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s/v Always & All Ways
Brief Update
06/23/2013, San Andres, Columbia

Friday I pulled the starter out and had it looked at by a mechanic who confirmed it was dead beyond repair. Unfortunately there are no replacement ones available on the island. Getting one here would be ridiculously expensive (like $450 US) and take up to 10 days. So, we will be a sailboat with one engine. It will make low speed maneuvering a bit more difficult, but the only major problem I foresee will be when we arrive home at Discovery Bay and need to tie up to the dock. Then we can launch dinghy and use him as a tug and will also have friends to catch lines, etc. Should be OK. Dave & Lisa arrive without problems early Saturday AM. After getting some sleep, we did some provisioning, some shopping, and had a nice dinner at Regatta. We ot our Zarpe for Bocas and got our passports stamped out of Columbia. Sunday morning we will head for Este Sud este to do some diving.

Wow! What a Ride.
06/21/2013, San Andres, Columbia

At 0530 on Thursday morning we were getting a squall with wind and rain, so I made coffee and got the boat ready to go assuming it would be short lived like most of them. It was and we weighed anchor (with double reefed main up and both engines running) at 0615 and headed out of the harbor. Leaving the harbor involved gybing the main which we did very calmly despite the continuing 25 kt winds. We ran out the channel under main only with engines at idle - just in case. Once we passed the clear water mark and were immediately off soundings, we turned, gybing again, and headed for San Andres. We had just unfurled about 75% of gennie and gotten the sails both trimmed well when the wind hit 30 kts. The boat fairly leaped ahead and the knot meter showed 15.7 as we surfed down a wave. Fortunately the wind did not stay at 30, but it WAS in the upper 20's for much of the day. At that point were running at about 120* apparent, and we were cruising along at 8-9 knots quite comfortably so the apparent wind was in the low to mid 20's.. When we cleared the lee of Providencia, the wind shifted more abeam and the waves grew. We were seeing 10-12 footers quite regularly. Still our boat speed stayed around 8 kts and Auto (who had thankfully agreed to work!) did a great job of steering. We caught a couple of brief squalls but generally sailed in the sun with lots of big clouds all around many providing extra gusts of wind. As we could just see San Andres on the horizon, the wind finally fell to high teens to twenties and I shook our the second reef. By now the apparent wind was up to 70* and the boat handled much better with more main. We stayed in 7 kts range. Approaching San Andres from the NE is a bit tricky. It is a 3+ nm long, well buoyed channel protected by a barrier reef, but I remembered that the reef was actually a bit further E than shown on the chart. Since the water goes from off soundings to 150' to dry reef in only a few boat lengths and since we were sailing down the outside of the reef (it being to our lee), it made me nervous. Then there was the issue that the wrecked freighter was not where it was shown on the chart. When we were abeam of the wreck, the chart showed it still ~1 nm ahead of us. Fortunately the day was clear and it was only 1400 so the reef was VERY obvious and easy to avoid. It turns out that this particular wreck (there are many) is newer then the chart and the wreck on the chart has broken up and disappeared. Trusting our waypoints but keeping a sharp eye out, we sailed to the entrance marker where we dropped sail and motored in. I called the port captain and in my best Spanish announced our arrival from Providencia. He said he would look for us. The channel was no problem. We got up to Nene's marina and anchored amidst a fleet of local fishing boats. We had come 72 nm with an average speed of just over 8 kts. When Deb & I were both comfortable that the anchor was set, I shut down the engines. Except the port engine didn't shut down. I pulled the kill cable but no low oil pressure alarm (which usually indicates the engine has stopped). I went to check and sure enough it was still turning over, but it didn't sound right and smoke was billowing up from the engine bay. I quickly turned off the switch that cut all electricity to the engine and it stopped. (Normally turning off a diesel with the key will NOT stop it. They do not need electricity to run.) I grabbed a fire extinguisher and watched and waited. Slowly the smoke cleared. No fire. It smelled electrical. I turned the power switch back on and immediately heard the starter try to start the engine so I turned it off. Long story short, the relay that I replaced after arriving in Providencia had stuck 'ON' causing the starter to be engage the entire half hour we were motoring up the channel. It sounds like the starter is toast. They tell me there is a good Yanmar mechanic on the island so we will see on Friday. Hopefully I can get a new one and a new relay. We cleared in with Renne, no problem. He even took my new crew list (with Dave & Lisa) and said he would prepare our zarpe for Sunday. All I have to do is see him Saturday @ 5:00 with all 4 passports and we are done. Couldn't have been easier. Mr. Nene was not around so I will have to see him Friday morning about the mechanic and also arrangements for meeting Dave & Lisa. He told Dave on the phone that his man could pick them up at the airport and bring them to the marina cheaper and easier then a taxi. Then they can get right to the boat.

A Fantastic Day.
06/19/2013, Proividencia, Columbia

I woke up Wednesday morning feeling much better. We had mangoes and dulce de leche turnovers for breakfast. After breakfast we decided to try going for a hookah even though the wind was still blowing in the 20's. We had seen some deep coral off Morgan's Head previously and that seemed a good possibility. We anchored closer to shore but up wind and planned the dive to be mostly with the wind/current angling in to shallow and protected water before returning to dink. We swam across turtle grass to the first mass of coral. It rose from ~25' of water to near the surface. We worked our way around it clockwise. As before, the coral formations were great - lots of crevices and caves. I could have swum into some but my hose would have hung up. On the other hand, the entrance was too narrow to have admitted a diver with a tank. Lots of great fish. At one point we encountered a very curious angel fish. I floated motionless and he approached me. At one point he actually bumped my mask with his lips. Another time he swam under me swimming only 3-4" below my abdomen. Really an incredible encounter. The coral masses were in ridges separated by sand and got progressively deeper maxing out at about 35'. Each mass was an amazing configuration and the fish were fantastic. We spent nearly two hours before reluctantly returning to dink. Back at the boat, my bread had risen to perfection. I punched it down and formed it into loaves to bake. Mr. Bush called on the VHF to say our zarpe was ready. After lunch I went in to town to get the zarpe and found lots of really nice limes, peppers, onions and even an eggplant. I also got the SIM card for the modem recharged for another week. Back at the boat, I baked the bread and made corn tortilla chips and conch salad. Around 4:00 Laura from Nilaya and Kenia, Orealis' sister whom we had met Sunday, came to the boat to paint. Kenia was new to water color (she had done very nice work in acrylic) and we all had a good time. By 6:00, Jim and Orville showed up and we all enjoyed drink, conch salad, and cheese and crackers. Everyone liked my mojitos and Orealis really liked my home brew beer. It was 9:30 by the time they all left. They were headed to town for more Carnival fun, but we decided on an early bed as we need to get underway early tomorrow for San Andres. It really was a nice a day as anyone could ask for. It was so nice to be able to share our boat with those we have come to love as family.

A Nearly Lost Day.
06/19/2013, Proividencia, Columbia

I woke up with an odd pain in my lower abdomen Tuesday morning. I thought maybe it was the jalepinos reminding me that I had over indulged in them, but using the head did not help. Coffee didn't help. It wasn't really getting worse, but it surely was not better. What was it? I ate a lot of different foods Sunday, but so did everyone else and usually my system works faster than that if something I ate is going to bother. Deb ate the same as I did - though fewer jalepinos - and she was fine. I looked through our med kit and ended up deciding on Phenergan as the most likely to help. I took that and promptly fell asleep for a couple hours. (Phenergan does that.) When I woke up, I was some better, but not 100%. It was a beautiful day - sunny with puffy clouds - but the wind was still near 20 kts. I wasn't up for much anyway, but I did want to go on the medicinal plant tour @ 4:00. Deb said she did not want to go and didn't think I should try to. I said I was going. So we both went. And had a good time. We visited three fincas, but one was not home. At the first, Miss Josephina proudly showed us around her garden explaining the preparation and use of each plant. The lot was maybe a quarter acre at most and her hous was tiny, but neatly kept. The plants occupied far more space than the house. She gave Deb a couple of plants that she wanted to grow in Bocas. About half way through the tour, I felt worse and had to sit down. Deb was probably right that I shouldn't have come, but I wanted to and was glad we did as she was having a great time as I knew she would. After thanking Miss Josefina, we all (there were 8 of us - from 4 boats) piled back into the pick- up/taxi and went to the next finca, but the owner was not there. The last finca was the largest on the island and Miss Teresa (who looked to be well older than me) maintained it all herself. After the road became a 4WD track we walked up, across a dry river bed, and into her finca. There were a multitude of huge mango trees, all heavily laden but not ripe yet. She had lots of yucca, many pineapple, and many citrus trees. She stopped at the bittersweet tree and pick some fruits that looked like green oranges and had us try them. She said it ws very good for the blood. The flesh was bright orange and had an intense bitter sweet taste. I loved it. Not knowing any better, I sucked the juice out of the rind on the second half and soon my lips were burning. Miss Teresa said it was the skin. "The skin burn you. You have to peel it like I say and just eat the pulp." Lesson learned. The strange thing was that in only 5-10 minutes, my belly felt better. At the top of the finca (it was a fairly long but gradual climb through the finca.) was her house and medicinal plants. Many were the same, but some were different and again Deb ended up with a plant and some cuttings. Back in town everything was cranking up for Carnival. They were erecting a huge tent on the plaza where the dinghy dock is with miles of speakers and amplifiers. It will probably be too load even back atour boat. The CArnival queens (all between 13-15) were strutting their stuff and the minute they saw a camera went into "the pose." Orealis says that the whole Carnival queen thing has become so sexual that soon after Carnival, most of the contestants have "big belly." Lots of kids having kids around, but not so many fathers. Young boys (and a few girls) were racing around on motor bikes. For Carnival they remove the mufflers so the racket is deafening. And walking is hazardous. We went to the market that sold Bush Rum (a locally made rum) and got the last bottle along with a bottle of Aquardiente, the liquor we had had at Jim's party. The bakery was still open so we got pastries for the morning as well. Back at the boat, I was actually hungry and made fritata for dinner which tasted great. Hopefully this is over and Wednesday will be fine.

06/18/2013, Proividencia, Columbia

The wind had been fairly calm (~10 kts) when we went to bed Sunday. I awakened about 5:00 to hear it howling (30 kts, it turned out to be). I checked out our berth's port and we seemed to be in the same place. When I got up at 6:30, I found how wrong I was! We had dragged at least 100 yds and were now beyond the point of Santa Catalina where the Virgin Mary sits. We were also in 18' of water. If we dragged in 8', we will surely drag worse in 18.' I started the engines to reposition. Actually I started the Starboard engine, the Port refused to turn over. We had had this problem before, but I put in a new solenoid and I thought that had been a permanent cure. Not so. I was worried about maneuverability with only one engine but didn't want to take the time to fuss with the port engine just then. Deb got up at the sound of the engine and began weighing anchor as I motored into the wind - now about 25 kts. With only one engine at full rpm, we barely moved forward. Without the new prop, I'm not sure we would have. We got the bridle, then the kellet, and finally the anchor up without incident. Then we motored slowly in towards the dock. We came up near Nilaya, much closer than we had been before, hoping the holding might be better (They had not seemed to move.) and that there would be less fetch for the waves to build. We anchored in 7' and put out 150'. It caught immediately and hard. I zoomed in the chart plotter to 1/32 nm and watched us move side to side with the wind, but not backward. OK, we are set now, add the kellet, then the bridle and we should be OK. But I set the anchor alarm on the GPS just in case and left it on. Over the next several hours we moved in a random pattern covering an area about 30' in diameter - less than a boat length and repeated the pattern over and over. I guess we are set. The wind remained in the 20's all day with higher gusts. No hookah today. Jim & Laura came by in their dinghy around 10:00. Everyday they walk for exercise up to Morgan's Head and then to the cannon on the other end of the island and back. It turns out there are a few mango trees up near Morgan's Head so they always pick up a few. They were getting overstocked, so today they brought us a bag. We chatted briefly and agreed it was a day to stay on board and do boat things. Of course the first thing I had to do was deal with the port engine. I removed each terminal from the solenoid in turn, cleaned and WD-40-ed it, and reattached it. It did nothing. So I replaced the solenoid with a spare. Worked first try. Now that solenoid I replaced was itself a replacement less than a year ago. Why is it going through solenoids so fast when the other engine (as far as I know) still has the original. When we get back to Bocas I'll test this one and see what I can find. Regardless, I'll buy some more in August. That problem solved, I decided to spend much of the day painting. I am currently fascinated with water - from ripples on the surface to pounding waves - and I have several different paintings that I am working on that explore one or another of these aspects. Today I worked on a painting of a cute girl sitting on the beach at Red Frog with the water just covering the sand around her and creating tiny waves as it recedes; a picture of Lucas body surfing and about to be engulfed by a huge wave (also from Red Frog); and a picture of the point at Red Frog (not Punta Lava, the other one to the W whose name I do not know) with lots of pounding surf. Maybe I'll call it the Red Frog series! I also started a harbor scene from San Andres with shrimp boats moored by the water's edge and a picturesque grouping of houses up on the hill in the background. This also will give me a chance to explore clouds some more - my other favorite. The weather was pleasant - blue skies and no rain - except for the 20 kt winds. I was able to work in the cockpit, but I had to tape my reference photos to the table. The grib files look like we are in for more of the same all week. There is a tropical wave close to out N. At least we aren't getting a lot of rain as well. Tuesday I have to start the process of getting a zarpe to San Andres and then in the afternoon, Orville is going to take us to visit a couple farms where they raise medicinal plants. Should be fun.

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