Posted by: catamarantwooceans | October 13, 2015

Panama–October 2015- Frustration

7.10.15 – Wednesday – Sometimes things do not go your way. On the way back to the boat I flew from New York via Fort Lauderdale to Tocumen international, Panama City. Technical difficulty delayed the flight by one hour and catching my planned flight to Bocas, departing from Albrook domestic airport, a drive of about 45 minutes away, seemed improbable. I hopped into a taxi deciding to give it a try and arrived at the counter 8 minutes before departure. “Sorry, the flight is closed”. I was listed on the next day first flight and went to a nearby hotel.

8-9.10.15 – Thursday and Friday – I found the boat in a relatively good condition. The dehumidifier I left running all the time did its job and there was no mold or funny smell. I immediately started working on bringing the boat back to operational status. I replaced the starting battery of the starboard engine, installed the repaired Raymarine Tri-Data I brought with me, changed oil and filters in both engines, washed the dinghy and glued open seams – all went well. Then I had some surprises; I asked Mary, the marina manageress, as to the place to fill  up cooking gas. “Oh, it’s a pity you didn’t tell me that before. It take a week to to ten days to fill tanks since it is done in David”(a relatively distant town). O.K, I still have enough until we reach Colon, where it’ll be much quicker.

Next surprise – the freezer did not work properly and after replacing a suspected fuse holder – just played dead. I had a phone number of a refrigeration technician and left a message in his voice-mail. I tried repeatedly to call Russ, an electrician who was supposed to import and install brushes in my windlass. I got voice-mail each time. Sent an e mail – no response.

Diving to check the bottom I found a lot of fouling and using a knife worked for an hour removing as much as I could. As usual I forgot to wear gloves and received nasty cuts from the sharp barnacles.

My friend Danny, who was supposed to come on Friday, got delayed and will arrive a day later. Another friend – Menachem – is to come next Tuesday; the three of us sailed together in South Africa and it’ll be fun to reunite.

10.10.15 – Saturday – Heavy rain fell during the night. Morning dawned with grey skies and drizzle. The local birds do not mind.

IMG_0581 - CopyI took a water taxi to Bocas marina in search of Russ and found him near the bar. “Hi Russ, remember me?” I e-mailed him two weeks in advance to say I was coming and to ask that he imports the brushes. It turned out that he did not receive a subsequent mail with the brushes’ specifications which he asked for and so, instead of mailing me again simply decided not to do a thing. “If we order it on Monday it’ll probably be here after a week” He also told me that Jay, who did not return my call, would not be available in the near future. The job would have to be accomplished in Colon; I called Greg, who fixed my fridge over there but only got voice mail box.

Big frustration! I’ll have to re-think my sailing plans. Must have the windlass and freezer!

11.10.15 – Sunday – I passed the day doing odd jobs on the boat and feeling sorry for myself.  Danny arrived in the evening, we had dinner on shore and went to bed early.

12.10.15 – Monday – With Danny on board it was time for the big projects first of which was installing the mainsail traveller.

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Not a simple thing; we did a lot of head scratching trying to remember how the traveller control line should pass in which block. Next we dismantled the windlass in preparation for the yet unknown technician who would repair it, perhaps in Colon. As we were taking the heavy thing out of its location and onto the deck we noticed that one of the electrical cables, which are made of two lengths of heavy duty wire, was broken. Another was just a step behind, its connector very loose. So it seems that the reason for the windlass malfunction was not the brushes! This was really good news, because replacing the cables is a piece of cake compared to adapting non original brushes to the right shape. We called an electrician named Gilbert McFarlane who promised to come next morning. Another piece of good news was a telephone call from Dylan, Greg’s son. I told him the fridge story and he promised to inform his dad.

12.10.15 – Monday – Gilbert, a jolly big fellow, came by, took the windlass away and came back in the afternoon with an operable windlass; what a relief!

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I highly recommend him; his phone number is 65525978. Good man!



  1. What kind of fridge system do you have on your boat? I had on mine a a Isotherm SP 2551 selfpumping seawatercooled and could even make ice with my well insulated 120 lt fridge. All systems are solar powered. I sold my boat last summer, but the unit runs still day and night in the 8th year now. I can recommend it! (Plan to build a new boat, again with a isotherm fridge.)

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