Thursday, 8 October 2015

It's not all sun,sea and cerveza!

Is it a bird ? it a plane? it's a dead gear box or transmission as they like to call it over here. 
For a while I have been saying to John ' you know our engine sounds different' john has shook his head and assured me 'I can't hear anything' we both put it down to the odd vibration from something in the saloon. When we sailed into Puerto Velero John had remarked.....' There must be a very strong current I'm sure we should be doing more than 4.5 knots with this wind !' ....but we moored fine in our spot and truth be told forgot all about these warning signs. 
We should have suspected something when our morse became more difficult to put in gear....but John changed the morse for a spare we had and tested the gear box every day to check we were good to go for our trip to Panama. Hindsight is a wonderful thing! 

We caught a taxi to immigration and the same pleasant guy who stamped our passports in stamped them out. He wished us a pleasant trip and said he hoped we would return to Colombia....
It was afternoon before our zarpe arrived....we were good to go. John sorted out the lines and I was going to take her out. I put the morse into gear and to say we crawled away from the dock is no exaggeration.....something was not right. However, we persevered and got as far as the green buoy at the entrance and John had had enough, there was little wind and it was obvious there was something wrong so turning into what wind there was we dropped the hook and John started to investigate. It was clear there was something wrong with our forward gear, up came the engine lid, out came the spanners(or wrenches for our American friends) and after many Anglo Saxon expletives from both of us, we declared it knackered! 
'Ahh!' says John 'but we have still got this is the plan. We stay here tonight and tomorrow unless by some miracle the gearbox sorts itself out, we will reverse into our former spot' 
At this point we notice the Marina rib on its way out to us. That's good we both thought and really thoughtful of them to come out and make sure we are ok. On closer scrutiny we saw that Christina, the nice girl from the office, was also in the rib with Alex the dock master.....'Mister John!' She calls out ' I have made a mistake, you still owe us 19,000 pesos!! ' No what's wrong, how can we help just relief that we were still able to pay them .LOL. Alex had thought that we had decided to drop the hook and leave early the next day so had offered Christina a lift to collect her money. Well we had no pesos left and so we did a deal ... It was twenty bucks or nothing ....Christina was very happy with twenty bucks as she kept apologising for her error we told Alex of our dilemma and our plan for the following day. 'Si, Si no problem ....'

Up early the next day and with a light north westerly we sat having our breakfast talking over the plan for getting back on our mooring when there is a knock on the hull. It's Juan Carlos ( Juan Ca for short ....I know it's terrible but everyone calls him it and I guess ignorance is bliss!) , the assistant dock master and he's wondering what is happening. Well JC ( a much better nickname in my opinion) speaks no English so out comes the iPad and John uses a translation app we have to explain to him what is wrong and our master plan. Laboriously but successfully John speaks to the iPad and the iPad then speaks to JC in Spanish and it works! ' Si, Si no problem!' 
So with me bringing up the hook and JC back on the pontoon ready to take our lines ....we are ready to execute 'the plan'......
Well John puts her into reverse and she starts to move then the most horrendous noise emanates from the engine room. It is difficult to sounded like all of John's spanners we're spinning around a tumble dryer!! This could mean only one thing....we had no reverse. Revert to PlanB ..... We would have to sail onto the end of the pontoon. JC understood my gesticulations and moved onto the end of the finger pontoon ready John busied getting lines altered and fenders down as I sailed her slowly, very slowly to the dock. Several tacks later we had to do a 360 to line her up and I was used the bow thruster to edge her towards the dock. It became obvious we would not make the end of finger D but looked good for finger E. JC did his Usain Bolt impersonation sprinting around the dock arriving just as John was jumping ashore. We were back! 
The following Monday we made a trip back into town to see our good friend at immigration. The Marina had phoned to explain our problem and the Immigration Officer was all smiles welcoming us back to Colombia and stamping us in for 90 days. 
John had the gearbox out within a day and declared the gearbox all we had to do was source a new one, get it to Colombia and fit it! Simple!