Saturday, October 23, 2021

180 degrees…

 

Aspen at sea, after leaving Panama

The mechanics at work on Aspen's electrical system. One guy was in the lazarette and communicated with the other mechanic in the engine compartment via WhatsApp video!

Quite a few groceries on Aspen, as you can see by the long receipts Maria is holding.

At anchor with three of our four line handlers in Lake Gatun, Panama Canal.  Maria cooked an Italian feast for the guys, followed by desert of course!  Captain Steve prepared the desert, ha ha!

S/Y Aspen – October 23, 2021 – Log #176

Aspen Position: 08 degrees 54’ N, 079 degrees 31’ W

La Playita Marina, Panama City, Panama

 

180 degrees…

 

I left Panama two days ago.  So why does my GPS position show I am still in Panama?

Private airplane pilots learn an important rule while training: 180 degrees.  If weather or mechanical issues get noticed, turn around and return top base for a safe landing.

 

Well, guess what?  Aspen was just entering the mighty Pacific Ocean, 70 miles out from Panama, when a major problem was noticed:  No battery charging!

 

The engine was running but Aspen’s batteries kept getting lower and lower, despite working 6 hours the day before fixing the problem.  Well, maybe my fix didn’t work?  What were the odds of that? Ha ha!

 

Working on Aspen’s engine, with my head in the hot engine compartment while rocking and rolling at sea, is no easy task.  Ug.  Even more possible solutions didn’t work so it was time for the 180 and head back to Panama for repairs.

 

Around noon, the next day after a sleepless night, I made it back to La Playita Marina and was greeted by Jose, the dock master.  Jose arranged for two mechanics to visit Aspen within the hour.  And the mechanics showed up as promised!

 

Four hours later, the electrical problem had been sorted and Aspen was happily making amps once again.  What was the problem?

 

Well, the top-of-the-line equipment for charging, Balmar, decided to change the connections on their new alternators and require different wiring for the alternator to work.  Same exact alternator, just a change in wiring.  Who would have thought? 

 

Oh yes, there was one small sentence in the documentation that I and even the mechanics missed, explaining the critical information.  Geeze.  That one change required extra wiring on Aspen’s electrical setup in order for the system to work once again.  How do you spell frustrating?

 

Happy days now that the electrical system is functioning again.

 

Aspen is looking at another weather window for this Monday.  I hope not to use the 180 degree rule again.

 

Sail on, sail on Aspen…

 

Fair winds,

Steve

PS

1.   Aspen will have a Garmin tracker working so you can follow along:  https://share.garmin.com/SYAspen

2. Our updated sailing book, Voyage Into Hell, is available at Amazon.com (www.voyageintohell.com)

3. And the new edition for the book, Leadville Trail 100; History of the Leadville Trail 100 Mile Running Race is also available at Amazon.com (www.LT100history.com)

Friday, October 8, 2021

Into the Pacific!

 

Shelter Bay Marina crew

Little Aspen, center tied in front of a huge tanker in Mira Flores Lock

Maria is ready for the Canal Locks

Spending the night in Lake Gatun

Motoring at 6.6 knots through the Panama Canal

Maria enjoying the ride along the Canal

Crowd of onlookers at Mira Flores Lock

Maria, letting the professionals do the heavy work

Aspen arrived in La Playita Marina, Panama!

Our friends Judith and Haaken on Touche and new friends June and Sone on Carpe Diem.  Both boats are from Denmark and headed to the Galapagos Islands.

Fort San Lorenzo.  Where Captain Henry Morgan began his overland journey to pillage, plunder and destroy Panama City.

The mighty Chagres River at Fort San Lorenzo.

Ah, but the cannons are silent now...

 Lake Gatun in the early morning, waiting for our next advisor
 
 
So you think you can be a line handler???  The monkey fists are thrown pretty hard and catching them is an art.  Notice the port side where the Canal employee misses Aspen with the line, the first time.  The final line can be seen hanging in the air, ready to impact Aspen!

 


A view of Mira Flores Locks and the crowd of onlookers.

 

 

S/Y Aspen – October 7, 2021 – Log #175

Aspen Position: 08 degrees 54’ N, 079 degrees 31’ W

La Playita Marina, Panama City, Panama

 

Well, transiting the Panama Canal from the Caribbean Sea into the mighty Pacific Ocean was fun because this time we had four professional line handlers to do all the hard work.  What a difference that made, insuring we had a smooth and safe passage.

            We used an agent, Stanley, to handle all our details and permit work.  Stanley also provided the required long lines and fenders for Aspen’s trip through the Canal.

            Spending the first night of our crossing, moored in Lake Gatun, was pretty hot and sultry.  Maria fed everyone her famous Italian dinner, something the four line handlers had never experienced.  The guys said they had never been treated to such good food, during a crossing on a small sailboat.  Normally they were lucky to even be fed during a crossing. 

            When we arrived at Mira Flores Locks, the observation area was packed with over 200 sightseers, looking down on little Aspen in the middle of the massive lock.  The announcer was describing the process to everyone as Aspen sat in the center of the lock, followed closely by an 850 foot oil tanker.  I guess there was a little pressure on Captain Steve not to screw up in front of everyone.

            Luckily we didn’t hit the lock gate or walls as water rushed out of the huge chamber, letting Aspen into the Pacific Ocean once again.  Whew!

            La Playita Marina welcomed Aspen and her tired crew to stay for a while now.  Our friends on their Island Packet named Touche, Judith and Haaken from Denmark, were in the slip right beside us.  It was fun seeing them again, since we last saw them in St. Lucia three years ago.  How time flies by.  Touche is on a similar sailing voyage as Aspen; going south to Chile but stopping in the Galapagos first.

            Aspen and Captain Steve are going to mainland Ecuador and skipping the Galapagos this time.  The admiral, Maria, will fly back to Colorado from here in Panama in a couple of weeks, after Aspen is fully loaded with food!

 

Sail on, sail on Aspen…

 

Fair winds,

Steve and Maria

 

PS -

1.   Aspen will have a Garmin tracker working so you can follow along:  https://share.garmin.com/SYAspen

2. Our updated sailing book, Voyage Into Hell, is available at Amazon.com (www.voyageintohell.com)

3. And the new edition for the book, Leadville Trail 100; History of the Leadville Trail 100 Mile Running Race is also available at Amazon.com (www.LT100history.com)

 


 

 



Friday, October 1, 2021

Panama Again!

 

Linton Bay Marina restaurant, Panama.  Lots of cruisers hang out here.

Portobello ruins

Captain Steve fixing things on Aspen...

Portobello anchorage from the fort

Local bus in Panama with plenty of hp!

The unique Black Christ - Portobello, Panama

Maria walking the Spanish ruins in Portobello, Panama

Captain Steve on guard duty in Portobello, Panama

Nombre de Dios, Panama.  Once the richest city on Earth.

Nombre de Dios, Panama

Aspen, before going back into the water at Shelter Bay Marina Boatyard, Panama

Houston Airport - It has to be the most unfriendly place to catch a flight!  There are no places to sit at the gates, except at the restaurants where you order food on the iPads. The airport is very modern and probably how the future looks for air travel.

Aspen back in the water at Shelter Bay Marina, Panama - yea!
 

S/Y Aspen – October 1, 2021 – Log #174

Aspen Position: 09 degrees 22’ N, 079 degrees 57’ W

Shelter Bay Marina, Colon, Panama

 

Panama, land of sweltering heat, humidity, the Panama Canal and best of all, where Aspen was waiting for our return.  Panama is where we are now.

With Aspen on land for only three months in the Panamanian jungle, we discovered there was a lot to clean when we got her back into the water.  Luckily Maria was here to take control of the nasty process for making Aspen look pristine once again.  Of course Steve helped when he could, so it was a team effort.  Most of Aspen’s systems worked, luckily, and grocery provisioning is still ongoing for the voyage ahead.

We always have time to play so it isn’t all work work and more work on Aspen. 

Visiting Nombre de Dios was simply amazing.  This is where Columbus landed in 1501 on his fourth voyage and named the Bay where he rode out a ferocious storm, and his fleet survived: Nombre de Dios (In the Name of God!). 

Gold and silver from the conquered Inca Empire transited through this once richest town in all of the Americas (Nombre de Dios), in the early 1500’s, where the stolen loot was loaded onto Spanish galleons bound for Spain. 

But after 10 years, this main route from Panama City, was abandoned because the Bay of Nombre de Dios was indefensible.  

The Spanish then moved their gold and silver base to nearby Portobello.  Portobello then became the wealthiest city in the world, as history recorded.  Richest city until the likes of Captain Henry Morgan, Sir Francis Drake and British privateers (pirates) constantly attacked the town, while burning and looting everything in sight.  Harassing the Spanish became a cause célèbre for the British that resulted in this area being named The Spanish Main.

Exploring Panama is not for the faint of heart.  We’ve posted a video showing how things operate and the traffic we must negotiate to get anywhere in Panama.  Even though it is a movie, there isn’t a lot of movement!  Traffic here makes rush hour back home look like a walk in the park…

This Saturday, tomorrow Oct. 2nd, we are scheduled to transit the famous Panama Canal, from the warm Caribbean waters to the mighty Pacific Ocean.  Peaceful, if only the Pacific would live up to its’ name!

Transiting the Panama Canal will take us two days.

If you want to watch Aspen and crew transit the Panama Canal, here is the link for the camera at Gatun locks that we should transit tomorrow, Saturday, about 4 pm (Central Time).

https://multimedia.panama-canal.com/Webcams/gatun.html

Then on the second day, this Sunday, we should be in the Miraflores Locks and in camera range around 11 am (Central Time).  https://multimedia.panama-canal.com/Webcams/miraflores.html

We will also have our Garmin tracker working so you can see when we approach the various locks:  https://share.garmin.com/SYAspen

 

Sail on, sail on Aspen…

 

Fair winds,

Steve and Maria

PS -

1. Our updated sailing book, Voyage Into Hell, is available at Amazon.com (www.voyageintohell.com)

2. And the new addition for the book, Leadville Trail 100; History of the Leadville Trail 100 Mile Running Race is also available at Amazon.com (www.LT100history.com)