Sunday, 15 January 2017

Finally .....time to go!

We returned to the boat early October, relieved to avoid the colder weather back in the U.K. The boat yard had moved Orion out of the security pen ready for us to start work on her. The blisters that we ground out before leaving looked good, dry and no smell which I'm told is a good sign we now had to wait for a few dry days to fill the holes and apply our Coppercoat. Waiting for dry days in Panama in early October is no mean task. It rains, really rains most days and evidence of this was the colour of our ropes....all black, our dinghy covered in black mould and generally the outside of the boat was fifty shades of green and black. It took a whole day to clean up the dinghy and we after scrubbing our lines we hung them out on a line under the boat to let them dry between showers! 
We had our Coppercoat safely stored away in an inside locker, or so we thought. As we opened the locker together it out we realised that one of the bottles of resin had split in the heat depositing it contents in the bottom of the locker. A horrible sticky,gloopy mess stuck to the bottom of the locker and to anything in its path. We realised quickly that this meant we did not have enough Coppercoat for the job but for once we realised that luck was on our side as a really nice Canadian skipper who had put Coppercoat on the bottom of his catamaran came over to us in the yard and on the off chance asked us if we needed any! Coppercoat has a shelf life and really can only be kept for a year or so and as he was going through to the Pacific side his 'spare' would not be useable by the time he got to New Zealand result ......we had our Coppercoat! We now just had to wait for the rain to stop. This is particularly important when applying Coppercoat, as its water based and rain will just wash it way. We needed one day  without rain to apply our four coats and we had wait patiently for over a week before the got the right weather window . Up with the lark or in Panama it's the Howler monkeys, we got our four coats on, the heat helping to set the thin layers of Copper within an hour or so for each coat. However our fingers were still crossed for no rain for 48 hours after application ....a tall order! So we covered all the bits of the hull we had treated with black bin bags and hoped the would stay on ....they did. 
Finally after nearly three weeks in the yard we could splash back in the water and wait for our new anchor chain there. After a false alarm when one of the hoses went on the Travel lift we eventually made it into the water, a day later than planned but ...relief! 
Whilst in the water Tropical Storm Otto decided to hit the region, tucked up in Shelter Bay we were safe enough. It is exactly what the name would suggest, good shelter. The winds in Shelter Bay never really got beyond 40 knots but the rain was torrential for around two days and the flooding in Colon was a problem along with the palm trees blown knocking out the power. The power was down for two days and whilst there is a generator for the hotel we were without power for just over two days on the dock. Some people were getting a bit twitchy about that and the thought of being without air con was more than some boats could bare. One boat bought another generator (their third!) as they thought they would be without power for quite a few days only for the power to come back on hours after the order was finalised. Well as I said to them can never have too many generators! He failed to see the humour in that statement having just spent $900 needlessly. 

Our anchor chain arrived a week or so after and after marking it and after general checks we felt we were hot to trot but John being John did one final check and... almost afraid to tell me he finally owned up to the fact that he thought we had a problem with our heat exchanger....what the hell? John revealed that whilst down in the engine room he had felt air blowing out of the heat exchanger and on closer examination after taking the heat exchanger to bits we found that there were small holes in heat exchanger where the exhaust water injection takes place.... What next!!? By this time we had already checked out of Panama but hey ho if we couldn't leave we couldn't leave so after much deliberation and with the help of JB Weld we filled the holes so that the heat exchanger worked perfectly and we set sail for Porto Lindo trying to get as far East as possible before heading North to Providencia.It was good to be back on the water again! 

Whilst waiting for our chain we hired a car and spent a day in Panama City. Panama City is quite different to Colon, money has been spent on renovation and there are some pretty squares centred around the churches, reminiscent of Cartegena, though if I had to choose between the two I would choose Cartegena. Hopefully some day Panama will invest some money into Colon.

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