Wed 28th May08
Got back from an unexpected linehandling for Canadian couple Seth & Jaime on their Gemini catamaran 'Slapdash' over Tuesday night. They found themselves short of a 4th linehandler close to 5.30 p.m. when their Advisor was due on board to start their transit & when I heard, I said I'd help out - it would be tough to be refused your transit, after six weeks of waiting, just for the lack of one more body on board!! It was a good, if very wet, transit, with no mishaps, good food and company, but a very disturbed night sharing a mooring buoy with 'Blue Jay' on Lake Gatun, with reflected, short wind-chop making a lot of noise against the hulls of the catamaran -and some splashing in through my tiny open hatch to make the bunk wet where I was lying...
Wind on the nose meant no sailing was possible across the lake to get to the 'down' locks of Pedro Miguel and Miraflores where the live videocam overlooking the last lock is positioned (see www.pancanal.com for the live video shots it gives). I was interested to see the pleasant, almost-complete, new premises of the Balboa Y.C., replacing the old building burned down some years ago, as I went to get a taxi in to the bus terminal. Unfortunately for cruisers like myself, most of the Y.C. mooring buoys seem to be taken up with local boats, so it's difficult to get a buoy on completing a transit - most boats seem to be making for the anchorages further on.
The last few days have been very rainy, with the wet season well under way! On Monday, I'd caught the bus in to Panama City to find a shop I'd been told about selling glass mat and filler for my Windpilot rudder repair, after having had no luck over Thursday to Saturday trying to find what was needed here in Colon. They had the fine glass mat I wanted but no filler - except for talc..! It was interesting to see Panama City - so much pleasanter than Colon. I went in with Maria who was expecting to see her husband Karl in hospital where he'd been transferred from Colon on Friday night - but, to her disbelief, they said they'd 'lost him' - nightmare! She searched the hospital looking at the occupants of all their beds... All eventually turned out OK when it transpired that he'd discharged himself and taken the bus back to Colon and the Y.C. to get back on board his boat after getting little sleep and being given no food or water for two days.... He seems to be making a good recovery from his stab wounds and pierced lungs now that he's getting Maria's home cooking and TLC.
One success was finally fixing the freshwater leak over the weekend when it wasn't raining (cockpit locker having to be emptied for access)- the polybutylene pipe from the hot water tank had a pin prick hole in it (don't ask me how that can happen!) so I cut it at that point and used a through connector I had in my spares kit to re-join the two ends - so, hopefully, now is all OK (and the cockpit locker is, yet again, re-packed!!). Another job was fixing mosquito netting in place over all openings - lots of flies, mosquitoes and noseeums around!
Torrential rain Tuesday morning meant heavy flooding in the streets nearby - and a taxi I was in claimed not to be able to get me back through the deep water with a big load of heavy shopping - so I was forced to try to walk back with it through deep puddles - impossible... A local 4-wheel drive car stopped and helped me back finally.. but not before I was soaked through... and 'Nereida' had a couple of partly open hatches... oops!! We're still trying to dry out - hoping for some sun on Thursday to help things along - and also to help get the Windpilot repair completed which was held up due to rain, lack of materials and the repair guy going off to Cartagena for several days...
I've been having a major problem with credit/debit cards - but think it may now be sorted after several lengthy, expensive phone calls. I became aware of the problem when the Canal Transit deposit ('buffer') was due to be renewed after ten days and the Bank found my cards were rejected - without a deposit, a transit is not possible!
I'm getting the boat ready now for that elusive transit (4th June, or before if I'm lucky) and the onward passage north, hoping the Windpilot repair will soon be complete .... everything seems to be taking such a long time, with the continual rain not helping.