Saturday, April 3, 2021

What's that sucking sound?

 Oh, that's just Panama not letting go of us.

This is not what leaving for a passage is supposed to look like.

7 AM Sunday morning, we are ready to go. Friends are on the dock casting off our lines. Bob steers us out of the slip and I hear a banging noise. I was thinking it was someone on shore doing some work. Then I feel the vibrations. Bob pulls out of the slip and starts down the fairway, turns out of the marina and the sounds and the vibrations are not going away. A quick radio call back to the dock "We are coming back".

Once again we tie up at slip D24. Now we have to figure out what the problem is. Is it a quick fix or a more serious, time consuming problem? One of Bob's first thought is that we have something caught on our prop. A very easy fix if that is the case. He grabs his snorkel gear and heads under the boat to find nothing on the prop. As he is under the boat he also grabs the prop shaft and tries to wiggle it and finds a slight movement. Not good, the shaft is supposed to be solid and unmoving.

The decision is made to do a quick haulout to assess the problem, and when we do that we discover that the shaft was put back improperly. The shaft was scored when they originally struggled to remove it to replace the stern gland, and, in addition, the shaft was not re-inserted all the way in, hence the wobbling and the banging sounds. We schedule a full haulout after some needed parts arrive and hope that things can be fixed quickly. (Who am I kidding? This is a boat. Repairs are never quick or simple!)

This is how our fourth attempt to leave Panama ended.

We arrived in Panama in March of 2020 with high hopes of getting a long stay visa for French Polynesia and quickly beginning our passage across the Pacific. That wasn't exactly how it worked out. I count this as our first attempt to leave Panama. After three months of lockdown in the Vista Mar Marina we made our escape out to Las Perlas, some lovely islands 40 miles out from Panama City. It was such a relief to be out of the marina, enjoying swimming and snorkeling and exploring with friends. We returned to Panama City for some provisioning to make escape attempt #2. A lightning strike ended that try. (Read about it here)

Seven months of repairs and we were ready for attempt #3. Off to the Galapagos Islands and then to French Polynesia. Less than a day into this journey our autopilot broke and we turned around a beat a retreat to Vista Mar (story here) and then Panama City for repairs.

A good friend told us " Rhapsody has been speaking clearly...not right time for Pacific" and we had to agree. French Polynesia closed its borders again and we made the tough decision to go back through the  Panama Canal.(story here) When we reached Shelter Bay Marina we went up on the hard for what we believed were our final repairs. A week on the hard, back to the water and make preparations for attempt #4. 

Saturday night we had only two things left on our list, take hot showers in the marina, a luxury for us, and leave. The weather had been checked and we felt we had a good window for passage, our Covid tests were taken, the refrigerator and freezer were full of prepared food to keep the cooking to a minimum for the first few days, everything was stowed or tied down for passage and we were ready to go. 

And then not.


Now we are back on the hard, waiting for parts and repairs. The weather window we had has disappeared, much of the food we had prepared has been eaten and some of the things we had stowed or tied down have been released from their constraints. 

We are watching the weather, hoping the window will open up again. Planning to provision again, prepare food again, get Covid tests again, tie everything down, take our hot showers and make another attempt? What was it Einstein said? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Maybe that's what keeps us going, that little bit of insanity, but we keep trying, and hoping. Here's to attempt #5.

We love to hear your comments.

Tammy Swart said...

Wow! Tough time you're having! As always, your attitude is remarkable!! Maybe you should head for Puerto Rico for a while, and take another run at it when things settle down and whatever monster is blocking your path has lost interest in you! Our guest room is always open to you!

Sarah said...

Thanks Tammy. Even heading to PR means we have to break free from Panama!

Mark and Cindy - sv Cream Puff said...

I'm confused. Why was the shaft loose? Who did the damage? And, was the damage done during the repair or earlier?

Dad said...

Chin up you two. You'll make it. Keep thinking positive!!

XineM said...

ugh. that sucking sound is your bank account. so sorry.

Sarah said...

Mark, the damage to the shaft was done when the yard workers removed the shaft. Then when it was re-inserted they did not put in in a) properly and b) all the way this causing the wobbling.

Suzanne said...

Oh man! We had a nice departure window last May 12 from Bocas to FL Hopefully, you & Rhapsody will be ready when it occurs. Good luck. Give our best to Juanjo & Eddie.