Around The World Voyage : Commentary : Leg 4

May 27, 2002

Good Monday morning from NORDHAVN. We're at sea again and are presently 25 miles from “Punta Mala”, our next waypoint. After completing the canal transit, we pulled into the Flaminco Marina where we readied for sea. Jeff and Carlos (one of the hired line handlers) went to the market for some last minute supplies while Mike and Kevin fueled and tidied up the engine room. I told Mike and Kevin to “pack” the boat and they managed to squeeze in 755 gallons ($1.00 per gallon) as fuel oozed out of the vents. We will run non-stop to Acapulco (a distance of about 1500 miles) and I intend to run hard and arrive with minimal fuel on board. Mike referred to me as “a barn soured horse”. With NORDHAVN now back in the Pacific and pointed generally towards home, one cannot help it. The thought of my sweet wife waiting for me in Acapulco causes the throttle to be inched forward.

While the guys readied the boat, I carried out my duties as “Captain Danero” as Jeff calls me or “The Wallet” as Kevin calls me. Pete Stevens came aboard and presented his invoice together with a very well organized 3 ring binder containing all necessary paperwork and extra copies of crew lists, passports ect. The Stevens invoice was presented in a format similar to an escrow statement with double reconciliation and was very clear and understandable. The bottom line was $1,172 that included the basic transit fee of $500 plus the Stevens agency fee, line rentals, taxes and various other small charges. I paid the two line handlers separately. I highly recommend the use of an agent when transiting the canal and especially recommend Pete Stevens. Pete Stevens can be reached at (507) 261-1931.

For the past 4 days, poor NORDHAVN has been a dormitory, cafeteria and public bathroom. As planned, Jeff and Kevin were to overlap so that both could experience the canal transit. Tim Banse’s stay that was to be a simple overnight event stretched to two days due to the transit delay. Add to that the line handlers, the pilot, and various guests (“do you mind if I use the head ?”) and you can see that we were an overbooked hotel. The red light never came on indicating a full holding tank, but it must have been close. Being back at sea, I have valved to direct overboard discharge of the toilet. I pumped the holding tank for 10 minutes and got tired before it emptied. I will finish it later.

While we were very sorry to see our excellent shipmate and good friend Jeff Merrill and our new friend Tim Banse leave, it was a relief to hoist their luggage to the dock and reclaim our little ship. The transfer or replacement of crew is an interesting phenomenon not unlike what is seen on the TV show “Survivor”. Dan, Mike and Jeff were now the past and Dan, Mike and Kevin were clearly the future. The new crew was the one going to sea and we had entered the “zone” of excitement, responsibility, nervousness and dread that comes as you depart on a long passage.

By about 8:00PM, NORDHAVN was ready for sea. Fuel was loaded, the engine room was thoroughly checked, the food was stowed, the boat was cleaned and the previous 4 days of slothfulness had been erased. By this time however, rain was falling, lightening was flashing and an onshore wind of 20 knots was fluttering the Nordhavn burgee. We were exhausted from an exciting day that began at 3:30AM. Should we leave?- Yea, lets go.

We slowly motored through the anchorage as Mike and Kevin stowed lines and fenders and made NORDHAVN ready for sea. With building apprehension, I could see the rain blowing sideways as it was illuminated by the fluorescent lights on the breakwater. As we passed the fancy sport fisherman which had been our lock partner, I could see them through the big windows enjoying dinner and watching TV. That boat had roared past us at 30 knots after exiting the Miraflores locks but then had to slow down after getting into the rough conditions around Flaminco Island. We had almost caught back up with them, but didn’t and they went on to hog our reserved spot at the fuel dock. I simultaneously envied them and despised a multi million-dollar boat that couldn’t or wouldn’t go to sea in those conditions. In a replay of the old “tortoise and hair” story that we see so often, I predict that humble NORDHAVN will beat that gorgeous 2,900 horsepower gold-plater to Acapulco.

As we rounded the breakwater, we entered a very lumpy and confused sea and a radar screen FULL of ships, buoys and islands. We bumped our way through an uncomfortable night of trying to read the movements of various ships and hang on to the bucking NORDHAVN.

The weather settled down during the night and the dawn brought a beautiful sunrise, smoother seas and fewer ships. I am glad that we left last night. We have already put about 70 miles in the bank.

 

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