s/v Always & All Ways

08 April 2018 | Escudo de Veraguas
06 April 2018 | Narranja Abajo
04 April 2018 | Shelter Bay Marina
02 April 2018 | Shelter Bay Marina
30 March 2018 | Shelter Bay Marina
26 March 2018 | Shelter Bay Marina
23 March 2018 | Shelter Bay Marina
22 March 2018 | Shelter Bay Marina
21 March 2018 | Rio Chagres
20 March 2018 | Rio Chagres
19 March 2018 | Rio Chagres
18 March 2018 | Punta Limon
17 March 2018 | Euero, on the Mosquito coast of Panama
16 March 2018 | Escuda de Veraguas
15 March 2018 | Escuda de Veraguas
14 March 2018 | Escuda de Veraguas
13 March 2018 | Escuda de Veraguas
12 March 2018 | Zapatilla Cays
08 March 2018 | Discovery Bay
05 March 2018 | Narranja Abajo

A Beautiful Day (and Night) at Sea

08 April 2018 | Escudo de Veraguas
Mark
Yesterday dawned calm and windless, just like Friday. We did not hurry, but got underway by 9:00 expecting the sea breeze to fill in by mid-morning. The first order of business was to re-calibrate Otto now that he has two rudders to work with. This was easily done by motoring in the flat water and pressing "Auto-learn". Otto steered back and forth until he understood exactly how much rudder needed to be applied for how much turn. Hit "Save" and it is done. Next was to cross the Atlantic Anchorage for the Panama Canal. The wind was only 5-8 kts, but was from the N and we were headed W to cross the anchorage most efficiently so raising the sails gave us about a knot more speed than without them. Since we were motor-sailing, I could easily vary our speed by controlling the speed of the engine (running only starboard engine to balance the starboard tack of the sails). Because we were motor-sailing, we had no special privileges. Had we been just under sail, we would have had right of way over motor vessels. However, when the "other vessel" is 991' long 150' wide, and her deck is twice as high as my mast, "Right of Way" becomes a realtive term. I gladly altered my speed to avoid any near approaches. Most of the boats were anchored and therefore only "dangerous targets" to the AIS which only considers closng speed, not who is or isn't moving. Several, however, including one of the "new Panamax" conatiner ships mentioned above, were underway and required my at least being aware of their speed (usually 26+ kts) versus mine. It took about two hours to totally cross the anchorage, but we made it without incident. By the time we passed the last ship (all the explosive LNG tankers etc. are placed at the extreme W edge of the anchorage so we went by them last.), the wind had filled in to 10-15kts so we could shut down the engine and just sail. When we replaced equipment after the lightening strike, I upgraded Otto to a newer model, and is he ever smart! He can hold a constant heading, he can follow a track keeping within about 48' on either side, he can even sail to the wind keeping the sails always at the same angle to the wind. That is what we used most of the day. I got us on course for Escudo (well, really Otto did) and then I trimmed the sails as closely as I could for that point of sail (about 78* starboard tack) and then I told Otto to keep that angle. He did a great job. Later in the day, when the wind suddenly shifted ~90*, he alerted me and allowed me to reset the sails on a new tack and then maintained that one. Really a great crew member and one I would not be without! I expected the wind to die with nightfall as it was mostly an adabiatic sea breeze, but instead it picked up. Our speed went from 4-5 kts. to 7-8 kts. and held much steadier than it had been all day. Great. That means we will arrive before dawn, but we've been there many times and have good waypoints so that is fine. The seas remained totally flat - like swells of 1-2' and not a white cap in sight. By midnight, the wind really did die. We motor-sailed for a while as the angle of the remaining wind was still good for a fraction of a knot and then it totally went away and we dropped sails and just motored. Now our ETA is about dawn. By 04:00, the wind returned - 16 kts. @ 30*P. Of course our speed was making some of that, but surely enough to put the main back up, so I did. It didn't really last and by the time we reached our "safety" waypoint off the tip of the island, it was back down to 5-6 kts. We dropped sails and motored in. At first it looked like another sailboat was anchored in "our" spot. It turned out as we got closer that he was quite a ways away so we were able to go back to exactly the same spot as we had anchored before to drop anchor. With so little wind, I set the anchor by backing on it with the engives. By the time we added the kellet and bridle, we were sitting directly over the anchor and the chain looped out and back to the kellet which was also buried and effectively serving as our anchor. The rest is just in case the wind pipes up. Exhausted, we went to bed after a toast to Neptune for safe and very easy voyage. We'll stay here a few days before returning home to Discovery Bay. Oh, and by the time we had inished breakfast (~10:30) the other boat left, so we have this beautiful place all to ourselves.

Just What the Doctor Ordered.

06 April 2018 | Narranja Abajo
Mark
Today was just what we needed. The morning dawned with a glassy sea and hardly a breath of breeze. As the day went on the breeze built - mostly adabiatic from the intense sun on the mainland. By afternoon we had a good 15+ kts of sea breeze - very comfortable. In the morning, I took Goldie to shore in the dinghy which she greatly appreciated. We beeched dink on a spit of sand and then I tied Goldie off the the dink's painter so she quite a good distance to roam. I went into the shallow water and just enjoyed its washing over me. To my surprise, Goldie actually waded out into the water to see me. After a nice leisurely swim and stroll on the beech, we returned to Always. Deb was reading and doing Sadoku. After lunch all 3 of us returned to the little beech. I tried snorkeling some small patch reef nearby, but the visibility was poor due to stirred up sand and the coral was not all that great. Lots of reef fish however. Once again Goldie walked out into the water where Deb & I were laying. I'll bet we get her swimming this summer. Riding back to the boat, she had to perch on the bow and lean into the breeze. She is becoming quite a dnghy dog. After a little more reading and relaxing, it was time for cocktails which I will make in a few moments. After that, we will have lobster to celebrate (a couple days late) the 27th anniversary of our engagement. Not a bad way to do it.

In the water, but still waiting

04 April 2018 | Shelter Bay Marina
Mark
Monday we spent the day sanding the Coppercoat - and just barely finished by dark. We were both totally exhausted. Didn't even want dinner. Margaritas, chips and salsa, bed. Yesterday we were scheduled to launch @ 8:00. In the slip we would re-attach sails and get everything ready to go. Except we didn't launch @ 8:00, or @ 9:00. Several other boats went first. Oh well, I re-attached all the sails and straightened out all the lines while we were waiting. We finally launched after lunch. Quickly I ran down and checked the new paddle wheel I had installed (to measure speed through water) and not a drop leaking in. I started the starboard engine, but the port refused to start. Long story short, the starter motor had broken - actually fractured the cone and jammed. Victor said we were the last boat to launch that day anyway, so we could just stay there until we got things fixed. However, at 4:00, John - the dock manager - showed up all upset saying we had to get out of there immediately as there was a barge coming in. They hooked up dinghies fore and aft and pulled/pushed us out of the travelift bay and onto a dock. It was a real thrash. And no barge ever showed up. I think John just didn't want us in the travelift bay. Not that we minded. The dock is much nicer and we have a great breeze, water and electricity.

Now about getting a new starter. First I tried repairing the nose cone with JB Weld. I didn't really expect it to work, but I've seen some amazing repairs with JB. It held for exactly 1 start. Fortunately, after 1 success, I shut it down and tried again instead of waiting until tomorrow AM when we wanted to leave. Well, Steve (from Red Frog) had a bunch of spares on one of the boats he cared for including several starters, but none were the right size. Edwin said he would check with TESA in Panama City and could get it in tomorrow if they had one. They didn't. He recommended ordering from Amazon or eBay and shipping expedited. The shortest time frame I could get was at least a week (@ $60+/day in the marina!) Finally, this morning, on-line, I found one in Panama City. The price was more than double Amazon and getting it here would be another $120, but it looked like the right one and Luis (our savior again!) was available to get it and bring it here. Maybe we will get out of here tomorrow.

Then the phones went down. No What's App, no voice calls, no texting. Nada. I used the marina office's phone and got Luis' voice mail to tell him what was happening. Hopefully he will just carry on and show up with the starter sometime this afternoon. If he doesn't.....???

April Fool

02 April 2018 | Shelter Bay Marina
Mark
Sunday, Easter, April Fool's Day, the day we were to replace the rigging while the mast was standing. Wrong. The good news: no one got hurt; we didn't break anything; we didn't spend $700 on the crane. The bad news: the rigging is all wrong. To begin, Steve from Cinnamon Girl showed up ~9:00 to get the job done. He had done several cats with the mast up and was not at all intimidated by the task. We decided to do the forestay first since, with the roller furler, it would be the hardest. First, we secured the genoa halyard to the cross beam and tensioned it as the temporary forestay. Then, we slacked the two shrouds by 10 threads each and pulled the mast forward with the temporary genoa halyard/forestay. This slacked the real forestay to the point where we could (with some difficulty) remove the bolt securing it to the cross beam. Once it was free, Steve went up the mast and, after securing the top of the forestay to the spinnaker halyard, removed the top pin setting it free. We then lowered the spinnaker halyard and fed the roller furler/forestay off the boat. Deb caught the drum as it went down and then Steve went down and helped her as I lowered the whole thing to the ground. It went smoothly.

Then the problems began. The Facnor furler was very skinny (which is good aerodynamically) but it had no turn buckle and no room for one. The forestay length was fixed. Neither Steve nor I had seen this before. From a manufacturer's point of view it made some sense. With a fixed forestay, the rake was fixed and the owner could not "adjust" the rake thus screwing up the handling of the boat. Of course, the replacement had a turn buckle - one that would never fit in the furler. Also, the eye in the top was 7/8" and the pin of the old one (and thus the tang on the mast) was 20mm (~3/4"). That would not work and turned out to be true for both the shrouds as well.You cannot put a 3/4" pin in a 7/8" eye as it creates point loading which is not good. Then I got an idea: a machinist could make a bushing 7/8" OD, 20mm ID, and ~1/4" long. That would allow me to use the current replacements with the 20mm pin. Much better than redoing everything (at $$$$). Except for the forestay. I could use the current swaged eye, with a bushing, for the bottom, but I'd have to get a new Sta-Lock top with an eye with pressed in pin and a 'U' toggle. That would work. Tomorrow, I'll contact Kiwi Dave in Bocas and see if he can make the bushings. Then I'll contact NE Rigging to get the Sta-Lock (and return the parts I cannot use). And since Steve is at Red Frog Marina, he can come over to our dock and we can do all the work there where it is nice and calm. At least it is a plan.

But for now we needed to get everything back together. Which went fairly well. It was basically the reverse of taking it down: raise the forestay/furler with the spinnaker halyard, attach the bottom, tension it, attache the top, slack the genoa halyard/ temp forestay, and re-tension the shrouds. All went fairly well.

So we are back where we started. Today I will finish sanding the Coppercoat touch up and Tuesday AM we will launch. We will need to spend a day in the slip to reattach sails and all that, but then we can be off. Too late to go to the San Blas, but we can enjoy a couple of other islands on our way back to Bocas.

I guess the day was not a total loss, but it sure felt like it at the time.

Life is hard on the hard

30 March 2018 | Shelter Bay Marina
Mark
As I mentioned in an earlier post, the initial days on the hard were very productive. Not so recently. The crane still isn't fixed and with Samana Santa not much has happened at all this week. Things should improve in that respect on Monday. However, yesterday I discovered a new problem. The rigger who was supposed to help me has left for 3 weeks! Apparently he and Edwin were not in communication. Before he left, he did give me the name of anther rigger in Panama City who should be able to help - but who knows when? As I was bemoaning my situation, the fellow on the boat next to us (who it turns out is the yard manager at Red Frog Marina in Bocas) said, "Why not just do it standing, one at a time?" Now several people had suggested this, but since I had to haul anyway to replace the saildrive seals, it made more sense to do it with the mast down as it would be faster and easier, but now....  Well, he has done several boats with the masts up and I even got to talk with someone whose boat he did and they were very positive. Steve (his name) is currently here working on a client's boat - a big Cantana - but said he can do my rigging on Sunday, his day off. I'm a bit skeptical we can do it all in one day, but we'll jump off that bridge when we get to it.

We did get the new rudder in. And Deb & I got everything hooked back up. Then we sanded the new rudder and several spots on the hulls that need touch-up. So today we put the coppercoat on the new rudder and touch up spots on the hull, Sat. there shouldn't be much to do and Sunday we do the rigging (finally!)
Vessel Name: Always & All Ways
Vessel Make/Model: Fountaine-Pajot Belize 43
Hailing Port: Hancock, NH, USA
Crew: Mark & Deb Parker
About: Mark, an ER doc, retired 10/08 to become a sea gypsy. Deb, an educator, has been retired since 5/07 and was equally anxious to leave the cold of New England far behind
Extra: We now have a hurricane season home in Bocas del Toro, Panama. We still plan on spending many months cruising every year.
Always & All Ways's Photos - Main
In the Spring of 2016, we sailed from Bocas del Toro, Panama, to Cuba and back with stops at the Albuquerque Cays, Providencia, and the Cayman Islands. We cruised the South coast of Cuba some and then left the boat for some inland excursions.
20 Photos
Created 8 March 2018
Cruise of Albuquerque Cays and Providencia, Columbia
19 Photos
Created 12 June 2013
Pictures from our 2012 cruise from Bocas del Toro, Panama, to the Bay Islands of Honduras and back. Posted each time we have internet
2 Photos | 7 Sub-Albums
Created 28 March 2012
Pictures of our home at Discovery Bay, Isla Solarte, Bocas del Toro, Panama. More (older) can be found in Discovery Bay album.
49 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 5 August 2010
Pictures of our recent trip to the San Blas Islands of Panama with friends Ron & Cynde
58 Photos | 3 Sub-Albums
Created 29 April 2010
Pics from the month we spent at some of the out of the way places in the Bahamas, May 2009.
39 Photos
Created 22 June 2009
Birds, animals, etc. that we have seen along the way
14 Photos
Created 11 April 2009
Pictures of some of the improvements we have made over the past few months
37 Photos
Created 11 April 2009
Pictures from Rio Dulce
20 Photos
Created 11 April 2009
Pictures from our travels
29 Photos
Created 11 April 2009