Want to Cruise?

Shamless No self Promotion

Some of my friends, well, maybe many, think I am rather shameless. My nickname of Damn Dave is a moniker I wear with pride. It is with that knowledge I wish to point out this opportunity for any want to be cruisers.

Passport Tayana V42

This is not our boat. The back story is that one of our cruising friends has passed away. Early and unexpected. He and his wife had planned to head for the Bahamas this year. The boat is currently on the hard in Georgia and I can attest to the quality of care that has gone into it. The owner was an Electrical Engineer and anyone that knows an engineer understands how picky and methodical they are in maintaining mechanical things. This boat is in far superior shape for it’s age and been meticulously maintained. If someone is looking to, or thinking about cruising soon; consider this yacht.

As usual, I have no financial ownership in, nor receive any renumberation from the sale of this boat. I know the owner, I know the boat. I wish you all well.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Pef a Super Holiday

This is a reconstruct of my memories. I lost my first post of Pef when I messed up the blog. The blog is correct now, all except this post. So… here goes…

We had planned on getting to Metti Cottages for the holidays. They were across the Halmahera Sea on the N. end of Halmahera. After we had some crappy weather while siting at Gam, it became clear to us that making the passage could be rather thorny. As cruisers we’ve try to avoid schedules. Schedules create problems. Mother Nature abhors cruisers schedules.

Inside Pef harbor

We wished for another place to hang for the holidays. Neither of us are religious fanatics. Yet, growing up with Christmas traditions have become embedded in our DNA. I had read of Pef on Facebook. It sounded like a place that would meet our needs. A secure anchorage and holiday celebrations.

We made our way there. Pef has two moorings in their inner harbor. We pulled in. Both were available so we picked one up. After a bit of cleaning up the boat, we put the engine on the dinghy and went to shore. To Explore.

An Indonesian harbor master greeted us at the dock. We had tried to contact Pef a couple of days earlier inquiring about a mooring. But they didn’t have a phone number direct to the island. All their correspondence is via email and Whats app. Their office in Sarong wasn’t much help.

We crossed a mangrove swamp on a rock solid boardwalk without railings. I wouldn’t want to make that walk with any amount of alcohol in my blood! At the main office we met Mei (pronounced May) who was the resort Manager. As she was telling us a little about Pef Maya (the founder – owner) came out and we met her. She had a bit of a sad face. She thought the moorings were a bit too close. they had a reservation and she didn’t know if it would work; Andrew and Donna on Infinity had one reserved. Wow! We knew them and said didn’t think it would be an issue. We chatted some more. I think she was vetting us, she said, “Oh, we did just have a cancellation, we will be able to accomodate you!” Sweet! Thus we were invited and included in their holiday celebrations and festivities.

Later in our trip I had heard that some sailors had taken advantage of the resort. Yacht owners and their kids running rough shod over guests and the grounds. We’re members of the SSCA and the OCC. Both organizations believe, and encourage cruisers to “Leave a Clean Wake”. We are guests not only at the resort but in the country. It is in our long term interests to act like guests.

After our interview, Mei took us on a short tour. The mooring was 20 euros / person (yes a bit high for Indo standards and fair for European standards). But; it did offer a few cruiser friendly incentives: it included laundry service, garbage disposal, coffee and morning snacks, a bit of internet access, and 24 hours security in the harbor.

Few cruisers have a laundry machine aboard. If they do they still use heaps of fresh water. Further, keeping unlaundered items in a pile – they tend to ferment. Yuck. The snacks were cookies and biscuits fresh made every morning. And… they were good. Mei pointed out the trail head is for the mountain (hill) that offers a 360º view of the island. She indicated the path to the heliport; not used since the French Survivor TV show 10 years ago. We chatted at the board with all the employees names and positions. She had to point out the the bar with a large Iron Wood chess set (said they have it for exercise), and restaurant. We met Jessica the marketing guru who lead us here with the Facebook post. We would miss the gathering on Halmahera with some of our other cruiser friends. Pef looked to be a good replacement.

Up we go!

Back at the boat we rested and planned our next day. Foremost on my mind was climbing the mountain and getting the 360 view. At home on the boat the water in the harbor was clear and calm even when the wind blew. Of course between the “mountains’ the winds blew right over the top of us. Our awnings were up, life good.

After brekkie (as the Aussies call it) we headed in for our climb. At the dock the

Straight up with a Ladder

Dock Master met us again and helped with the dinghy. We traveled through the mangrove forest and located the trailhead to the summit. Up we went. It was only 200 steps or so. 200 steps almost straight up. The resort had been quite thoughtful and where needed there were two ladders. Many of the more tenuous sections had ropes to assist. At the top was a covered wooden structure where we could hang for a bit, enjoy the breeze and the view. We forgot water. Oh well, tomorrow. As we were checking out the view another yacht pulled in. We couldn’t identify if it was True Blue V or Infinity. Yeah, my eyes aren’t what they use to be! Either one would add to the fun.

After descending we saw Craig and Leanne being vetted by Maya. Craig and Leanne aboard True Blue V. Maya seemed surprised we all knew each other. Again that helped in their also being invited to the holiday celebrations. There are only about 20 cruising boats in this area of Indonesia right now. We talked them into doing the mountain climb the following day and then returned back to the boat for some R n R . Rested a bit we went back in and invited Jessica out to the boat. She being a newest member of the management team didn’t know much of the cruising lifestyle and how that might fit into Pef. It was great sharing life stories, she from Germany, working in Pef as a marketing person and we from America looking at the world from the deck of a yacht.

You can see the house reef clearly from the top

The next day we wore actual shoes for the climb. Flip flops were not the most comfortable or stable on the mountain. Although the previous day two employees were replacing one of the ladders. I noticed one employee had climbed the hill in … bare feet!

Maya was quite generous with the yachts. She invited us to the festivities for the staff and the guests. At one such event we heard they provide massages here! W/ and I just discovered the perfect Xmas gifts for each other. We arranged to have massages the following day – after we snorkeled the house reef. It was suggested we walk the trail to the helipad and enter the water there. The reef was close to shore. We entered the water and snorkeled along the outside of the reef back to the resort. Schools of fish moved about the coral. In any Aquarium shop in the US those schools would have been worth 100’s of thousands of dollars. Moorish Idols, Tangs, a large Sweet Lips, and heaps of Damsels etc . You can check out the video on Raja4Divers home page (about half way down) to get a good sense of what the diving at the resort is like. To top it off, as we reached the resort we came across several Giant Clams. The resort is collecting them and hoping they reproduce. The Giant Clams are becoming endangered in Raja Ampat.

In the afternoon we enjoyed our massages in one of the unused guest cabanas. We relaxed listening to the gentle lapping of the sea along the shore with a gentle warm breeze.

The evening festivities concluded with a gift ceremony for the staff and some guests. Many of the staff had returned to their home island and families for the holidays. They had already received their gifts. Those that remained received them tonight. Maya bragged about each of them as she handed out the gifts. This one had moved to boat crew, this one was now a chief in training, this one… on and on. She was proud of them. And they seemed proud of her and their job at Pef.

Many resorts had closed during Covid and of those many went broke with owners walking away. In Pef, Maya kept all the staff on. She paid them all through Covid. Remember; this is Indonesia, to my knowledge they never had a Covid Stimulus package. With her philosophy, kindness and willingness to pay her staff, the resort was ready to roll when tourism began again. I was impressed with the relationship between her and the staff. She respected them and they her. As a manager / boss she had their backs and they had the resorts back. Everyone of the staff were pleasant and courteous. It was a joy to be with people that cared about each other. I’m not saying everything was “perfect”. It never is, but the direction Pef is taking with the community and their staff, well I admired it.

The resort buys as much local as possible. If they build another cabana, Pef purchases the wood from the local villiges. Seasonal fruit is bought from the local villages . Pef has established relationships with all the villages around them. And what they can’t get from the villages they weekly boat from Sarong. Sarong is where they pick up their guests. As the boat brings guests it also brings supplies. Had we been there longer and another time Maya said we could order supplies and they would bring them out on their boat! How awesome is that? Between Sarong and the N of Raja there are no stores for supplies. Villages have small markets and limited fruits and vegetables. Not enough variety for a cruising boat.

As the evening festivities went on and gifts were given we were surprised when Maya called our names. Not only ours but True Blue V and Infinity. We all received gifts! Pef’s master wood carver crafted them. A real treasure. As the evening wore on our eye lids were dropping. We crossed the mangrove swamp without falling in! The dock master helped us into the dinghy (not that we needed it- but it was low tide). As we motored home while he lit our boat up with a torch. It was late and it was dark .

Christmas Day we lulled around till it was time for dinner. We met more guests and staff. I was amazed that many of the guests we met have visited the resort multiple years. One guest couple had actually been a guest the first year it opened a decade ago. What better way to understand the quality of a resort by how many guests actually return and how often. The resort had a holiday dinner and we were lucky to be invited. And the desert, well the desert was really, really grand. As the evening wore on Mei told us that if we needed any stores for the boat we should ask. If they had them in their food locker we could buy any that we felt we needed. Like Mana from Heaven! I don’t know if they would do this for all cruisers all the time. As the holiday was at its peak, Pef was shutting down for two weeks. Every couple of months the resort shuts down for a deep clean. Every unit, every building, every piece of dive gear, everything; gets cleaned. And then off they go again.

From my understanding it is not “cheap” staying there. They have various packages for enjoying the water and just lulling about in the tropics. Get on their email list if interested, sign up down near the bottom of the page. But, and this is important for the younger set, they have at times had two weeks for one specials for the under 30’s crowd. So take a look at their web page and scroll down to the bottom, get on their email list. And maybe if you want something special make a reservation. But beware, in 2023 you will be on a wait list, they are already booked out!

We regretted leaving on Boxing Day. The resort was running their remaining guests back to Sarong and we headed N to Equator Island; Kawe. We were working our way to Wayag, said to be the pinnacle of Raja Ampat.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Shameless Plug

 

Infini a Westsail 43
A sweet WS 43 in pristine shape

I don’t often do this. There is an excellent deal out there for someone looking to jump into cruising. Friends of mine have finished their dream, their circumnavigation and are selling their boat. It is a sistership to ours. While we were upgrading and refurbishing Elysium I always looked to their boat as the gold standard.

And yet that is not the good news for someone looking to “jump”. IMHO this boat price is where you would get the best bang for the dollar. Yes, as in any boat nothing is perfect and there will be issues needing to be addressed. You would find the same needs in a brand new million dollar boat. At one boat show I put my hand in a dorade and removed it with a cut. There was an errant piece of cured fiberglass that wasn’t trimmed off. And this was on a $1.2 million vessel.

However with Infini’s owners I can tell you they were and are meticulous yachties. The pictures on their page are accurate. The boat looks as the pictures show. It sails well; I know because I have the same hull and rig setup. It is sea kindly. Again I know cause we’ve several thousand miles of off shore work on ours. It is easily managed by a couple… again I know! 🙂 Best of all; dollars / lb  you could begin cruising with most everything you need much sooner than you think. Good Luck in pursuing your dreams.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

A Cruising Sloth

Not sloppy…. slow. I guess that would be us or specifically  me.  First: I don’t like to rush up to the next anchorage as if driving down a highway trying to be first at the next stoplight. Second: I don’t want to live in a mess preferring to not climb over stuff or constantly or needing to move things about the boat since I live in it. And  third:  I like to take things slow; quality vs quantity.

Yep I am a sloth.

I love to sail.... Slow
I love to sail.... Slow

We are after all on a sailboat. I know some people who like to brag how fast their boat goes, all in a sailboat.  I find it quite funny when all cruising boat speeds are slower than an Olympic runner. Yeah some boats may go a knot faster, some a fraction thereof but so what.  I arrive safe and for the most part as rested as possible. And for me safety comes first, comfort second and speed last.

I remember one trip to the Bahamas; it was our best crossing ever. We left W Palm at midnight and had beautiful sail with a  lightening show N of us, S of us, E, and W of us. Yeah, the trip had a bit of “OMG” in it but we sailed the entire way and it was comfortable. We arrived and while waiting for customs and immigration I was talking to other sailors. Most everyone around us had an uncomfortable ride dealing with squalls the entire way. The moral of the story; luck more than speed is what traveling in a boat is about.

Messes. Every boat has them and when ever there is a project to do within minutes the boat becomes a workshop. And

Cleaning the heat exchanger
Cleaning the heat exchanger

most everyday there is some project to do.  We try to limit projects to only the am. When afternoon arrives we pick up / put away and have lunch. The rest of the day is ours to do what we wish.  Larger projects still follow the same pattern. It is just that they extend across several days. Some projects  last longer well into the pm but for the most part our goal is to not live in a mess. Even while hauled out with the boat a mess we chose other accommodations. This allowes us to do more because daily we didn’t need to get tools out and put them away.

Penhryn Experience
Penhryn Experience

Finally we rarely rush. At least we try not to. When late afternoon arrives  and we’re close to our destination; yes, we’ll rush then, preferring a calm anchorage vs another night out. Generally we plan our day trips to coincide with the wx and the travel time. We prefer an easy comfortable sail to a noisy motor or a blusterous sail. We find this time provides us greater freedom to meet people and explore an area.  While there is most likely nothing new for mankind to discover  on our planet anymore, there are many things W/ and I have never seen or experienced. Traveling slow gives us the time to experience a new place, new culture, meet new people, and try new foods.  I watch those traveling on cruise ships come and go, always in a rush like those speeding to the next red light.  Over the 8 years I’ve been traveling slowly across our globe I understand that if you want to just “see” and “do” things- take a cruise ship or a two week  vacation.  If you want to experience a culture and the place, bring your own boat and…

Go Slow,
Sail far,
Stay Long.

Changes

Cruisers often remind others  that “cruising” changes you.  It’s difficult to see how oneself has changed but my experience has brought to light some personal thoughts about me and about W/’s and my relationship.

First is trust. To successfully cruise as a couple you must trust each other. I’ve known cruising couples that one individual (usually the male) stays in the cockpit  24/7.  He feels the need to be there and ready all the time.  IMHO that might well  lead to exhaustion which in turn leads to poor decision making.  I trust W/ which means  I can leave her clipped in the cockpit so that I am able to get some rest.  And  Visa – Versa. She trusts that I will not leave the cockpit to do anything on deck without her awake and ready to provide some assistance.  She’s then able to find rest.

But trust sometimes goes farther than just sailing the boat.  Many, many years ago while we were on our first long cruise and in the Bahamas, W/ had long hair. I mean quite long, down to the middle of her back. She loved her long hair.  But we were on a year testing out how cruising was

How did I do?
How did I do?

working out, trying to cruise on $10/ day and so luxuries like salons were off the table.  She was ready for me to cut her hair.  I was instructed to take; if my memory is correct, about 2″ off the end.  About is the key word here. I measured twice as instructed by my betters and cut once. Measurements say I took 1.9978″ off and she… went …ballistic.  She does not go ballistic like I do. Words do not spew forth from an over active brain. Tears flow from eyes like water over Niagara. That may be an over exaggeration but needless to say,  some tears did make it down her face and I was Never allowed to touch her hair again! Never! Never!

Well, Penhryn has changed our relationship in that sense.  Here there are no restaurants, only a few places to purchase some food, and definitely NO HAIR SALONS!  For the most part on this cruise she’s been keeping her hair much shorter than when in the past and here after a few months and no one else to trim her hair she was getting desperate. She didn’t feel that she could cut it, people on the island – all the women have long hair, and yet she still remembered her past experience with me as a stylist and she equivocated a great deal in deciding what to do. After great moments of  consternation, hand wringing, bargaining with me she decided to try me….again as a stylist .

So I set about listening to her instructions and cautiously began to clip away.  To cut the best of my ability; I swear I did. I could trim and shorten, but I don’t know how to layer or thin.  I didn’t want to just try either of those techniques on her remembering all too well my last experience but I was able to shorten it somewhat. Low and behold there were no tears, no recriminations, no raised voices.  She was almost; I say almost satisfied.  After washing and a trip to shore I was amazed that no one turned away from her new style, a couple people actually noticed and when she informed them that I cut her hair they indicated I did a “good” job.  Trust.  A new bond has formed.

My second observation is that I could wish to be famous. While teaching was in of itself minor fame, kids watched me and I wished for them to imitate me in many ways; mostly scientifically or technologically, I have discovered that I don’t like someone really following me around and imitating me.  When someone looks over my shoulder too closely I get the hebegeebies. I can understand how Princess Di ran from the paparazzi. I would too. I would also be likely to break a nose, be rude, throw things at them (maybe I wouldn’t like being a primate in a zoo either 🙂 ), and do what ever I could to distance myself from them. But famous people just have that gravity that draws people towards them.  Glad I’m not famous. I am finding I love anonymity more and more.

Too, I could never have lived 100 years ago. I’ve often said that I was born too late. Well, I lied.  Living without what I know we have is not an easy thing. Penhryn doesn’t have much in the way of “The Land of Instant Everything”; the US  has.  They do have great / friendly / kind people. They do have comfortable homes and a relatively stress free life style. If they order something from Amazon it takes up to 6 months to get it. Parts for home or boat can take up to 3 months and most everything here will end up costing twice what you in the states would pay for it. Sometimes more than that. Dental care is not an hour away but months away. However health care is less than an hour away but specialized care is a plane flight away. While I could have survived living a 100 years ago  and as a friend of mine had often said “you don’t know what you don’t know”, I can honestly say I’m glad to be living in the 21st century and glad that at times I can visit my home country; the land of instant everything.

And last; I couldn’t be an astronaut. Oh, traveling to space would be fun and even a few days I could handle. But while spending 9 days at the motu on the N end of Penhryn we were mostly trapped in the boat. One day I was off the boat but other than that our lives were contained in roughly 42′ of living space.  Exercise is difficult. There is no tennis, no jogging, no walking. We’ve started doing some pushups and squats. Soon I might add leg lifts to assist in keeping my core strong. I’ve read so much so often that many times I just have to put down the book and “rest my eyes”.  I’ve played Chess, Bejeweled, Spite and Malice, so much on the iPad that I’m actually getting a little tired of them. W/ and I have put together almost a puzzle a day; again on the iPad.  We’ve completed a couple of smallish boat projects but with the wind gusting to 30 kts and squalls coming out of the west setting us too close to shore we’ve not been able to do much in taking the boat apart to complete a project. So we wait, just like the astronauts. We work a bit, and rest a lot. No; if they want someone to join the expedition to Mars, someone that is able to live in a small space for extended periods of time, someone who can live with others in a confined space and not “kill” them, someone who has Mission control looking over their shoulder all the time – It’s not going to me. I will NOT apply.  At least on the boat I can get out and walk around the deck. Sometimes I can sit in the cockpit and read there. On a spacecraft there is no strolling around outside, no sitting in the cockpit staring at the stars or watching the Sunset.  There just is. Nope, Uhn, Uhn, not for me I’ll pass. I will just keep cruising, heading west, slowly, W/ and I; with no one looking over my shoulder, trusting my partner, and seeking all that life has to offer.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Cost O’ Cruising

While I’m up here awaiting:  at the north motu, for mother nature to cool down I have been able to finish our finances for the last year. They are the lowest of the 6 years we’ve been cruising.  You can find the details on my web page. This is mostly the first full year we’ve been on the boat. The first year we were on the boat consistently but living near the “Candy Store”. We spent time in the Bahamas and then the rest of the year in the US and while in the US added a new dodger and filled in a great deal of missing supplies that over the year I had discovered we needed.

Between the 2nd and 4th year we retuned to the states twice. Getting flights from the Caribbean to the states is rather easy and not the costliest. Year 5 found us doing a couple of land tours, one to Guatemala where we attended Spanish school and traveled with fellow cruisers IB and Becca, then on to Peru where we spent a month traveling to Matchu Pitchu.

Returning back to the boat in last half of year 5 we spent 6 months getting ready for the Panama canal and preparing for the Pacific.  Some discoveries cost us extra $$$’s but not really any extra time.

In the Pacific time in year 6 I got scared and purchased a spare Kubota motor and then we headed S to the Galapagos and on to French Polynesia. Roughly 30 days at sea (total) saved some money as there is no shopping malls along the way.  And too we were blessed with good winds so for the entire trip we used less then 30 gallons of fuel and that was primarily for the generator.

Those checking over the expenses might well wish to note that the food / restaurant expenses are for two people so anyone wishing to ascertain what their future cruising cost / budget might be should well take that into account. While we are not truly extravagant in our meals out neither are we misers. We like good food and often with cruisers that means good company with a few drinks.

So take a look at the expenses and use them however you see fit. Know as one cruiser said you will spend what you have and I have not found that the case. Others might well say it is a percentage of the boat price but I personally don’t see how that can be as one 40′ boat could cost you upwards of 1/2 million dollars and another a fraction of that. Some people say a seaworthy boat will end up the same but we’ve not seen that while out here. We are constantly amazed at what boats make it to the middle of the Pacific and while we never see those that don’t I can tell you they are not all high end models from the boat shows.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Cost of Repairing your Boat in Paradise

The following is the cost of the; what I would say, simple repair in the replacement of the thermostat.  Notes are at the bottom.

Cost Thermostat Change for a Perkins 4-236 Diesel in French Polynesia

Item

Price CFP Price US Notes
Marina
52,088
612.80
(a)
High Temp Engine Paint
3,371
39.65
Hose 5/8″
780
9.17
Hose 1 1/2″
1,430
16.82
1/4″ All Thread
1,000
11.76
Gasket
1,000
11.76
(b)
Coolant
13,620
160.23
Thermostat
50.00
(c)
Bushing
128
1.50
(b)
Bus
600
7.05
Steel Cross Piece
1,000
11.76
(d)
Clamp
6,230
73.29
(d)
Total
81,744
845.56

a) Cost only includes our being here dependent on the engine not running. We felt the boat was safer here then on a mooring or anchored and we were much closer to services. Taxi into and out of town are $50 round trip and the bus is about $10

b) I could have gotten by without but felt in the interest of expediency it was better to buy now then pay the marina fee for another day or the weekend.

c) Luckily another cruisers had one and I paid him with a little extra. This is the single price and I picked up another and now have a spare.

d) I was trying to be patient and work the header off the stud. Had I known better and figured out to cut the bolt the first day I would have save about 5 marina days

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Livin on da Water!

I’ve said it before, Cruising is not a 365; 24/7 vacation. It’s a lifestyle. The difference between living on land or living on the water is in the kind of work we do for daily living and the places we do it in. We’re in Colon, Republic of Panama at Shelter Bay Marina which bills itself as equal to a first world marina. In some respects they are equal. In others – not and that can become problematic.

In the US the average home is without power for 2 hours / year. Last month we were without power 11 times and it averaged about 5 hours per time. It’s not the marina’s fault. We understand that some of the less than honest individuals living in Panama like to cut down a tree at about 2 am and fell it across the power line shutting down the power in that line. Then they cut the cable and take it to resell the copper.  One would think that either the powers that be would cut the trees back so they couldn’t be used to turn off the power or figure out a way so the copper couldn’t be easily sold. In Florida the State began to delay the payment on certain quantities of metal giving the authorities time to make sure that the metals were not stolen.  For the most part we’ve barely felt the power outage on our work because…..

I’ve been hanging in the engine room doing wiring, or laying in the engine room doing wiring, or reaching over the main engine putting in a new belt for the alternator, or…. any multitude of things mostly in the engine room.

The new Serpentine Belt we added to the main engine to drive the alternator went smooth as silk. Thanks to TransAtlantic Diesel (TAD) the kit went on mostly without a hitch. TAD made a video and put it on a CD that I was able to watch and then follow their directions.  Sweet!  and if one has a Perkins 4-236 or even the 4-108 I would highly recommend the kit. I did make one Skype phone call to TAD to clarify some part of the process and they responded within about 20 minutes. It is so nice to deal with a company that has a good product and takes pride in ensuring the correct installation of that product.

If another boat does choose to get their kit make sure you get some Taps to clean out the bolt holes. The one almost “gotcha” was that the bolt holes on the crank were 7/16″ fine thread. Whoever the engineer was that decided to use that odd size needs to be keel hauled!  I doubt there would be any difference in using 1/2″ fine thread bolts in the total cost than the 7/16″; however there is a lot of difference in finding such an odd size both in the bolt and or associated tap.

Right now I’m installing the new Engine Panel and that too is going well. If you remember awhile back we tried to get our mechanical Tach cable fixed and were successful; but, as a repair it only lasted about 3 hours of engine run time. Thus, to

Old Engine Panel
Old Engine Panel

have a new Tach we might as well redo our 30 year old Panel and then she’ll all be good. Therefore  W/ has me working; you guessed it, in the engine room some more.

And as for how much cruising is like a vacation  I refer you to our friends Mike and Sue on Infini, a Westsail 43,  who lived a stones throw from us in Florida but now are 1/2 way round the world. His report on the simple task; one would think, of replacing a check block (used to change the direction of one of the sail control lines) just made me laugh out loud. It is not funny if you are there in the midst of the activity, but what they went through sure is funny because… we’ve been there.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

In Paradise…Yeah Right!

It seems I put off writing for a day  and then another day and before I know it a week or two has passed.  I have a problem. No, not drinking, and some would say I have a little too much OCD, but my problem is when I put electrons to a screen I seem to just keep blurting out more words. I admire people like Mike and Sue (sv Infini) who seem to be able to write a paragraph or two and that keeps people updated. I, when I write, the words just keep bubbling out of me, not always lucid, not always pertinent, but always there. Then my post become chapters and not updates. Be that as it may…..

We’ve been working on the boat, enjoying life in paradise…some, and meeting new people. I gotta say I enjoyed working on the boat much more in the US where we had wheels and I knew where I could acquire needed supplies or I was able to order the supplies and have them to me lickitty split.

When we arrived at Shelter Bay we ordered some paint and varnish from Signature Finishes in Florida. We’ve still not received the supplies almost 6 weeks later.  We were shipping them through Airbox, a freight forwarder who we had shipped the last order of paint and varnish with but this time we hit a big, and I mean BIG snag. I’ll put all the details on our web page when we finally have it resolved, but right now Airbox has said they’ll release (finally) the shipment and we have an order in for FedEx to pick it up by Monday and return it to Fabula (the manufacture). Then we’ll have it re-shipped to Marine Warehouse.

Inventory of one Locker
Inventory of one Locker

While we have a great deal of tools and many, many spares we seem to only have the majority of stuff to Jury Rig a job but rarely all the stuff to finish a job perfectly. Off shore Jury Rigging is the best option, but when near a large city, when in a Marina, it ought to be worked correctly. One week,  3 times I went into Colon to acquire the correct supplies.  Part of this issue is knowing exactly what is on the boat. To this end we’ve been correcting and updating our inventory. We’re beginning to include much smaller items in it.

Our inventory consists of about 600 items now. That’s not all we carry but I’m finding that it is often the smaller stuff that I run out of. Certain screws, bolts or nuts, caulking, etc.  We can’t just have in the inventory “Caulking” we need to know if it’s, Silicone, Buytl Tape, 4200, 5200, or Polysulfide, and the approx size. That’s the gear that is sending me to the store. And while there is a Chandlery here in Shelter Bay Marina I only find what we need 1 out of 10 attempts.

Upon first entry to the chandlery you would think; good, I can get what I need at Pesqueras S.A.  . You would be wrong. And it’s not only me that finds this place lacking. One of the past yard managers for the Marina was saying the same thing. He even went so far as to ask Pesqueras to stock certain items and they implied it would be …. too much work. Yeah they were smallish items but they were items that would sell. The yard manager said to bag them in groups of 10 or 20 and the cruisers that needed them would still buy them. They haven’t yet! This reminds me of a story (told to me by another cruiser).

Cruisers often remind each other of this maxim: When you see it; buy it,  cause it may never be there again!  One cruiser said she found an item they wanted to carry on the boat. There were approximately 8 pieces left on  the shelf. She picked up all 8 and proceeded to the counter where the clerk told her she couldn’t have all 8. “Why” she asked?  The clerk replied “Cause if you buy all of these then I won’t have any to sell!”.  Perfectly deadpan and perfectly serious. The cruiser tried rationalizing with the clerk, explaining that yes, you want to sell it and I want to buy it, but that did no good. She walked out with 7 items.

I’ve actually thought of starting a page on the site for just cruising stories. There are so many. In the Virgin Islands years ago I walked into a hardware store and asked for a pair of Vice Grips.  The clerk said they didn’t have any. “When will you get more merchandise”  I asked?   “Tomorrow” she replied.  I indicated I’ll simply look around.  Not more then 3′ from her were the Vice Grips. People that know me will be surprised that I didn’t say anything. I didn’t. I just picked up the part and purchased my Vice Grips. Glad they weren’t the last pair!

And so it goes. Working on a boat in Paradise. But, we meet great people. People we would never come across living on the dirt. Take Bill and Laura and Isobel. Isobel is all of 4 and more smiles in a small package then I’ve ever seen. If one

Isobel Climbing
Isobel Climbing

could pick a kid out of a magazine she’d be a best seller. They were over chewing the fat with us and Isobel decided that our boat had a great many places to climb. Since she couldn’t touch the ceiling from the floor she decided to climb everything and then touch the ceiling and then do it again. She walks on the lifelines on their boat, climbs up on the top of the dodger and walked their boom. The circus would do well to groom her for high wire acts.  She loves swimming, riding her bike and talking to everybody. She’s every couples dream and as she is just so precocious every couples nightmare too. Isabel shows no fear!

Bill and Laura on sv Sunrise were making beer and brought us some.  Beer in the Pacific is very, very, expensive and they figure that making it will be fun and save money. Of course it wasn’t ready just yet but now we had a bottle of beer fermenting on our counter top for just one more week. The beer was good, a little stout and a little warm for us. Connoisseurs say that’s how beer ought to be drank; but for me I’m just too American and I like beer chillin!

And finally, I’m writing this today because I figure if God could rest on Sunday, so can I.  We say (I mostly say) we’re taking Sunday’s off.  I try but often W/ has other ideas. She wants to inventory our Pacific charts and a couple of other lockers. That’s not too labor intensive and so most likely I’ll acquiesce. Besides; one cruisers said “It is not a boat project unless the boat draws blood”!  I doubt we can then call this a boat project.

Go Slow
Sail Far
Stay Long

Bank of America (BOA) Less Than Stellar !

The cruising life isn’t easy. I mean, it’s not where you simply pick up and take off. We prepared for our departure 7 years before we actually left. Most of the time spent was in refurbishing our boat; however, the last 2 years we also spent a great deal of time “Making our Butts Smaller”  We made sure all the magazine subscriptions ended, we sold all our stuff and we made sure we had a reliable person to oversee what was left.

In the midst of our labors I had asked on a Cruising Bulletin Board what to do with all our “stuff”, sell everything or keep stuff and the most profound answer was: “Stuff has gravity, where ever your stuff is you’ll orbit it”!  We did quite well with reducing the gravitational attraction to almost zero but we never quite gained weightlessness.

As most people who have traveled life’s trails a considerable amount we had acquired some items that didn’t fit well into a financial statement, we needed a Safe Deposit Box.  A Safe Deposit box can be an oxymoron depending on the bank or institution you have secured one at. We had used a box before at a smaller bank near our residence but the bank changed hands and closed. Fortunately we were still living nearby and could easily move what we had in the box to another location.  This time we chose a bank that had been in our town for as long as we had; almost 30 years.  We went and purchased a box and put our “stuff” in it.  Paid for a year and went cruising.  Every year when the bill came due we paid for another year and last year when we were back in the states visiting family we paid for two years ensuring that we would be traveling back to the states by then and could easily pay forward again.

In this time period Bank of America had bought the bank where our safe deposit box was.   A month ago we were in Sapzurro, Colombia, no airport, no roads, no cars thus no taxi’s, but Sapzurro did have phone service and internet. Our reliable agent in the US contacted us and said that Bank of America (BOA) sent a mailing (not even certified) indicating they were going to close our bank where we had the Safe Deposit Box at and we had 3 months to come retrieve the contents of the box or they would have the box drilled and our agent said this is what a Bank of America (BOA) representative told her,  “put the contents in a folder and we could pick them up at a later date”!

IMHO a folder isn’t quite the same as a Safe Deposit Box  in which we had paid for and I wasn’t interested in taking the risk of someone borrowing (permanently) anything from our folder.  We had a big conundrum on our hands. We had paid for two years of a box at this bank and obviously Bank of America (BOA)  wasn’t interested in honoring their side of the contract!  Had I been Donald Trump I would have sent  a squad of lawyers down on them simply because what they did IMHO isn’t morally or ethically right and doesn’t meet fair practice in any contract.  However; I’m quite sure if I was Donald they would have used Brinks to move the contents to another Bank of America branch, secured another box, and sent me a limo when I was back in the area to retrieve my contents. But I’m not Donald. Thankfully.

Luckily our agent has a Power of Attorney for me and was able to secure with our keys access to the box and move the contents to another Safe Deposit Box.  Luckily the individual our agent spoke with at Bank of America was friendly and understanding.  That’s right now the only good thing I can say about Bank of America (BOA), they had one conscientious employee that has a heart. My agent was able to move the contents to a Safe Deposit Box to our Credit Union (thankfully IMHO the credit union will not play these games). and we’re all secure again.

I’m reminded of the classic saying “Fool me once, Shame on You; fool me twice, Shame on Me”!  Bank of America will not get a chance; to the best of my abilities, to fool me twice. I hope to NEVER use their banks again for any service longer than the time it takes me to enter and exit. Bank of America (BOA)  lost a costumer this year and hopefully any individuals reading this blog will take my experience into account in any of their dealings with Bank of America (BOA).