Thursday, February 28, 2019

Shelter Bay Boat Yard: finished?

        It is possible that the cradle has been completed.
        I rode the shuttle this afternoon to shop and get cash from the ATM at the supermarket and returned after 4:00 when the marina and boat yard offices were closed.
        I do not know when the transport will take place.  
        Possibly it will be tomorrow.
        If so, I may not be able to provide advance notice.  If interested, check GANNET’s Yellowbook tracking page.

        In the afternoon the shuttle takes the car ferry across the canal on the way to Colon and returns on a two lane road on top of the canal lock gates.

        The new bridge, which I am told is due to open later this year, will considerably shorten the time.
        This will be the third bridge over the canal and the first on the Caribbean side.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Shelter Bay Boat Yard: difficult and simple

        Now that I have secured the mast, life is more difficult.  I have no regrets about that,  The unsecured mast was worrying me.  There never has and never will be a time when others say they are ready and I say I am not.
        There are very few of you who could live on GANNET now.  I measured.  You would have to squeeze through a space 12” by 24”.  A few of you are athletes greater than I, but I am not sure that even you could squeeze and contort through that space.  And when you did you would find yourselves in Webb’s Inferno.  The difference between being above and  below deck is astounding,
        I had my evening drinks on deck and considered sleeping there, but can’t see how.
        So in some ways my life is difficult, probably more difficult than more than a minuscule number of the seven billion of our species now alive could endure, and that from a 77 year old man.
        Yet my life is really simple.
         I love Carol.
         I go to the edge of human experience and report back truly.
         I detune myself and wait for others to do their jobs and get GANNET across this isthmus, and if they do, I sail to San Diego or die trying,
         That’s it.
         Can you define your life as clearly?
         I count an Episcopal priest who is also a sailor as a friend.
         She is a tolerant woman who knows I am not a Christian.
         We had lunch not long ago during which I told her that she would be surprised to learn that when young I went to a Presbyterian college with the intention of becoming a minister, but as soon as I got there had a reverse epiphany of Saul on the road to Damascus and knew I could not do that.
        She said she was not surprised that I got back on the donkey because I am a seeker.  Not a word I have applied to myself, but I am.  Sometimes I gain insights from others.
        I told her that we both expected different experiences after death:  I oblivion; she a Christian heaven; and in a just universe we would both receive what we expected.

Shelter Bay Boat Yard: another day

         Tuesday  evening.
        Mark Knopfler’s PRIVATEERING album playing on one Boom 2.  The second Boom 2 joined the dead.
        Two tequila and tonics drunk with Mountain House Chicken and Rice for dinner.
        Steve, the rigger, repaired the furling gear this morning.  Maybe.
        Neither he not I could figure out how to get the pin, which is no spring loaded, back in place without disassembling the entire foil.   Steve tried to do this, but frozen parts stymied him.  So he ground down the pin and drilled and tapped and installed set screws, which he says other brands of furling gears use.   I have had Hood and Profurl on other boats but don’t remember.  Two set screws below the break in the foil.  One above.  All reportedly with Loctite applied.
        If we ever get to the Pacific and sail for San Diego and you see our Yellowbrick track peel off for Hawaii, it may be because the furling gear has failed.  Depending on the nature of the failure, I might be able to set the full jib but not furl it.  I also have on board a storm jib that I could set flying.  And, if I have any working tiller pilot, the G2 could be set on a reach.
        Is this optimum?  Of course not, but I am in the third world where optimum is not an option.
        If I do reach San Diego I will replace all the standing rigging and the furling gear.  
        Some work was done on the cradle today.  It is not complete.  Maybe it will be tomorrow.
        The second long delayed tiller pilot has moved from Customs to the delivery agent.  Maybe it will be delivered tomorrow.  Maybe not.
        I rode the shuttle to the supermarket this afternoon.
        I will do more provisioning on the Pacific side if I ever get there.
        The hardest parts of sailing a boat around the world are not storms at sea.

February 27, Wednesday

        I wrote the above last evening, but unable to connect to the Internet in the boat yard have had to wait until this morning to post it.
        I tied down the mast this morning.  Not having it secured was worrying me.  But now that it is, the forward hatch can’t be opened and life aboard is going to be more uncomfortable.  
        I had thought that the cradle might be finished today, but I no longer do.
        The money keeps going out.  Men seem to be working.  But progress is slow.
        I just checked the DHL tracking page.  The second tiller pilot has not moved thus far today.


        With the delusion that GANNET and I will some day sail to San Diego I have been downloading GRIBs with LuckGrib from time to time.
        Here is a screen shot from yesterday’s that is quite favorable.


        Yesterday Steve and Tom both sent me the image of CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE II that apparently appeared online.
        A very pretty boat.
        Steve’s arrived first and I did not recognize the location, so I googled Manoel Island Yacht Yard and found it on Malta.  We were there in 1983, making our only stop on an east/west sail of the Mediterranean from Port Said, Egypt, after having troubles similar to those I am now experiencing but with the Suez Canal, to Vilamoura, Portugal.
        Tom’s email correctly identified the location.
        I thank them both.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Shelter Bay Boat Yard: touched up

        If you enlarge yesterday’s photo and today’s you may be able to see that I touched up GANNET’s rub rail, several feet of whose paint was rubbed away when we were pounded against the dock two nights before our departure, and various spots on the topsides.
        I had thought to remove the cans of paint and some disposable brushes before we left from where they are normally stowed beneath the v-berth and would have been nearly unreachable.
        GANNET needs to repainted, inside and out, but for a boat that has done 27,000 miles in the past four years, she passes my 'viewed from a boat length away' test.
        I also cleaned the bilge.
        Today work was done on the cradle.  It might be finished tomorrow, though I am not counting on that.
        I have also studied the furling gear.  I can see what needs to be done, but I don’t understand how to do it.  Perhaps the rigger can figure it out.
        And tracking on the second tiller pilot shows it has finally cleared Customs and been turned over to the delivery company.  

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Shelter Bay Boat Yard: challenged

        I have not lived on board before with the mast down.  It is challenging.  GANNET is in the most chaotic state she has ever been, on deck and below.
        When the mast was first lowered, it was resting on cushions on the deck and I could not open the forward hatch.  This made the cabin an oven with a temperature of 101º.  So I raised the forward end of the mast as close to level with the top of the bow pulpit and tied it there.  This enables me to open the forward hatch about 12” which lets in some breeze and reduces the cabin temperature to 95º.  Without my battery operated fan blowing on me the cabin would be intolerable, though last night it did cool off enough to be pleasant.
        The mast blocks much of the main hatch as well, leaving a barely Webb-sized gap for me to squeeze through.  Though I do routinely ding myself getting in and out of the cabin, being a skinny old man has its advantages.
        I removed the Windex and the dead Raymarine wind transducer from the masthead, coiled halyards and the running backstays, re-glued some sheet bags used for stowage in the Great Cabin.  I will not remount the Raymarine.  In time I will buy a wind instrument from a different manufacturer.
        There isn’t much more for me to do except wait for others to do their jobs.
        The metal bars on the ground below GANNET are the foundation of the cradle.  I am told it will take two days to build.
        The white tubes and mast just above GANNET's mast are another boat behind her.
        The mast is not properly secured for the truck ride, but I will leave that until as close as possible before the transport begins.
        A couple of readers have asked if I am going to turn on the Yellowbrick for the ocean to ocean drive.  I will if I remember and set the unit to update every 15 or 20 minutes.
        You can drive from Colon to Panama City in an hour.  However, the first several miles from the marina are on massively pot-holed roads and we will be going at a snail’s pace, or I hope we will. 
        As yet I have no idea when that will be. 

        The slipped furling gear spacer.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Shelter Bay Boat Yard: out and down

        GANNET is out of the water and the mast is down.
        Edwin came to our slip at 8:15 and rode to the travel lift with me.  He likes the sound of the Torqeedo.
        Work is being done on the cradle.
        Steve, the rigger, says the the problem with the furling gear is a slipped spacer and easily fixed.
        Once the mast was down I was able to remove the jib from the furling gear and, spreading it out on the ground, was even able to fold it and fit it into a sail bag, something I could never do on GANNET’s deck.  However, with the mast blocking the forward hatch and partially the main hatch, I can’t get the bag into the cabin and the sail is going to have to make the journey in the cockpit.
        I am pleased that progress has been made and even dare hope that GANNET will be in the Pacific Ocean sometime next week and on her way to San Diego not long afterwards.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Shelter Bay Marina: evening

       A second post of the day.        
       I am on the water, which I almost always would want to be, but had hoped that at this moment I would be on land.
        I still like the people here.
        Edwin was most apologetic when he came by this afternoon to tell me the haul out was not going to happen.  Everything went wrong with the travel lift today.  I understand and accept.  I have learned over the decades that sometimes I have to detune myself and here I am trying.  Another day doesn’t matter until I run out of days, and if I do on the last passage, I will have fulfilled my own precept as included on the Wit page of the main site:  go out, going forward.
       Not expecting that to happen, I strive to be patient, though as in a poem I have noted that the word has two meanings, neither of which is natural for me.
       Not wanting to miss someone coming by the boat to tell me they were ready to haul us out, I went without lunch today.  As when I waited a few afternoons ago for DHL, there is never going to be a failure because I am not where I might be.
        My routine here is to shower around 5 PM and on my way back to GANNET buy a can of cold tonic from the mini-mart, make a gin/rum/tequila and tonic with a slice of lime that I drink on deck at sunset, listening to music.  Tonight’s Bach was the Sixth Cello Suite performed by Pablo Casals.  Tonight’s drink was tequila and tonic.  I am now on my second, having come below where I ate a dinner of Santa Fe Rice and Chicken at Central.  And I will go onto a third.
       I need Bach these days.  And tequila or gin or rum.  
       My limited Laphroaig is too valuable to touch.

Shelter Bay Marina: mañana

        At 9:45 I walked to the boat yard and was told GANNET’s haul out would  be delayed until around 1:00 PM and that someone would come to the boat to let me know when they were ready for us.
        I returned to GANNET and continued reading THE PATH BETWEEN THE SEAS.  
        1:00 PM passed
        At 2:30 I finished the book and walked to the boat yard where I was told we would be hauled “in about a half an hour” and that someone would come to the boat to let me know when they were ready.
        At 3:15 I was excited to hear a knock on the hull until I was told they can’t haul us today.
        I am now told they will haul GANNET at 8 AM tomorrow.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Shelter Bay Marina: hope

        The cradle is under construction and GANNET is scheduled to be hauled from the water at 10 a.m. tomorrow morning.
        Is it possible she will be in the Pacific Ocean next week?

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Shelter Bay Marina: do as I do

        Yesterday DHL said my tiller pilots, whose delivery they fouled up Monday, would arrive “by the end of day.”  When they had not arrived by 3:30 in the afternoon when the marina office closes, I found a folding chair and sat outside the office, reading and checking periodically for updates from DHL, until sunset at 6 PM. 
        When I checked again first thing this morning, delivery was unknown.  By 10:00 the package was out for delivery.  Just after 1:00 it arrived.  I was overjoyed, until I found only one ST2000 in the box.  I ordered two.  
        Online again I find that the other tiller pilot is “delayed in Customs”.  They are identical.  Why one is delayed I do not know.  Still I do have one.

        Last night I discovered that the small inverter I used to charge my MacBook and iPad was not working.  I have two spares and dug one out of the waterproof box inside a waterproof bag in which it is stored.  It didn’t work either, so I concluded the problem was in the wiring, which is quite simple.
        However, this morning Agusto picked me up at 8 a.m. to drive into Colon to buy $540 of material for the cradle.  We were supposed to do this yesterday morning, but he didn’t show up until late afternoon.  Three hours round trip.  So I couldn’t go over the wiring until after I returned at 11.
        To get to the ship’s batteries, two Group 24 Lifeline AGMs, stowed beneath the v-berth, I had to untie and remove several bags.  When I did, the problem was obvious.  The head of one of the battery terminal bolts had completely corroded away, along with end fittings on two wires.  Fortunately I had the necessary spares and charging has resumed.
        Perhaps with the material purchase and scheduled delivery later today, action will begin.


        I tried to upload a six minute video shot at 1080p to YouTube but cancelled when the estimated time remaining to upload was given as three hours.
        As I have mentioned before, I’ll upload when I can, but have no idea when that will be.  Probably not until I’m back in Evanston.


        I don’t ever recall advising that you do as I do.  But perhaps you should.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Shelter Bay Marina: wasted

        Not me.  The day.  And I don’t have enough days left to waste one.
        I realized that once the mast is down, I will find it difficult if not impossible to fit the Torqeedo and steer to the travel lift dock, so I told Steve, the rigger, that we will not lower the mast tomorrow, but at the travel lift dock or when out of the water.  He raised his eyebrows at the last, which causes me some concern.  GANNET’s mast was lowered without difficulty when she was out of the water before being trailered to San Diego.
        I then walked toward the boat yard office and came across Edwin coming toward me with another owner.  I asked when he plans to haul GANNET and was told “when the materials to build the cradle arrive.”  I was not told when that might be.
        This afternoon I received an email from DHL that they had tried to deliver my tiller pilot order from Amazon but that “I was not at home.”  What?
        I took my laptop with this message in it to the marina office where a young woman whose name I do not know, but has always been extremely helpful, called DHL and seemed to establish that their driver had shown up at the marina office but said the package was for a yacht whose name was other than GANNET.  Perhaps he couldn’t read it.  I don’t know.  Whatever he said, the women in the office said that no such yacht was there.  Hopefully this has been sorted out.  Another delivery attempt is to be made tomorrow.
        So I spent the day reading THE PATH BETWEEN THE SEAS.
        I know I wrote this yesterday.  I feel it even more strongly today.  And will try to resist writing it again tomorrow.  The thing I have always disliked about Panama is that my life is no longer under my own control here.  It isn’t in the canal.  It isn’t going overland.  I can only wait until others do their jobs.
        And one of those jobs will be to sort out the jammed furling gear.
        If I ever get out of here, I will never come back.


        My Bach this evening was The Orchestral Suites, subtitled “To a Young Prince.”  Thank you, Johann.  I don’t get called ‘young’ much any more.  In fact men I consider old call me ‘sir’.  It happened on the dock a few days ago, causing me to laugh and reconsider my obviously false image of myself.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Shelter Bay Marina: waiting; a human error; part 3

        7 pm.  Tequila with a slice of lime at hand.  Eva Cassidy singing, “I know you by heart”.  Earlier I was sitting on deck listening to the 1955 Glenn Gould GOLDBERG VARIATIONS and a man walking along the dock said, “Beautiful music.”  It is.
        I did more mast lowering preparation  this morning.  Disconnecting the wires that run to the masthead tricolor and the steaming light.  ‘Steaming light’ and GANNET don’t seem to go together.  I removed the split rings from the shroud turnbuckles and tied a line between the stern corner pulpits to support the mast when it is lowered.  There isn’t anything more for me to do except wait for others to do their work.  That is what I most dislike about Panama:  my life and my boat are no longer in my control, either in the canal or trucking across.  I will be so glad when GANNET is in the Pacific Ocean with her mast up and I don’t need anything from any body and can just deal with the sea.


        It is a common human failing to postulate  personal failings into universal principles.  You can’t do something, so no one can.   This is not usually true.
        Three examples.
        I don’t read much about sailing any more and when I do, I often find younger sailors reinventing the wheel, thinking they are solving problems that I solved and wrote about decades ago.
         One of these, written by a self-styled ‘expert’ stated that you can’t row an inflatable dinghy.  
         I have rowed Avon Redstarts for forty years.  Carol learned to row a Redstart.  She might need some refresher practice, but she could again.
         Gin has become trendy.  I feel about trendy drinkers as true Christians probably feel about those who only go to church at Christmas and Easter.
      I recently read that no one drinks gin straight.  Gin is for cocktails.  At this moment I would love an ice cold martini, but in the absence of that impossibility, on GANNET I usually drink air temperature gin straight.
         A reader sent me a link to an online sailing forum in which someone wrote that Moore 24s have impossibly small interiors in which no one can move around much less live.
         I sometimes get tired of ignorance.
         It is proven that a tall, 6’1”/1.85 cm, old man can live on a Moore 24 continuously for at least seven months and live well, making ocean voyages, writing superior prose, listening to beautiful music, reading great books,  and drinking from time to time 10 year Laphroaig from a crystal glass.
        So I sip tequila—I have only a third of a bottle of Laphroaig on board and unless I find more in Panama City will save it for San Diego.  There can be no other end of voyage, end of the second part of my life, drink.  And I wait until I regain my freedom from others.
        I don’t know what my future brings, other than death, but I do know that I will never  return to Panama.  I hate—not too strong a word--my dependence on others here.
         The alternatives are the Northwest Passage and Cape Horn.
         The Northwest Passage is cold, though decreasingly so, but it is all coastal, and I am pelagic.
        Cape Horn is at the heart of my life.  But I don’t think that in anything but exceptional conditions GANNET could round it east to west.  Off the Bahamas a couple of weeks ago I couldn’t tack GANNET in less than 180º.  She just doesn’t have the weight.  10’/3 meter waves stopped her dead, and the waves off Cape Horn are often much higher.
        The other way, west to east, is possible on GANNET and would be interesting.  
        I don’t think it will happen.
        I would first have to sail to New Zealand and once there, I would certainly keep GANNET in the Bay of Islands for the two years foreign vessels are now permitted.  That would take me into my 80s.  And if the Hilton Head condo problems are ever resolved, I may become an Atlantic Ocean sailor.  Of the oceans, I think of the Pacific and the Southern as home waters, though I once wrote that the world is my home waters and I agree with the ancients that there is only Ocean.
        So I wait.
        When I was on deck earlier, two hawks were circling high overhead, light wind created ripples on the water, stars begin to appear, and a gibbous moon.
        I love being on the water.


        The image is a screen shot of a site that measures ocean passages.
        As you can see the shortest distance from Balboa, Panama, on the Pacific side of the isthmus, to San Diego is 2844 nautical miles which at 4 knots made good would take almost 30 days,  Much of the passage will be light winds and in head winds.  We will have to sail far more than 2844 miles and I doubt we will make four knots good.
        With patience we will free ourselves of others and the land and get on with it.


Saturday, February 16, 2019

Shelter Bay Marina: lowered

        At 7 a.m. I was on deck to lower the jib before the wind came up.  I need not have bothered.  The jib did not come down and the wind has not come up.
        I unfurled the jib, let go the halyard clutch and went forward to tug down on the luff.  It came 6” and jammed.  I could neither go up or down.  After a few expletives, I stepped onto the dock to have a better angle and looked up.  I can’t see the problem.  I surmise that the top swivel on the furling gear is somehow jammed on the foil.  Presumably we can lower the mast with the jib in place and sort it out at deck level.
        I retired to the Great Cabin and finished my air temperature instant coffee—I haven’t been bothering to heat the water these last few mornings—and my breakfast, which was a combination of oatmeal and a local meusli.  I did not find oatmeal at the supermarket.  I prefer plain uncooked oatmeal, but the combination is satisfactory.

        Returning to the deck, detaching the boom vang, lowering the boom, and removing the mainsail went better than I expected.  I was able to flake the sail into a compact enough bundle that I could slide it through the companionway without having to remove the full battens.  Then forward, then aft onto the starboard pipe berth where it fits nicely on top of the Avon dinghy. The boom and boom vang are also stowed there and the carbon fiber bow sprit is on the starboard side of the v-berth.
        While I was working, Steve, a South African who works with the boat yard as a rigger, came by and we have tentatively scheduled to lower the mast on Tuesday.
        Also while I was working a man came off one of the nearby catamarans, stopped and asked incredulously, “You are living on that?” 

Friday, February 15, 2019

Shelter Bay Marina: iPad GPS; videos; two quotes from Theodore Roosevelt

        Three readers have emailed a solution to my buying the wrong iPad.  I thank Tom, Rudi, and Wayne for informing me of a GPS device that links to iPads via Bluetooth.  Here is the link.  I will buy a Bad  Elf when I can.


        I am not a videographer, but in an effort to express my experience and at the request of others, I take videos.  I very seldom take still images any more, both because being a cyclops I don’t see as much as I used to and because I seldom do see anything on passages that I have not already photographed in the past four years.  Above is one I did take on the way from Hilton Head.
        I have given some thought to videoing on GANNET and have reached a conclusion and a solution.
        The conclusion and solution are that GANNET’s motion is so quick that cameras have to be mounted before hand and set up so they only have to be turned on when action begins.
        To that end I have placed a mount on the mast facing aft and one in the cabin on the companionway bulkhead facing forward.  Before I sail for San Diego I will also mount a GoPro on a bracket on the stern rail facing forward.  I will place a GoPro on the mast bracket.  And I will use another on a head band.  I will also shoot handheld with my Nikon AW1.
        I am a writer and believe in words, but we will see what I get in video on the way to San Diego.
        I shot more videos than usual on the passage from Hilton Head, including one of going to bare poles in the gale, and tried to vary the perspective.  The Internet here is inadequate to upload them.   A six minute video shot at 1080p showed that it would have taken three hours to upload to YouTube.
         I’ll upload them when I can, but that might not be until San Diego.


        By chance I came across two excellent quotes from Theodore Roosevelt today.
        David sent me one for which I thank him.  I believe I have posted it here before, but it certainly deserves repetition:
        It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
        And I decided to reread David McCullough’s masterfull, THE PATH BETWEEN THE SEAS, about the building of the Panama Canal.  I first read it before my first transit in 1985.  David McCullough is a fine writer and the story epic.  He prefaces it with these of Roosevelt’s words:
        Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much or suffer much, because they live in that gray twilight that knows not victory or defeat.

        Great joy.  Great despair.  But then of course I am mad.  Though I like to believe that Teddy would not have thought me so.