03/15/2012, Shelter Bay Marina, Colon, Panama
Estelle on the hard for summer
Well, tomorrow we head for Panama City, then to Naples Florida to visit friends, then... not sure. Our cruise ended a bit unexpectedly, but we now have all "boat stuff" in seeming order, so we're off.
The new engine is on order for delivery in about six weeks, and the old one is ready to come out, probably within a week.
So there's not much left for us to do here. We have been staying at the marina hotel, very comfortable, and between engine ordering details we have been exploring. We rented bikes and drove to Ft San Lorenzo, the first Spanish settlement here. It is in ruins, having been twice attacked and destroyed by English, but is very interesting. It overlooks the mouth of the Chagres River, a beautiful cruising destination. We bypassed it when we came down from Bocas last Dec as it was still the rainy season and it could flood without warning, as there is a dam upstream that is used to control the level in Gatun Lake, part of the Canal.
Maybe next year...
03/06/2012, Maccu Pichu, Peru
At Maccu Pichu
03/01/2012, Puno to Cusco via the Andean Explortr
Desert at Lunch on the train
02/27/2012, Colca Valley, Peru
Pre Incan skull
02/26/2012, Arequipa, Peru
Lunch in Peru
We left Shelter Bay with Estelle high and dry as we decide on our engine problems. Its remove the engine one way or another, either to flush out the clogged oil lines, and reinstall a 25 year old engine, or install a new one. In either case, given the time lines, it looks like Estelle will be in Shelter Bay for the summer. After much dithering, we decided to suspend the discussion, head for Peru for 10 days in which time I can do some engine research, then make a decision when we return.
So on Saturday we flew from Panama City to Peru, landing at Lima to change planes and arrive at our destination, the City of Arequipe, in late afternoon.
Arequipe is Peru's second largest city with a population of 650,000. It was established by pre-Incan Indians, taken by the Incas then by the Spanish who arrived in 1564, establishing it as the regional capital. It is known as the "White City" due to the white stone used for building construction. As with all Spanish cities, it has magnificent churches and a large monastery known as Monosterio de Santa Catalina. It was founded in 1580 by a rich widow. To enter the monistary required money, and lots of it. Traditionaly, the first son in the family inherited the property. The first daughter was married off to an equally (or more so) rich family. The second son and daughter entered the church. The third son entered the military and the third daughter stayed home to look after the aging parents. So there was no shortage of candidates for the monastaries.
The first four years in the monistary were brutal. A vow of silence, with days spent in prayer and sewing for the church. But after four years, things improved. Depending on your family's wealth you had your own house and servants, and entertainment was permitted.
Today it is still an operating monistary. But it is huge, referred to as "a city within a city" with streets and various chapels. Until 1970 it was entirely enclosed to the public and operted much the same as it did when it opened. But now it has a modern monistary where about 100 nuns live and the rest is open for guided tours.
Our tour included a guide Luis and a driver for the van. Luis took us through the city and by the time we were ready to leave, I had seen all the churches I needed to for the day, beautiful as they were.
Our last stop was at the Inca museum where we learned the story of "Juanita" the Ice Maiden. Juanita is on display. Her remains were discovered by accident a few years ago.
The Inca believed that when a volcano began to smoke, it was a sign that the Gods were demanding a sacrifice. Only young children were suitable, and they were chosen at birth from the aristocracy. For the sacrifice, the victim was dressed in the best of ceremonial robes and had to trek, with the priests, to the edge of the volcano. Here the ceremony took place. With a ceremonial drink, which incuded a strong narcotic, the maiden was seated in the Lotus position. Prayers were begun and at some point in the ceremony, a priest bashed the top of her head in. She was then burried with some gifts for the gods, and all would be well, they hoped. Juanita's body remained frozen in her grave at the lip of the volcano until a rock slide caused her to tumbe down into the crater (long extinct). Here she was found by a team of scientists treking on an entirely different mission. Since then, about a dozen more sacrifices have been discovered, all between the ages (estimated) of five and sixteen (Juanita was fourteen).
Before we left Ariquipe, we had lunch...
Peru is noted for its cuisine so Luis took us to a local Peruvian restaurant where we were guided by his suggestions. For Jeannie, a tasting menu that included such delicasys as pickled lambs feet and a sort of quinois with bits of beef stomach. For me, I had fried Cui (guinea pig), a local favorite usually reserved for special occasions. After some trepidation, I tucked in. The meat was like chicken, and amounted to about a small chicken wing. The skin was deep fried and crunchy and made most of the meal. The head I couldn't touch, so after some hesitation, Luis asked if he could have it. I watched in facination as he devowered it, leaving only the eyes. I jokingly asked him why he didn't eat the eyes and he replied that he thought we would be too shocked. I said no problem and with that he gouged them out and poped them in his mouth!
From Aruquepe, we went up into the mountains to the town of Chivay where we arrived as a festival broke into full swing. We watched the ladies dance and parade through the town square until the cold drove us to our hotel.
There are more pics in the photo gallery.
02/23/2012, Shelter Bay Marina, Colon, Panama
Well, we arrived here on Monday after two interesting days in Portobello. In brisk following winds we swept down the 20 miles to Colon, arriving outside the huge breakwater in early afternoon. Getting to the breakwater entrance required manoevuring through a fleet of ships wanting to transit the canal, some at anchor, others underway entering or leaving the hrbor. With the aid of our AIS we could figure out who was anchored and who was underway and in which direction. Taking advantage of a gap in the traffic we slipped into the harbor and across the traffic lanes and over to Shelter Bay Marina.
Here we were guided in to our berth in a marina bustling with boats coming and going, many preparing to transit the canal or having just completed a transit.
We were barely tied up when the boat next to us, from Monteral, saw our Canadian flag and asked about our home port. Learning we were from PEI, we learned we have a very good friend in common, Peter Griesbauer!
They were preparing to transit the canal for a Pacific crossing, and in the two days we were berthed beside them, we quickly became friends. Today we helped them cast off their lines, armed with huge lines and 10 tires (on a 40' boat), the standard fare rented for transiting the canal.
Estelle is now out of the water. We came here for two reasons, to have the engine checked out and to have thhe bottom painted. To do the bottom, we were hauled out, bottom cleaned and ready for paint, but no paint. For the last three days, the supplier has promised delivery, and says it actually was delivered once, but to the wrong person. But the net result is no paint. And we had the engine checked and bad news... no oil pressure. The options for fixing it are remove the engine, dis-assemble and clean the oil lines (plugged when our oil cooler failed in November) and re-install, or replace the engine.
So the short version is, no matter which option we choose, we'll be taking an extended break from cruising. But if we are to have probems in this area, this is the place to have them. Its a first class yard and we have heard lots of reports of satisfied cruisers.
The generator is an other story. In Panama, everything takes four times as much time to do as you would expect. I have made countless calls, sent countless emails, and still nothin definite. But we have more time now, so it may work out.
But tomorrow, we'll take a break from boat issues and head for Peru for 10 days. Then we'll return, make some decisions and move on.
02/18/2012, Portobello, Panama
Coral growing on a sunken coastal trader
Well, we left the San Blas yesterday, taking most of the day to sail 45 miles to Isla Linton where we anchored for the night. Linton is an odd lace. Nothing ashore but a dirty village and one tired bar/restaurant. But there were at least 50 boats there looking like long term residents.
As we sailed out of the San Blas, a large (90') yacht was motoring on a collision course with us, stopping to let us sail across their path with waves from the cockpit. We had seen it anchored with us in a couple of other places. Then they set sail on our course, quickly drawing away from us in the beautiful breeze. We noted the Norwegian flag with the crown in the center. Then today coming in to Portobello, we passed them again as they sailed out in the direction of Colon. Last night (with excellent internet) Jennie found the flag on line... the flag of the Royal Family of Norway. The king is a former olympic sailor and the Crown Prince is also an enthusiastic sailor. We're not sure who was on board, but we choose to believe it was the Crown Prince waving.
Today we had another beautiful sail, just 12 miles from Linton to Portobello in 12-16 knot winds on the beam. Today is part of carnival so we'll head ashore to check it out. Tuesday is the end.
We'll also check out the three forts, ruins from the days of the Spanish treasure ships. Portobello was discovered by Columbus on November 2, 1502 during his fourth trip. It was chosen at the Caribbean trans-shipment port for the gold and silver. Between 1574 and 1702, firty-five fleets of galleons sailed from Portobello for Spain, each carrying not less than thirty million pesos worth of treasure.
The ruins of the forts remain, and we'll check them out. It is also believed that Sir Francis Drake's ship, containing his body is located in the harbour. Drake and Captain Hawkings (with Queen Elizabeth I's blessing) spent a good many years looting the looters. But today all that is long past and all that remains is a small sleepy village with two small tiendas, and a couple of bars.
We're here until Monday when we head for Colon and Shelter Bay Marina where we'll have the engine looked at and the boat hauled for painting the bottom.
02/13/2012, Salardup, Kuna Yale, Panama
Somehow I have managed to be delinquent and have not posted a blog for some time. But we've been busy... for a good part of the time trying to find food. Not very easy to find at the best of times, there was a protest in Panama City that blocked all food shipments for about 10 days, so that the village "tiendas" were pretty much empty. We have been wandering through the islands enjoying snorkeling, beach walking and talking with the natives. Somehow we seem to have gotten to know more of them than other cruisers.
From Isla Gerti, we tired of the 18-22 knot winds and headed for nearby Bahia Nalia, Here we found welcome relief in a quiet mangrove-lined anchorage... until dusk and the no-see-ems descended. We dove below and next morning were off early to the nearby village of Wichubhuala where we found one onion, two tomatoes, two potatoes and all the beer you could ever want.
Then to the West Lemmons, anchoring in the lee of Naguarchirdup, site of the only internet access in Kuna Yale, and a bar where we met a few fellow cruisers. From there off to Waisaladup with excellent snorkeling. Here we had the anchorage to ourselves until Le Levant, a small cruise ship dumped 150 people on the tiny beach complete with beach umbrellas and portable bar. But they only stayed a few hours.
On the unusually crowded beach, we chatted with Salar (Chief) Julio who was looking a bit lost in the crowd. He recognized us from taking his son to the dentist in Nargana a few weeks ago and seemed delighted to see a friendly face. From here, we sailed to Salardup, the most beautiful anchorage yet, surrounded by a ring of six palm covered cays. We'll stay here for a few days.
Now to boat problems... The engine is still acting up. Last week I filled the bilge with oil, owing to a leak at the oil pressuer sender. After some quality time in the engine room on my stomach across the engine, I found the oil pressure sender loose. Tightening that seems to have done the trick.
But now, when warm, the low oil pressure alarm goes off. I am almost certain it is a faulty sender, caused by our oil cooler leak last fall. That let coolant into the oil, and Westerbeke says that that will usually bake the sender. But if not, big problem. So I need it checked by a mechanic with a pressure gauge.
And the bottom is a mess. If an environmentalist saw it, they would try to get it designated as a marine botanical garden. So I have been spending an hour or so a day cleaning with mask & snorkel, but making only slow progress. And last night, the generator failed, so I spent the morning replacing the raw water impeller and cleaning the water intake from fantastic looking creatures.
Since we have to travel to Colon (about 100 miles west) we decided to have the boat hauled at Shelter Bay Marina and get the bottom cleaned and painted. Locating paint has been a 4 day project, but I think I am on the verge of success. And I am trying to get a mechanic from a Mastervolt (our generator) dealer to look at the generator at the same time. It has major governor problems. It will be a miracle if I can co-ordinate it all, but I'm trying, using our super- cheap cell phone service.
And speaking of our cell phone, we have learned how to use it to get on the internet. So far, we have been using it only in remote areas with weak coverage, and very slow response, but it does improve things.
And the last of the news is we have decided to take a trip to Peru when the boat is out of the water next week. It will be out for a week, so we'll do some off-boat touring including Machu Pichu and all Peru's finest in a 10 day trip! So Friday we'll head back west, taking a few days, stopping at some places we passed on our trip down in November.