Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Living on the Hard

The first steps on a boat that has been sitting for six months could be chocking. Especially when you left your boat in the water and the marina hauled it out as one the first boats ever hauled out. When I returned to the marina, ten days ago, at 9:30pm, I stepped into a flooded cabin. The batteries were dried and shut, as a result, the bilge pump stop working and rainwater down the mast and other leaks flooded the inside of the boat. Luckily, the water was lower than the engine. I was pumping out water and cleaning till early morning hours.
Turtle Cay Boat Yard
The way it seems, Earthling will remain on land for at least 3 more weeks. Turtle Cay Marina has a beautiful boatlift, that is not working, it never has been working in this marina. They must order a crane to come in and put the boats in the water. This is a new marina, remote from anywhere. Closest village is down the curvy dirt road in the rainforest to the main road, and then another ten minutes drive to Nombre De Dios. The first big city, for provisioning and boat parts is Colon. You can take a chicken bus from Nombre De Dios to Colon, but you might sit next to passengers that are holding a chicken on their lap! It makes it all more adventures. Finding boat parts in Panama is not as easy as walking into a major chandlery in the U.S. Even though there are a few chandleries, but if they don’t carry what you looking for, you can’t really order it either! You have to search to find things! That requires going to Panama City, which is 2-3hrs drive from the marina. The best option for me was to rent a car from the airport and gather supplies and do a major provisioning. Otherwise, things would have taken much longer time. I purchased "Petit Trinidad" antifouling paint, but they didn’t have it in red so I had to buy it in black at the highest price ever. After a few days of searching, I found good deals on 4DM batteries, but I still haven’t been able to find fuel filters!
Settled Base 
There is a list of projects that I hope to accomplish before start cruising again. 
The list is long and it goes by priority. Before getting launched, everything below has to be done, such as getting the bottom ready for paint. Which includes scraping off the barnacle shells and lightly sand the hull. The keel has to be faired, since we hit reefs in Kuna Yala. A friend of mine lost his boat 3 weeks ago on a reef in San Blas. The Garmin charts are "off" in this area and sailors must keep a careful outlook. In our case we were lucky! Furthermore, two stern through-hulls leak and must be re-caulked. The propeller and shaft have to be cleaned and new zinc put on. Then everything is ready to apply the bottom paint. After that, the top of the hull needs to be polished and waxed. 
Priority number two is to service the engine, which includes changing fuel filters, oil filter, and oil. I must also take apart and clean the starter from rust debris. In addition, the starter solenoid must be replaced since we’ve experienced difficulties starting the engine before. Also, the auto syphon must be inspected since it sprays out too much water.
The next priority is to recaulk the stanchions and shroud fittings, a job that needs four hands! And then there are zillions of other small things to do. This part of "Cruising Life Style" is not as pretty as it looks on the pictures of white sandy beaches with palm trees. But I have to admit, this marina’s location is just like heaven, there are two long beautiful beaches just by here and there are monkey families living up the trees not far from the boat. It’s as isolated as it can get on a deserted Island. 

The tent is setup and utilized as storage area, last time we used it in Barbuda

Love from Turtle Cay Marina in Panama