News Letters of POGO II

2003

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Pedro Miguel Boat Club, Nov 2002 to ???
POGO is in the Club getting much TLC for the last two years of sailing. The rigging has been changed to Dyform, the outside teak stripped and re-oiled, work on the sails, and more modifications to the interior. 

We hope to be away in May some time to the Caribbean for the rest of the year. 

 
 
Puerto Lucia Yacht Club, La Libertad, Ecuador ..... June, 2002

Mid March we pried ourselves free from PMBC, transiting the Panama Canal south bound and sailed to the Perlas. On board POGO II for this year’s adventure, Capt Sarah Terry, Commodore Craig Owings, Claus Madsen crewing and Tootsie the PUP guarding all.

After several days of R + R and re-stowing things, we departed for Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador. The 4.5 day sail was very nice (quite a change from last year’s Caribbean trip). We sailed all but the last morning with northerly winds and mostly well-spaced swells and a full moon.

Bahia de Caraquez is a small beach town on a point at the month of the Rio Chone. The entrance is only about 10’ deep at high tide and is not marked. The local Ecuadorian Navy Port Captain seems to be in cahoots with the private pilots and is requiring boats to take a pilot in and out at a current price of $30 each way. (This is a $5 increase since earlier in the year)

The Ecuadorian regulations state that while pilotage is highly recommended it is not required, the US Sailing Directions for S. America make the same statement. We spoke with the Port Captain on this subject, and with other Navy personnel that were on board for our departure, to show them the current capabilities of most modern boats to track and duplicate their route. We explained that this information is easy for boats to share so pilotage is really only necessary for the first boat or two and should be voluntary; our hope is that they will be forced to re-think this “requirement”.

We also had a Navy man ask for a gift of a decal of the Statue of Liberty for his truck and later for a flashlight. While these are small items, it is an awkward position to be in. This is the only person so far to “hit” on us this way.

Other costs for entering Ecuador included $30 at immigration. This seems to be the fee per boat as others with 2 on board (we had 3) also paid $30 and gives you 90 days. The closest Immigration office is in Manta, a 2 1/2 hour bus ride away and should be done within 7 days of arriving. Manta is also center for the fishing fleet and is reputed to be a good place to get parts. There is also a fee for buoys and lights of $0.33/ton, a radio fee of $9.24, and a $3.96 “contamination” fee (we think for an oil pollution fund). All in all, it cost about $100 to get in and out of this port. We are also told that when you make your third port, that fees are waived for that port and additional ports; this came from Don on Starship as he made Puerto Isabella in the Galapagos this 3d port and was not charged.

Bahia (as the locals call it) is a would-be resort town. The last president had a weekend place here. This caused some real growth and many improvements in infrastructure. That was until the 1998 El Nino washed the beach away and then an earthquake caused further damage to buildings and mudslides.  The town is now a sleepy place with a wide ocean-side beach at low tide. Boats anchor in front of the Port Captain’s office and go ashore by dingy. The best place to tie is alongside the Navy landing craft ferry, which is usually bow-in to the sea wall. The difficulties in this anchorage include strong outgoing current especially on spring tide with heavy rains up-river. Heavy rains can also mean a lot of floating debris.

There is no easy source of drinking water and all water and fuel is jerry jugged. At this time there is only 1 guy providing any service and that is a costly laundry pick-up. With some hunting, you should be able to find cheap services, as the labor market is extremely depressed. There is a hotel next to the Capitainia where you can shower for $1. Some of the pluses are local restaurant close-by with “almuerzos” for $1.50 and 1 liter beers for $1. There is also a video rental and several Internet cafes close by. There is a local market open every morning with fresh produce and several stores that have most essentials.

A number of boats have been left at anchor while crews visit inland Ecuador. There are usually other boats nearby to watch the empty boats and being in front of the Capitainia helps. Despite this several dingy motors have been stolen, though from dinghies left in the water. There is a gringo (Gary Swenson) starting the paper process to establish a “marina” here. Initial efforts will probably be moorings, services, and a haulout. Due to current and 2-meter tidal range, building docks will be costly. 

After several laid back weeks in Bahia, Craig, Tootsie, and I headed for Puerto Lucia near Salinas arriving April 24. Again we had a nice moon and smooth seas. Unfortunately there was little wind so we motored most of the way. Many boats anchor off Manta and/or Puerto Lopez and/or Isla Plata. We came direct in an overnighter. Because we had paid the initial fees in Bahia, entrance fees here were only $6.79 and included another “contamination” fee.

Puerto Lucia Yacht Club is a fairly new facility on the outskirts of Libertad. It is a complex which includes 2 large condo buildings (more are under construction), a clubhouse, pool, hotel, bar and restaurant. Boat facilities include slips, med-moor to a seawall (you use your dingy to get ashore but you do have water and electric hook-up), several moorings, and a storage area for boats hauled out by a 50-ton travel lift.

Unless you pay a $6/day/person fee for use of the clubhouse/pool/bar/restaurant ($3 in off season) there is no real place for socializing. We have been told there is currently no fee for resident boaters for attending happy hour Mon-Fri from 1700 to 1900 hours.

The pluses here include excellent security; it’s a good place to leave you boat on the hard and go traveling. There is very little rain here as the Santa Elena Peninsula is a desert. There is a reasonable laundry service on premises (they charge by the pound @ $.39) but it seems to work out to be about $3 to wash, dry and fold each load. The negatives include lack of parts supplies and quality technical work.

The worst thing for us is that the owner is very anti-dog and is very capricious; the rules may change at any time. While the marina is called a Yacht Club, and is “non profit” it is really “owned” and rules made at whim by a committee of one. One boat was not allowed to land because there was a dog on board. This was quite a blow as they had come to haul out prior to heading into the Pacific. For

Tootsie we keep her on the boat most of the time Friday afternoon to Monday morning when the owner is here. Although the official word was dogs could be in the haul-out area, he complains to the manager anytime he sees Tootsie on the ground even under the boat. Weekdays we seem to be able to take her out the gate for a run with no problems. The worst part of this is we don’t feel comfortable asking someone else to care for here while we go traveling. We have asked to speak with the owner or someone who has the authority to work out a solution up have been ignored. In fact, the owner seems to speak to no one except his managers. As a visiting Commodore, Craig finds this treatment offensive. Fortunately, the owner seems to be the only really unfriendly person.

We hauled out the day after arriving; our plan had being to travel for a month, or more, in Peru & Bolivia while George (a Canadian who runs a crew here) supervised work on POGO. Due to the Tootsie dilemma and a shaft problem, our only traveling has been a weekend in Guayaquil.

We are still on the hard, going a bit stir crazy and are not yet on our "tour". We may take a short trip via rental car next week to southern Ecuador (Loja) taking Tootsie with us. We are still looking for a solution to the dog sitter problem for a Peru trip. We may end up going for only 10 days instead of the 25-30 days we had hoped. If we are away only 1 weekend maybe someone can manage Tootsie here.

The real problem here is the owner who is here Friday afternoon to Monday morning. As long as he is not here we can take T out the gate to run, etc. This seems to be the way here …. it's ok as long as you don't get caught (whatever "it" is).

We are also slowed by the shaft problem. Craig took ours to a shop here to have a small area built up. After an in-depth discussing, he was convinced the machinist-welder would so the job right and he left the shaft there. As I'm sure you've guessed, he screwed it up. We have had a new shaft brought down from Miami. It arrived yesterday. After a lot of banging and heating Craig decided to measure the shaft and discovered it is 5/1,000 larger than the coupling. Of course, this place is called "the black hole" by the cruisers and has a reputation for being difficult to impossible to get away from due to screw-ups, delays, and unexpected equipment failures. We have wanted to get this resolved before leaving for areas inland. 

Craig’s commentary on the shaft:

Some mechanics ya never know about .... Ya never know .... I just pulled the original bronze shaft from POGO ... 24 years in service and a little wear in the packing area. So I decided to have the wear welded up and machined to size; done it myself in my shop in Panama on other shafts ... no sweat, easy work.

I carried the shaft to the shop in La Libertad, Ecuador and spoke with the owner of the shop. He pulled out the electric arc rod I wanted used, and we discussed the fact that the shaft needed to be heated black hot before an attempt at electric welding the bronze .... heads shook affirmatively; my Spanish is very good ... no misunderstandings.

When I returned, I found the keyway recut with an end cut mill bit (no up taper in the end of the cut); I ask why they were messing at the end of the shaft. Well it seems that they could not get the bronze rod to weld correctly ...... you did heat it black hot? .... well not actually, we could not find the "rose bud" tip for the torch ...... but you cannot weld bronze arc rod cold ...... yes we found that out, so we decided to gas weld the shaft ..... but the shaft "sagged" 3/8ths of an inch. We then welded up the sag and machined the shaft true again ..... what rod did you use to weld up the shaft? .... on inspection it was common brazing rod.

But that OK señor, it will work just fine ...... trying to control my temper, I ask if he would come tow me in when the shaft cracked off .... he smiled a and shrugged.

Life in the fast lane with faster mechanics .... :)

The brighter side is that it only cost $700 in Miami for a new Aquamet 22 shaft ( the old one probably needed replacing anyway ... auto-justification) and $200 to hand carry it to Ecuador. The shaft is a work of art ..... but its OD is 1.505" and the ID of the coupling is 1.500" .... +.005 interference fit is just not possible .... so guess who the only machine (& welding) shop is in La Libertad :(} .... some days .....

Of course I can get the coupling done in Miami ..... and hand carry it to Ecuador ..... and sometimes I think farming would be easier .....

As most of you know, we are not good at making decisions about future plans but here goes. We have decided (at least this is today's plan) to sail to Galapagos on the July full moon (provided we can escape the Black Hole) and then head back to Panama. Gae has invited Sarah to go to Australia with her in November.

Craig will make sure PMBC is ready for the “high season” and take one last look at the marina project possibility. If things still do not look hopeful we will head into the Pacific with a tentative plan to head to Pitcairn and the southern Gambiers.

We do not expect to go around but we will see. It has become apparent to us that Ecuador, Peru, and northern Chile are a lot of miles with no places to gunk hole. Facilities are few and far between and they are set up on the Latin model; the local boat owners want lots of service and do no "labor" themselves; they do not understand gringo "do-it-yourselfers".

The sailors here do not even furl the sails themselves when they come in from a day sail! We went to the Salinas YC last week for a "visiting commodore's tour". They have over 3,000 members and a waiting list to get in and another waiting list for slips. They are in a pickle as they have no place to expand but the by-laws give sons of members a right to become members. They also have a swimming pool, tennis courts, "all game" courts, 3 restaurants, and 2 bars.

They say foreign yachtsmen are welcome, they have no place for them as all slips are full (and are owned by individual members) and the traffic at the fuel dock is very heavy during the "temporal" (their high season which corresponds to the season foreign boats are here-January through April). Puerto Lucia is the only yacht facility in Ecuador that has any room or interest in outsiders at this time.

As for Peru, there seem to be some places to go in but the port captains are very corrupt and want a big bite. The YC near Lima is very expensive. One boat here is planning to go to Chile along the coast but will by-pass Peru to avoid the port captains. Here to Arica turns out to be a 1,800-mile sail! All in all, it looks like a lot of effort to sail some place you have to wear sweaters and thermals.

We just got word through the radio nets that a single-hander has drowned at Flamenco Saturday night. He was Bob off Orion. Apparently he was ashore when a squall hit Saturday night. His boat broke loose and he tried to swim out to it. It's unclear if he died trying to reach the boat, trying to get a line from the boat to some place, or if he tried to tow the boat by swimming. In any case it seems a tragedy that shouldn't have happened; a boat is not worth your life no matter how little you have.

I also hope the ACP and Panama Government don't use Bob's lack of common sense as an excuse to shut down a very useful anchorage. It has become very clear to us there is no place like Panama for provisioning and preparing for the jump into the Pacific (or the Caribbean for that matter).

Craig Says:

Of the systems on POGO, the most useful to date is the HF radio and the Pactor radio modem. It keeps us in communication with the world and friends. It is a must for anyone traveling worldwide. A HAM license is another great thing to have ….. then the Winlink email system is open for non-commercial traffic … for commercial/business there is Sailmail (http://www.sailmail.com), a non-profit association that runs Pactor email stations worldwide. For radio gear the ICOM 710 with AT130 tuner and the Pactor IIPro w/ the Pactor III update is the way to go. The new firmware upgrade to the Pactor II that takes the system to the Pactor III format is GREAT. I am currently downloading 50kb weather files in a little over 10 minutes via the Winlink system …. Of course this requires a HAM license and is not possible over the SailMail system as they do not allow attachments. So get that HAM license.

On our list of “things-to-have” we want a gyro compass autopilot; the price is now affordable and from the incoming reports, these will steer in almost any weather. Raytheon, WD, and others now make yacht versions of these. The other item is a watermaker … reports are the Village Marine, Spectre, Pur are the way to go.

The new (1000 hours now) Yanmar 4JH3-TE is running like a top …. Good fuel economy and great power/speed when you need it. The only criticism is the factory paint job, just pure crappy. I am spot painting all over the engine as the paint flakes off.

I am currently using (testing) 3 electronic navigation programs; MaxSea, Nobeltec Visual Navigation Suite, and Raytheon’s RayTech Navigator. All have great features, but the Nobeltec is the hands down winner in most areas. The MaxSea has the best weather display, but the rest is a bit clunky. Raytech is up an coming and should be there soon …. With the new HSB2 for their radars and the interface with the navigation computer, they have a real winner. You can do mini-marpa on the radar/chartplotter/laptop with no difficulty to 10 targets. The only thing is that you need to have the new Raytheon radars with the HSB2 port … the good thing is that you can upgrade the old HSB system to the new HSB2, hardware and software for around $700 by sending the old unit back to Raytheon.

 

All is well on POGO and the days slide by in retirement.

 

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