Back to Panama with Emily in Tow

May 2006


Monday, May 15, 2006

After spending five weeks in the states, I (Doreen) arrived back in Panama last Thursday evening bringing our oldest granddaughter Emily with me.  It was a long flight from Oregon with a two hour layover in Houston.  Each leg was about 4 hours.  Upon arrival here, we immediately noted the heat and humidity; but after four days are now accustomed to it.  Bill met us at the airport with Tony, the cruiser’s current favorite taxi driver. 

Bill has been doing boat projects most of the time that Doreen was absent - but the parts for his major project, the Kubota genset rebuild, had arrived only two days before and were still waiting for his attention.  Friday, Bill got the rebuilt alternator and water pump reinstalled onto the engine and Saturday he started the rebuild of the cylinder but ran into a big stumbling block when he could not get the old cylinder liner out.  His other major project, purchase and installation of a new Spectra watermaker, was almost complete.  He has been using it for the last few days to make water.  He had also discovered “gurkey” water in the lower fuel tank so had to take time off to clean it and - until our arrival - was using it each day to run the main engine.  We are hoping that many years of condensation put the water there and that we do not still - or again! - have sea water seeping into the tank.  We are sitting in colder water here and the air is very humid so condensation in fuel tanks is again a problem like it was in the Pacific NW.  Bill also had some time to get a new blog started at so that we can publish more up-to-date travel messages.  There is still much work to do to finish it however.  Bill also enjoyed line handling for Dick on Kimtah as he transited the canal to the Atlantic.

Yesterday, Sunday, we took Emily to the Mira Flores locks on the Panama Canal and afterwards stopped at a shopping center where Bill visited the hardware store for parts and pieces to help him with his genset project while Emily and Doreen purchased a few lighter weight tops and a pair of shorts for Emily. 

Emily had a great time at the locks and is starting to understand what the Panama Canal is all about. 

Today Emily spent much of the morning doing her school work but by early afternoon she had completed her assignments and walked to the laundry with a load of dirty clothing.  We returned to the Yacht Club in time to walk the 5 kilometer distance to the cruisers pizza night at a restaurant near the Las Playitas anchorage.  Emily really enjoyed the pizza.


Friday May 19, 2006

While Bill spent much of the last few days on his genset motor repair, Emily got going good on her school work.  Bill spent several days trying to remove the cylinder sleeve from the old Kubota so that he could replace it with a new one.  Thursday morning he finally gave up and took it into a shop to have sleeve replaced.  They said that it would be ready for Saturday morning.  He also asked the shop to make a new exhaust valve.  With the engine in the shop, we got its enclosure cleaned up and painted, then Bill installed the new tachometer sender in the main engine. 

Thursday, Emily found a new friend, Jocelyn from Moon Shadow.  They spent many hours playing on both Thursday and Friday afternoon. 


Sunday May 21, 2006

Emily and I got back to the boat very late tonight after a two day passage thru the Canal on Paradiso.  I was a line handler and Judy and Dana were nice enough to have Emily along for the ride.  Dave and Molly from Tumbleweed were also along as line handlers.  Emily proved to be quite useful, getting cold drinks for everyone and she took lots of photos.  We left the Balboa anchorage about 10 AM Saturday morning and met up with the pilot boat and our advisor for the first day.  We then passed under the Bridge of the Americas into the Panama Canal entrance where we had to wait around for about an hour for the ship that we were to transit with to arrive.  We passed thru the Mira Flores locks behind the ship and rafted to Cosmic Girl (another sailboat) who was in turn rafted to a tug.  The ship only passed the first two locks with us and we entered the third lock with only the tug; Cosmic Girl and then a third sailboat rafted outside of us.  The rain started just as we entered the third lock and was with us much of the rest of the day.

We motored thru the Culebra Cut across the continental divide and into Lake Gatun.  Taking the small-boat short-cut we arrived at the buoy which we were to tie to for the night shortly after dark in a real downpour.  The other two sailboats were already tied up there.  Judy made a real nice rice dish for dinner and we all fell to bed early.  Sunday was a day of waiting, as the advisor did not arrive until 1PM and we did not start the lockage down until 2:30 pm.   We locked down, all three sailboats rafted together, in front of a large ship and finally hit the Atlantic Ocean at 5 PM.   After breaking up the raft we toasted the arrival into the Atlantic with Champaign.  We dropped the advisor off in the flats and then motored over to the new marina at Shelter Bay.  The folks of Paradiso had a taxi waiting to take Emily and I back across to the Pacific side which took about 2 hours.  Bill was waiting for us at the Balboa Yacht Club and took us out to TGI Friday’s for a desert dinner before we returned to Lanikai.  We have been friends with Judy and Dana since El Salvador and it is always hard to say bye but we will probably meet up again someday.  We also had to say good-bye to Dave and Molly from Tumbleweed who were the other line handlers on the transit, as they had already transited the canal and were also in Shelter Bay. 

While we were off the boat, Bill took advantage it by jerry jugging diesel fuel to the boat, changing fuel filters and other maintenance projects.  Much of his time was spent trying to capture the lockage photos of us from the internet as we passed thru Mira Flores Lock and Gatun locks.  There was too much rain when we passed under the Centennial Bridge to capture anything and neither did we get photos of the bridge from the boat; but he saved lots of good photos of us transiting the Gatun Locks.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Bill finally got the motor parts back today.  The new valve could not be constructed but they did get the old cylinder sleeve out and the new one in place.  Bill spent much of the afternoon reassembling the motor and hopes to finish up tomorrow.

Yesterday, since the motor parts were still not ready, we took off on a shopping run.  Bill visited various stores for parts and pieces and Emily and I went to a big grocery store to continue the stocking up for our trip to Ecuador.


Friday May 26, 2006

Bill finally got all the parts and pieces together on the little Kubota and with difficulty he got it running yesterday.  It still puts out lots of black smoke when the engine is cold and the alternator kicks in.  We will see tomorrow if it starts any easier than before he started this big project.  We do know that the exhaust valve is not so good.  Bill is working up another list of parts to order and hopes to have them delivered here in Panama when he passes thru on his way back from taking Emily back home.

Today we fed the extra wires to the new watermaker and when Bill gets them attached that will complete that project.  Since I was in the bilge feeding wires, I took the opportunity to clean under the motor with lots of liquid soap.  Bill also spent some time cleaning up soap under my seat where a bottle of Joy had broken.  Bill was feeding the wires to me thru this area when he discovered the mess.  Emily was a big help cleaning me up, when I climbed out of the bilge with black oil on my feet and legs.  


Sunday May 28, 2006

The last two days have been real cloudy and rainy.  Emily and Jocelyn got soaking wet playing in the rain Friday but they had grand fun and it is warm enough that neither of them were cold.  On Friday Emily’s and my first chore after going ashore was to go shopping and the rain began in earnest soon after Emily and I got to the store.  We took a cab back with our groceries and ended up waiting around at the Yacht Club for a clearing, which took several hours.  We returned to Lanikai with all the groceries just as Bill was thinking of coming ashore.  We dried off Emily, put the groceries away, and returned to the Yacht Club for a dinner of hamburgers. 

Yesterday started out rainy but the rain was never as intense as the day before.  Emily and Jocelyn had a great time all afternoon in the park.  Bill ran the genset again after we left and said that it started easily but had some anti-freeze and diesel leaks that he spent some time trying to stem.  He joined us at the Yacht Club for a “jarra” (pitcher) of beer and a shower.    

This afternoon we took a break from the rain and the boat and took off to the Albrook Mall.  We ate donuts and ice cream and even did a little shopping, but it was just nice to walk around in the dry air conditioned spaces.


Saturday June 3, 2006

Another week has just passed and we’re into the next month.  It was a busy week with Emily accomplishing a lot each day on her school assignments, Bill getting the final projects finished on Lanikai and Doreen stocking up the boat with food for traveling.  Bill did the check out routine yesterday and we plan to head out tomorrow morning, weather permitting, to the Las Perlas Islands for some time of swimming and relaxing before continuing on to Ecuador.   After much haggling, Bill got Emily’s airplane ticket changed and purchased one for himself to return Emily home from Ecuador to Oregon the end of July.  We allowed ourselves plenty of time to enjoy the Perlas and time for the passage even if it is a very slow one, and maybe a little bit of land travel in Ecuador.


The new blog – Lanikai Underway – is up and running and we will be keeping current travel progress there!




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