We celebrated our much-postponed re-entry into the water by inviting the other cruisers to celebrate our new fridge with cold beer. Sadly by the time I'd finished the wiring, the beers didn't have long enough to cool, so it was the usual Kika warm beer party. Although we were pleased with our efforts, they seemed insubstantial compared with some of the projects being undertaken; rewiring after engine room fire, installing a new engine, removing a layer of the hull then applying an epoxy barrier, gearbox overhaul etc.
Finally by 2pm the next day, we'd transformed Kika from workshop into ocean going sailing vessel and were ready to depart. The other cruisers gave us a great send off as we went astern with our now customary pirouette. We waved goodbye to Ken and Beth on Eagle's Wings, Piet Hein and Tori on Double Dutch, Jasper and Astrid on Antares, Frans on Gemini and Lucas and Matti on Lambada.
The only down-side to our stay, which could have been much worse, occurred when the dinghy capsized with Ellen aboard. She quickly swam back to Kika towing the dinghy, but subsequently the submerged engine has failed to show any signs of life, despite the best efforts of the crew of three yachts and off-duty members of the Venezuelan army. The outboard is still in intensive care, having frequent treatments of oil and starting attempts, but it feels like we need to see if our finances will fund a replacement engine and possibly dinghy. Unless we get the engine going while we're on passage we've decided to head directly for Panama rather then the San Blas islands in the hope we can find someone in Panama who can bring the engine to life.
As the passage is notoriously dangerous we decided to contact Herb who is routing us 100 miles north to 14N then west until we reach the longitude of Panama; when we turn South. We're routing around the stormy region, but its adding at least a day and half to the trip.
We set off yesterday (Tues 14th) at 6am and had a fantastic sail in the morning. We were briefly joined by dolphins and bizarrely nearly netted some pineapples which floated past. The wind increased in the afternoon and evening as we headed north on a fine-reach. We made great speed, averaging around 6.8knots and gorged ourselves on lobster we'd purchased the day before. The drains got a good workout overnight with breaking waves putting a couple of inches of water in the cockpit from time to time.
This morning at 5am we made 14N latitude and changed course west. Unfortunately George (the self-steering) wouldn't keep the course, causing the main to jibe a couple of times. So we hove-to and I spent a couple of hours hanging off the back of the boat, fixing the self-steering which had jammed when a bolt had worked its way loose. Once the steering was fixed, we resumed our westerly course and have had a beautiful down-wind sail.
Position @ 15:45: N13°59', W73°25'
We completed the following in the yard:
- Cleaned, sanded and applied new highly expensive tropical anti-fouling (stops marine life growing on the bottom of the boat)
- Dismantled and greased sea-cocks.
- Cleaned, polished and waxed the top-sides.
- Installed a foot pump for the salt water tap.
- Shortened the mounting tubes, and drilled to make more secure.
- Dismantled, cleaned and oiled the bearing.
- Installed the new fridge:
- Removed old fridge and filled holes left with polyurethane foam
- Drilled hole for new through-hull fitting incorporating cooling circuit for fridge.
- Sealed inside of hole with epoxy - to stop moisture seeping into the hull.
- Installed new through-hull with generous quantities of polyurethane sealant.
- Added sea-cock
- Made new supports for the cooling holding plate in fridge box
- Plumbed in fridge
- Re-plumbed the sink.
- Wired in fridge controller and power to the fridge compressor.
- Our stern no longer incorrectly reports us as members of the Lymington or Thames yacht clubs
- Repaired the bilge pump pipe, which I incorrectly routed so that the propeller had cut through it.
- Organised sail repair to a split in the main.