Saturday, November 2, 2013

Another adventure begins

2215, 30 Oct 2013, High and Dry in the work-yard at Shelter Bay Marina, Panama

All is still and quiet. The cruising Yahoos haven’t arrived yet so there are only quiet people working on their boats during the day and they are as tired as we are by now, and honoring the cruisers’ lights out time of 21:00 (OK more like the senior’s bedtime). The howler monkeys have gone to bed as have the ants that we have been observing carrying bits of vegetation back to their nest some 2-3 miles away. There was a thunderstorm earlier that washed over the marina but it was only a minor event compared to some we have experienced since we arrived. Everyone can relate to the bone shaking, toss you out of your bed thunderstorms, right? Well, try experiencing a tropical storm in a boat on sticks. They even set off car alarms here…. Last night it rained so hard that I was able to take a shower on deck, shampoo and all. It is also a bit cooler at this time of the evening. We are in the shelter of a line of jungle between us and the ocean so we hardly get any breeze here and it gets very hot by mid-day. Thankfully, the pool is a bit cooler than the ambient air temperature and affords some measure of refreshment. Just last week we were commenting that we weren’t drinking very much water, well that has changed. At times it seems you can’t get enough. Then there’s happy hour. You’d be surprised how good a cold Panamanian beer can be!!

We arrived early Friday morning after a red-eye flight from San Francisco. We had departed from Kelowna where we have left our truck, trailer and Rosie with very good friends for the season. Rosie will be able to experience a real winter there. They actually get snow, and lots of it. After arriving and our way from the airport we did a re-provisioning grocery stop to re-equip galley with most of the basics that we had given away last April to reduce the chance of any bug infestations during our absence. Seems to have worked this time. Not a bug to be seen onboard – so far.

We arrived at the marina to find Gosling already in the work area so we were able to move in right away, unpack our bags and begin setting up. We were pleasantly surprised to find the interior in very good shape. The rented de-humidifiers had done their job and the mold was very minor. The outer parts were another story and took the better part of Saturday to scrub and wash down most surfaces and get Gosling looking like when we left her. Since then it has been one task after another with a long list yet to do.
High and dry

One of our major concerns is the state of the batteries. On our arrival, one of the work-yard hands, who was checking the boat in our absence, mentioned that the batteries were way down. Kinda late to tell us that, huh?? With the assistance of a mechanic we have been repeatedly socking the batteries with a 40-amp charge over the past few days and it seems to be working, however, once we are in the water we will be able to finally determine if we have to replace them before we leave. That would be another very expensive shopping trip!!

We have also been working on a cutlass bearing change. That is a rubber coated shaft guide just forward of the propeller that supports the shaft as it exits the hull. They are not easy to replace but, again, with the mechanic’s assistance to dismantle the shaft I was able to saw through the hardened bronze sleeve over the past 2 days and late this afternoon I claimed victory. Once that is replaced and the shaft re-installed and a few more thru-hulls serviced we will be able to go back in the water where Gosling belongs.
New cutlass bearing waiting for the shaft

We are the only ones here from our sailing group. Optical Illusion is at the dock looking forlorn and Rio Nimpkish and Warren Peace are still in the yard until their owners arrive. There are people arriving daily as the cruising season picks up. It is truly an international gathering at the moment. There is almost an equal representation of French, German American, Italian and Canadians here at the moment.

20:00 2 Nov 2013 Still on the hard.

We are actually progressing but it is in slow time. Today I can claim that all the thru-hulls are serviced and working fine. I am convinced that heat and humidity of the summers here cause any lubrication to harden to the point of seizing the action. We didn’t have this problem last year when Gosling spent the summer in the water.

Tomorrow the mechanic should be back to re-assemble the shaft, the last item to make us sea-worthy again, however, a Panamanian holiday began today thru Tuesday so it looks like we won’t be splashing until the end of next week. There are lots more tasks to do, including re-rigging and installing some of the new items we brought with us. The new VHF radio will take up at least an entire day but that will be a treat compared to the thru-hulls where you have to be a contortionist to reach and work on them and you go through rolls of paper towel wiping the puddles of sweat.

We have been amazed at some of the wonders of nature around us. The ant highway, mentioned above, is truly fascinating. Fran has taken a video of them. Each time we go by we stop for a few minutes to observe them. We are amazed at the immense amount if vegetation they carry back to the nest, the way they seem to disappear at night and when it begins to rain. They must be religious, and knew it was a holy day today as there was very little ant traffic and, the few stragglers we did see, must have been on detention… Fran has also taken some great photos of birds including an oriole, a few hawks and some great storm scenes.

Fran's garden. Note the wild orchid and the sprouts. The other is mint. It will be a while before we do mojitos.

Storm coming....

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