Friday, July 3, 2009

Murphy's Day

Isla de Pinos, Panama -- 08 59.85N 77 45.61W

I will get to the entry title later, but first I need to catch you all up on our travels.

We left Cholon Bay on Tuesday the 31st, and had a very uneventful 20 hour passage across the western Carribean to the southern-most city in Panama, Obaldia. We anchored, went to shore and sought out customs and imigration. Luckily there is quite a Panamanian Army presence as it is a border town and they were very helpful in directing us to the proper officials. We found imigration first and started the process. Apparently Panama's new President took office on the 1st, so it was a holiday. Luckily they were working till noon, but both immigration and the maritime authority charged an extra $20 each for working on the holiday. The workers pull started their generator so they could power up the computer. Apparently, the town only has electircity from 18:00 to Midnight. After about 30 minutes, the maritime authority guy took Bill to his "office" while mom and I stayed with the passports. After about another hour we were finished with immigration and went to find Bill. The Maritime authority guy had just started working on our paperwork and what appeared to be his 2nd and3rd beers (mind you it was only about 10:15 by this point). By 11:15 or so we were finally finished and had all of $8 to try to find a late breakfast. Unfortunatly, all the resuraunts were closed, so we headed back to the boat, had a quick bite, and headed on our way to Puerte Perme.

Puerte Perme is a small villiage (approx 300 people, of which 200 are children) well off the beaten path with a beautiful small cove. This required us to lay out two anchors in what is known as a "Bahamian Moore" arrangement. We hit the reasonably clear water and mom and I headed off to the reef about 50 yards off the stern. The reef was a bit dead in areas, but still had some very cool coral and some nice fish. We had an early night and tried to catch up on our sleep from the night before. The next day we headed to shore looking to meet the Sailas (cheifs) and ask permision to see their villiage and ask directions to the path to Carreto which we had read about in our guide book. As we approached the villiage we were greeted again by two Panamanian Soldiers who directed us towards the villiage. As we wandered about, asking for the Sailas we met a wonderfully nice woman named Sheila who spoke english. She is a teacher in town, from mainland Panama and schooled there who has been in the villiage teaching for 3 months with a total commitment of 3 years before she will get her desired teaching job back home. She took us to the Sailas house, but the primary Sailas was out looking for medical plants and the other six were in Colombia for a meeting. We would have to come back later. Sheila took us to the school where we met three other teachers and were surrounded by about 100 kids all wanting to see the strange looking folks. We then headed off, looking for our hike with the promise to come back in the afternoon with some school supplies and to meet the cheif. We asked the Panamanian Soldiers how to get to Carreto on our way out of town, but they warned us of Colombian Guerrilas in the Area. We waited a few minutes for an english speaking (sort-of) leutenant to speak to us. They warned us of walking away from the villiage and particularly against going over the mountain to Carreto. There were reports of over 50 Colombian Guerrilas in the area which was the reason for the increased military presence there. As we were leaving about 12 soldiers came in from a patrol, so we headed back to the boat and went for a swim instead.

When we headed back in the afternoon, Sheila had made us a small meal (incredibly generous considering the supplies she has available). We had brought a few pads, some drawing paper, and some pens and pencils (not much, but what we could spare...we will need to bring more supplies back when we go home in August), as well as two bags of popcorn for the kids. She showed us around the rest of the villiage and then we met the Cheif Sailas and his secretary/translator. The conversation went from english to spanish via Sheila, then to Kuna via the translator. After some preliminary conversation, Sheila told the cheif about Bill's examination of a child with a muscular problem in this neck which after looking at he thinks is just muscle weakness and should be solved with time and some excersizes. The Sailas immediatly called one of the women over who had a one year old with a skin infection. Mom actually knew what it was first, but the real concern was the 20 day old brother who would be in much more danger if he got it. Bill promised to come back with some medicine and rubber gloves and after a bit more conversation we headed back to the boat. Bill and Mom went back with the ointment and some other supplies while I relaxed onboard. The Cheif was very appreciative and gave us some limes.

Last night the real "fun" began. The AC fridge shut itself off which isn't that abnormal with all the junk in the water. I found a fair amount of eel grass in the intake which after much struggling, I got out, put the system back together and turned back on. Unfortunately, it shut itself off again so we decided we would wait on that till the morning. At the same time, we noticed that the water tank guage had stopped working so we didn't know how much water we had left. As we finnished dishes, we determined "not much" as the tank ran dry. "That's OK, we will just make water tomorrow, and we can use the last bits left in the forward tank in the mean time." The good news was that the Air Con was working great and what would have been a second misserably hot and muggy night in a row was instead almost cold down below as we had dinner and watched an episode of House on the TV.

This morning I woke up with an apparent ear infection (which I am rather prone to for some reason). I continued to troubleshoot the AC fridge while Bill went about switching water guages between the forward and aft tanks so our primary tank would have a working guage. Around 10:00 we finally got started on the anchors only to find out we had done a 720 since we had put them down. We tried untwisting with the engine with no success, then climbed in the dink and tried to pull the small anchor up manually, again with no success. We grabbed my mask and fins and the "spare air", a small scuba tank that gives you about 10 mins underwater and I tried to pull the anchor out of the bottom directly, then tied a line onto the head and we tried to pull it out with the dingy. Having already spent about an hour and a half with no success, we decided to spin the boat using the dingy as a tugboat which worked after about 20 mins. We could then pull the small anchor up (needing the run the boat over the anchor as the windlass couldn't break it from the mud either), then pulled the big anchor and headed out about 2 hours later than we had planned. The "sail" up to Isla de Pinos, was right into the wind, with a wicked swell on our beam, making for a VERY uncomfortable 3 hour motor, especially with my ear making be a bit dizzy to begin with. To make matters worse, the water maker wouldn't make any water so now we were worried not just about showers, but about drinking water for more than a day or so.

We got into Isla Pinos, anchored off a beautiful sandy beach in a cut with a great breeze and got started on the problems. I had the watermaker ETD (Energy Transfer Device) apart, the seals refinished, and back together in about 35 minutes and making water. Bill just finnished tracing through all the AC refridgeration piping and apparently got rid of the air-lock that was causing it to still overheat (knock on wood, but it has been running for 15 mins now and isn't too hot yet) and the water tank guage is now just starting to show some increase in water level. A frustrating day to say the least, but the good news is, it seems to have a happy ending. Dinner tonight is Filet Mignon, Mashed Potatoes, Steamed Brocoli, and a salad. Then we have Brownies and whipped cream from Better Days.

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Sierra said...

Gram, maybe you should try earplugs when you go in the water. I had to think about Murphy's Day for awhile. I guess everything that could go wrong did?!?
Things are looking up here, we've finally had some sun! Hope to skype tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Happy 4th. We are following you everyday. The other Jo