Balboa - another exotic place apparently!
04 May 2021 | 08 56.256'N:79 33.418'W, Balboa Yacht Club, Balboa, Panama City
08 56.256 N
79 33.418 W
Weather; hot and humid with rain showers, wind n/a, waves n/a
We had a better night last night and are feeling almost human again.
Gerry made us coffee and to do this he had to start up the gen set which is where the day began to go to the dogs. The gen set started up OK and the coffee was on its way to being brewed when the gen set suddenly cut out - not a good thing! We drank the coffee that was just about ready and then it was down to finding out why the gen set had cut out, but this job was going to have to wait for a while as Gerry had to go ashore first and get us checked into the yacht club and see if he could get hooked up to the internet and take our trash ashore. A water taxi was summoned and off he went whilst I cleaned up the breakfast dishes, made the bed and started to type more blog notes. He wasn't gone for very long and came back with the news that we were booked in for at least 4 days and should have internet access as of now, but when he tried to log on it took ages and a lot of bad temper before it worked. It was now time to tackle the job of the day and find out the cause for the gen set shut down. The investigation started off with Gerry inspecting the offending piece of equipment which is of course located in his favourite place to do boat yoga - the port side lazarette, out in the cockpit. His first (and probably only) thought was that it had overheated, the real question was why as the load wasn't high enough to cause overheating under normal circumstances. It seemed that there was apparently an issue with reduced cooling water flow. The first check was on the strainer for the incoming sea water in case there was a blockage which proved negative. The next thought was that it could have been the water pump impeller which might have been damaged and not pumping properly, but as this had only recently been changed it probably wasn't the issue and was by passed, which left a blockage as the possible cause for the shutdown. The sea water hoses were removed along with the sacrificial zinc plug. The zinc in the brass plug had disintegrated and was no longer attached to the brass plug where it was meant to be, which meant it was floating around somewhere inside the cooling system. Another possible reason for the overheating was considered at this point, the heat exchanger may have scale on it preventing transfer of heat to the sea water, to this end Gerry introduced muriatic acid into the heat exchanger to dissolve any scale build up. Meanwhile a new zinc plug was adapted to suit the holder and the water pipework was reinstalled. The engine was restarted and water was seen coming out of the anti-syphon valve indicating a blockage further down the system. The pipe work was removed from there and the nipple on the exhaust elbow was also removed as it looked to be blocked by the remnants of the disintegrated zinc, these were then cleaned of debris, reinstalled and the engine retested. All worked as it should this time around. Only time will tell if this was the cause of the engine shutting down.
So we are obviously in yet another exotic place as things need fixing, lucky us!
I tried without any success to upload the canal transit photos but gave up in disgust as the connection kept dropping out and I was having to start from scratch each time, I hope that I'll do better in the next couple of days, I am trying!
The afternoon was spent trying to sort out the requirements for our next stop or two, there are so many forms to complete for each different country and emails going backwards and forwards that it makes your head spin. Gerry is very good at getting this crap sorted out, even though his temper gets the better of him when things don't happen as quickly or efficiently as he would like. We have had a stumbling block with trying to organise a stop-over in Fiji, which although we know is still a long way ahead we are trying to get sorted out well in advance. We apparently need to have an agent to be able to check in there, they have followed every other country in this requirement, and Gerry has sent emails to the agents who are recommended but so far has received replies from two, one of whom has retired even though his name is still listed and another who no longer works for the nominated company! It is most frustrating and adds to the stress of trying to do the right thing and abide by the country's rules and regulations. There is a group site called South Pacific Kamikazes, a group of mostly Aussies and Kiwis heading home which allows people to post about where they are and the problems they have encountered with any place they have stopped. It makes very interesting reading and gives information about things in the various places that may or may not happen or be required. One post in particular that we took note of was from the Galapagos where the couple posting was subjected to some ridiculous and over the top inspection that nothing to do with any possible harm to the islands, for example wanting to inspect the first aid kit on board - what this has to do with them we just don't know. Anyway it just confirmed for us that we don't need to be going anywhere near the Galapagos, it's a shame as it was such a great place to see and we are very glad that we did it on our last trip. Of course we are in ever changing times and borders are being slammed shut and then opened at the turn of key so we are having to take each and every new country at the moment we are going to arrive there and even though we are looking as far ahead as possible anything could change before we actually arrive making it ever difficult to plan anything. We intend to keep moving forward though and to this end are applying for permission to stop over in French Polynesia after our next planned stop in Ecuador, fingers crossed for a positive response from the French authorities. We heard from Gavin and Shona that their transit through the canal has been pushed out to Friday so they will be a week behind us but they had planned on going to the Galapagos islands, it will be interesting to see if they still consider this a viable option given the post on the South Pacific Kamikazes site.
Well that was our lot for the day, we still feel in recovery mode for the moment, hopefully this will pass in the next day or so and we will get move motivated to do something!