Posted by: catamarantwooceans | April 24, 2015

Panama – April 2015

15.4.15 – Wednesday – It took just over 24 hours in a train, airplanes, airports and a taxi to reach Shelter Bay marina. Benjamin, a driver whose services we used in the past, waited for me in the arrival hall of Tocumen airport, carrying a big sign with a new version of my name: MYKOLL. As we drove towards Colon, I wondered whether the de-humidifier had performed properly; last time I left Two Oceans without that gismo I spent hours cleaning the mold which accumulated on many parts of the interior. Entering the cabin I saw that it did; what a relief! Of course it did not mean that I had no projects to tackle, but those would wait for tomorrow.

16.4.15 – Thursday – After a jet-lagged night I took the marina’s bus to Quatro Altos, bought a local Sim-card for my phone and bought a lot of stuff in the big Rey supermarket. The plan for the weeks ahead does not include a visit to Colon for about six weeks and we would have guests to feed. On the way back with the bus, sitting up front; I felt a hand touching my shoulder . A woman handed me my wallet which somehow escaped out of my pocket and fell on the bus floor. Money, credit cards and my driving license, not the things you want to lose! I thanked the lady, who agreed to have her picture taken. She disappeared when we reached the marina before I could ask her name. (Next day I saw her again; Her name is Laura.)


I lugged the heavy load to the boat using a wheelbarrow, thinking that I would have to do at least two more provisioning sorties.

After a quick lunch I changed into maintenance garb and state of mind and entered the starboard forward locker to prepare the fuel tank for removal and repair of the leak we discovered on our last trip. It took about two hours of sponging fuel and fighting rusty pipe connections and with the rates for labor in the marina I probably saved a nice sum.

17.4.15 – Friday – Waiting for the marina maintenance guys to come over and extract the tank, I went into the locker and tried to do it myself. The hull is so narrow and tank so wide and heavy – I failed.

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Victor and his team arrived; two young workers went into the locker and in 30 seconds had the tank out. I took the pic with my new Go Pro.


They took the tank away and I went in to clean the locker. In the afternoon – another sortie to the supermarket. A lot of stuff went into the freezer, which surprisingly refused to freeze the products fully. After checking and cleaning the electrical connections I let it run again, hoping it’ll do the job.

18.4.15 – Saturday – In the morning Edwin, the marina maintenance chief, took me to see the tank. They had filled it with water and found the leaking crack. “So, is Victor going to weld it?” “No, we don’t have a stainless steel welder here” says Edwin. (formerly he assured me the repair was a piece of cake)“We need somebody from the outside”. “How about calling Ali?” I asked. Ali is a German man, living on a boat in Panama City for quite a few years, working as a welder. I met him after crossing the canal in 2008 and he watched my boat for me when I had to rush home for a while. Ali is the father of Eric Bauhaus who wrote the excellent Panama Cruising Guide. Edwin called the man and I spoke to him; he would come sometime next week. 

I was not happy with the performance of my freezer and fridge and went to find Greg, who in addition to engine work, does refrigeration too. Greg agreed to come the next day.

19.4,15 – Sunday – Greg replaced a faulty electrical controller in the freezer. Luckily for me he had an operable used unit, which cost a hundred bucks, cheap compared to close to 300$ that a new one would. I also asked him to replace the fuel pre-filters; those have a glass lower section, which could break in the hands of an unskilled mechanic (moi).

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Ali called to say he would come next day at noon. Great!

20.4.15 – Monday – Ali arrived, accompanied by Gertie, his wife and their puppy. His appearance did not really change during the seven years that passed from our previous meeting; big beard and a bushy hair. He did his job quickly and efficiently; we then filled the tank with water (250 liters) and ascertained that there was no leak.


I wheeled the tank to my slip; Edwin guy’s would put it back man’ana.

21.4.15 – Tuesday – Another shopping sortie in the morning. At 2 p.m. the guys came and very quickly the tank was in and I entered the locker to bolt it in place and connect all the fuel lines. I gingerly filled the tank with about eighty liters I had in jerry-cans and to my relief no leak occurred. By the time I finished it was past 1700 and I decided to purge the air from the fuel system and start the engine tomorrow.

22.4.15 – Wednesday – I went through all the motions necessary to bleed the fuel lines and supply fuel to the engine. The last move was to open a bleed screw on the engine fuel filter and work a lever on the fuel pump. No fuel came out; something was wrong. During the operation a plastic plug in the pre-filter broke and made the filter leak. This had happened before on the other engine and somehow was glued in place and made serviceable. As much as I tried duplicating it, I could not make it work. Time to call Greg! The man came and his suggestion was that I buy a new pre-filter. The marina’s chandlery had one, but a closer look showed that it was intended for gasoline outboard engines only and that “used otherwise there is a danger of fire and explosion”.

Greg went to another job; “Call me when you have the new part” he said. The girl at the chandlery, whose name is Genesis (!) tried her best, calling other marine stores but couldn’t locate the item. Finally, using the simple trick of wrapping the plug with a lot of Teflon tape I accomplished the required result; it was firmly in place and not leaking. I went looking for Greg but he was nowhere to be found.

23.4.15 – Thursday – I slept badly that night, fearing that I’ll get stuck in Shelter Bay much longer than I planned. At ten minutes to eight a.m. I came up to Greg’s yacht, which is in the boatyard. I was number two in line…When my turn came, Dr. Greg suggested that I disconnect the fuel pipe from the filter and blow in the direction of the tank. Let me cut it short: after I did it using the dinghy’s air-pump, pumped fuel back in, I reconnected the fuel lines and it worked. I would be able to leave the marina tomorrow.

This is the point where, ideally, I would press the “publish” button on the computer and send the post to the blog. But as I went to change between water tanks when the port one was depleted – the fuse of the starboard pump blew. Another maintenance job!

Posted by: catamarantwooceans | March 8, 2015

And now – The Book…

8.3.15 – Yes… I’ve turned the blog into a Kindle book. Volume one, Florida to Samoa is available on Amazon right now. Volume two would follow shortly. Mindful of the fact that electronic books do not work well for pictures, I opened a Dropbox account with even more images than those which appeared in the blog. You can view them in the following link:

Here is the book’s cover –


Frankly, I’m excited…


Posted by: catamarantwooceans | February 10, 2015

More Sailing in Kuna Yala – part 2

1.2.15 – Sunday – Morning in Nargana, filling water and provisioning. Lunch in Sugardup and then sailing fast to the West Holandes, 13 miles away. Waisaladup is the place Gili crowned as the most beautiful in the region, mainly because of the good reef there. Fishing with the limited portion of chicken breast Gili allotted was also limited to a small fish which was immediately put back as live bait. Just before going to bed, Yossi checked it and found out it was eaten by some creature without disturbing the rod.

2.2.15 – Monday – From Waisaladup, we motored six miles to the south to Achadup in the western Naguargandup cays. Another fantastic location…

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3.2.15 – Tuesday – The weather here is a bit crazy; yesterday there was almost no wind and today it was blowing 20 knots. We sailed to East Lemmon cay with the wind at 60 degrees from starboard. From time to time waves were breaking against the hull and as Yossi happened to look into their cabin, which is on the starboard, he was horrified to see that the hatch was not completely closed and that seawater inundated the sheets and mattresses. Once we got to the anchorage we took everything out to dry; Yossi and Ester relocated to the aft cabin. From our position we noticed the peculiar shape of a junk rigged boat; surely it is Kevin’s Amuri Mina! A nice sight taken with the new Canon SX50HS which has an enormously long lens.

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One of the things to do in East Lemmons is snorkeling the reefs. On today’s outing I noticed a spiny puffer hiding in a crevice and dived down to "talk" with it. I put my hand closer to it and when it did not object or run away, I touched its white, soft belly, stroking it gently. The fish seemed to like it, going out into the open with no fear; an irregular experience!

4.2.15 – Wednesday – Last day in the Kuna Yala. First, a visit to the harbor master and then we motored against the wind to our favorite anchorage in Chichime. Kevin and his family were there at anchor; their two kids are adorable.

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The parents of Kevin’s wife, Julia, were with them on the boat and they all came for a beer later in the evening. We were told that the family is moving to Europe where Kevin would have to get used to living in civilization.

5.2.15 – Thursday – At 0645 we left Chichime. Destination – Green Turtle Cay marina. Wind – 11-13 knots and sea slight. Trolling again, trying to kill the fishing jinx we are experiencing lately and finally succeeding!

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                                Yossi and Tuna

A visit to the Chinese mini market in Nombre de Dios was a necessity. Yogi, the marina manager, was going to his house in town to have lunch and I hitched a ride, squeezed into the front seat (the back seat was occupied) with his Rottweiler bitch which was slavering during the 15 minutes drive, luckily missing my foot. We spent a quiet night in the marina.

6.2.15 – Friday – The day dawned with grey skies and rain; we waited for a lull and went out to go to Linton. The rain came back and as all crew hid inside, the captain braved the elements. Approaching Isla Grande, where we wanted to enter the channel to Linton, we were lucky to have the clouds disperse and visibility good enough to be able to recognize and avoid the reefs and shoals.

Right on our heels came a huge Catana 59 catamaran; yachts are getting bigger and bigger!

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After lunch we went to visit the monkeys on Linton island and then went out to go the ten miles to Portobelo. Surprisingly the weather improved and we had a lovely sail, the highlight of which was the catching of a nice Mahi Mahi. Another opportunity for Gili to exercise her gourmet cooking abilities.

7.2.15 – Saturday – Out of Portobelo to go to Chagres river. An argument started between the captain and the chef; Gili was advocated trolling for fish while Miki thought we should eat the chicken we have in the freezer, thus preserving the world’s fish dwindling population. Guess who had her way… With the wind blowing at 18 knots from the starboard quarter we sailed 7-8 knots, the captain hiding a smug smile knowing it was too fast to catch a fish. Two miles to the entrance to Chagres river and it was the turn of the chef to smile. A Jack Trevally was caught.

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we entered the river, which is always beautiful and peaceful. We took the dinghy and explored the river banks, going into some side channels that led into the jungle.

In the evening Gili started working on our jack dinner. I personally do not like this fish. Gili tried her best to cook it in a tomato based spicy oriental sauce but the jack opposed all her efforts, it was tough and not very tasty. Did you ever come across a jack on a menu in a restaurant? There’s a good reason for it.

8.2.15 – Sunday – Another beautiful day in paradise. We had some visitors perching on our pulpit.

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Here’s a closer look at one of them.

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We slowly motored towards the river’s exit looking out for monkeys but seeing none. Then to Shelter Bay marina, where "Two Oceans" will stay for about two months while we go back home.

Preparing the boat is never easy; add to the regular cleaning operations the breaking down of the vacuum cleaner, the discovery that water from a yet unknown source is entering Gili’s wardrobe section and to cap it all – my cellular phone sliding from the cabin top right into the water. I’ll try to dive and find it tomorrow; at least save the SIM card.

9.2.15 – Monday – A day of hard work and exasperation; the marina staff, who led me to believe they would supply a 115 volt line for my dehumidifier came up with all sort of reasons why they couldn’t do it. Main argument was "liability" in case my unit will malfunction and, according to one of the maintenance office people, may cause a fire. They ended up bringing one of their units, for which they are going to bill me 45$ a month.

They also decided that I should pay the full amount, 260$, for the no result treatment of my autopilot system by their electrician. Being committed to staying here by the leaking fuel tank I have no choice but to pay. But they are going to lose me as a long term client once that affair is concluded. At least the pumping out of the fuel in the leaking tank was done quickly and efficiently. The actual repair would have to wait until I come back in April.

So until then – Adios from Miki and Gili on Two Oceans.

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