Saturday, April 27, 2013

The First Leg – 900 miles - Panama City to Galapagos

Just when you think you have checked everything twice and your honeydo list is almost done, it is the manifestation of Murphy’s law that demands what at first are just a hiccup here and a hiccup there...but soon you got yourself a full fledged asthma attack trying to catch your breath while all around you seems to morph into something quite unfriendly.

During our final week our good friend Trip joined us to make the passage.  Then,

1.    The dinghy motor was stolen
2.    Mast winch catastrophic failure requiring immediate replacement (no loss of life or body parts involved)
3.    Almost accidental electrical fire
4.    loss of weather window.
5.    Trip flew ahead to Galapagos to enjoy diving.

Finally, on Thurs March 28, with a good smart wind from the North, Kaija and I departed Panama City heading for the Galapagos Islands 900 miles distant.

The wind continued to build and before long we were surfing along a steady 8 – 9 kts being helped by a strong favorable current.  We made our first 100 miles by midnight and rounded Punta Mala riding 8 foot swells with the wind on our beam.  It was a terrific start to our passage. may as well start laughing now, because this is where the fun starts.

It was about noon on day two and we were sailing along with a lighter breeze and easier seas when all of a sudden out of nowhere...the wind stopped...just stopped! was a good time to run the engine and charge up the batteries and if we had to motor, may as well put it in gear and go somewhere...find some wind.

Started up our little Perkins and put er in’s all good...for about two minutes....

Started er up problem...for about two minutes...

For the next hour...I’m doin my best to figure out why the motor will start and run but stop in two minutes...regardless of whether I’m in gear or not???

Now...those of you who know me know that I am not a mechanic...however as daddy used to say...”’ll never learn any younger”  I knew I had a fuel problem and I had Calder’s Mechanical Book to guide me thru....however, this is not a problem I was prepared to tackle in lumpy seas while under sail...we made the right decision to turn the boat and head for the closest safe harbor which turned out to be a wee bay 24 miles distant.   About that time, a light breeze started and we were able to make our way to Ensenada Naranja.  The last hour was painful...the wind was dying, we were still a good mile away....I would start the it for as long as it would go, then drift...start the motor, repeat repeat repeat, finally when it made a high pitched squeal like it was a gonna explode....not good, definetly not good...but we made it.... just before dark.

We were happy to find two other boats at anchor.  One from Chile Gabriel, Paulo, and Carlos.  As it turns out Paulo was a mechanic. Needless to say...the next day me and my two new best friends, Gabriel and Paulo went to work on solving the problem.  They spoke no English and my Spanish is cute but not efficient...but who cares. They tried everything in their arsenal of mechanical voodoo but alas, no complete day of frustration...and their diagnosis not good...fuel pump injector!....please dear Lord, don’t let it be!...and even worse than all that...the engine would not start period.  Great...Good Friday and our engine died!

 It sure is nice to have an extra pair of hands...Here Paulo is doing his best to find the solution...we know the problem...finding the fix is the thing!

Saturday Paulo and crew left as the winds had died enough for them to make their way to Panama City.  Thankfully, we have good friends who made helpful suggestions, the most’s not the fuel pump...look somewhere else....and so...early Sunday morning...and I do mean early...2am...I’m bright eyed and busy tailed...and with by manuals by my side...I start in dismantling the fuel system, suckin diesel thru little hoses, changing filters, cleaning fittings and finally found that the fuel lift pump didn’t seem to be at about 4am...I figured out how to bypass that direct to the secondary engine filter...and I finally had consistent clean bubble free diesel arriving at the dreaded fuel injection pump.

At 6 am I was ready for an Engine test, but not wanting to wake Kaija, I proceeded to my normal morning ritual of making coffee and allowing the wafting scent of fresh brew to entice her out of morning slumber.
Finally, she was awake...and I explained basically that the fate of our world depended on whether or not the engine pressure there.

With our fingers crossed...bearing in mind this was Easter Sunday morning, and praying our pleadings to that Great Mechanic in the Sky...Kaija hit the button...I saw the diesel!!!!!!!, and I mean it when I say it is like Saul/Paul of old saying I SAW THE LIGHT! was truly a heavenly moment...the diesel just kept coming out of the fuel pump and with a little bleeding...VVVRRROOOOOOOMMMMM....the little motor came to life. 

Now for those of you who are not religious...and do not celebrate Easter for the death and resurrection of God’s Son, Christ Jesus, then this story may mean nothing to you...however, for me, please believe me when I tell was highly significant!

We enjoyed a wonderful Easter and reminded ourselves again just how lucky we are and how good the Master of the waves and the Maker of the Wind has been to us.  

We departed Tues Mar 30 for the second time for the Galapagos Islands.

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