World ARC - Day 31 - 8th Feb – Waiting for bottom scrubbing

Steve and Lynda Cooke
Mon 8 Feb 2016 21:43

08:54.6N 79:31.5W

World ARC - Day 31 - 8th Feb – Waiting for bottom scrubbing

The trip to Cuba
For those checking out our Blog at
we were diverted to Cuba before coming through the Panama Canal. Ho Hum. Sorry about that. Its wrong. It was an odd digit placed into the email address, which I have tried three times now to edit and change. If it doesn't alter, it will make for an interesting diversion to our blog readers. For those who are friends and signed up to our Nina page on Facebook, you were totally unaware of this interesting fact up to this moment, and it doesn't alter a thing, as the descriptions and photos are good anyway!

Bottom scrubbing
There are still eight or nine boats here in Panama from the ARC fleet, finishing up things before pushing off into the big blue, and losing civilisation and things like marinas, chandlers, shops, provisions, gas, water, beer, etc. etc. I'm sure we will find everything we need! Previous boats that cross the Pacific have survived! There are people living on the islands! But that's not our problem.
Our problem is Galapagos, and we have a dirty bottom.............
Nina needs a scrub. We are still waiting for the divers to come and clean us. We will not get in with the regulations in place there.
Its Carnival time in South America, and as we remember well from our time living in Brasil, its party time. Panama seems to be able to party as well as any other place on earth, so they are all going bonkers, and taking the opportunity and excuse for a jolly good party. The divers have gone on holiday over the long weekend, and we are now a bit stuck, instead of joining the other boats in the fleet around the Las Perlas Islands.
Galapagos is now a real problem for cruising sailing boats. This year its got even worse than before.
They have come in for a lot of criticism for letting the place become spoilt, with documentaries about shark fishing, and civilisation encroaching on the wonderful unique wildlife there.
The hair-shirt tree-hugging veggies have gone a bit mad now, and we have to conform to the new regime. We are told it will be a four-man inspection team of officers, and they will also dive on the boat to inpect all through-hull holes for incrustations and sea growth, and make sure we do not have any orange peel, mango peel, strawberry husks (wtf?) or that we do not have a poo or wee within 80 miles of the islands (so what do the locals do with it?) Our lovely friends Joyce and John Easteal had to go 80 miles out, two years ago, when 19 of the 38 ARC boats failed inspection, and had a pretty terrible scraping and gouging from the divers, taking chunks out of the gel coat of their lovely boat.
I'm sure its all for the best really, and I quite understand trying to save paradise for a bit longer, so we are doing everything we can to conform with the requirements, rather than taking the alternate option (which at least one other ARC boat is doing) of buying a David Attenborough DVD of the place and just giving it a miss! Besides, we are picking up Karen and Peter, our friends who are flying out there, so we have to ensure we are not rejected by the inspection team.
We need to have Bio-degradable, eco-friendly cleaners and washing stuff. These are relatively easy to source in Europe, but so far we have found it almost impossible in the Caribbean and Central America! As usual, Europe is the only place on the planet trying to save it, and the rest of the Nations everywhere else we travel look at you like you have crawled out from under the cheese when you ask for ECO or BIO items? We will simply put all our usual stuff in a bag in a suitcase under a bed and smile as we pong and whiff from an absence of floral and fruity smellies, and hope they are happy with us.
We also need notices around the boat telling us we cannot throw things overboard, and to have a system of recycling in place. Easy peasy!
So a few coloured bags under the sink, a few printed notices and eat like pigs from the freezer till we get there!
But Nina has a dirty bottom, and the bloody divers are at a party!
We will give it one more day here in Panama, waiting for the divers to surface (sic) and then sail across to Las Perlas and try to do it ourselves.

Anchoring fun
Its been really windy in Panama. There is a daily 'cruiser net' here on VHF72 at 09.00, but from the conversations, its more of a live aboard anchoring net, as most of the American and Canadian boats seem to have been here for years. We found it really surprising therefore when the wind picked up to 30 knots yesterday afternoon, with 40 knot gusts, coupled with the 3.5m rise in tide, that boats started to drag across the bay.
We had already had a couple of ARC boats dragging, and Steve had to jump on Toujour Belle to stop her drifting into one of the Cats. They were surprised he could start the engine and raise the anchor, but it is an identical boat to our old Fortune Cookie, so not a bother to take her away!
Take Off dragged as well, but that was no real surprise, as it was just another thing to add to the list of 'sailing experiences' for them. (boom and goose-neck broken during an accidental jibe, broached twice nearly T-Boning another yacht, two spinnakers blown out, run aground twice, and now dragging at the first windy anchorage) yes, we are keeping a list, and keeping clear of them!
Its been almost as much fun to watch as in the Mediterranean in previous years, just with different gesticulations and accents. We watched one big old Ketch drag and lift their anchor and re-set four times. How they can sleep on it feeling safe at night goodness only knows? A rock would be better than their old Danforth anchor that has now ploughed four furrows across the bay here at La Playita.
We are glad we changed our old Spade anchor for the new 25 Kg Rocna. (the stainless Spade is now in the bilge as our spare) So far the Rocna has set first time every time, and held like it was in concrete. We laid 45 meters of rode, and slept without thinking of an anchor alarm.

12 Volt socket issues
Wow, you can have so much fun with this stuff! When we had the wiring reconnected last year in Almerimar after all the electronics were ripped out and stolen, we had a couple of extra sockets put in. Good job we did.
We didnt realise when we had our new gear selection system installed in St Lucia, that the Volvo engineer had modified and reduced the voltage to the 12 Volt system. He was wittering on about not needing such a big system or voltage to supply the engine for the solenoid on the engine stop, when he installed the new one. Now the engine stop works beautifully, The implications for the rest of the sockets are more serious.
Sigh....... The change over solenoid from port to starboard fuel tanks does not work. The solenoid clicks, but does not open the valve. Good job Karen brought out a pump for the drill, because I think the only way to get the 160 litres of diesel out is by syphoning it now.
There is not enough power for the TV from the socket in the Cabinet above the engine. The DVD plays, but no sound comes out of the speakers unless we plug it into the main socket at the switch panel.
We have 'fried' two 12V USB charging plugs, as the socket at the wheel we had put in and re-wired after the roberry in Almerimar gives MUCH more voltage than 12V when the generator is running to recharge the batteries. The first one was an accident. The second one was unfortunate, but confirmed the prognosis!
The 12V socket at the pilot table has stopped working altogether. We think it was as a result of our new 12V kettle being plugged into it. Lynda now has a brand new whistling kettle for the gas, which has been tested this afternoon, and makes excellent tea (while we still have PG tips!)