World ARC - Day 21 - 29th Jan – Shelter Bay marin a, Colon, Panama

Steve and Lynda Cooke
Sun 31 Jan 2016 20:40

09:22.2.7N 79:57W

World ARC - Day 21 - 29th Jan – Shelter Bay marina, Colon, Panama

A five hour motor sail, in 8 to 12 knots of breeze down the coast from Clinton, past lush tropical rain forest, with butterflies and birds around Nina, saw us approaching the entrance of the Panama Canal.

We entered in between the outer breakwaters of the canal, with tankers, container ships, car carriers and cargo boats of every configuration anchored and under way around the entrance of the Canal.

First the obligatory call to Christobel signal station on VHF Ch12, to tell them Nina was crossing the entrance. A grunt and a "no problem" meant we were free to cross this extremely busy seaway, then Nina was inside the breakwater, West into the channel,buoys marking the safe channel inside the wall of concrete blocks (wrong way round! the IALA buoyage system in the USA means the lateral markers are green on the way in on the Port side – it's red right returning here.)

Then a shout on Ch72 to ARC rally control. "what would you like?" Steve asked for a cold beer and a visit to the diesel dock.

Two out of three wasn't bad. The Diesel had to be paid for in advance, and we made sure we had enough diesel paid for to save a second trip to the marina office. (same as filling up in an American gas station! ridiculous system! Were we going to fill up and run away?).

The marina was full! Boats from all over the world, waiting for transit through the Canal and sorting clearance.

Great service from the staff though, we had to get our electricity supply changed on the pontoon to 220V, but I think we are still getting 60Hz not 50 Hz, as the microwave tripped out the circuit board as soon as we switched on, but they changed us from an American 110V supply straight away on the dock.

The next morning saw us provisioning, minibus to the Panamanian supermarket, battling with Spanish and American supplies and Brands, with our lists of UK requirements.

Self raising flour?
Bread flour?
PG tips tea?
Breakfast Cereals without mass amounts of sugar coating?
Forget it....

We did find decent steak (OK, it was halal), and decent biscuits and cake for the night watches, so no probs......

An inspection of the engine compartment bilge that night by Lynda revealed four inches of sea water! quelle horreur! novomente??
Steve shut off all the sea cocks, and bailed out four buckets of water, and we left it till the next morning to finish the investigation.

The morning of the 31st revealed that the engine impeller was the culprit once again, bringing back old fears from the Balearics, but Steve had ordered a new Speedseal system from the UK before he left for Grand Canaria in early November, and brought it with him, so it was fitted, and the old impeller replaced and the leak was solved. Phew! its a doddle compared with the old days!

Today also saw our Fumigation from the bugs and creepy crawlies, and certification of cleanliness and glow-in-the-dark anti-insectiness for the Galapogos Islands.
We will not be able to touch anything and lick our fingers on Nina now for the foreseeable future, for fear of our insides shutting down due to DDT.
Memories returned of our cat, Furby, having to have Intravenous drips after catching cockroaches after fumigation of the house in Thailand! Stick to the beer and wine, guys,. Its in sealed containers!
We will continue to provision, clean, eat, drink and Party until Tuesday 2nd, when Nina will join the second half of the fleet in the entrance of the canal for our transit to the Pacific.