line to the shore W/ killed the engine. The boat was again secure but I wasn’t.

We aired out the engine room for a bit and  I checked to make sure we were not sinking; no bilge pump on. Good. Remember there was now another boat in the slip being lifted out. Had we been taking on water we would have been in deep doo-doo. Fortunately, so far,  the situation is manageable. We cleaned out a great deal of the salt water (I tasted it to make sure if it was salt or fresh), and then W/ started the engine with her finger on the kill switch.  As the water ingress had stopped and the smoke subsided we need to investigate. She starts the engine and I’m checking the engine on the starboard side. The water pump looks good and no smoke yet. But I hear water come in. I move quickly around to the starboard side and see sea water spraying out of the engine exhaust elbow  mixer with a fair amount of diesel exhaust. “Wendy, shut her down!” I yell as she

Non Functioning Exhaust Mixer

Non Functioning Exhaust Mixer

begins to press the kill switch. I show her where the problem is at and shake the bottom half of the fitting. It is now completely separated held almost in place by the exhaust tape.  I have no Idea if I blew it apart from the strap being over the exhaust or if the extra pressure simply moved the problem forward making it an issue today. The good news is that we didn’t have something like this occur in the middle of our canal transit because there the cost is roughly $1,000 US / hour for a tug to take you the rest of the way through, and in the pacific I just don’t know how I would have jury rigged a solution.  But here; at least we can get to a city and get parts, we have internet so I can contact Bud at World Cruiser Yachts and consult with my backups Mike and Dirk and Jack.

For now we need to get to our slip. I go in search of John the marina manager who then takes me back to Victor the lift crew manager and arranges for me to be towed to our slip. Victor says in two hours and dummy me I figure two hours. W/ brings the rest of our gear down from the room and I anxiously wait. Four hours later the crew arrive with two dinghies and we are gently and uneventfully towed to our slip.

New priority this week. Get a new exhaust elbow mixing fitting and install it.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Share

Movin’ On

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

We’ve spent so much time here, the friends, the anchorages, they all make the San Blas home. It’s time to skeedaddle. Panama has a limit on how long one can stay in the country and we’ve reached it.  Six months and they want us out. Of course there is a Marianaras visa which matches the Cruising Permit however extending our visa to match our Cruising Permit would only add one more month to our time here.

IB and Becca on Passport had indicated they would head some E with us; but, with Emily (aka Legs) needing to leave in 3 weeks and Passport needing to head W in 4 or so they elected to hang in the Western San Blas.  We indicated that any Kuna would take Legs off their hands but neither Emily or the crew of Passport thought that was a practical solution. 🙂  Galivant and Liberty too had indicated they might share in the eastward adventure but they too seem reluctant to leave the serenity of the western San Blas.  We hoped that Hobo might follow a similar route as they’re planning on heading to Cartegena; however, as is usual in sailing circles, we were willing to go it alone.

We upped anchor and headed N around the Green Island group planning on staying as much inside the reefs as possible. A month or so ago we headed outside the reefs on our trip to Tigre and the seas were much larger then we wished and the ride slightly uncomfortable so we elected to stay inside the reef as much as possible heading down to Snug Harbor where we first made landfall when we had arrived in the San Blas, Panama almost one year ago.

We put the sails up and said “Good-bye” over the VHF to those in the anchorage. Before we were out of sight, Lions Paw announced over the VHF that Elysium actually has a mainsail.   The distance between anchorages in the Western San Blas is so close that we’ve not felt any need to put up more then the Yankee (our headsail). Trips are usually less then 5 miles apart and for the better part of 3 months there the mainsail stayed in it’s home, covered on top of the boom.

The sail to Snug was one of the nicest we’ve had here. A 25 mile trip with about 1/2 of the way inside the reefs. Once we passed Tigre and we were outside the reefs. the seas were still half of what they had been on our last trip in this direction.

At Snug we planed to spend a couple of days filling our water tanks, reading and

Snug Harbor, San Blas, Panama

Snug Harbor, San Blas, Panama

enjoying the beauty of a place not often visited. Hobo (a Katy Krogan 42) came in a bit later, they did decide to head East same as us.

Building an Ulu

Building an Ulu

The following day we put the engine on the big dinghy and the five of us  (W/, I, Larry, Lena, and Black Dog Morgan) and two dinghies went to see Playon Chico (the Kuna community near Snug Harbor).  There Morgan was an instant hit. Most of the dogs; actually all the dogs we’ve seen in Kuna Yala are about the size of a large cat, so Morgan who is a rescue dog and a good part Border Collie was big enough that some of the Kuna kids wanted to ride him.  Of course Morgan being generally calm and good natured found this to be a bit inconvenient and did his best to quietly resist. He would however let the Kuna kids take his leash and walk with them. Larry; the alpha male, kept a good eye on things but there wasn’t all that much needing to watch for.

We crossed the foot bridge connecting the mainland to the island village and crossed from one end of the island to the other.  While we understand that a good part of the Ulu’s are now shaped with a chain saw there were a couple boats here being built that had an adz put to them for the finishing detail. We didn’t get to see an adz used. Damn; one tool I don’t have and don’t know how to use. 🙂  We visited a couple of Tiendas and picked up some supplies.

After a thorough tour of the village with Morgan leading 20 children down the paths between the thatched homes we began our trek across the foot bridge to the mainland where we had left our dinghies. I hung back to snap a few more pics and W/ carried on with our purchases; one bag of Kuna Bread, one bag of Cinnamon rolls and one bag of eggs.  There are no cartons for eggs in Kuna Yala; once purchased they go in a very light plastic bag; eggs are purchased individually, one or a hundred – what ever you want and what ever they have.  Somewhere midway across the bridge W/ decided to rearrange the goodies and there upon dropped the only bag that had something breakable in it. I came upon her stalled and close to tears (not that close) and she holding the bag out to me showing me the broken eggs, the whites and yokes oozing out the bottom and dripping on my feet; people are getting a little pushy attempting to get around us and I’m urging W/ to keep moving.  She’s not happy with the eggs, not happy with me not having more sympathy, and I’m not happy having the travelers push and shove with raw egg on my feet. Eventually she gets the idea I’m not mad, I think it’s mildly funny and it would be good to move; we cross the rest of the bridge and tell Hobo of our brief adventure.  Back at the boat we discover that one egg survived; it cost $2.50.

Walkin' da Runway

Walkin' da Runway

The following day the four and a half of us (Morgan is the half)  took another trip in. We figured to hike a bit. We had observed some interesting areas in the hills that maybe had a small Eco Lodge and we knew that; I should say we hoped that the  Airport didn’t have a scheduled flight in the afternoon because the runway would be a good part of our trail.  As we arrived the child that had lead Morgan around the day before magically appeared wanting to lead Morgan again and off we went. We found one what looked like an active trail and followed it up into the hills only to discover that it leads to a burial site.  As the Kuna consider these sites sacred we chose to abort our trip there and try another trail.  Although we didn’t get off the beaten path again we did discover a chicken farm by the side of the airport, we saw there was a room at the end that seemed like it was part of the airport for people to bring their computers and and do some….work?  Larry asked if there was internet there and they said no.  Who knows? We again walked across the foot bridge to town and what a difference.  It was jumping!

An Interisland Freighter

An Interisland Freighter

An inter-island freighter had arrived and we saw the same frenzied look on the Kuna as you do people shopping at a new Walmart. Next to the town dock there was a volleyball court where we watched some inter island competition.  The rules have to be slightly different because I saw 4 hits / side (in the US I think there are only 3) and I also saw that a couple of saves were made with feet and legs – I thought a  serious no- no.  However as the Kuna either hold the record for the the world’s shortest

Volley Ball, Playon Chico

Volley Ball, Playon Chico

population; or come damn close,  these guys could jump. One team had mostly bare feet playing on a cement court and the other team were mostly were covered with tennis shoe.  We marveled at the activity around the town center for a bit; watched most of a game and then worked our way across the foot bridge and back to the boats.

We were planning on leaving in the am and although we had been to this anchorage 4 times now we ‘d never been in our out on the E side; that’s how we had planned on leaving the following day traveling East to Ustupu.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Share

Free Advice

Monday, November 28th, 2011

My general belief is that advice is worth what you pay for it. Sometimes we pay with time, sometimes we pay by the hour, sometimes by relationships. I haunted several cruising bulletin boards before we left on this chapter of our lives.  One of the questions I asked a year or so before we actually cast off was, “What spares should I carry”?  And the advice I received is what I’m paying for now.

We’re waiting in Linton, Republic of Panama for some water maker parts from Aquamarine.  While we’re waiting for the parts we’ve been meeting people both shore side and other cruisers. We’ve had

At the Kids Table :)

At the Kids Table 🙂

Thanksgiving dinner at an ex – pats home; her house overlooking the harbor, W/ actually put the inflatable Kayak in the water and paddled

W/ Lovin da Kayak

W/ Lovin da Kayak

around once (hopefully more then once will totally transpire), W/’s played Mexican Train Domino’s and gone to  Yoga 2 to 3 times per week, we’ve read between us a half dozen books, played 100’s of Suduko games, I’ve play chess on FICS (real time with people all over the world), we’ve caught and  filtered about 120 gallons of rain water making sure we’ve got our back up water catchment system working properly. We’ve taking a couple of long dinghy rides around  and basically we’ve been

The Mangrove Creek

The Mangrove Creek

hanging here enjoying ourselves.

I didn’t carry a spare electromagnetic clutch for the water maker pump in any of our supplies. We do carry a multitude of spares but they tend to be stop gap, where we can Jury Rig (a Willie Wonka Chocolate factory fix) the repair and get to someplace where we can completely  rehabilitate the part. I know one cruiser who carried 3 spare starters and when he went to install them none worked.  I know of another cruiser who when he bought his boat actually had a spare transmission aboard.  When he finally needed it and took it to the shop to have it prepared for installation he told me that it cost more to repair the spare (all the rust on the bearings etc) than it would have to repair the messed up transmission! Getting the right spares on board is more an art than anything else. These three plus years have been helping me identify the correct ones to carry, ones that if there is a problem we need to fix it ASAP, not wait. But waiting isn’t all bad.

This anchorage for about 85% of the time is quite nice but at other times there is a bit o’ roll that sneaks through the reefs. Our spares have finally hit Miami where Airbox Express our mail forwarder will then ship it to Panama City and I’ll go and pick the parts  up.

Oh, and the advice I received online  from another cruiser whom I never met; “What’s the worst thing that can happen if you need a spare and don’t have it….. You get to spend some extra day’s or weeks waiting for it …. in Paradise”.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Share

Sick, Sick, Sick

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Yep, almost forgotten that the body might sometimes fall ill. It’s been over two years since I’ve been physically sick, and other then W/s ear problem it’s been most likely 3 or more years for her. But in the last 24 hours we’ve both taken on a sore throat and slight fever. I guess getting back to a big city with lots of people around can do it. Further, I doubt there is a health department here that checks the restaurants  for “cleanliness”.  So we’re at our body’s mercy and the conscientiousness of the staff at various restaurants.

I went into the pharmacy and got some more meds buy using my limited Spanish and  demonstrating to the individual  my stuffy nose (no I didn’t blow my nose in front of her) and sore throat. They didn’t have what we usually used but she gave me two types of tablets to choose from and I took them both. Also they do have Robatussin here so I bought another bottle of that.

We’re hanging on the boat, nursing ourselves as best as we can, trying to do as little as possible. Realizing too that I need to replace some of the general cold remedies we’ve had but not needed nor used for the last couple of years.  There are no stores in the San Blas Islands. The good news, I know we’ll get over it, the bad news, we aren’t over it yet.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Share

Cruising Costs

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

Mike always said “It costs what ya got”!  Dirk called us “High Rollers” (I guess cause there are times we use marinas? .  Don’t know where exactly we fit in the group of cruisers we see around here. I know there are yachtsmen  here that spend in a week what we’ve spent in a year.  Of course; no one would say they’re “cruisers”; except maybe, the superyacht owner. 🙂

Everywhere you see costs debated on the cruising boards; how much can I get away with, what boat do I need, etc?

I completed a first full year expense analysis for our boat and our lifestyle  and it came out to $48,554.38.  You can check our website for details on where much of it went and during what months. Please keep in mind this doesn’t count any cost of purchase or depreciation of the boat as we cruise. Salesmen like to call that the cost of ownership!  🙂

We started out in the Bahamas for the last calendar year. A great deal of our low cost stores had been depleted and we love to eat out – mostly lunch – but some dinners. We then moved to the Chesapeake where we had planned on purchasing a new hard top dodger which we did from Canvas Creations. We stayed at a Annapolis Landing Marina (which we thoroughly enjoyed) which was also Annapolis priced. We also added a great deal of supplies to our boat there; two new computers (one to run the Pactor Modem and one to be a ship’s back up for navigation), we added AIS, new stabilizing binoculars, some custom SS stuff and more track for our head sails. It all adds up. We also hauled the boat there, fixed a potential sinking problem and cruised the area.

From there we sailed offshore to the Virgin Islands where we damaged our furler and a sail; fixed that in the VI’s and then began our trek south of  the hurricane belt for the next hurricane season.

So there you have it; our expenses for the first year ( I may be a thou shy as I know there are some expenses we missed. Keep in mind this is on a big 42′ boat and covers two people.

One thing that has helped our budget is the ability to put away money for a rainy day fund. In condo’s in Florida they call it a reserve. We’ve been doing that to the tune of $1,100.00 / month so when we have an issue I draw out of that fund. Now I’ll be able to see if I’ve budgeted that correctly or need to add more. Would be nice to reduce the amt but I doubt the boat will let me. 🙂

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Share

Elysium’s Little Brother is “Jonah the Whale”

Friday, September 12th, 2008

We’re constantly amazed how much this boat holds. Our last boat a Westsail 32 held ungodly amounts of stuff. We never wanted for space. But we had been working so much on Elysium that we were actually wondering if it would hold the same amount. I knew we had almost double the lockers and openings (Principia -our last boat had almost 50) but some of these storage areas seemed smallish.

Well, not to worry, W’s packing and she keeps telling me we have more room even after we empty one of our storage rooms out from the house. The boat is sitting at least 8 cm s lower right now and I figure we’re about 80% loaded. Eight cm on our boat translates to about 2,000 kg’s. We’re getting close to being fully loaded and ready to go.

It’s tough waiting and tough getting it all together! I can’t believe when I read how some other sailors just “sold it all” and then loaded the boat and went. We’ve been selling it all for about 2 years now and loading the boat for almost 2 months. Of course some would say we work slowly. Yeah, the’re right, the fable of the “Tortoise and the Hair” must have had some effect on us as we grew up!

Fair Winds

Share

New Plan….stay in the Bahamas till the beer runs out!

Monday, September 1st, 2008

As sailors say, “Our plans are written in the (sand, water, jello)”. What ever changes the quickest. Yesterday we bought bunches of food and lots of beer. Beer is expensive in the islands. Rum’s cheaper and Mike (on Infini) tells me I should change; but I like lots of fluids and if I should drink as much Rum as Beer then my liver would need to be replaced. 🙂

So today while I finished up the sewing projects W packed the beer, and then she packed more beer, and then we made another trip for more beer. Hopefully we’ll be good for 6 months! So we pack and prepare and still wonder where it will all go.

We’ve been getting rid of stuff all over the place. Should take just the hangers to the metal recycler! That might pay for the beer.

So while I finished the sewing project we barely had enough time to run the Lectra San (the sewage treatment system we carry), run the engine driven refrigeration system, and flush the watermaker.

We’re getting systems ready to go. Need to finish a couple more cards (projects), then I can get the engine systems all ready and then we can go! Almost.

My mom and sister are planning on showing up later this month so we won’t actually get out of dodge till sometime after the 22nd.

4 days of slavery left!

Share

Mother Nature is getting in our way…

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

Yeah, but I know others have is much worse. We hope as we begin to cruise that we’ll be able to outwit Mother Nature and move to where she’s …..shhhhhh, sleeping! Our actual goal after this year is to stay mostly out of hurricane areas. That means winter in the tropics and then summer S or N of the hurricane, cyclone zones.

Right now Gustav is causing us to slow down some. So we again pulled the awnings down and added another line, then on to getting supplies for the boat. We now have 6 months of beer in the house 🙂 Yeah, we look a little like a liquor store with cases of beer up by the door (as well as other stuff to load) but we’re getting supplies loaded. FYI beer in the Bahamas is $50 / case so it behooves us to carry as much as we expect to drink and share. Once back home I had some energy and began on the mosquito screens for the companionway. That’s when I discovered I had made a mistake and made it to wide. So good thing my mom had me ripping any bad seams out as a kid, I knew exactly what to do. Rip out, recut and stitch back up. Mother Nature will not get the best of us!

Share