Friday, January 13, 2012

Shopping. Spending. Installing.

Astarte is getting so many new things – she should be one happy boat. And we are spending boat units like a couple of drunken sailors!

We already have the new Tohatsu outboard, Jenny-San and she's working great. We're still on the "break-in period" with extra oil in the fuel. Michael can't go as fast as he'd like until we burn through this tank. So that big project is checked off the list.

Yesterday, after many, many, many phone calls we bought another solar panel (140 watts-Chinese made). The process was actually kinda funny. We started looking for panels when we were in Bocas del Toro. Michael called probably everybody in Panama that sells them to get prices. These ranged from around $400 to $800 for one panel between 90 and 190 watts. We just missed a shipment of a bunch of panels to the Bocas area from the states at what seemed like a really good price. But, that's how it goes – timing is everything. After much searching on the radio nets, internet and by phone we found a company called Panasolar that had the best price. But the panel had to be picked up from the free zone in Colon. Something that is quite difficult to do and can add quite a bit of cost. After talking to Sergio (A Russian living in Panama for about two years) we arranged to get a 140 watt panel for $390. He called us yesterday morning and said he had to be in Amador (the area where we are anchored) so he'd come by with the panel. We agreed to meet him at the public dock. He brought two panels and as we were looking at them, the Aduana (customs) men came by and wanted to see a receipt from Sergio. After much discussion (sometimes a bit heated) Sergio had to pack up the panels and leave. We then met him across the road behind a restaurant and made the deal. We exchanged cash and felt like we were doing something illegal (which we weren't) – but it seemed bizarre. We got a receipt and hoped we could get back to the public dock without any additional hassle from the customs agents.

We also purchased a new head (toilet) the day before and it would be delivered to the local chandlery on Thursday. It was near where we did the solar panel deal – so Michael walked down to pick that up while Barbara stayed with the solar panel. We lucked out when a van offered to drive us across the road with the panel and toilet to the dock. We got by the customs agent without any questions and quickly off-loaded the panel to the dinghy as well as the head.

Today, Friday is head installation day! (Friday the 13th – should we do it?) Getting the old, leaky one out wasn't too bad. Unfortunately neither the "out " hose or the screw holes from the old head, match the new one. So it's turned into a huge project.

Michael's been tackling projects non-stop. He re-sealed a leaky port and unfortunately the "Boat Life" caulk he bought while in St. Petersburg in September was bad. All three different tubes had gotten hard – so he was only able to squeeze about half a tube out of each – barely enough to get the job done. Hopefully the port light won't leak – we'll see when we get some heavy rain.

But, KUDOS to WEST MARINE. After a few e-mails back and forth about the caulk, they stood by their product and have sent three new tubes of the to Dave's address to deliver to us when he visits. They were incredibly fast with a reply to our e-mail and responsive by doing the right thing. They have our loyalty still. We were impressed.

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