Out at anchor

Phil May and Andrea Twigg
Sun 29 Jan 2012 03:02
Living in a house you take it for granted that you get electricity whenever you need it.  On a yacht you have to make your own.  There are many ways of generating electricity - solar panels, windvanes, hydrovanes (things you can drag along behind the boat when sailing), alternators on the engines (like cars) - but for living aboard in comfort you are fairly dependent on having a good diesel generator.  So when you flick on the generator switch in the evening and nothing happens then it is a concern.  There is no electricity company that is going to restore the power in a couple of hours.
Our generator failed last night but we were lucky because the ARC guys found a yacht services company this morning that could fix it.  It only took them an hour to locate the faulty relay and replace it.  Had it occurred in a couple of weeks time then a new relay would have been hard to find and we would probably have had to last for several months using the main engines to charge the batteries. 
Andrea, Bertie and Estella went provisioning yesterday, stocking up for the trip to the Galapagos islands.  Steak is really cheap here and chocolate is really expensive, so much so that a small chocolate bar (75p in the UK) is the same price as a big pack of steak.  Clothes are very cheap as well.  Andrea spent $60 to buy three dresses and five pairs of shorts.    
One drawback of being anchored here is that the city of Panama pumps all its sewage into the sea, so it would be foolhardy to swim off the boat.  We are going to sail to the Las Perlas islands tomorrow, for a few days of tropical island living, and then come back to Panama City when the new spinnaker is ready for collection 
When we were visiting the Embera indians a couple of days ago Andrea, Estella and I got ink tattooes.  Andrea had one on her wrist, done by the tribe's medicine man.  It looked really faint to start with but it has been developing ever since and it is now a dark blue and looking quite permanent.
Mine looks less permanent, fortunately, because it was done by a girl with a shaky hand and the ink ran.  Anyway, the crew insisted that we put a picture in the blog so here it is.