Posted by: catamarantwooceans | January 9, 2017

Returning to “Two Oceans”

29.12..16 – Thursday – The last sentence I wrote on my last post was:“The plan is to come back at the end of December. The Pacific is on our minds…“ During the two months I spent at home, our vague ideas solidified into a plan. It started with the desire to go back to French Polynesia; Danny Lanis, who sailed with me long distances before, was enthusiastic about joining. My friend Zulu, on whose yacht I sailed in 2010 on the Cape Town to Brazil leg of his circumnavigation, said: “If you go back to FP – I’m in”. So even before I made a detailed plan – I had a crew.

The regular choice is to go via the Galapagos but all of us have already been there and the cost and conditions to enter that island group, even just for a short stop, were forbidding. We could just go straight from Panama to the Marquesas! One day, as I sat for my evening meditation a thought crept into my mind. There is another option! How about sailing to Easter Island, Pitcairn and reach Polynesia at its southeastern archipelago –Iles Gambier? Doing some research I became more and more excited and made up my mind to go that route.

Coming back to the boat was an arduous affair; 18 hours in airplanes plus waiting between the three legs I flew, a total of about 26 hours. On the last flight from Miami to Panama City I felt so sick and feverish and asked a stewardess for an aspirin. She was not sure whether they had any and a young man sitting behind me gave me a Tylenol, which made me feel a bit better. Since the arrival was late in the evening I reserved a room in the airport Crown Plaza, got there at 2230, had a quick beer and fell into bed.

30.12.16 – Friday – Felipe Chifundo, the taxi driver, picked me up at 0815; on the way we stopped in Sabanitas to buy food for the next few days. We reached Linton Bay marina at 1115 and  immediately I started working on the boat, preparing her for sailing. When a boat is sitting idle for two months strange things happen. The Danbuoy pole broke, the freezer showed signs of unwillingness to operate normally, the starboard starting battery was very weak and a few more things I had to take care of. During all that, my lower back revolted, perhaps due to MY sitting for a long time on airplanes. I have some pills for that and hopefully it’ll go away soon. The weather is not mild; winds are from the NE at more than 15 knots and the marina is not protected from that direction. Consequently the boat moves as if it is out sailing. I asked a couple of cruisers to help me get to the fueling dock tomorrow.

31.12.16 – Saturday – Jet-lag woke me up at 0200; getting out of bed sent arrows of pain into my back. I took another pill. Later in the morning I felt a lot better and decided to go and anchor in Linton bay. But first I needed to refuel. Bert and Dorothy, my volunteers, came over and I tried to brief them about how I planned to do the maneuver. Bert had his own ideas as to the right way to do it and instead of arguing I let him have his way. When we were tied to the fueling dock he said something to the effect that if I ask for help I should not tell him what to do and walked angrily away leaving his wife behind. Oh well…

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Refueling over, I motored to the bay, passing a yacht that ran aground; always a sad sight.

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In the evening, in preparation for making dinner, I opened the food locker and saw something move quickly between the products. Being worried we had cockroaches on board, I took everything out and sprayed a lot of anti insects material into the locker. Later, after having my dinner in the cockpit, I went inside and spotted a gecko on the salon couch. We both stopped in our tracks, equally surprised and I was the first to draw a plastic bag full of something and hit the poor creature, which shed its tail as geckos do but could not escape being thrown overboard. At home we have the same type, which is called “house gecko” and they are tolerated since they eat mosquitos. I cannot treat them the same on the boat, though; not with all the droppings they leave here and there.

My plan is to stay here for the last night of the year, tomorrow sail to Isla Naranja, which is close to Shelter Bay to which I’ll go on Monday. A new solar panel is waiting for me there as well as a thermostat for the freezer. I always go to bed early on the boat and today was not different. I was awakened at midnight by the noise of fireworks show on shore. Happy New Year!

1.1.1 – Sunday – Out of the bay at 0715; I was very careful in everything I did so as not to hurt my aching back. The wind was blowing around the 20 knots mark and I raised the sails to the first reef, thinking of trolling along the way. I should have known better; with the wind from abaft the beam we were running at high speed, too fast for fishing. I reached the Isla Naranja anchorage at 1015. The anchorage is very protected, the island seems to be pretty enough but I was not going to go ashore. I was ready for some rest but before that I had to enter the starboard engine room, tighten some bolts and the slack in the small alternator belt; again – not so easy with my restricting back. I spent the rest of the day reading, doing my favorite anagram crossword puzzle and in the evening prepared chicken and vegetable soup which according to all Jewish grandmothers is a cure for any malady.

2.1.17 – Monday – The distance from Isla Naranja to Colon port entrance is 7 miles. I entered behind a big ship and once inside started calling the marina on channel 74. No reply. Called them on the phone – ditto. I called Edwin, the maintenance chief and he called Frank, the dock operator and bass guitar player, to show me to my berth. It turns out January 2nd is also a holiday and the marina was very, very quiet. Walking around, I saw a boat I met in the past; it was Stingo, the last Maxim 380 built before the yard was closed. It belonged to John Perry who had the misfortune of being hit by a lightning on the Pacific side of the canal. He sold her for an attractive price to which the new owners would have to add quite a lot of money to fix all the damaged electronics.

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I called Stanly, the canal crossing agent. He was on no holiday and said he would come immediately. I met Stanly eight years ago, before crossing the canal the first time; he was mainly a taxi driver but already started being a canal agent. I remembered and reminded the man how he took me to the free zone to put my life-raft for service. The payment there was to be in advance and I did not have the 800$ or so on me. Stanly put his hand into his pocket, took out a big wad of bills and paid for me. “Give it back when you have it” he said.

 

 

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This is the breakdown of the canal crossing costs:                         

canal fee – 1077$; agent fee- 400$; four special lines – 80$; 6 fenders (tires) 24$; zarpe (cruising permit) – 20$. Altogether 1601$. If you need line-handlers you have to pay more. I forgot to ask but I think it is in the order of 100$ per man.

So, the first step towards a second canal crossing was made; we are trying to aim for January 18th. Now to some maintenance work….

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