Still in Panama Playing the Waiting Game
There were a few small jobs to do on the boat while up on the hard as we waited for the prop to come back from Washington, but all in all it was just a patience game - waiting for its arrival and waiting for Marks foot to heal. Finally the prop was despatched from PYI Inc in Washington and we watched its daily progress via the FedEx Online Tracking facility. Then we checked its progress and it happily reported that the item had been delivered – what? where? when? eek!!! A quick trip by me along to the office (Skipper still boat bound) and missing prop located sitting on the floor. Would it have been so hard for one of the countless staff to bring it along to us I wondered? As I went to pick it up they told me how heavy it was, (yes we know we paid the 19 kg freight bill!!!), they stayed sat behind their desks and didn’t even offer to open the door for me – I will just add here that “they” are 2 strong and healthy young men in their 20’s. Once back at the boat we tied it all up securely and Mark hoisted it onboard – our prop back at last.
No - How can this be????
Sadly our elation did not last long. As Mark started unpacking he took out the two end locking nuts, we had sent our old one for them to replica (as the first one they sent was too big). He looked at it, I looked at it and we both agreed that the thread did not look big enough. So down the ladder I went and it was clear immediately that the new locking nut was not going to fit our shaft. I didn’t have to say anything to Mark to confirm his fears, one look was enough. So we unpacked everything else then it was back down the ladder for me to check the rest of the parts. The hub had been remade to the correct size BUT the insert for the keyway that holds it in place on the shaft had not been cut deeply enough, (and yes – PYI did have our old one to compare and measure against). The hub would not fit with the keyway inserted, however it did fit without the key – not much use though. So try and imagine me, down under the boat with all the parts, trying desperately to make them fit together, while Mark is up on the boat, trying to lean over but unable to see anything - knowing from my deafening silence that all was definitely not well.
One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Skipper …..
It was clear that Skipper was not going to continue taking this lying down. He hobbled his way down the ladder and once again set foot on the planet after eight days perched high and dry on Balvenie. He had to satisfy himself that while we may have got the prop back, we still weren’t going anywhere. Just how a professional American company that has all the tools, equipment and expertise were able to send these to us without checking that they were EXACTLY the same as our previous ones amazes us. Mark was able to tell just by looking at the locking nut that it wasn’t correct, why couldn’t they? Another day of total disappointment, but as the nut hole needed to be made bigger and the key needed to be made smaller, maybe - just maybe, we could get them altered locally. Keith from Lyman Morse, the onsite Yard and Haulout Management Company took on the job the next morning and set to trying to find someone in Colon who could do the work. Of course this coincided with the weekend, but by Tuesday afternoon we had the parts back. The key fitted like a glove, but – yep you guessed it – the nut still did not fit, why was none of this surprising us any longer.
And Then the Riots Started
During this time there was a serious amount of unrest going on in Colon due to the Government wanting to sell off some occupied land. There was civil unrest, rioting and shootings in the streets downtown, looting in many of the central Colon shops – it was not a good place to be. The marina had stopped the twice daily bus for the cruisers to get to the local shopping centre, employees could not get to work because of road blocks, all was not well in Colon and it was spreading further throughout the country. So it was a couple more days before the nut could be safely returned to Colon for another rethread, success at last. Skipper was getting more mobile, his foot slowly healing and he was able to get up and down the ladder slowly. We installed the new prop finally and it absolutely sparkles. Mark says it gleams like gold and for the final amount it has cost I would expect gold with a diamond in it!!
So at last we were ready to splash but it was the weekend again!! Then around came Monday, after 21 nights on the hard it was splash day – but no, not today. We would need to be towed back to our berth as the engine and shaft were not yet attached. This was because we need to wait for the boat to settle into position back in the water before the final alignment from engine to propeller is done. But back to the tow….. we needed 2 dinghies one fore and one aft to manoeuvre us and there was only one available, there was also a serious shortage of staff as some roads were still being blocked. After 21 nights on the hard it didn’t matter that it was going to be one more,.
We finally splashed at 9am on Tuesday – yippee!!!