At the beginning of November we survived the week with a lot of wind well. Gusts of wind were over 30 knots. But with the help of the second anchor we were well secured.
Mathias spent most nights up on the couch again. There you lie quietly, well ventilated and you can hear when something moves or sounds funny or a gust blows. During the journey we often sleep there and it is the best place for people who get seasick easily because there is the least movement.
The worst thing about that time was that the waves were already so uncomfortable that we didn’t want to use the dinghy and didn’t want to leave the boat alone. So we had another week of personal lock down. That is testing our nerves.
On my birthday the weather had calmed down. I had baked a cake and arranged telephone calls with Germany. So the birthday was not completely swept under the carpet like last year. Last year we were at the ARC+ preparation seminars in Las Palmas and the paramedic, with his gloomy remarks about the hopelessness of healing in the middle of the sea, had thoroughly spoiled my mood for the day. His attitude to the subject was clearly more pessimistic than what we had learned in Hamburg at the Sea Doc seminar. In fact, there are some things that can be tried at sea before the patient is given up. Well, this year, as I said, the day was nicer. I got a lot of congratulations via WhatsApp and in the evening we went ashore for pizza. Mathias left his mobile phone on board! A great birthday present! Especially because I had wished for a mobile-free date some time ago. He had remembered that! I was accordingly impressed and happy. 🙂
The Anker app still keeps us busy. The latest project is a film for YouTube, in which the app is presented. I was able to join the work and practice making animated sequences. 😉
After we were able to use the dinghy again, we could meet the agent and pick up our cruising permit. We had not seen our agent for several months. He had used the corona time to go on a diet and get more exercise. Already in Shelter Bay he was very enthusiastic about the idea of having his own ice-making machine. Now he was even more interested in making sugar-free ice cream (or ice cream containing only fructose). Since we bought the machine in Panamacity in a well-known electronics shop, he can easily buy one as well. We had a nice talk. The agent became self-employed after working for an English company for 14 years. In the company he had to organise all the paperwork for large ships crossing the channel and always work under time pressure without this affecting his salary. Now his experience benefits the many small ships, he really takes good care of you.
The Cruising Permit is now valid for one year. Luckily, the government in Panama has also extended the visas once again. One may now stay in the country until the end of January. This means that after the stay in the shipyard we can explore the area a little bit more. We will probably then sail to the Las Perlas islands and enjoy the beautiful anchorages there, at least that’s one plan. The Las Perlas Islands got their name when the Spanish Conquistadores Gaspard de Morales and Francisco Pizarro stole a large amount of pearls from the native king Toe. A large pearl of Queen Mary Tudor of England also came from these islands. (Source: Eric Bauhaus: “The Panama Cruising Guide”)
Now that Neel had sent us the plans to our boat, indicating where the supports for the sealift should be, all we had to do was get going. Meanwhile we are adapted to the mind set here, you just have to be careful that “mañana” does not become “próxima semana”. And because of heat and corona slowness we work our tasks off one after the other. So first of all we took up the challenge of hauling the second anchor back in. Doesn’t sound exciting – but it is. The anchor weighs 24 kilos and has a 20 m chain and 70 m rope. That is quite a bit of weight. It was very difficult to lift by hand. We noticed that the first chain had been laid over the second one, which meant that also part of the weight of that chain had to be lifted. In the local climate such work is only done early in the morning or late in the afternoon. So we made slow progress. By using the spifall and moving the lifting point frequently we finally managed to lift the anchor and chain back on board.
During the action we wanted to raise the main chain to the starting point of the snubber. When operating the anchor winch, the motor should be on to avoid straining the batteries. Said – not done. Motor switch pressed – nothing happens. Phew, new problem? A day of searching for the cause didn’t bring an answer, but cable wobbling in all possible places calmed the problem. The motor sometimes starts up again. The assumption is that the MDI box has bugs.
This cat anchored much too close to us. So we were lucky that the chains did not get tangled up. On the picture the canal control boat is just arriving. The cat wants to go through the Panama Canal.
All that remained was to finally get going. Friday, the 13th, brought the calm weather we needed. We got up very early and got the dinghy ready. It should help us to start sailing and keep course. We put the big petrol engine back on and off we went – no – of course not. There was the danger that the engine would not start again so easily. This now happened. We aren’t surprised by such things anymore, but this new delay is annoying. Now we need help from a technician again. This reminds me of an episode in “The Big Bang Theory” in which the nerds break down with their car and someone asks if anyone knows about combustion engines. Everyone answers: “Sure, simple principle, no problem”, whereupon the questioner rephrases his question: “Does anyone know enough about combustion engines to be able to repair them? – Entered silence in the round. That’s how I used to feel when driving a car, dangerous quarter knowledge about the technology. But back then I had a personal hotline to our friend who has a car repair shop. He often helped me out of a jam by means of remote instructions, or I could simply park my car at his place and he took it to the workshop. Well, if it weren’t for Corona, he might just be visiting.
So all we could do was row ashore and see if we could find help. For this trip Mathias took three empty petrol canisters with him. It was already clear to me what my mission would consist of. And indeed, he set off for a workshop and I was sent off to take a taxi to a petrol station. There are plenty of taxis here, if you walk somewhere along the road, you are constantly being honked at, which means that a taxi offers its services. As we were walking along the street, a taxi promptly stopped next to us. The driver greeted me with “Hello Birte” and waved our business card. 🙂 It was the same taxi we had recently taken to Vacamonte to visit the shipyard. Since he lives in this area, this was not entirely unlikely, but still a small stroke of luck. He drove with me to the nearest gas station. But there they didn’t want to sell petrol in canisters to taxis, allegedly because the car was too small for transportation. Strange, the customer directly in front of us had just loaded a small car with full canisters. Couldn’t shock my taxi driver, we drove to the next petrol station and were back at the dinghy with the full canisters before Mathias arrived again. A technician for the engine wasn’t supposed to come until the afternoon, so we rowed back to the boat. As you can imagine, it didn’t work out with the afternoon appointment – próxima semana….
After the calm weather on Friday, the weekend was still ok, from Monday on the marginal effects of an Atlantic hurricane were again announced. That means wind, rain and waves for us here. On Sunday we decided to bring out the carefully rescued second anchor again. The wind forecast was simply too unfavourable. We brought the anchor from the back to the front and dropped it from the ship. The direction was just right so that it could work when we drifted back towards shore.
Despite the bad weather Mathias should meet a technician for the dinghy engine in the marina. He rowed there.
But even the technician could not find the cause of the fault. Now the engine is to be picked up and examined in the workshop. Of course this could not be done on the same day.
Mathias looked at the weather forecast and decided to return a little later. It is not easy to impossible to row a dinghy against wind and waves. But the weather didn’t want to get any better. Towards evening Mathias was waiting in the dinghy at the marine entrance for a little less wind. It was raining torrentially, as is usual here. (This saves the showers in the evening.) To help, I let a swimming line drift from the boat, which almost reached the shore. That worked well, Mathias reached the line. From there he pulled himself up to the SAN. Without a line and only by using the force of rowing it would not have been possible to hit the gap between the hulls of the SAN in the swell. We brought the dinghy on board because the wave movements should increase. With the guide ropes on both sides, which we attached for the dinghy, the recovery went well.
By the end of this week the weather should improve……
So our plans are back to “próxima semana”.