12.2.17 – Sunday – Shimon Doron came yesterday evening after a long flight from Tel Aviv via Madrid. After years of working in the government service he went on to be the V.P of administration in one of Israel’s universities and now chairs the Libyan Jewry organization. He does not have a lot of sailing experience but we’ll take care of that. The man also likes to cook and I will gladly pass the job over to him.
It was an especially calm morning and when it was almost low water we took the dinghy and went to search for the missing anchor slash fender slash rope that were lost yesterday. After a few runs of dragging the dinghy’s small anchor on the bottom I had to admit failure and declare the ensemble lost. We decided to move the boat to the other side of the causeway, to the Las Brizas anchorage; had enough of the rolling motion caused by motorboats passing by at full speed. We’ll see how the grass is on the other side.
We wanted to get ashore. On our way we stopped to ask a yachtie about the dinghy dock that is supposed to be there. The answer was not encouraging. Even if you tie the dinghy there you are not allowed to go ashore through the facility’s gate and have to climb the rocks protecting the causeway – a dangerous endeavor. We continued to shore and then saw the little red boat which is the home of Ali and Gertie, Eric Bauhaus’ parents. I met them in the past and came to say hello. They also discouraged us from using that dinghy dock. I simply turned to Flamenco marina, ready to pay whatever they would want for a day use with the dinghy. Perhaps because of the weekend nobody wanted any payment, especially when we said we wanted to buy some gasoline.
Standing by the road, a taxi came, looking at the driver I recognized Chava, the one who drove me to town more than a week ago. What, mathematically, are the chances for that in a huge city? Probably very slim. We did our shopping and went back to the boat. The wind changed back to its regular northerly direction and making some waves made us rolling just as it was on the other side. Plus the view was not my favorite one. Later in the evening it calmed down; it is better than the other side.
Tomorrow we’ll give the jib to sailmaker Arnulfo Moore; I hope it’ll be quick and painless.
Lighting the gas in preparation for dinner, the flame went out after a few seconds. Time to replace the gas tank! Once it was done I did the regular test for leaks by using a soapy sponge. Surprise! we have a leak! We tried this and that but could not get rid of the leak. The suspect this time was the tank, an old composite one, the like of which was already condemned in the past. Another task for tomorrow. We changed the cooking method from oven to the Weber grill and Shimon grilled meat patties served with green salad and tahini.
13.2.17 – Monday – Come morning I called the sailmaker and arranged to meet him at 1100. His place of work is on Perico island, just a few meters from the office of Arturo Romero, Marine-Warehouse Panama rep. Arnulfo Moore is actually an upholsterer who also does sails. His is quite a small operation in which he works with his wife; “she is my boss” he says. After looking at the sail he said the repair would cost 200$ and the sail would be ready the next day in the afternoon. “I will not argue with you about the price but you have to finish it today” I said. After a short consultation with his lady Arnulfo agreed. “Come at four o’clock” he said.
Arnulfo Moore’s phone is 60080629.
Next item – filling and checking the empty gas tanks and checking the gas regulator. The place to fill foreign tanks is out of town, one hour’s drive away. Arturo called a friend of his, a taxi driver, who took Shimon and all the tanks to the Panagas facility. Strangely they said all our equipment was in good condition. Maybe we need to use some Teflon tape when connecting the regulator to the tank.
While Shimon was away I had some other jobs; buying spare parts at Tesa, the local Yanmar agent, going to the laundry place and doing some work in the starboard engine room.
At 4 p.m we entered the sail-maker’s den, “ I need 30 minutes more” he said. At 1630 the sail was ready. By sunset the wind abated and we reinstalled the jib. We are ready to go sailing! By the way – Flamenco marina charges 20$ plus the 7% tax for a day for the dinghy entrance. Daylight robbery!
14.2.17 – Tuesday – We motored and sailed towards Las Perlas. Coming to sail on “Two Oceans” Shimon had a secret mission: he wanted to start eating fish, something he has never done before. He used to fish, cooked fish but not eat sea-food at all. On the first evening on the boat he ate grilled fish and today when he caught a tuna trolling, I prepared some sashimi and let him have it.
We motored and sailed to the anchorage between Chapara and Mogo Mogo and found a god anchorage in the company of four other yachts. In the evening Shimon continued his fish trial by eating fish curry in coconut milk.
15.2.17 – Wednesday – Snorkeling on the reef between the islands we saw a beautiful bluish, white spotted eagle ray as well as some other nice fishes. We then motored – no wind - to Malaga island, east of Isla Bayoneta. I gave Shimon his first SUP experience and have to report that he did not fall even once.
16.2.17 – Thursday – Down the east coast of Isla del Rey we motored, again no wind, rounded Punta Cocos and took up an easterly heading with trolling on our minds. It did not take long for the first strike, something big took the line almost to the end and broke away. When we pulled it back we saw that the beast pulled so hard that the ring holding the hook opened up, letting the fish escape. Another strike brought a skipjack tuna which we released. At exactly the maximum low water we entered Canas anchorage for the night. As the sun set, Shimon started fishing.He caught a small one and then fought for 20 minutes with a creature that broke the line and disappeared.
17.2.17 – Friday – Gili would fly in Sunday evening and Mike Barker is supposed to replace one of my stays on the same day. It made sense to spend the night in Contadora and go back to Panama City on Saturday. Canas to Contadora is a little less than 20 miles so we had time on our hands. Having promised Shimon more trolling, I planned a route that will take us to deeper water past Isla Elefante to the east and then north, where depth of 70 meters might provide creatures of the deep, like Mahi Mahi or Wahoo. Going east we passed an area full of debris, both plastic and organic; I mentioned the fact that in places like this fish could be found and a few minutes later we had a strike. A small Mahi was brought to the transom but before we could transfer it into the cockpit it flipped and was gone.
We motored on towards Contadora and received a consolation in the shape of a cero mackerel, a good eating fish.
At the same time the wind rose to eight knots and I opened the jib (main was up already) and shut down the engine. Pure sailing is so much nicer than motoring!
I sent a message to Mike wanting to make sure he was coming on Sunday and was surprised to receive his answer that he would be able to pick my stay from Fedex only on Monday. Arturo of Marine-Warehouse sent a mail saying he was sorry but the tachometer I ordered would not arrive on time due to severe weather in U.S airports. “Do you want a refund?” You bet I do!
18.2.17 – Saturday – If Gili comes on Sunday evening and Mike is only coming on Monday there is no rush to go back to Panama City. At the beginning we thought of spending another day in Las Perlas but that would have meant a longish trip on Sunday. I suddenly remembered Taboga, which is very close to Panama City and we motored there, frustrated by the no wind situation. After an afternoon nap I went into the starboard engine room, to try and understand the source of the not yet identified liquid puddle accumulating in the bilge. This time it was confirmed to be salt water leaking from the pump area and being painted black by residue of oil in the bilge. At first I thought the leak was from the connection of the pipe to the pump; I took it off, put it back in place, tightening the band and then saw that the leak was from the pump itself.
By that time I was awfully dirty and bloody, having been scratched by sharp parts of the engine. Shimon took some pictures and I’m only showing the one in which I managed to fake a smile.
I have spare pumps and will replace the faulty one, hopefully not going back to the state above.
19.2.17 – Sunday – I entered the engine room at 0800. Changing the salt water pump is theoretically a simple affair but on the Maxim 380, where the engine is situated in a way that the drive is forward and the engine front points to the back – it is quite difficult. Anyway, I took the leaking pump out, found out that one of the water pipes chaffed against something and needed to be replaced. Luckily I had a spare for that one too. It took two hours to complete the job and I went out of the engine room looking just as I did the day before. I had black smudges on my back! How did they get there? “Shimon, when was the last time you washed a baby? come here, I need your help” I shouted from the bathroom.
We motored back to the Las Brizas anchorage to await Gili who is supposed to land in Tocumen airport at 2000. Tomorrow would be a day of preparations for the continuation of the voyage – ending in Ecuador.