A weekend walkabout
19 April 2021 | 09 22.025'N:79 56.642'W, Shelter Bay Marina, Cristobel, Panama
17th & 18th April
09 22. 025 N
79 56.642 W
Weather; hot and humid with occasional showers, wind n/a, waves n/a
I blinked and the weekend was gone! I had meant to write this yesterday but lethargy got the better of me. This sitting around waiting for parts to arrive is most frustrating and it doesn't help that we are a long way from anywhere that might be worth visiting. We looked at the cost of a taxi to take us into Colon city, it was going to be $100 and if the city is anything like the last time we visited it would be a waste of money as there really isn't much to see or do there, so for the time being we aren't even considering doing it.
As it was raining on and off for all of Saturday we were pretty much confined to the interior of the boat which gave Gerry the chance to change out the impeller on the main engine, this was the first time that he had done this since the engine was rebuilt about 5 years ago. Gerry had done a test run of the engine and thought that the water flow was reduced so he decided that the time had come to change it out. For us that are not mechanically minded or inclined Gerry tells me that the impeller is an integral part of the raw water-cooling pump, which pumps sea water through the engine and transmission oil coolers and the main engine heat exchanger to keep everything cool. It sits in a bronze housing bolted on to the side of the engine and our access point is at the front of the engine bay, underneath the companionway steps. Anyway the spare impeller was located and a variety of tools dug out and strewn across the cabin floor, the companionway steps were removed and the engine bay door opened up the old impeller was removed and compared to the new spare - it appeared to have worn at the edges but wasn't a total disaster - we have previously seen impellers that have shredded the blades and sheered them off completely, we were nowhere near this stage. The hardest part was yet to come - getting the new impeller to fit into the housing, it was a tight fit which wasn't easily achieved with the blades in their spread-out position. Gerry thought that he could cable tie around the blades, pushing them all in one direction to reduce the diameter of the impeller until it was fitted in the housing and then he would cut the cable tie off to allow the blades to spring back into their original shape, good idea, terrible execution! The cable ties kept slipping off of the impeller to begin with as it is made of silicon rubber and is quite slippery, the blades were difficult to get to fold down in the same direction all the way around - there was always going to be one that wanted to go the opposite way to all the others! After several attempts to do this and a darkening cloud forming above Gerry's head with each failure, between us we finally managed to get the cable tie in place with all of the blades flattened in the same direction and it was time to see if this made enough difference to the diameter to get the impeller to fit in the housing. Thank goodness it did, I don't think failing at this point would have done anything for Gerry's temper or my sanity.
The cable tie was cut free and the blades of the impeller sprang back into place, it was time to close up the pump and run the engine to make sure that water was actually being pumped through, the pump wasn't overheating and there were no leaks around the housing. With the checks all done and passing muster it was time to close everything up and put the tools away and the companionway steps back in place.
The next little job was removing the non-skid pads at the top of the ladder insertion point on the port side cap rail of the boat which had become unstuck and needed the glue removing, some new glue applying and re sticking them to the cap rail. Getting the old glue (which was actually silicone) proved to be a PITA to remove, it wouldn't hold the pads in place but it didn't want to be removed from the pads either. We tried acetone, thinners, goo gone and washing up liquid with varying degrees of success, eventually and with a lot of elbow grease and kitchen towel, the gooey mess was removed. A light sanding to rough up the surface and a new coat of glue (read silicone) was applied and the pads put into place on the cap rail. One can only hope that they last longer this time around as we are out of ideas of what to use to hold them in place having tried every sort of glue known to man at various times, I suspect we are at the point of nailing the darn things down next time!
Gerry took a walk up the dock to the sail loft to see if our joiner piece for the cockpit was ready yet, it wasn't - come back on Monday. While he was at it he also went and purchased a top up card for the phone as he was out of data. So back on the boat we were confined to the interior once again as the rain had made being in the cockpit miserably wet and uncomfortable (that's why we needed the darned joiner bit back in place -so the rain didn't get inside the enclosure!). Gerry spent an age trying to top up the phone, now you probably think "what's the issue, it's easy" not so much when the instructions are all in Spanish and you have very limited knowledge of the language. There was a woman speaking in rapid Spanish giving him instructions which he had no idea about, it was almost comical to watch if he hadn't been getting crosser by the second. He had tried the usual way of that he tops up but there was something that he was missing and he had no idea what it was. By now the mini mart, where he bought the top up, was closed so he couldn't go there to ask and my suggestion of going to find the dock master and ask him to translate what the woman was saying fell on deaf ears, oh well he's the one that uses the data so he was the one who was going to be missing out until the mini mart opens on Monday. With nothing else on the agenda for the rest of the day we did nothing except listen and watch the rain.
Sunday fun day, or if you are like us and stuck where nothing is happening it's just another day. At least the sun shone today for a change and we were able to get off the boat and go for a walk around the place. I had spent the morning writing emails and by early afternoon was going stir crazy, Gerry had been busy doing nothing and was looking like falling asleep so I suggested that we go for a walk around the marina and take a few photos and off we went. Just over from us, close to where we were on the quarantine dock, there was a very large motor called Elysian which was just beginning to depart, we stood and watched it as it manoeuvred out of the marina, an almost impossible feat given the size of it but the captain had obviously done this a few times as it was executed without incident. I took a couple of photos just to give you an idea of how the other half live - as they stare at us and wonder what us poor people are doing! Elysian had docked bow in towards the marina and we thought that the only way they would get out was to reverse out but they surprised us by turning the boat on a dime and going out bow first - no mean feat as it is so long that it completely blocks the marina entrance from one side to the other. Thank goodness for bow and stern thrusters! Their "run about" on the stern deck looked to be bigger than our boat but I doubt that they are happy! Apparently the owner of the boat is the owner of Liverpool football club and the Boston Red Sox - that's some serious money right there.
Anyway once they had cleared the entrance we continued on our walk, taking our trash to the bins which are kept just at the edge of the jungle, I'm sure that the bins get raided by the animals on a regular basis. I began taking photos of the jungle edge and the marina surroundings as we went which will be in the gallery but to be honest they don't really give the overall impression of the place very well. I had hoped we would spot a howler monkey or at least a buzzard to take a photo of but they were obviously shy and no-where to be seen today. There are a whole load of hibiscus flowers blooming along the walkways which made it a pretty walk and I did manage to get half a photo of a coconut crab that was hiding out in its burrow with just part of it visible - it's the blue crab when you find the photo! We walked past the Haus wind where there is often someone selling all sorts of tourist souvenirs, I've already looked at the stuff once and decided that I wouldn't be allowed to import much of it to Australia as it is made up of grasses and seeds or unsealed wood plus, I have to admit, none of it was anything that I wanted anyway. Interestingly there was a different woman there on Friday and Gerry said she had a heap of the Kuna Embroidery pieces which I had bought on our last visit to Panama and I would love to add to my collection but of course he didn't tell me about it until the lady had packed up and gone for the day, I hope that she comes back before we leave here so that I get the chance. We wandered past the bar/restaurant, didn't go in and were surprised at how busy it was with locals having a late lunch (it was 3 pm by now) - maybe this is a normal Sunday occurrence. So it was back to the boat and time to watch a movie. We didn't even go near the bar for happy hour for the second day in a row, giving the liver time to recover from the last couple of outings.
So as you can see our weekend was pretty boring, if you don't count the fact that we are in an exotic place with things to fix!