A Cruising New Year

gilana.org).  Mom enjoyed their company and was happy to have some like-aged people to converse with.

Free diving, spearfishing, and sailing.  I got pretty lucky free diving and spearfishing in Elephante.  I managed to see a Black Grouper and a nice Dog Snapper (who graciously gave himself up for dinner).  The Black Grouper came through when I was loading the speargun, naturally, and was gone just as quickly as he arrived.

While I was busy kicking myself about the Black Grouper, I noticed the outline of a snapper about 35 feet under.  Once I locked on, I could tell he was a Dog Snapper – and that he was a great eating size.  A quick pursuit and a bit of feigned apathy put me within 10 feet of him – which put him onboard S/V NOMAD.  He was more than we needed for dinner – but I had faith that we could tempt someone over for dinner.  And we did.

Dog Snapper in Elephante

Dog Snapper in Elephante

The sail to Yansaladup was relatively uneventful.  It was a close wind-angle, but we managed with a bit of tacking.  When we pulled into Yansaladup – it was clear that the rumor of a New Year’s party had gotten around.  The rumor included a bunch of fireworks, a couple of pigs, and a bunch of alcohol.  Of those three things – we managed two.

With a full anchorage, I took advantage of our shallow draft and a steady wind direction by getting in close to the island.  The anchor held first time, I dove it and we were good.  Seeing that anchor in so deep, so quickly, made me pretty happy.  A quick dinghy ride over to Mike set up dinner plans, and then I headed to check out the kite-surfers on the island.  They were some Americans (Denver, Colorado) onboard a charter boat – One World (sailingoneworld.com).  One World is run by a couple of young Coloradan ladies, and they know how to throw a party.  The kiters needed a ride back to their ship, I volunteered and there I was invited onboard for a beer – which I rarely turn down.  One thing led to another and I managed to confirm a beach-party for New Years – although the availability of the rumored roast pigs was in question.

Kite Surfing in Yansaladup

Kite Surfing in Yansaladup

The next day we went for a quick dive and I picked up a giant Lionfish and a decent Ocean Trigger for dinner.  With that fish, some alcohol, and my new BlueTooth speakers – we were armed for the New Year’s Party.  And party we did.

Lionfish and Jack

Lionfish and Jack

The Party

Party time!  The crew, captains, and guests onboard One World were at the island a bit after dark.  I actually put on a shirt for the occasion, which means it was an occasion.  When we secured our dinghy onshore the cooking was about to start – so we were just in time.  We did all of the cooking in our Kuna host’s hut, over an open flame.  There was a pretty expansive menu, considering we were sailing in a fairly remote part of Panama.   I cooked and drank for couple hours – then the party moved to the beach, with a bonfire.  Around midnight the fireworks started and the champagne was popped – all thanks to those wonderful girls onboard One World.

Some of the crowd retired just before midnight, a few more just afterward.  But some of us kept going for a bit.  And that, as always, is when the most fun happens.  This was no exception.

The Aftermath

Ouch.  Considering the hour at which I made it back to S/V NOMAD – it was surprising that I was up before 8AM.  But I was.  A cup of coffee and I started poking about for all of my belongings.  Couldn’t find the speakers.  So I headed back to the beach, where I discovered how a New Year’s party looks in the daylight.  I cleaned, returned some stuff to One World, and finally made it back to breakfast.

I was beat after breakfast (almost noon) and started another reading of Moby Dick, only to wake up an hour later drooling on the book.  Methinks the siesta is a remarkable idea, and one that I thoroughly enjoy.  I tried to start the generator and it didn’t want to start.  That’s a bummer.

So then I started an engine and kicked on my water maker.  I figured it was a good time to check water.  I quickly found that we were almost emergency-status on freshwater, which is disturbing.  I checked the water maker and found it was back to it’s previous antics – not producing water, making weird noises, and the feed pump was a little too warm for comfort.

Boat Stuff Breaking

Well, shit.  Back into major-maintenance mode.  The worse news was that nobody was open on New Years Day, so I was going to have to troubleshoot, make purchase decisions, and ship things (quickly) to a friend coming to join me shortly.  Semi-panicked web-searching began in earnest.  I figured out who to call, what I needed, and then we went for  another dive.  This time the current was ripping, the waves were pounding, and the wind was whipping.  So we stayed inside the barrier reef – and were fairly limited in fish.  But I scrounged dinner from a small Cero Mackerel and another Ocean Triggerfish.

After the hunt I went back to the island, where I was informed that One World had run out of beer.  I had as well.  So I decided to make a beer run.  One World scrounged together some money, I picked up their galley-slave and together we headed for more beer.  Two hours later I was back with beer – we got a little distracted when we bumped into other friends during said beer run.

Needless to say, the diving, the remaining headache, and the beer-run prevented me from tackling the generator and the water maker issue.  I opted to have a beer with the crew, the captains, and the guests onboard One World.  Then was in bed before 9PM.

The Parts Search

Bummer.  I like to say I’m out of the “refit stage” – but just about the time I say that, something else fairly major breaks.  Yesterday I spent the day searching for parts, calling whatever businesses were open, and buying stuff online – so I could pay exorbitant shipping fees trying to get them to Luke, so I wouldn’t have to leave San Blas.

One thing I did was decided against replacing the expensive vane-pump in my Spectra Catalina Watermaker.  It’s a Bodine Electric 12V unit that is remarkably expensive, prone to breaking (fragile), and generally not an intelligent thing to have on this kind of boat.  For me to replace the Bodine motor, the head pump, and have spares – it was going to cost me over $1,900 (without shipping).  I opted to put two of the Shurflo 125PSI diaphragm pumps together, and buy a spare.  That’s going to mean I have to do some minor plumbing and engineering – but it leaves me with the following plusses:

  • I have two feed-water-pumps in my system.  If one fails, I can run the other with an expected 1/2 output of the 12-14 gallons per hour.
  • I can (and did) buy a spare pump and simply insert the whole pump when one invariably fails, without sacrificing all of my water-making ability.
  • With all three pumps and shipping – I saved over $1,000.
  • In my opinion, those ShurFlo diaphragm pumps will be more tolerant of rough operating conditions – they are self-priming, can be run dry, and can be installed up to 7 ft above the water source.  That’s way cool compared to the motor/pump combo I have now that just makes noise and generates heat – likely due to being mounted above the waterline and occasionally running dry when the hull lifts out of the water in rough weather.

In other boat-related-broken-shit, I have a trampoline that’s falling apart.  I figured out a quick-fix, and Mom’s been working on that – thank whatever God you may believe in.  I now have water in my sail drive oil due to my own foolishness in getting fishing-line wrapped around my props.  And that sail drive oil is leaking onto my sail drive boot because the sail drive oil seals that I had replaced (A MONTH AGO) obviously didn’t do an acceptable job of sealing said sail drive oil.  Oh, and the generator still won’t start…. Real boat-maintenance started this morning.  In preparation for that, last night I drank a few beers and watched Band Of Brothers.

Today I’m going to sweat that out and make some progress on these boat projects.  If I’m lucky, I’ll squeeze in a dive.

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