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Wash down pump replacement

Servicing our Girl: Sugar Shack

What do you do on a beautiful day in paradise?  Get dirty?  We had a few boat projects that needed to be completed in calm weather (no wind and no swell).  So, we set out to do some maintenance and servicing of both Sugar Shack and Sweetie (our dinghy). 

Anchored in calm waters with very little breeze made it much easier to accomplish these specific projects.  We dropped the hook at North Totegegie where we had beautiful views. 

Servicing the Boat in Paradise

Servicing the Boat in Paradise

Windlass Service

What is a windlass?  It is an electric wench that raises and lowers our anchor and anchor chain. It is a very important part of our boat as it would make anchoring nearly impossible without it.  In a pinch, we can manually raise and lower our anchor using the hand crank method.  However, we have 100 meters of 10mm stainless steel chain attached to a Spade x140 anchor that weighs in at over 65lbs.  Imagine cranking all that chain and anchor up by hand – no thank you!

Our Lewmar Ocean 3 windlass (2000 watt) was running a little slow when raising the chain.  Once it got going it was fine, but the startup was less than optimal.  Not a problem, just needed a little love.  We are at anchor with our anchor chain connected to the windlass.  Can’t rightly service the windlass without removing the anchor chain, right?  First things first, Matt ties a line to the last link of chain (just at the rode) and then secures it to the anchor roller so he could remove the pressure off the windlass.  Then he jumped in the hole (locker) and cleaned the brushes and removed the corrosion.

Servicing the Windlass

Servicing the Windlass

Not yet at 100%…it might require a more comprehensive servicing in a month or two.  For now, it is better than it was and that is good for us (maybe at 95%).  A few days later, Matt took the windlass apart and cleaned all the connections.  He found a loose wire that was the culprit and now the windlass is running perfectly!

Tail Tails

Do you know what a tail tail is?  It doesn’t have anything to do with your posterior or an animal.  A tail tail on a boat is an indicator of how your sails are trimmed while underway.  They are small, light pieces of fabric attached to the sail.  When the sail is trimmed correctly, the tail tails on the windward (inside) and leeward (outside) of the sail will stream backwards.  That’s when life is good.  If the sail needs trimming the tail tail will either fly up or down indicating the need to tighten or loosen the jib sheet (working line) to give you optimal performance.

Our tail tails were very sad and in need of servicing.  Easy enough job when there is no wind.  Matt had to drop the sail onto the deck in order reach all the tail tails.  You don’t want to do this in windy conditions as your jib will be flopping all over the place.  We bought a kit which made replacing them super easy.

Washdown Pump

Our Jabsco washdown pump is located in a locker near the mast.  This pump provides pressure to our hose to enable us to wash down the boat, the anchor chain and pretty much anything we need.  It is great because we can use it with salt water or fresh water depending on how the valve is turned.  We usually hose things off first with salt water, then do a final rinse with fresh water.  Why is that?  Because we have an abundance of salt water and a very limited amount of fresh water.  Our pump was very corroded as it is in and around salt water and salty air.  It worked, but it was limping along.  Instead of ‘servicing’ we decided to replace her.

The pump is only attached with a few screws and clamps.  Matt had it replaced in under an hour.

Wash down pump replacement

Wash down pump replacement

Servicing Sweetie – Our Dinghy

I had intended on putting the work done to service Sweetie on this blog, but it was so extensive that I ended up giving it her own blog post.  Stay tuned for “Dinghy Spa for Sweetie.”

Events from this blog post occurred during the month of January 2021.  Our blog posts run 8 weeks behind our adventures.

Passage to Isla Cebaco

Vista Mar Marina to Isla Cebaco

We left at 1500 with 50 miles to Isla Cebaco. At an average of 5kn, we anticipated making landfall in 30 hours. Unfortunately, this put us at a new anchorage at dark, not ideal. Our plan was to head south toward Punta Mala, round the tip of Panama at Peninsula de Azuero, head north to Isla Cebaco, and then east toward our anchorage which is on the NE corner of Isla Cebaco.

As per usual, the light wind was on our nose, forcing us to motor. The longest part of the journey is getting across the Panama Bay to the Peninsula. Image below: Vista Mar Marina is at the end of the black arrow which points around the Peninsula. We wrapped around the tip and ended up at where the white arrow is pointing.

After dinner, I went down for a nap. Around 0200 Matt noticed that our depth dropped from a flashing 100+ meters to 16 meters and slowed the boat down. When our depth gauge flashes it means that the water is too deep to measure (always a good thing). All of the charts indicated that we should be in 100+ meters of water, but our depth gauge was showing something different. We got our flashlights out and the big torch and could not see anything. Slowly we continued on, watching the gauge and scanning the waters.

About an hour later the gauge dropped to 7 meters. WTF? We are out in the middle of nowhere. Matt says he thinks he hears dolphins so I get the torch out again and to our delight there were several dolphins hanging around our stern. Not speeding by or anything, just out for a leisurely swim. Keep in mind, we are idling with the engines in neutral so we are not moving much either. It could have been the dolphins swimming close to our gauge under the boat, but that would not be consistent. Who knows.

Birds enjoying a day at the beach

Las Perlas Archipelago: Part II

The beauty of the Las Perlas Archipelago is that if you don’t like one island, you can easily move to another. Isla Pedro Gonzales was lovely, but with the odd rubber smell and loud music we decided to move to a new island. Isla Viveros lies only 8-miles away from Isla Pedro Gonzales so we motored on over. Our friends on “Breakaway” told us to stop short of Isla Viveros at a set of small islands called Isla De Feunche.

At first, it looks like 3 small islands, but in reality, it is one island. During high tide, the rocky path  between each rock is covered by water, but you can see the path during low tide. Sunsets were stunning here!

The beautiful islands of Isla de Feunche

The beautiful islands of Isla de Feunche

Another blissful island, isolated, serene, gorgeous, and full of wildlife. We had it all to ourselves and enjoyed every minute of it! We took the SUPs out and paddled to the main island and enjoyed the beach, skipping rocks, collecting treasures, and playing with the fish.  This is a gem in the Las Perlas Archipielago.

IMAGE: Top Sugar Shack at the anchorage by herself, Middle: Our SUPs hanging out by a tree, Bottom: Matt watching the stingrays in the shallow water.

A day at the beach...

A day at the beach…

You can almost make it around the entire island…

IMAGE: Top: Matt claiming a spit of sand & a heart rock, Middle: Climbing over rocks exploring the island, Bottom: Me on my throne and rocky shore.

Isla de Feunche

Isla de Feunche

We received word that our batteries arrived earlier than we expected so we had to rearrange our Las Perlas schedule a bit. We were heading to Isla Bayoneta forcing us to leave our little piece of paradise – we loved Isla De Feunche!

Bayoneta is sandwiched between Isla Malaga and La Vivienda. We heard that it was a really pretty, quiet island. It was a nice anchorage, but with another boat already here we decided to go somewhere else. Way too crowded. (Yes, we are a bit spoiled)

We had a few choices of where to go next. We could return to Contradora where we’d have wifi (always good), go to the Eastern side of Mogo Mogo, or go to a new island called Isla Pacheca. As we motored north, we decided against Contradora as we had already been there. We swung into the new anchorage at Mogo Mogo which was pretty but crowded with 4 boats. So, we continued on to Isla Pacheca.

Really pretty anchorage, no other cruising boats, pretty little beach, and well protected from the sea. When we arrived, there were several fishing boats cleaning their days catch, but as the afternoon progressed, more boats arrived. Not a big deal as we knew they would leave, but there was a horrible fish smell and tons of birds.  The birds are wonderful, but the bombs they leave are not.

Isla Pacheca beautiful, but a place where local fisherman go to clean their catch.

Isla Pacheca beautiful, but a place where local fisherman go to clean their catch.

We spent more time cleaning under the boat. Matt got the hooka out and cleaned the Starboard hull (below the waterline) and replaced both sets of small zincs which were shot to hell.  Image below shows two small zincs and one new in the middle.  We got our money’s worth for sure.

Old and New Zincs

Old and New Zincs

While Matt was under the boat, I scrubbed the teak on both sets of sugar scoops. We had applied several coats of stain over the years. It was time to strip the wood back and either reapply the stain or apply an oil to protect the wood from the harsh sun. First step, is cleaning the dirt and stain out of the wood.

We got up early, pulled anchor, and were on our way by 0600. Our goal was to be at La Playita by 12n which would give us 6 hours to travel the 40+ miles. We will collect our batteries, clear out of the country, do laundry, and a few more provision runs. Hopefully, we can get out of there within a few days.

The Las Perlas chain has been a delightful experience!  So many beautiful, tranquil, and untouched islands.

Passage from Las Perals to a Playita:

  • Uneventful, luckily
  • Few dolphins came to play with us
  • No fish jumped on the hook
  • No whale sightings
  • Very litle wind