Posted by: catamarantwooceans | October 9, 2016

Bocas to Shelter Bay

4.10.16 – Tuesday – At 0600 there was enough light to go. Engine started, I went forward to raise the anchor. The windlass did not work in the “up” direction. Yesterday when I anchored the same thing happened; I tightened the bolts on the controller in the hope that the matter was settled but I should have known better. I tweaked with the wires, spraying some electrical cleaner and succeeded in coaxing the windlass to work. Anchor up, I went out of the Bocas channel, raised the main in the light breeze coming off the land and motored towards Escudo de Veraguas, 42 miles away. Trolling a line, I quickly caught a small Cerro mackerel good for two meals.

Around noon the sea breeze came and I could shut down the engine and proceed under sail; pure pleasure! As I approached Escudo I saw a yacht anchoring on the south of the island; I made up my mind to anchor on the west, near a small settlement of just a few shacks. I could see two small boats from which divers were going after lobsters and another panga on the beach.

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The sight of the island and the swaying palms was enough to make me happy.           I returned to the windlass’ electrical box and did a thorough job of cleaning all the contacts; it  seemed to work fine – tomorrow I’ll know for sure.

I have two distinct memories of Escudo de Veraguas. One was the breaking waves on the south shore which resulted once in a camera lost to a wave that jumped into the dinghy as we were coming ashore and another time a damaged throttle handle when a friend fell on it as we were going from the beach to the boat through those waves. The other thing I recall is the quantity of insects which attacked us the moment we came ashore. Tonight, as I started preparing my dinner, those flying insects attracted by the boat’s lights came aboard. I had to run from my cooking to different parts of the boat, brandishing the anti-insect spray, which helped only temporarily.

My planned dinner was fish in coconut milk and green curry. The coconut stuff, which was called “cream” tasted like condensed milk and although I added habanero pepper to the curry it was still quite horrible. Dinner over, I escaped to my cabin to read but the insects followed the light and I had no option but to shut all lights and go to sleep at 2030…The book I’m reading is the Ian McEwan’s latest called “Nutshell”; as all his books it is is very well written and maybe runs  a bit wild with events described though the outlook of a baby, a fetus, yet to be born.

5.10.16 – Wednesday – Planning to do the 100 miles to Colon as an overnight trip with an ETA of around 1000, I thought I’d leave at 1400. With time on my hands, I lowered the dinghy and motored to the village. Speaking to some men I met on the beach, I understood that they they were living there permanently. They have a special panga that goes every afternoon to the mainland with the lobsters and maybe also the fish they catch. There were also children there and everybody was very friendly.

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Next I went snorkeling; visibility was not so good but I could see some nice fish including some big barracudas who came to investigate. At 1330 I started going out, electing to go to the north of the island where a few boats were fishing, mostly by diving. I was surprised to see free divers working where the depth was 23 meters!

As I left the island behind a sea-bird alighted on the dinghy. I saw that as a “photo-op” and became busy getting her picture.

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Suddenly a bang was heard and felt; lifting my gaze from the camera’s screen I saw that we had hit a a floating tree which became attached to the starboard stern, probably between the saildrive leg and the rudder. I slowed down immediately, donned the harness, went out to the aft steps and using the boat hook tried to dislodge the nuisance. After a few tries, including motoring aft and breaking one of the branches, I succeeded pushing it away. Lucky it did not hit the port propeller, our single operating propulsion source!

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The moment we reached deep waters I put out the trolling gear and in half an hour I heard that something was caught. It swam towards the boat and appeared only when very close to the stern.

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A small shark; maybe edible but not my favorite. With caution I removed the hook from the creature’s jaws and released it to the deep; regretfully a bit damaged but leaving the hook, lure and wire leader on his snout would not be a better option, plus – it was my last Rapala. Once gone – I have a new stock of Chinese made lures that have yet to prove their worth.                                                                        (Please note that yours truly is not neglecting his journalistic duty, taking pictures for the blog in all conditions).

Night fell, the new moon lighted the scene for a while. On land some big clouds gave a lightning show but on the water the sky was clear, the wind light from the forward sector so we we’re still motoring.

6.10.16 – Thursday – A bit after midnight the land breeze joined the general flow to produce a southeasterly wind of about 10 knots. I opened up the jib and shut the engine down; I could sail about 15 degrees to port of my required track and would correct later with the engine if necessary. Of course at a certain point I had to start it; as I’m writing this now, 19 miles to Colon entrance, the true wind is less than 5 knots.

At 0915 I entered the haul-out basin.

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The boat was lifted out, I sat with Edwin, the marina’s yard manager to plan the parade of people who would come to the boat to participate in yet another chapter of yacht maintenance for me and Two Oceans”. More about that – in the next post.

Posted by: catamarantwooceans | October 3, 2016

Back on the boat–part 2

20.9.16 – Tuesday – A good day! Jeff came to work; the starboard engine, which was disconnected from the drive to find the breakages, was reconnected in order to stabilize it for the trip to the haul-out facility. The next step would be accomplished when the needed parts arrive from the U.S. Jeff would then assemble the “Ebay” bought section of the drive and make it ready for the mechanic who will complete the repair. Happy to see him working, I made a pizza and invited him to join me. After lunch he went on to clean the engines heat-exchangers. So finally some progress in the right direction is made.

21.9.16 – Wednesday – A lovely morning with no work planned, so I took the SUP and paddled for an hour and a half to the east side of Isla Carenero and back. Having found a Yoga place in town I wanted to go to a class starting at 1815 and had the main meal of the day at noon. Meal and cleanup finished I went for a nap. All the hatches were open in celebration of the fair and dry weather and then the unavoidable happened; I was awakened by the sound of the rain hitting the boat and the wind shrieking. I rushed out in my underwear and in the deluge closed all ports. The rain continued all through the evening so no Yoga class.

22.9.16 – Thursday – Jeff told me that yesterday some boats dragged anchors out in the bay when the squall hit. This morning the weather allowed going out so I went to the Yoga class; the place is run by a young woman called Laura Kay ( and although her style was a bit different than what I am used to, I really enjoyed it. She is also a photographer and her site contains some interesting pictures.


                        Laura Kay

The parts from the U.S are only going to arrive late next week so I’ll be able to take at least two more classes. 

23-28.9.16 – This is the waiting game; I go to yoga classes, I go out with the SUP, do some small jobs on the boat and under it (cleaning the bottom and especially the port prop) and doing anagram crossword puzzles.

29.9.16 – Thursday – Went diving with La Buga dive club. They took me and a young couple on this Trimaran.

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The young ones were on beginners course and had their own instructor and I did my dives with Reynaldo, a young divemaster who was very good at finding interesting creatures in spite of the big quantity of plankton reducing the visibility. I was happy to be underwater again and seeing a Toad-fish, which I have never seen before, made it a real good dive.

30.9.16 – Friday – Jeff came and after charging the starboard starting battery started the engine and flushed the heat exchanger. He left his tools on the boat, a thing I took as a promise to come early next morning to continue working. He discovered a metal oil pipe supplying some accessories on the engine corroded and leaking, so that should be taken off and repaired or replaced. A pity he did not find it before, I could have ordered it and have it with the same package that is just coming. Was informed by the marina that my parts would arrive in the evening to be picked up tomorrow.

1.10.16 – Saturday – 0800, 0900 – where is Jeff? The parts are already on the boat! At 1000 I called his phone – no answer; I left a message. At 1100 I decided to walk around the marina and look for the man. There he is sitting in his boat, conversing merrily on the phone! I waited patiently and was told that he was at a party last night and came back late. “When will you come to my boat?” “I’ll just go to that guy I promised to take care of his fuel tank and then I’ll come over”.

He came at 1350. to his credit I will say that the moment he comes he does good work. He finished preparing the port engine for the trip to Shelter Bay in Colon, which is where I decided to take the boat out.

2.10.16 – Sunday – Jeff finished the work on the new upper part of the drive and it is now ready, once the boat is out of the water, to be connected to the lower part and return “Two Oceans” to her twin engine normal configuration.

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Looking at the weather it seems that the best day to leave Bocas would be Wednesday. I will make one stop in Escudo de Veraguas and then go through the night to Colon and Shelter Bay marina. Who knows, maybe Russell, the electrician, would come tomorrow and do some of the things on his list.

3.10.16 – Monday – I met Russell around 1000; the man seemed to be nursing a bad hangover. It was clear he was in no mood or condition to come and work. I went to the office to advise them that I would leave in the afternoon. I prepared to go to town for some shopping and just as I entered the water taxi I suddenly remembered that I was supposed to get a Zarpe – the sailing permit – to go to Colon. Rushed to the boat to take the ships papers and passport and showed up at the port captain’s office. A lot of forms were filled and signed by all parties; I had to pay 1.5$, yes, a dollar and fifty cents and then got the coveted document.

Half an hour before the marina staff were to come and pull me out of the dock I started my only operating engine. After changing the water separator filter we did not run the engine enough and I wanted to make sure that it ran well. Sure enough, after five minutes it died down. Jeff was around, came by and bled the air from the system. We ran the engine additional thirty minutes to make sure it was O.K and then the crew came and pulled me into a position from which I could motor out by myself to an anchorage near two other catamarans. I felt as if I was released from captivity; what a relief!

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Posted by: catamarantwooceans | September 21, 2016

Back on the boat

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.

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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.

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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.

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