Fridge repair and sanitation

With our fridge system dying, we had to get some action quickly. By chance we mentioned it to friends and of course in the pack somebody had a 30 lbs tank of R134A and another had a manifold set. only 20 minutes later the compressor was back purring and bringing some cold, let’s hopes the leak is the 7 years old normal one and nothing bigger. Ron and Michael, Thank you for the help cold beer is a must. After 24 hours, the fridge is still cold and not running constantly like before, we may save a few Amp in the process.

Try it with your neighbor next time, who got some R134A and a manifold set?

As for the sanitation inspection, it finally happened at 15.00. For those wondering, what they are interested in is if you have prescription drug, the heavy one; and also if your yellow fever vaccination is up to date if not no worries they will be happy to provide it for free on Wednesday. We started talking with the representative of the ministry of Health and found out that all services are free of charge, Dental work general medicine and medication. All you need to do for this service is to get in and take a number and the next day you are taken care off (non-emergency). Who do you think is going to get some teeth cleaning done and a general checkup?

Welcome to Ecuador, for information price of admission seem to have kept leveled with the info from years pass. Agent fee $50 port captain $45 taxi for custom in Mantas $40 Immigration $20 health $5.

In our spare time we have been focusing on getting Letitgo back to shape, hence we took the joint on the top of the cabin as it had worn out under the sun drench years and added a new one. Benjamin is currently very stuck in his studies due to the teacher’s strike in BC, and is not able to attend school ┬ánot to worry thereby with his very resourceful parent’s we got him some manual labor tasks; to his delight… Such as cleaning the stainless steel and bringing regularly the 20 liter jugs of water from and to the dock. So, if anyone tells us that a water maker is a luxury again, we will defer quickly!

Immigration done

The immigration is done, now we have to get the health inspection a little later during the day. Custom shall be tomorrow and then we will be cleared in for good. We had a quick walk around town and of course found the market; the overall atmosphere made us think of Santa Rosalia (Northern Sea of Cortez founded in 1880″s), it is very Mexico in style and atmosphere maybe 20-30 year back.

Our trip map not to bad considering we are in the middle of the bad season to do this route.

That what two lines of storm look like at 4am, big gamble on the line.

Roberto was riding with us.

We made it and passed the Equateur need to celebrate in style. Yes Dad we had to use a Californian rose, sacrilege we agree with you. (Subliminal message)

Arrival Puerto Armistad.

After a fantastic night sleeping anchored outside the bay, our fisherman’s acquaintance came back to guide us in, the youngest son of the family riding with us. If you ever make the trip, even at high tide you will not have much under the keel and DO NOT rely on the chart. These are for the first time in our experience, completely wrong and by far.

The anchorage here is interesting as there are a lot of boats but almost everyone is gone touring, trekking or simply back home; which gives it a feel of ghost town.

Our small VHF didn’t reach the office, causing a bit of confusion on our arrival. They took all our passports and paperwork we are now waiting for the health inspection, it was a good thing we did our Yellow fever vaccination as it was what they first asked for. After a bit of tidying up, we celebrated in style our passage.

A bottle of bubble rose made the trick, than you Neptune for this first two years you tested us but never pushing us too far.

Today as we can’t set foot on land, we started the troubleshooting of our Port side alternator… The great thing about having two motors is that you can switch everything and test all possibilities, which is what we did all day long! It took a really long search and at the end of the day it is definitely the beast itself. Let’s not forget that we also pickled the water-maker to let it rest for the next few months. After two great year of service, we still are producing 137 PPM potable water not a change since new.

The town has been lively over the week-end, with lots of tourist, lots of music and laugh very similar to Mexico, with a pangas passing by to say hello. Hopefully, by tomorrow we shall have our first taste of South America, we will let you know and we are pretty excited.

Day 6 Arrival outside Bahia de Caraquez

After 148 hours we arrived in the waiting room outside our destination, 708 nm on close haul in between 30 and 45 degree on each side of our bow. The wind was averaged 20 knots with only two small breaks of 8 hours each. We ran our engine 68 hours with half of it for battery recharging as we had no sun during this trip and the rest to help us with wind angle never with more than 2000RPM.

This last day was a nice tacking and angle exercise, as we did 166 nautical miles in 28 hours. In the process we did apparently cross the equator around lunch time, but none of us were paying attention apparently

We were welcome by fisherman in the darkness, they guided us toward the anchoring spot. We will be sleeping awaiting the pilot to get in mid-day tomorrow.
One radical change is the temperature we are all noting, 24degrees tonight! Welcome to the South Pacific.

Day 5 Bashing

Not much to say, except that one of our alternators seems to be non-operational, one more thing for the list when we arrive. The ride is close haul bashing with the help of 20 knots wind since two days now. We are making headway not having to tack too much, with the help of the angle we got when we left.

Nothing else to say today, we saw one panga, a hand full of cargo and hundreds of flying fishes sadly one landed on our deck… Our spirits are good, and our days are a bit like this: eating, reading, dishwashing, watching a movie and sleeping With a little luck we should arrive tomorrow afternoon.

Day 4 Same old Same old

Early evening brought some wind in the 20knots range. We shut down the engine and enjoyed a night of bashing toward the coast. Not the most enjoyable ride but free mileage is never to be refused. This continued all day and as off 16.00 we were able to get 110 Nm closer to our goal.

The only excitement today was when we got chased by a panga, 150 kilometers out of the coast of Columbia not the most reassuring thing. A careful binocular observation confirmed that they were genuine fisherman and their frantic waving was to warn us that their nets were just ahead. We missed them by inches, only dragging one for a few hundred meters. Ok one maybe a little longer we will never know. Sorry hard working seamen, but with the state of the sea an old black or blue gallon jug of oil is not visible to our untrained eye. It is still incredible to us to watch them work in those conditions and even more knowing that we were over so far out in a hard sea!

Nothing more to say, the sky is grey the sea is blue the temperature is 28 Celsius. We slept all day in shift, and are getting closer to shore with the best angle we can get out of the wind.

In other words “Bon pied, bon oeil!”

Day 3 In the groove

The crew and Letitgo are getting slowly back into the groove of crossing voyage, with that said we are able to keep a good rhythm in our watches and in an equal manner. Letitgo took a little more work, a reset to factory default on the Raymarine E120 (Chartplotter) got us back to working perfectly for the last 18 hours.

Nonetheless we had the Microsoft blue screen effect and needed to reboot a few times, which made us sweat a little as we lost all GPS input for a while mmm (Fortunately we have onboard a few backup and various ways to plot our progress, not to worry). We then re-entered all the special parameters, chart setup and we are lapping in visualization luxury; thank you Mr. Ray GPS

Our bodies are starting to adapt and the watches come and go naturally as the three of us feel like. No schedule, no fuss, you grab the next three perfect, and then you wake up the first one who had gone to bed et voila! Basically the only “schedule” we are still keeping is dishwashing and our meal time of course. Truly for us it is more important to follow your natural cycle while taking watch it is easier on all of us; it works so far so why change something that isn’t broken!

There were still some lightning happening far out last night and thankfully it never came close to us, the sea is of a deep blue color, and we are starting to notice different displays in the clouds.

Last night we motor sailed until 2am then the wind raised us that extra 3 knots and 30 degrees giving us the ability to sail until 9am in a gentle rolly motion. For the rest motor sail at low RPM close haul, making 4 knots over the ground. We were able to make 110 NM in the last 24 hours Bon pied bon oeil!

Day 2 Out of the Gulf of Panama

“”Travel west, young man” was the sage word of friends who just did this route a few month ago, we have no problem following their advice for once. The wind pushed us nicely out of the gulf and into the beautiful blue water of the North Pacific. At the same time somebody well intentioned did finally switch on the Air conditioning unit out here, a beautiful 25 degree a delight for the senses.

The night was not that relaxed, Valerie woke me up advising me that we were coming into some rain. Did we ever, we slalom in between convection cell for 8 hours, the ITCZ or pot au noir is keeping the reputation alive. For once we used our radar, to help visualize the activity enabling us to make the best decision at the time. In the end we are moving at 5 knots, and the act of god will happen even against our best effort, as a cell can form and disappear by the time we get around it.

Lighting didn’t fall far away, as witnessed by Valerie but by this time we had all sails in. One good thing out of all this is that our GPS antenna came back alive, re-energized by Mother Nature’s wake up call. We now know where we are going and at what speed a little easier. Unfortunately as we just discovered it is on an intermittent basis

As for the last 24 hr we have achieved just shy of 100 nm with the help of the engine on low RPM for a good part.

Soup and oatmeal have warmed us up nicely from this home weather, though no complain as we dealt with a storm wearing our swimsuit so you don’t feel like you are going to go in hypodermic shock this certainly makes life a lot simpler!

Day 1 Panama City- Bahia De Caraquez

After retrieving our parcel from Bill (thank you so much for everything), another good bye with good friends and we flew out of Panama City. And when we say flew, because we kind of did from 16.00 to 21.00, we had a range going from 18 to 25 knots wind, rather brisk for a first sail in months. Still we didn’t realize how quick we were going as our main GPS antenna decided to not wake up from the deep sleep it’s been in. We knew and forgot that the battery was on the verge of giving up, and it did. No big deal as the system grabs the position from the AIS one, but doesn’t provide the Course and Speed over ground. Disconcerting at first but you get used to it rather quick, the hand held one showed us sailing at 8-9 knots confirming that the foam in the back was not an illusion.

As often, it all calmed right down for the night, the navigation light came on and we were peacefully sailing. After 2 hours I observed that the bow red and green light had gone No amount of playing with it helped and when it decided to take a plunge. We knew it had done enough travelling with us.
Morning light came and the dolphin made their appearance as did Punta Mala. We tried to contact everybody on the Pacific Net but Sunday must be day off. We posted position report via the ham radio it may show up on the Where are you page.

In the last 24 hours, we have achieved 129 Nautical miles using some 8 hours of engine time for two periods of weak wind and to produce water/recharge battery.

Wanderers in Panama

After the shock of being so close to be hit by lighting, we decided to get out to take a walk around town. We have been admiring the skylines for a while but never had a few hours to kill; with that in mind we walked the entire waterfront; all that wearing a pair of jeans as the temperature was not so warm anymore! From the Meridien to the Trump tower via an upscale mall and Hard Rock Hotel, we did them all, Benjamin got his last fill of luxury for the next few years. We are done with big cities; we need to get back to our simple way of life.

If all goes well we should get our package by midafternoon and live shortly after, if the wind is present.

Please stop!! I need to be alone and not close to the parents help

Le Meridien we felt like if we had never left our old stomping ground.

“We walked for an hour and you don’t want a photo in front of the Trump tower!”

And Benjamin responds: “No, I am not a tourist what are you thinking?”