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?”

We will not leave on Friday after all.

UPDATE. Our neighbors Ben and Marianne got hit by lighting 200 meters away from us during the storm. They lost a fair amount of electronic, on first inspection Letitgo seem all good.

We really need to get out of here.

 

 

It is believed to be bad luck in the marine world to leave port on a Friday, not that we are overly superstitious but a few days ago it crossed our mind and we don’t need any bad vibe at this point.. Bill made it easier for us, when he missed his connection in Houston due to an electrical storm and will only arrive on Saturday with our goodies. This will give us an extra day in Panama City with nothing to do but walk around helplessly, we are experts at that actually and will make the most of it. As we did the last laundry and shopping yesterday, we even now have 1 gallon of polyester resin onboard now, just in case… and some cloth and filler just in case!!!

We had a question on what exact parts we did got to re-build the raw water pump, the rip/oil seal is a 12X24X7 the two bearings are SKF 6001 2RSH and 6201 2RSH/C3 respectively. Those are the parts most prone to be damaged; there are two C clamps in there but if removed properly, it should be no problem to re-use them.

As we publish this blog a major storm is coming down on us, like we haven’t seen in a long time. Good thing we didn’t live.


Emma this one is just for you, we couldn’t help but chuckle at that one…

Think you’d like it??

Daily life: Engine work, cooking and relaxing.

It is amazing how your brain doesn’t want to recognize the obvious sometime and let us explain you why!

Here is the illustration; we have had a little bit water… What? Not again? No no, relax; it’s in the engine compartment on the starboard side and only once in a while. And as we are getting ready to go out for a few days, there are things we prepare for and with that said we performed the extra plus super fine engine inspection. I knew that the clamp on the hose from the raw water pump (cooling pump) could be the culprit; hence a good retightening around it but still the leak was there. I tried all the tricks in the book but to no available… Albeit all the evidence in front of me, truly there was traces of corrosion on the pump itself indicating that the rip seal was gone.

Nevertheless my brain was not ready to admit the obvious fact, until finally it clicked! Duh… I had changed the port side in September 2012 and knew the sign. So with not a minute to spare and my assistant mechanic we spent the rest of the day re-building, installing and testing with success the corporate our Raw water pump.

And for this we used the die set I purchased 3 years ago not knowing at the time what for, so next time you are around Canadian Tire and they have one on sale grab It will save you headache at anchor one day.

For Yanmar owner, of course the bearing and oil seal or complete pumps are mandatory part in your stock as a set of mixing elbow. No question asked you will need them sooner than later.



Hey Jose!! Ready to repair my boat, it needs a new side.

No problem let’s do it at anchor it’s cheaper.

Now you have to understand that we are not floating on a flat lake but rather a wavy sea.


 

A mellow day and getting ready for the next leg…

Since we have been back in the water the speed of life has been rather mellow to say the least. Cleaning, looking into the bilge, re-installing the washed curtains, looking in the bilge, re-provisioning, looking in the bilge, a little nap, looking…… You get the picture truly we are getting used to be back in the water again and re-learning how to live on a moving platform with no air conditioning, as strange as it sounds it takes some time to re-adjust. We are back on limited resources with no front door to the street, no air conditioning. It can be a bit of a shock on our bodies after being on the hard for so long, but Letitgo feels home nonetheless and we prefer it that way.

The good news is that we haven’t seen any water back into the bilge and the dinghy is keeping its composure. Admittedly it is not easy to keep our cool and not feel a bit nervous, but we have closed the panel on the bilge and are only looking once a day, we are detoxing slowly. Knowing that the boat is in shape, we now need to get ourselves rested and in the right frame of mind to attempt this 6-9 days passage. We are also waiting for a cruiser to get back from Canada with some goodies. No need to rush Equator will still be here in a week or two.


We have never been big soccer fans but this time around sailing in a Latin country where this sportive event is a big one we couldn’t pass on the offer to go watch it at la Shopette with the local ambiance! We arrived in the last minutes of the game after lunch at our favorite Dim-sum, the last one we promise, we had never thought we would indulge for 3 months in a row when we first arrived…

We also took the luxury of a cab ride to do our last provisioning, this completed the exercise. We are now planning on a mid-week departure; the wind looks good on paper. But first, we still have some coupons for the new Frozen yoghurt place that just opened so relax we need to use those first.


The last minute rush; saying good bye and a big thank you.

 

If you wish to read all the post in chronological order since we locked

this site a month and a half ago,

Here is the place to go

We have been so busy in the last two days that we had no time for picture, there was so much to do and finish up. We did finish the inside waterproofing, we re-installed the fuel tank and learnt that if we sanded the second hull it would be painted as well. (This side note is for our own record, on top of the three layers of west system, we also have 3 layers of Interlux 2000 barrier coat and the boat got re-painted with Hempel Olympic 76600)

Valerie and I spent our spare time cleaning an enormous amount of fiber glass dust and plain grime from 3 weeks in a boat yard. Letitgo is back to be livable and presentable. This morning we orchestrated a full survey for our piece of mind, the surveyor did an excellent job at tapping the hull and found no delamination of pocket of water, deeming the boat seaworthy and in excellent condition.

survey

On a very positive note we need to thank three people in particular Nelson from Sea’s Engines,Mr. Mike McCook US Surveyor and Mr. Alejandro Cora from Quality Yachts.

Even if we experienced problems at first and the repairs were not up to standard, once they decided to make it good they didn’t spare any expense, we were treated like royalty. Mr. Cora had our accommodation taken care of for three weeks and paid for all parts and labor using only the best as specified by the American Surveyor.

Mr. Mike McCook took time from his busy schedule to answer our question for free as our insurance never triggered a claim. As for Nelson and his sons, we can only thank you from the bottom of our heart.

Nelson offered us his calm support when we were at the lowest point of this adventure and enabled a better communication between all parties involved. He also provided a sounding board and gave his very knowledgeable advice on more than his area of speciality. Being an owner of a blistered Tartan back in Venezuela, he knew how to give us the insight we needed for our problem. If you ever are in need of a Mechanic in Panama, we would recommend him fully. His contact are 6841.6035/6880.9306/6881.0638 or by e-mail namm.03@hotmail.com One of his son Marcello speaks perfect English making it that much easier.

As for the Astilleros of the yard, thank you for making us part of the family, for the ones who worked hard on our boat we will keep you in our souvenir box forever. And lastly to our friends in the cruising world, you offered so much kind support and helped us along the way, listened to us, thank you, we made some great friends.

deluge

At the time we were supposed to get back in the water… We got a very powerful storm

Somebody didn’t want us to leave yet?

Flamenco Marina, Fuerte Amador Resort and Marina, Quality Yacht

 

This post was written a month ago, after the second haul out, still valid to this day.

 

After all the recent posts, it is easy to see how little we are impressed by our overall experience with Flamenco Marina officially called “Fuerte Amador resort and Marina” and Quality Yachts” the yard operator. As always in life there are some good sides and some bad ones.

One good thing, we feel we don’t have to worry too much as we might be one of the last sailboat for a while; we were told we were an exception and we feel like these will become rarer.

On that note for the bad side: The setup is rather complex, the government owns the place and built it like a luxury marina modeled after a North American one. They then turned around and gave a management contract to a company, who in turn sub leases the yard part to “Quality Yachts”. This is what 10 days  of talking around with Panamanian captains gets you: local knowledge.

The yard is over booked due to the inability to perform the work in the time frame allotted, we have seen boats that have been around for 3 months when it was supposed to be 1, hence the frustration arising!

One another hand, the travel lift is operated by the Marina itself, you pay it directly to them $738 for Letitgo normally $350-$500. Now, the man in charge of the machine is simply one of the worst employee we have ever witnessed, his level of caring is similar to a teenager in his “me-me” phase and he even has his own “business” of selling pops from his trunk and beers from the back seat taking precedents. For this kind of money you expect some attention to detail and ability to perform the task at hand, out and in without any damage. After our experience we heard from numerous source of major damage done to various boats over the last few years, we are not alone.

Paint removing is included in the price and we will give you something to buff at the same time. These are samples of their ability to do so, it’s all over the hull.

The fuel dock is also operated by the marina, and with that said do not expect to be treated with respect or compassion. You are a complete nuisance, even if water is coming into your boat they will ask you to leave immediately or they will remove your lines off the cleat. The lady in charge is simply over the top rude and has no regards for customer service except if you are one of the slip owners and I still doubt that she would change her attitude as far as becoming pleasant. They ask for a $20 fee for a dinghy landing even if you are going to the yard to review a problem that the travel lift has caused. Truly I think that even a Marine’s training caporal is more pleasant, I decided to call her “The General”!

As for “Quality Yachts”, there is really only one manager a supervisor and 5 employees. The rests are all sub-contractors with various sub-employees, thereby you get the picture: “No it’s not my problem, he did the work not me…” type of scenario; a total fiasco if the manager doesn’t hold its troop. Mr. Alejandro Cora, the owner of “Quality Yachts” at first didn’t want to take responsibility but after few conversations he thankfully turned around and made good on both repairs. Albeit a ding on the pay for his poor sub-contractor who had to work free for three days, needless to say this broke our heart and we decided to compensate him directly as we didn’t find it fair really, especially when we saw him work so hard.

In the end we came back for a third time, and don’t ask “why we didn’t you go to another yard?” There are none, except worse in Vacamonte on the other side of the bay; the other option was a $4000 transit to Colon which was a little expensive and over our budget just to get to Shelter Bay!

These is where the service seemed to be decent. Anyway, at that point Mr. Cora though of his trusted mechanic who also happens to own a sailboat and who had fiberglass problems in the past! We all spent the day to review the problem, and hopefully with the right diagnostic. Why did he not think of him in the first place? We are still pondering!

With all this time at hands we can say that the yard is simply not managed, rather used like a spot to make money… In other words, they try to achieve a maximum occupancy to get the $2.65 a day per foot of storage fee and the 20 30 40 50% mark up on the hard work of the sub-contractor. Any business or enterprise needs to be managed and for this you have to walk the talk, shake hands, get out of your office not just leave when it’s time to go home or a toilet breaks. We know it’s dirty and your fancy shoes will be damaged, but you have to do it for the sake of your customers, employees and your business on the long run.

The place is a dump; there is trash everywhere without any garbage disposal.

Just like a hard drive it’s the image of your mental ability. In other word A MESS.

For the good side:

Some of the sub-contractors here work hard, try hard and have the knowledge; there is a strong sense of team work. But because they are pushed by management to work quickly to get a new boat in, it doesn’t help them perform the work with the best outcome possible.

And normally only the captain is around, the yacht owners have better thing to do than being present and they don’t see what damage is afflicted to their boat or poor workmanship. So, this re-enforces our motto, nobody touches Letitgo if we are not present! In the end though Mr. Cora made good on the repairs, and paid for the second travel lift along with 6 hotel nights to Benjamin’s delight! We must recognize that even if we had to push a little, it could have been worse. Truly they know you are only transient and will leave, you are not going to start legal proceedings; fortunately we have nowhere to be, we are not in any rush and we made sure they knew it. As for the other cruisers who helped us in lending us diesel jerry cans, who offered their mental support and a good laugh, we can only thank you from the bottom of our heart. It all helped us tremendously in this time of needs, and we confirm the cruising community is a tight one! Now let’s resume normal operation, and remember that we were about to become cruisers with a 7-8 days out at sea and get to Equator.

If you have time to loose have a look at this video of the damage and the example of the work ability in the middle of it.

Re-construction done.

This was a long day but productive, we faired the inside using West system thicken with 404 filler and added a last layer of Fab-Mat with the new hook in place. The outside was sealed by three coats of pure epoxy to replace the gel-coat. To add some spice to the mix, we did a full sanding of both hull in preparation of the primer and painting. This experience will stay engraved in our memory for a while as the paint, make you itch like a million mosquito came on you at once. Nothing else to add really just that it`s time to go to bed.

We know you will miss those artistic photo soon.


Not all beers are drunk on a beach with a sunset but that one felt real good.

Oui maman, je me laverai les mains avant diner.

Reading blogs can be a mine of information at your fingertips!

Yes it does help; you gain knowledge and save money, let’s take an example. Our buzzer on the Yanmar control panel was not making any sound anymore, annoying as it’s the alarm for high temp and oil pressure. Having just read that another cruiser (sorry can’t remember who) had replaced the buzzer for close to nothing due to its failure in Asia. My soldering skill are less than adequate and not wanting to burn the very expensive circuit board that it sits on, I got our trusted Nelson to change it for us. Plugged in and we now have the luxury to have two different sounds on start up.

On the more tedious part of the day, we did a large amount of fiber glass laying. Inside and out in two and three episode respectively, we did restore the original level. The day this boat will be demolish somebody is going to have a surprise. This part of the boat is now a solid piece of resin. I know why Lagoon just put some mastic on construction, in the end it is a lot quicker. One more day of work and we will be ready for priming and antifouling paint.

Not to worry you will have one more of those amazing photo tomorrow, when we do the final level and patch.

A thought goes out to the family we met in Tapachula Chiapas Mexico, after the devastating earthquake of this morning. We hope you haven’t sustained too much damage.