Sunday, October 16, 2016

Passage to Golfito

Hi Everybody,

On a personal note Sir Fitzroy Maclean, Bt  is one of my “ heros”. In the ‘30s Maclean was a young British diplomat in Paris and found the scene posh but boring. He got himself transferred to Moscow where things were more ‘interesting’, witnessed the Stalinist show trials, and did some very, very adventurous traveling around what was the almost totally forbidden eastern Soviet Union. 

Maclean in Moscow
When the war came he wasn’t allowed to enlist because of his diplomatic status but could resign his post to “go into politics”. This he did, got himself elected to Parliament and immediately enlisted in the army as a private. The army soon figured out what they had and commissioned him an officer. After a spell with the Long Range Desert Group he was asked to join the newly formed SAS (“Special Air Services”, I’ve always loved that acronym, almost as good as SOG,  “Studies and Observations Group” ) and did his time.
SAS, the guy on the right
 He became the youngest Brigadier in British history and only one of two to go from Private to Major General. He was dropped into Yugoslavia to become Churchill’s personal emissary to Tito before it was even known for sure if Tito existed. He became a life long personal friend of Tito although he was a conservative member of Parliament for thirty years. In his great book “Eastern Approaches” he describes lying in a rocky ditch beside his burned out vehicle with a broken arm being bombed and strafed by the Luftwaffe as “a thoroughly uncomfortable afternoon”. I’ve always loved that as the epitome of macho British understatement. 
Scottish Baronet
So when I feel a bit put upon, when I feel  things could be going a little more smoothly, when life seems to be on the rocky side I ask myself if I am thoroughly uncomfortable. The obvious answer is no, things could be a lot more uncomfortable.  So get with it, quit whining and do whatever needs to be done.
Departing Panama City
We left our mooring at Balboa Yacht Club 0700 on the 11th. The fridge was working sometimes. The forecast was for light air on the nose for our final destination of Golfito, Costa Rica. And that held pretty well until Punta Mala where there was supposed to be a nice following current of up to three knots. Of course a current around a cape can lead  to a disturbed sea but what we got was one of the most ‘disturbed seas’ I’ve ever seen for the entire 60nm coast of the Peninsula de Azuro and well beyond. Nothing dangerous, there was no wind but about a six foot sea from all directions at once and seeming to come into conjunction at our exact position all night long. A trifle uncomfortable. And of course at about 0715, after twenty four hours of motoring, our super reliable Yanmar engine smoothly lost RPM to zero and quit. Hmmmm……a diesel needs two things, air and fuel…..seemed to be plenty of air about, must be the FUEL!  So we’re having fun banging around in this ridiculous sea  after a hot night and I start tearing into our spiffy Racor primary fuel filter system which proved to be full of gunk. Installed new filter element, primed the engine and it ran, for about five seconds. Further tearing into the system proved that no fuel was getting to the gunked up filter. Ah, hah, is fuel getting out of the tank? Got to the tank outlet, took the flared copper fuel line off the tank valve, re-opened the valve, and nothing came out, zero! I knew there was plenty of fuel in that tank. Got a thin stiff stainless steel wire and ran it up the tank valve, a little fuel came out and a whole bunch of nasty fibrous gunk. Ran the wire back and forth and wonderful,  (maybe) clean diesel started flowing smoothly. Put things back together, bled the system again and started up the trusty beast. Whoppee! It ran. And it continued to run. Sweet.

Janet in her comfy 'spot'.
So we proceeded on to Isla Rancheria, 33 hours and twenty minutes to cover 215 nm motoring the entire way. But the SE anchorage at Isla Rancheria is lovely and we had it totally to ourselves. No other boats, not even a light in sight at sea or ashore the two days we spent at anchor. I did a  long snorkel and a little walk  on the jungle fringed beach. We had a light breeze the first night and it was cool enough. The second night there was no breeze. And out came the no-see-ums!  Next morning we woke up to hundreds of no-see-um bites all over. A complete full body coverage. I thought at first I had got them ashore, and I probably got some, but Janet had not gone ashore and she’s almost as bad as me. Oh well, we look like a couple of spotted pox sufferers but it isn’t fatal and they’ll go away in a week.
Isla Rancheria, SE anchorage.
From Isla Rancheria we had about 120 nm to Golfito and I figured 20 hours enroute. Guess again, another confused night at sea,  less sea running but more wind directly on the nose and our speeds were down to three or fours knots all night. Things smoothed out entering the beautiful Golfo Dulce and we got into Golfito after almost exactly twenty four hours at sea.
Entering Golfito
Golfito seems very nice so far. We’re at Fish Hook Marina which is  comfy and welcoming. We have pleasant  boat neighbors and there are  tame Pelicans and Egrets around the docks. There are Scarlet Macaws and Howler Monkeys in the trees.
Fish Hook Marina
We got checked into Costa Rica and have seen a little of the town. I cleaned out fuel filter assemblies and changed elements on both filters this morning. I had left the tank full when we were home and didn’t expect much growth in the fuel from a full tank. Either there is a lot of bacterial growth in the tank in this climate or we got some bad fuel at Balboa when we tanked up. I doubt the bad fuel, they’re too busy for that kind of thing to be likely. I’m just happy things seem not to have gotten any worse and hopefully most of the bad stuff got shaken out of the tank in those rough conditions. We were able to run over thirty hours after I unclogged things.
After action clean up.
So we’re here for at least a month. We have some travels planned around Costa Rica so please stay tuned. And “Eastern Approaches” by Fitzroy Maclean is a great read. Give it a try and then maybe his biography of Tito, a much different book but also very good.

Love to all,
Bill & Janet
SV Airstream


Unknown said...

Dear Bill and Janet,
the Fish Hook Marina is so beautiful that everybody who looks that picture want to be there to eat with you!! We hope that your trip goes very good. All the best from George and Aleka

Lollygager said...

The adventure continues! It's always fun to work on an unknown engine gremlin in the middle of the night in confused seas. You must have a lifetime of "character building" by now. Cheerio: mike& liz

Unknown said...

You two are certainly weathered salts by now ! I cannot say I envy diesel maintenance in rough seas day or night ! Congrats, not only to fixing your problems but keeping your complaing in check ! "Pura Vida" Costa Rica is a gorgeous place and the people are just great. Ciao from Italia 😄