Monday, August 18, 2014


We're working on a departure list.  Actually have most of it done. the list that is, and we are working it.  We both went to the dermatologist last week, big checkmark for this one.  All is well.  Pharmacy, Price Smart (Costo-lite) bulk, Vegies, Meat,  Oil change (no filter), Chandleries.

And then there is Wx.  Weather conditions in the central Pacific have been dreadful.  We have already had 11 named storms.  Two hurricanes hit or come very close to the Hawaiian islands so far. And there are two additional suspects out there that may threaten the Islands again.  The first is an area of low pressure about 1100 miles ESE of Hilo, the second is Tropical Storm Karina heading west from Mexico and there  is a new storm brewing up east of Katrina that the Weather Service says is huge.  It looks like this one will stay off Mexico rather then head out west. 

This will not impact us too much.  We may have to stay in the Marquesas Islands a bit longer to be sure the Hurricane season is over before heading up to Hawaii.  Tough duty hanging out a few extra weeks in Paradise.

And then there is el NiƱo.  This could be a pain.  El Nino's weaken the SE trades and can sometimes cause them to reverse and become Westerly's for a time.  It also becomes stormy; thunder lightening and squally winds.  Just like here in Panama. 

There seems to be a consensus emerging that if the el Nino occurs it will be nowhere near as strong as originally thought.  One speculation is that the warm water that was making it's way eastward toward South America has begun emerging along the North American coast instead.

Variance of the Sea Surface Temperature from

So overall the wx picture looks better now then it did a few months ago.

One thing has stayed consistent however, there is no wind here in the summer.  Panama is tucked out of the wind behind the northwestern shoulder of South America.  South winds  coming up the west coast of South America spread out as land falls away to the east, and loose speed.  There are few times during the rainy season that winds reach higher then ten knots.  A rule of thumb is that it is necessary to get to 3N before the sailor finds decent winds.  We are at 9N so we are facing the prospect of a long motor unless we catch a break.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


Our oldest son has his boat in Hanalei Bay, on the north side of Kauai, Hawaii.  He has come through Hurricane Iselle just fine, but Hurricane Julio is approaching.  It will pass north of the islands by a hundred or so miles, but should throw off some significant swell as it passes.  We are hoping that the swell will not start breaking offshore.

Kevin, we're saying a prayer or two. 

There are live web cams at several locations around the bay, and we will be watching. 

Kevin, stay off the boat.


Our gen-set. 
A Kubota single cylinder diesel
driving a 210 Amp alternator

There are many styles of cruising.  One that gets a lot of lip service, but is not commonly adopted is KISS.  Folks who adopt this philosophy usually do not have refrigeration, electric water pumps, inverters, generators,short wave radios, water makers and all other sorts of complicated electrically driven conveniences that fare poorly in the salt laden air.  Some folks even forgo having engines, relying completely on wind power.  I respect these hardy souls, and I envy their free time.  While I drip sweat, shoe horning my body into places its not designed to fit repairing my luxuries, they are up in the bar relaxing over beers, or taking interesting land tours, or whatever.  I am becoming a believer in KISS, but would lose my crew if we had to drink warm beer, or warm rum and cokes.

Since we finished chasing our coolant leak I have rewired and rebuilt my water maker motor, removed the old refrigerator compressor and evaporator, installed a new system and finally dealt with  fuel supply and cooling problems on our generator.

The generator fuel supply issue was relatively easy.  The diesel supply pump had a speck of debris inside that was preventing its check valve from closing causing it to pump fuel backwards and forwards at the same time starving the engine of fuel.  It would start to run then die.  Once the speck was blown out of the pump it worked fine.

Fixing the cooling problem was a bit more difficult.  The problem was in the exhaust mixing elbow.  The mixing elbow is a device that mixes salt water into the engine exhaust cooling it to the point when it can be routed overboard through special high temp exhaust hose.  The hose is flexible and can run through the boat around obstacles on its way overboard.  The water injector in the elbow was defective and not well designed.  It had developed a number of pinhole leaks, one of which was spraying salt water back into the engine.  This would not normally happen when the engine was running as the flow of exhaust gas was sufficient to blow the water back, but I like to run the cooling pumps after I shut down the motor to extract a bit more heat from the engine and get it overboard.  This helps cool the space the generator shares with the refrigerator compressor and condenser.  If I had left the pumps run too long the backward spray could have flooded the engine cylinder with salt water, ruining it.

We didn't know about the bad water injector until we had removed the elbow.  The issue we were addressing was the bad shut off valve located below the elbow.  It was stuck in the open position and I had broken the handle off trying to close it.  It is necessary to close the valve while at sea to prevent water from backing up the exhaust hose and flooding the engine when the boat heels over.  The valve had gotten too hot, melting the Teflon seals blocking the valve in the open position.  We intended to just replace the valve, but when Kenny saw the water injector he recommended we remove the elbow and install a new one.  It is slightly longer and reaches further down toward the valve.  He also designed a kick ass spray tip that mixes the cooling water with the exhaust gas, cooling the valve much better then the old injector that had no tip.

The rebuilt exhaust elbow
and shut off valve

The new longer and larger diameter injector
with a spray tip

The old water injection tube

I have run the generator several hours now, and the valve feels cooler.  I am going to have to replace the valves sometime in the not to distant future anyway, as the quality of metal in the valves here in Panama is not good.  This nice shiny valve will not last long, but it will last longer with the new spray tip.  I bought two.

More to come....