Small jobs to occupy small minds!
05 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, wind n/a, waves n/a
I think we have finally gotten over our tiredness from the transit as we both had a bit more energy today. It's funny to think that when we did this last time I don't recall being so tired, I'm not sure if it's a memory problem or just that we are so much older this time around and need so much more relaxation time.
Gerry found himself another job this morning, something that he hadn't ever done on this boat - he checked the valve clearances on the main engine. There are 8 valves to check - 4 inlet and 4 exhaust valves as it is a 4 cylinder engine. The clearances are supposed to be checked every 2500 engine running hours. Gerry had no idea when, if ever, they were last checked and as we haven't put the 2500 hours on the engine he had never considered doing it until now. Our engine currently reads 8051 hours, so if the checks have been done on time in the past it was overdue by 551 hours, but Gerry suspects that it wouldn't have been done in the past so the time was more than up. As he had changed the oil and filter the day before it was a good time to do the check. The check involves poking feeler gauges, which are basically just thin pieces of graduated metal, between the valve stem and the rocker arm of each valve. In sequence both inlet and exhaust valve clearances are checked by turning the crank shaft. All of the clearances were at the .3mm gap and didn't need adjusting so the job didn't take very long but it kept Gerry busy for a little while. Meanwhile I sat and played at guessing what our bills for the next 5 months might be and loaded payments into our banking system to cover them all so that we don't get arrears charges when we are nowhere that we can do anything about it - I'm sure that I will have over paid most of them but I guess it will all right itself eventually.
After lunch Gerry frustrated himself by trying to get us organised for entering Fiji, we will get that sorted eventually! I spent the afternoon uploading some photos to the gallery of our transiting through the canal, it took forever to get them to load as the internet was worse than slow and I ended up cherry picking the photos so you get an idea but maybe not the full picture. We had been invited to join Jonathan, an Aussie from Melbourne, on his boat for a drink. Just before 5 pm I threw together a plate of dip and crudits, we gathered a couple of drinks and glasses and waved down the water taxi to take us across to Jonathan's boat. It wasn't very far to go but the water taxi spluttered and conked out at least 4 times before we made it across the gap between the two boats. Jonathan told us his life story and his future plans as we sat and enjoyed a couple of drinks and watched the sun setting over the Bridge of the Americas. I was really cross with myself as for the first time in ages it was worth a photo and neither of us had a camera or phone with us, I just hope that we get another opportunity whilst we are here. Incidentally there wasn't a green flash so we didn't miss out on that! Jonathan had also invited a local taxi driver called Orlando for a drink so we got to meet someone who speaks fairly good English and knows his way around the area, we made sure to get his contact details as we will be needing his services in the next couple of days. By the time we left Jonathan's boat it was dark and we had visions of never making it safely back to our boat in the water taxi however the driver had got the issue sorted out and we were soon back on our boat where we had a light dinner, watched some TV and headed to bed at around our usual witching hour. Today's photo is of the America's bridge which is just out past the Balboa Yacht Club moorings.
To answer a couple of questions that cropped up on the blog site - we probably won't go into Panama City, there's not too much there to see other than shops apparently but that's still open to discussion as we might need to go there for boat spares. We haven't a planned date for leaving Panama but there's not much to keep us here so we will probably be heading off within a week, possibly stopping at Las Perlas, a small island group that is still part of Panama, about 30 miles away from Balboa before heading to Ecuador.
The Balboa Yacht Club isn't in the least bit glamourous, it's a shed, a dock, a restaurant with a garbage bin and waste oil disposal facility., I'll take some photos of it when we go ashore. There are no marina slips here and the moorings are identifiable by the old tyres that mark their position. In the past you could take out a temporary yacht club membership here for US$25 which gave you reduced rates whilst you are here but when Gerry enquired about this he was told that there is no longer any temporary membership but he could take out full membership at the bargain price of US$10,000 for the year - yes, I didn't miss-type that, it really is US$10,000 for the year! Gerry politely declined the invite, I don't know why. We think that the cost is related to the number of tugs and pilot boats that use the dock on a daily basis - they have to use the dock to pick up crew changes for the big ships going through so we think that they probably all join as members of the yacht club to reduce the cost of constant use of the docking facilities which is also where they get their fuel. It is probably a drop in the ocean for these working boats over the course of a year but as we are only here for a week or two there is no way we would ever consider it.