It's been 6 days since I last wrote and we've been
very busy... ok maybe just busy.
After writing my tribute to Wilson(The
Sparrow) last week we soon realised he wasn't alone. The next evening
another Swallow landed on the boat around 1800 and found a very comfortable spot
where he sat for almost exactly 3 hours. Some of you might look at the picture
to follow and be amazed or think it's hilarious. Mom must have just thought..."I
told him to get his hair cut, it's a birds nest"
A Swallow in it's nest.
That bird would fly off do a lap around the boat
and land straight back on my head once every 20-30 minutes, and he would decide
when to do his laps so when I went to the heads (lav) and he wasn't ready he
just came with. As it got dark he took off north and didn't return. So that was
two birds on two consecutive days, what are the chances of that we thought until
the next morning 4 birds were sitting on the boat. Turns out that these
swallows were on their yearly migration from South America to North America and
they weren't by chance crossing our path we were crossing theirs.
The passage from Cuba to Panama was supposed to be
pretty straight-forward. According to the weather reports we would have steady
ENE winds all the way down. The weather report was wrong! We started south
pretty well once we'd got around the Cuban corner and far enough east to make a
straight run for Panama. The first few days were as predicted with 15 to 25kts
of wind from the east however more ESE then ENE until the evening of the 13th,
when the wind just stopped. The air didn't move for the rest of our journey, not
even a mouse fart! The instruments literally read 0.0kts at times. At first it
was great, the water was flat like in a swimming pool, so flat in fact you could
see your reflection in it like a mirror. Everything became so easy without the
healing to contend with, the water drained out of the shower properly, the
dish-washer worked, we could use the microwave without worrying about the stuff
sliding around inside it, felt like living on land again, or at least on a very
small island surrounded by an ocean.
The engine chuffed on day and night for 72 hours
until Dad tried to turn it off, just 56 miles from Panama because it wasn't
charging, and it wouldn't shut down. This was a little disturbing so in our
infinite wisdom we swapped out the switches and turned the engine off,
bravo!?... well... no. Then we couldn't start her up again. Imagine our
disbelief, just 56 miles to go, 35 degrees in the shade, 75% humidity, no wind
and now no motor... Ok, it wasn't a life threatening situation but it would have
been a long wait for wind. Luckily for us, Dad bought an Oyster and the people
at Oyster's after sales department are really good at their jobs. We made one
phone call and received another phone call shortly after that from a technician
at Perkins (The Engine Manufacturer), within 20 minutes between Dad and the
techi the engine was hot-wired and we were doing 8kts towards Panama. Thank God,
that could have ended differently.
We arrived in Colon, Panama around 19h30 on the
16th after doing 1162nm (nautical miles) in 7 days at an average speed of
6.9kts. The entry was easy enough and we were pleasantly surprised by the
Shelter Bay Marina. The restaurant was pretty good and had all the classic Yacht
Club food on the menu. The docks were in great condition and we were tied up
right next to the author of the Panama guide book we're using. Of course we
didn't know he was the author until we left Shelter Bay this morning, we just
thought he was an extremely knowledgeable 35 year old man named Eric who was
willing to teach me to kiteboard if the wind picked up...it didn't.
Those Triangles are all boats that have either just
come through or are waiting to transit the canal! We counted over 50 big
Just one of the massive cargo vessels we might be
sharing the canal with.
Today, the 19th of May 2011, I am skipper aboard
this vessel. I was given a crash course in small space manoeuvring this morning
when we had to move the boat to make space for a larger yacht and then again
when we went to get fuel. So Dad now thinks he can just kick back and relax
while I ferry him through the Pacific. We'll see I guess. Today we're
sailing, yes that's right sailing with wind and all to Portobello and then on to
the San Blas Islands tomorrow to do a little diving etc. while we wait to
transit on the 25th. We've got an agent taking care of the formalities for us so
we can relax before starting the next leg of our odyssey.
Shelter Bay Marina... I parked her there, that
space seemed a lot smaller at the time.
Well that's it for now, expect another update in
two or three days once we've got something to write