Thursday, February 16, 2012

Passage Prep Equals Non-Stop Work

With only a few days left before we leave, we are still scrambling to get everything done. Sorry for the lack of entries but getting ready for the long ocean passages ahead is really hard work.

Since our guests Dave and Lorna left Astarte and headed back to Ohio, we have been shopping, buying, packing, checking, cleaning, storing and researching. The lists seem to grow rather than get smaller. The boat is lower in the water with all the parts and provisions we are stocking.

We had a computer failure in the process and that has taken more time than we had anticipated. You can't buy an English language computer here very easily and so we bought a Spanish one thinking we could simply change the language on the software. That wasn't the case unless you buy the top line software version (not in our budget). So we'll hope the repair on this computer works.

This is a typical day in our last few weeks. And we've done this everyday except the weekends. Get up early and load the dinghy and outboard. Listen to the radio nets then rush to shore to either drop off or pick up something (ie. laundry, propane tanks) from the "Gente de Mar" service. Then bring it back to the boat. After we off load that – we head back to shore for a shopping adventure. This shopping trip can be to one of the many places we've been going: a grocery store, mall, hardware store, fabric store, boating store or all of the above in one day. The trip often depends on whether or not we are taking the local bus or have hired a cab.
We will often bus to a location and once loaded up – hire a cab to take us back with our bags of stuff. And once we get back to the dock and offload from the cab, we then have to load up the dinghy and get back to the boat. On many occasions, this has meant more than one dinghy run. Michael would take a load of stuff back to the boat (about a ten minute dinghy ride often very wet, into waves) and Barbara would stay on shore with the remaining stuff. Then Michael would return and we'd reload and then load it up on the boat. We are certainly getting a good workout doing this.

We've loaded up on hundreds of cans of vegetables and meat,and ,oh yeah BEER(at a reported $5-$15 per can in the South Pacific we stowed alot); bags of pasta, rice, beans, flour, sugar; and, jars and bottles of olive oil, condiments and sauces. That's just the food. We've stocked up on motor oils, greases and additives. We purchased new foam for our outside cushions (that was a trip getting a large piece of foam back to the boat!) Then there are all those fishing lures, lines, swivels, hooks, weights and clasps to catch the big ones out there. After the non-perishables have been bought, we started on the meats and cheeses for the refrigerator (after a major cleaning of both). Of course, as soon as the freezer was packed solid and the bottom of the fridge was filled to the brim with cheese - the fridge decided to hiccup. So then that project stressed us out and Michael worked on it non-stop with runs to a few hardware stores and refrigeration places. But luckily he has it fixed and its all working though he wants to do a more permanent fix in the future.

We also have started loading the fuel on board. We need all tanks topped off and jerry jugs with 20 extra gallons of diesel on the deck. We carry 72 gallons in the tank and with the 20 extra that still gives us only 92. With 800 miles on the first leg to Galapagos, we have to be very careful using fuel. We should be able to get fuel there (though our "Vagabond" friends have warned us it's not very good).

Once all this stuff is on board – then you have to do something with it. Our space is fixed. We have a 42 foot boat. Every bit of storage space is being cleaned out and repacked. What we haven't used in three years is seriously considered whether it stays or goes. We've sold our folding bicycle, the old outboard engine (with spare parts) and given away Caribbean and Bahama guides and charts (the ones we didn't send to Richard and Rene via Tom). Space is being found everywhere. And the waterline is going down...and down. We think a good inch or two already.

Packing also means puling the labels off every tin and labeling the cans and repacking anything packed in cardboard. Ziplocks are our friend! All this is very time consuming and back breaking.

Once we got the new foam back to the boat, we cut the new cushions and they are done. Michael is also continuing to sew on the new dinghy cover and made good progress over the last weekend when we stayed onboard. (there was an Ironman event here in Amador on Sunday and we thought traffic would be awful. Lance Armstrong competed, coming in second. He sure had a big entourage around him – as he ran by. We could watch from the boat.)

There has also been a fair amount of paperwork involved in getting ready. We have to secure an agent for clearing into Galapagos and that is best done in advance. We also needed to do all sorts of immigration prep for French Polynesia – again securing an agent. But lots and lots of paper has to be filled out and sent (along with those favorite dollars). Michael is also putting in lots of navigation and charting info for the trip. All this eats away at time – and it feels like we're running out of it!

Between emergency repairs (computer and fridge), regular daily cooking and cleaning, and the shopping, storing, packing away – it has been crazy. We still have to check all the rigging (that means getting Michael up the mast) and checking out of Panama with the Port Captain and Immigration. Last runs for fresh veggies and fruit and bread and one more fuel run should finish off the spending spree.

Our goal is to be out of Las Brisas in Panama City on Saturday morning. We'll stop in Las Perlas for a last check out and to store the last of our items and check for a good weather window to leave.

We actually are thinking the passage will be more restful than getting ready for it. And we have enough stores on board – we'll finally enjoy some zero-dollar days on passage.

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