It been work, work, work aboard Astarte. We feel like we've been going non-stop for weeks. Sorry for the lack of log entries. On Sunday, we left Portobello harbor where we did get a lot of projects done (or at least attempted). Heading into Colon and the Panama Canal area is exciting. There are about a hundred ships in the area almost all the time. Some coming from the Pacific and heading into the Caribbean and others preparing to go through the canal and sitting at anchor or motoring around awaiting their turn. You feel very small in a 42 foot sailboat amidst the 600 foot container ships, tankers and car carriers. Plus you have the chemical ships, military vessels and various other seagoing freight ships, barges and tugs. It is exciting to maneuver through them As you enter the Port of Cristobal you have to call Port Control and ask for permission to enter. After getting through the breakwater, we took a hard right to Shelter Bay Marina which was our destination.
We stayed one night in the marina and did all our paperwork for hauling out for our shaft replacement. We luckily got hauled relatively early on Monday morning. It is always quite scary watching the travel lift balance your boat out of the water. Here it then gets put on a truck and driven into the yard and stands are placed around it.
They do squeeze the boats in this yard. They backed us in between two boats which was quite thrilling. There is very little room on one side of us. We had hoped to get some scaffolding so we could wax the hull – but it won't fit on one side.
Once settled, Michael worked on getting the old shaft out – which wasn't as difficult as we thought it might be. Also, lots of calls to Marine Warehouse to make sure our chain and new shaft material would get here as scheduled. We were assured it would be here around 4 pm. So with the haul-out done,shaft out, we called the machine shop to confirm that we would be in at 7 am the next morning with old shaft and new material. With the Thursday holiday we were hoping it would get done by Friday so we could minimize our time (read: expense) in the yard. Well, 4 pm came no shaft or chain. 6 PM came, no shaft no chain and no response as to when and where it was. At 8 pm we canceled our cab for the 6:30 am pick-up. Still no idea where it was though a cryptic text message said something about car problems.
Finally the next day (Tuesday) around 10 am, we hear it will be here around 4 pm. We call the machine shop and hope they can still squeeze us in on Wednesday. Around 3 pm, the delivery comes. The new shaft material and 200 feet of new anchor chain. Whooppeee! We make arrangements for a 6:30 am pick-up so we're at the machine shop when it opens Meanwhile, Michael has also taken apart and repaired a broken through-hull. He also has replaced a water pump on the fresh water system which continues to be a problem. Perhaps the pump he repaired is the problem so he replaces it with a new pump. We've been taking fresh water out of the engine room every day.
Wednesday arrives – we get up with the sun and get all the bits together to go to the machine shop. We're ready and waiting for the cab by 6:15 am. 6:30 no cab. 6:45 no cab. Call Teddy who we arranged the transportation through. He tells us his brother (the driver) is stuck at the locks. 7 am no cab – we know he's not at the locks because now we've seen a half-dozen cars come through. 7:15 no car. Lots of calls – lots of frustration. By about 7:30 the car comes and gets Michael and the two long pieces of metal in the car and they head to the shop.
Meanwhile, Barbara is heading into town as well to get some groceries on the 8 am bus.
Michael manages to get the shop to work on the shaft immediately even though we are a day late. The shop thinks they can actually get it done in a day. Amazing (especially in Panama where nothing moves quickly). But then again, that's what they say – what will reality be?
Believe it or not – the new shaft was done by that afternoon and Michael went in to get it and even got a ride back with the new and old shaft.
Thursday (today), a holiday for everyone but the good crew of Astarte. Luckily we didn't have to get going at sun-up. By noon, the new shaft is installed as well as the feathering prop. The prop probably took longer than the shaft! It all looks great. Thanks again to Barbara's brother Richard for his help in getting us the shaft material.
Next project – getting the old chain off the boat, the rusty chain locker cleaned out and the new chain measured, marked and put on board. It will make a huge difference anchoring and keeping the boat tidier – and fewer rust stains on the boat. (Thanks Tom).
Plus, the fresh water system problem wasn't the pump – it's elsewhere – so that project is still not done. And, before we get back in the water we'll grease up the centerboard pin and all the through-hulls.
Perhaps we'll make it back in the water on Saturday!
It feels like an early Christmas aboard Astarte with all this new stuff.
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