Thursday, December 27, 2012

Heavy Haulout

From December 10th to December 21st, 2012, Irie was hauled out of the water in Shelter Bay Marina, near Colon. This is the place where many cruisers leave their boat over the summer when they go home, where they do boat projects or have work done, where they store their boat in the yard or where they have their floating home hauled, prepped, polished and painted. Mark and I first visited this secluded area in the jungle in 2005, when we needed a place to spend the night in our camper. Back then, the boat yard was being built and the marina only counted a few boats. The modern, roomy showers were a highlight and they still are…

Irie being a catamaran does not leave us any alternatives for being hauled in Panama, so we had to go for the recommended, but pricey Shelter Bay marina. Just the use of the travelift cost twice as much as in the Eastern Caribbean and every night Irie spent on the stands, $55 left our bank account. Needless to say, Mark and I were determined and committed to work hard and to spend as little time as possible in the boat yard. It was a time of emotional rollercoasters and physical exhaustion. Our fridge turned into an ice box and our toilet was unusable. Biting bugs were taken in stride and trips to the bathrooms were quick. The niceties of the place - like pool, gym, lounge room and jungle walks - were never utilized, because of our lack of time, energy or dry weather.

Our hope was to stay “out’ for about 5-7 days, but in the end, we needed eleven to get all the work done and to deal with a bunch of unexpected events. Our work schedule ran from about 7am to 6pm every day, with a few projects to be done at 9pm some days. In between, I needed to do many loads of laundry, we had to fit in an emergency room visit and a couple of bus trips to the store, and do our cooking and washing up. Being exhausted, I messed up our fridge system – which was not hooked up - by turning the breaker on, thinking it was the water pump. After taking one of the engines apart – and removing and re-installing the saildrive (with help from our Aussie friend John from “Five Islands”) – Mark put a part back the wrong way… Figuring out what the newly appeared engine problem was, going through the removal and repositioning of the saildrive once again (thank you John – again - and Red from “Shiver”) and fixing the problem took a lot of extra time and strain on Mark’s bad wrist.

New problems kept showing up and our “splash” date postponed. The Kiwi Grip paint for our back steps, to make them anti-slip, finally showed up after ordering it months ago and Marine Warehouse messing up the order each and every time. When we wanted to apply the (water based) paint during our last stretch on the hard, it rained another two days in a row. Mark and I rigged up tarps and got the job done. The paint needed sunlight to dry, but all we got was humidity and rain showers during the day and heavy rain at night – us worrying about leaks in the plastic bags and tarps. Fingers crossed, we finished up the other projects and managed to get back in the water before the weekend. It was our longest, most frustrating, stressful and expensive haulout ever.

Once floating, more issues arose, which we are now dealing with: day by day, project by project. Owning a boat is not always a joy, but we will try to make the best of it – as always – and hope a short vacation in the San Blas islands will be the reward!

(Pictures will follow later. Impossible to do from where we are right now... :-))

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