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,



1.   Aspen will have a Garmin tracker working so you can follow along:

2. Our updated sailing book, Voyage Into Hell, is available at (

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

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