Panama continues to relax the lock down restrictions. We are now allowed to go out of the house again from Monday to Saturday and the separation by sex has also been abolished, curfew is only from 11pm to 5 am the following morning. From October 12th onwards, the last restrictions will probably also be lifted. The regained freedom needs getting used to. Most disturbing are the many cars, which are now again clogging the streets.
With Susi from the neighbouring ship I went out a few times by bike and by train. That was always fun, we took our time and had a nice chat. Both our husbands are probably glad on those days that they are for once not on the receiving end of our typical women’s need to talk 😉 Once we visited a fabric store. You can go back inside the store, just not directly from the street. We had to go through a small side street entrance. There, our temperature was measured, we had to wipe our feet and use hand disinfectant. I am thinking about sewing suitable covers for our couches after all. So far we use fitted bed-sheets, but they slip easily. The covers serve a double purpose. On the one hand, they can be washed more often, which is helpful, because in the local climate you often are very sweaty when sitting on the sofa, on the other hand, the covers loosen up the simple grey of the original covers. We just like it more colorful. 🙂
On a windless day we set out to correct our anchor position. First the anchor has to be raised and the chain has to be freed from fouling. On the upper meters there is quite a lot of growth accumulating. Mathias cleans the chain with a Kercher. We had a fresh water connection put on deck especially for this purpose. The cleaning used about 150 liters of water. So our deslineator had to produce a lot of water.
The lower part of the chain was very twisted, but that straightened up. We looked for a new position, a bit further from the shore and dropped the anchor again. Now one should drive backwards with force to make sure that the anchor digs in. But when we reversed, the whole boat started to vibrate. The engine was wobbling vigorously in its place. That looked unhealthy. I dived to the propeller, but it could be moved. From further away I also watched it turn with the engine running. There was nothing to see. We let it go for now. The anchor dug itself into the muddy ground by itself. However, the strong vibrations occur already at 800 revolutions, which means that we would be unable to maneuver in strong winds.
We contacted Volvo technicians and they were on board for troubleshooting. Should we have to enter the marina, it could become interesting…..
What is the trouble now, once again? The engine has not yet had 400 hours of operation.
Mathias decided to dive to the propeller again. He tried the small diving bottles. At first he didn’t notice anything wrong with the propeller either, then he turned the propeller and discovered an imbalance. Only then he realized that the propeller should have 4 wings. But there were only 3!
This insight solved the mistery of the vibration, but confronted us with a mountain of new tasks: what type of propeller, where do spare parts come from, can it be repaired under water, etc.
The local crane here is not wide enough for us, but there is a possibility which is still relatively close by. In Panamacity they can even repair bigger ships.
So we probably had a screw loose at the propeller 😉 – Why, remains a mystery.
Large power consumption in progress, washing machine and kettle heat simultaneously.
Hurray !!!!!! It is done !!!!!! The App !!!!!!
Now available in the App Store. First of all for iPhone and iPad. For the Android system Mathias now has to learn the programming of the interface.
You can find a more detailed description under “Fun Facts”:
Otherwise there is to report that I had an accident. I thought for a long time whether I should write about it, because it was such a stupid accident. But it is part of our experiences and maybe it is a deterrent example and lets others be more careful than I was.
Those who don’t like bloodthirsty stories should stop reading the blog at this point.
What happened; I had dived to the propeller once more to see if a fishing line was caught at the shaft. (The wa before Mathias’ dive). There was nothing to see, I cleaned the propeller thoroughly. To be sure I wanted to go down a second time with a new tank filling. It was a day with a little more wave movement without being restless, but we wanted to find out the reason for the vibration of the engine. I stood on the swimming ladder with a spatula in my left hand. Unfortunately I was on the ladder on the starboard side, there the grab handle is on the left side. It is not possible to hold on to the ladder itself, because the rails are in the middle and the steps cantilever freely. On the right side of the hull there is an eyelet which I had used a few times before for additional hold. Only this time I absentmindedly put my finger through the eyelet to pull myself up for a short time. Just in that moment a wave came, I tilted backwards and fell backwards into the water. My glove and a piece of my right index finger didn’t make the fall and stayed on board. It didn’t hurt, but it was a strange feeling – a warm jolt. Then everything went very fast, I screamed and cursed loudly, more out of frustration and annoyance, but still in such a way that Mathias realized that something bad had happened. I was back on board in a flash. There I had only one thought; “Get to a doctor before I pass out.” Mathias and I both acted quite fast and concentrated: Cooling elements and ice spray, packing the finger section (we left it in the glove), peeling myself out of the wetsuit, throwing over a dress without drying myself first, packing my stuff together, locking up, putting the engine back on the dinghy and then off to the marina. It was already 5 pm and we hoped that someone was still there. We were lucky and a nice Cuban who lives in Panama and speaks English helped immediately. We had just wiggled with the finger stump and said “ambulancia”. The emergency service asked for a lot of details and we were glad to have found an interpreter. It took quite a while until the ambulance came. In the meantime Mathias drove back to get the key for the dinghy lock – we hadn’t thought of everything after all. In the ambulance the finger was first bandaged and the motto “tranquilo” was issued. The starboard swimmer from the boat was still covered in blood, but since we started to cool the finger, there was no more heavy bleeding, so keeping calm was not a bad idea. Then a hospital had to be chosen and we were off. In the emergency room a waiting period of hours began. Shortly after being admitted, two nurses came and took off my clothes, I was given a hospital nightgown and a nappy. I guess they do that to keep germs to a minimum, the nappy is probably in case a patient faints. At least I was allowed to hold on to my glasses, which they already wanted to put in the plastic bag. As a blanket they gave me a sheet. That is not much if you lie in a room with aircondition and I therefore was not really warm the whole time. During the waiting time my circulation went down, I asked a nurse to put the back of the bed down and then everything was ok again. I thought I was brave to have lasted that long. Previous minor cuts had caused my circulation to collapse sooner.
The orthopedic surgeon in charge was still in surgery and then had to take care of the patient in the adjacent bed, who probably had a complicated fracture of the leg and was in severe pain. At some point I was wheeled to X-ray and the doctor who was supervising in the emergency room kept me informed about what was going on and what would happen next. Mathias waited outside, he didn’t know what was going on. I was lying on the trauma unit, that was for fractures and bruises. One patient was brought in in handcuffs and leg irons.
Around 10 pm it was my turn. The doctor was a young man and spoke good English, which is probably not unusual in Panama, since the doctors often studied in the USA. The torn off part of my finger should not be sewn back on. I got an anesthetic in my hand and the first thing the doctor wanted to do was to clean the wound thoroughly. He used an unusual method for this, he simply rolled the garbage can for the clinic waste next to my bed. I held my hand over it and he rinsed the wound properly with three bottles. Then a sterile cloth was spread out on my bed, the young doctor skilfully put on sterile gloves and started tinkering with the finger. He had told me beforehand that he might have to pull a piece of the bone. But I didn’t want to know the details so exactly. It felt like a lot of hard work, what he was doing. Once I dared to look, he was about to cut off the excess skin or flesh on the side of the suture with a scalpel. You can imagine it like a band-aid that you stick over a fingertip and cut off the protruding ears on the side. Afterwards I thought I would rather let him work without watching. I really admire doctors. They handle serious injuries with such composure and are able to take care of them. My doctor had stated coolly, that after a month the suture will look like a fingertip and after a year it won’t even be noticeable. You don’t pay that much attention to the individual fingers of a person facing you. “It happens all the time.” Yes, it may be nothing unusual for him as a doctor, but I strongly hope that it will not happen to me all the time, neither to myself nor to people I know.
In the end I got a proper bandage, which was still filling with blood, but for which I was instructed not to change it myself. We received some slips of paper with instructions, on the one hand for medication (antibiotics and painkillers) and on the other hand to be able to make further appointments at the hospital on Monday. The accident had happened on a Friday, so the administrative side had to wait until Monday. Now it was important that the wound did not became inflamed. Meanwhile it was 11 pm and before I was dressed again and we could leave after 11 pm – curfew time! What now? We asked the ward doctor, he spoke to the police. There are 2 types of police here and one seems to be responsible for tourist affairs. They had a station at the hospital and called a police bus to take us to the marina. Very nice everybody here! At midnight we were back on board and to calm down the nerves we watched a German nurse series from the media library.
Getting medication, making appointments at the hospital and changing bandages in the following days went off without major problems.
If I have learned anything from the event, it is that accident prevention should be taken very seriously. Even a cautious person like me, who puts on a helmet when changing sails, can have a careless moment. On a ship, everything is in constant motion. And for Neel owners: Be careful with the bathing ladders on the outer hulls, they simply hang high above the water and therefore experience greater movement. What happened to me could easily happen to a child. We have now knotted ropes in the eyelets, so that you can hold on to the ladders on both sides, because with only a one-sided grip, it is difficult to get in and out. I would also advise against buying swimming ladders that have the poles in the middle.
Due to the needed repair and aftercare of my injury, Panama may not let us go so soon.
For the future we need a little more luck: