welcome to our blog!

This blog tells the story of our 22-month sailing journey from Oakland, California, to Bristol, Rhode Island, aboard our beloved Bristol 32 sailboat, Ute. Please feel free to browse through the archives (partway down the sidebar to your left) to see pics and read stories of our adventures in North America and Central America . (Sorry the first 3 months of the trip are missing - they vanished somewhere in an internet cafe in Mexico - but all you're missing is CA, Baja and Western Mex).

If you're trying to track us down now that we're landlubbers, try us at uteatlarge at yahoo dot com. Thanks!

Friday, June 30, 2006

still at it

Hey everybody, we’re back at home sweet home in Shelter Bay….nd the A key is missing on our lptop so you’ll hve to ber with me if there re some A’s missing in this pst! I can get A’s but I have to push hard where the button used to be. Anyway….we have the tranny back nd are busy trying to align the engine back on its mounts.

We spent all day Mondy at Joe’s shop putting the monster back together…and, oddly enough, I think it turned out to be one of my favorite days of the entire trip. Running around Panama and trying to take care of business and fix things is allowing us to get to know a Panama that most tourists don’t get to see. The other countries we’ve experienced on this trip have all been captivating in their own right, but Panama is the only place so far that I keep finding myself saying, “I could live here”. We are loving it!

Joe’s shop is out at the Pedro Miguel Boat Club, right next to the Pedro Miguel locks on the Canal. Until 2003, PMBC was a thriving, bustling marina – in the past, boats were allowed to transit as far as Pedro Miguel, stay as long as they wished in this delightful enclave, and then transit the rest of the canal. As part of the Panamnian tkeover the boat club has been shut down indefinitely and its customers evicted. It’s a cryin’ shame if you ask me – what a unique spot! I feel in love with it in a heartbeat. If it were still an operating marina I would be lobbying Allen heavily for us to move here and manage it, but you can bet there would be a lot of folks vying for tht job if it were avilable. Rumor has it that the government was thinking about shutting down the club, and the deal was sealed one night when a drunk American got tired of being rocked by the tug wakes (guess what, buddy, don’t dock next to the Canal then!) and shot off a flare gun in protest. The flare landed on an enormous LPG tanker and evidently came this close to blowing up the entire country. Had the gas cargo ignited, experts said, all the air would have been sucked out of most of Panama nd everyone would have died in at least a 300 mile radius. Ah, my hearts bursts with patriotism. Nice work, asshole.

Anyway, back to the task at hand. Putting the tranny back together was a trip….I learned a lot. It’s so satisfying to know what happens when we move the shift lever and go a different direction (up until a week ago my understanding of the transmission was just above the hamsters running in wheels level). A byproduct of this mechanical journey is my newfound ability to speak engine in two languages. I can now say things in Spanish that, eight months ago, I couldn’t identify in English. A great learning experience all around….

After about 8 hours nd a couple of small setbacks in the ressembly process we proudly hefted our tranny our of Joe’s shop. Then it was back to Panama City for one more night so we could shop for sewing stuff (ugh). I spend nearly every day in the second floor of the marina clubhouse swearing and sweating, and, very occasionally, successfully stitching two pieces of fabric together. The loft is very notably NOT air conditioned and has all the mod cons of Purgatory. The views are magnificent, though – the Canal to the east, critter-filled jungle to the west, the Caribbean to the north, and little ol’ Ute tied up at the dock below. Our boat is so small tht, although the marina doesn’t actually have a slip availble for us, we’re parked at the wee wooden dock they use to tie up their little runabout. It’s pretty funny. Last week there was a boat in here whose dingy was literally the size of our boat. It’s nice having our own dock…and it’s tht much closer to the disco bathtubs.

So now that the tranny is back in one piece AND attched to the engine, the next step is to get the engine back on its mounts nd realigned so we can see if the much-lauded new part even works or not. Our fingers are stuck in the crossed position.

IF everything goes back together we’ll probably try and get out of here in about 2 weeks. We decided that, as long as we’re stuck here for a little while, we might as well do all the boat projects we’ve been meaning to do for the last 6 months. Meaning, we’ll try and do all of them, and only end up scratching 3 or 4 things off the list, but it’s better than nothing. We’re paying a pretty penny to stay here – more than we ever paid in the Bay Area! – so we’re doing our best to take advantage of the services availble nd do all the stuff that’s difficult or impossible to accomplish on the hook.

Back to work…more soon. CC

1 comment:

marti said...

Loved the biting-bug-eating geckos, and all you're telling about the tranny, your Panama experience, and ordinary life there.

What a story on the american and the tug...we have a way of making friends in the world, don't we?