Back on the boat after four months. Looking at my last post I see I need to fill in some things that happened in May.
Back in May, after sailing into Bocas, I met Jeff the mechanic and Russell the electrician and gave them long lists of things I wanted done on the boat. I stayed a week in the marina, trying to make Jeff come and at least do a diagnosis of the starboard engine and its drive. I needed to know which part or parts had broken and whether the repair would require lifting the boat out. The man was always busy; I had to fly out with the promise that he will take care of things and will be in touch. I also spoke to a sailmaker called Lobo, an Argentinian living on a catamaran in Bocas regarding a repair of the jib and making a new mainsail.
He said he did not build new sails himself and that with a friend who has a loft in San Diego they contact various sailmakers to get the best deal possible. One of the cruisers in the marina, who purchased a sail through Lobo, told me the sail was made in Sri Lanka, that its quality was satisfactory and that the shipping cost to Panama was an additional 600$, a fact he had not been advised of beforehand.
It was time to fly home. I was very much aware that doing maintenance from a distance is not the best way to go. I was preparing myself for difficulties. One thing I did not plan on was that two weeks after coming home I had to undergo a hernia operation; perhaps too much hauling of heavy jerry-cans, halyards and sheets. Employing Laparoscopic surgery, they put me into the operating room at 0800 and by 1400 the same day I was back home feeling some discomfort but no pain at all. I took it easy for six weeks before gradually going back to all my sporting activities.
After a questioning mail from me to Jeff, I got a reply with some pictures and the information that whoever worked on the drive before did not tighten the bolts in it enough, resulting in their releasing themselves, causing breakages in parts unspecified.
Jeff on the job
Jeff suggested looking for parts on Ebay. I found there a complete upper part, the one that is inside the boat, reportedly from a drive in which the leg -the part that is in the water – broke. It was stored with no oil but for the price I took the chance, bought it and had it sent together with some other parts by Marine Warehouse to Bocas. Marine Warehouse is a Florida online chandlery, shipping yachting goods by ship or air as required to several places outside the U.S, including Panama. I’ve had good experience with them and recommend them wholeheartedly.
While all that was going on I received a single quote for the mainsail from the San Diego sailmaker. Having expected a quote from at least another source, I contacted Rolly Tasker in Phuket, Thailand, where I had a jib made in the past. RT is an international big loft and I was sure of their sails quality. I was surprised to get a quote cheaper by close to a thousand dollars for a sail with the same specifications and decided to order the sail with them. Lobo did not share my idea of commercial competition and has sent me an angry mail.
The days passed slowly. Russell did not answer mails or my phone calls. The Ebay parts arrived at the boat. Jeff took his time checking it and a week before I was to come back to Panama he informed me that some bearings were frozen and would need to be replaced. He would prepare a list and I would deal with it when I come.
15.9.16 – Thursday – Flew into Bocas. First look at the boat from the outside reveals that the incessant rains made for the developing of green smudges here and there. The inside was good on account of the dehumidifier which was kept operating all those months. Met Russell; we’ll have to start everything anew in the electricity department.
16.9.16 – Friday – The outside of the boat was washed by a marina worker named Michael, who worked four hours and made her white again.
Met Jeff and finally understood the nature of the damage. He also made a list of the necessary parts and the marina, acting as an agent of Marine Warehouse, sent it to them. We went over the list and made plans to bring her to a condition in which I would be able to sail to Shelter Bay or Linton for the haul-out. My hope that the boat could be lifted out in Bocas did not materialize. The local boatyard can take boats up to a beam of 19 feet; my boat is 20.5… In my last post I wrote about sailing with one engine and single-handed. It seems I would have to do it again!
19.9.16 – Monday – During the weekend I tried to make the boat habitable. Not so easy with the mainsail package right in the middle of the salon. This morning’s project was reinstalling the repaired jib. The jib is hoisted with a wire halyard with large loops at the ends. Whenever I took the sail down I was careful not to let this loop go out of the mast, because the combined profile of the wire loop and the rope attached to it will not roll back in over the pulley at the top of the mast. Obviously the sailmaker pulled it all out and I had Alex, the marina’s number one marinero, beam me up to the top to manually push the wire loop back in.
We were lucky to finish just before the clouds covered the sky and heavy rain started falling.
So what are the plans for the future? First fix the boat, then sail some more in Panama. But what next? A friend of mine sailed in May from Panama to French Polynesia on his 57 foot monohull; I spoke to him on the phone, and as he started reeling the familiar names – Hiva Oa, Fatu Hiva and so on – I felt a strong longing to those exquisite places. So what if it is a month long voyage? Here I am, sitting at home, months pass by with me watching places on Discovery and National Geographic channels instead of being there…
We’ll make the decision at the end of the year.