Several months have passed since the last blog. No, we did not fall of the face of the earth, nor were we swallowed by the Bermuda triangle… We are all alive and kicking, safe and sound, in Bocas del Toro, Panama. A quick grab of what happened: Our euphoria of completing the first stage of our trip around the world was quickly tempered and met by a temporary low. It started out with poor Exodus tied down for 4 months in the marina, in semi-vegetative state, waiting for a heart transplant, and in general requiring a fair dose of care and nursing back to health… Panama was to be our base for a while, therefore the necessary reconnaissance and exploring was done to get acquainted with our new environment. Moreover, new routines were adopted, a different pace of life more befitting a semi-sedentary lifestyle instead of our normal roving circus. Loitering in the same country for months meant the urgent need to keep you all posted was temporarily shifted to the bottom of the priorities list. But to make a long story short, the Exodus crew did not sit still much…
A heart transplant for Exodus
You might recall we limped into Bocas del Toro in the beginning of June 2018. We entered marina Cayo Carenero with an intended stay of one week to charge the batteries, give Exodus a good scrub inside outside, above water under water, wash all clothes, sheets etc that had started to suffer from the humid/ tropical rainforest climate.
After laboring for a week, we were ready to move out to the anchorage, but Exodus did not seem to agree. We turned the engine key and got no response whatsoever.
Dr. Arthur inspected the problem, tried to quick start her using the Antiguan trick, to no avail. We were not going anywhere. We retied the ropes and researched possible causes and solutions. First line of defense was a general clean out with Magic Marvel oil to remove all accumulated gunk… The help of the South African Steve was solicited, without effect. Exodus didn’t even stir. All our attentions and sweet little nothings whispered in her ears left her aloof. She couldn’t care less. The suspicion was a compression problem. The diagnosis was confirmed: Exodus needed a heart transplant. The engine overhaul that we had planned later in the year would have to happen right away.
We made arrangements with the ship yard in Almirante, took out the motor block with help of Steve, Pepijn and the boys, and delivered it to the mechanic Pujo.
Pujo is a local mechanic and has a reputation approximating the horse whisperer, applied to any type of engine. Word goes he only needs to hear how the engine runs to knows which screws to turn, which gasket, valve or piston to inspect. He can perform magic. In Exodus’s case, she remained silent, so the wonder doctor opened her up and made an inventory of what needed to be replaced. Spares in the form of a complete overhaul kit was ordered online, shipped to Bocas, and fitted. The work was done, yet the engine still refused to start. Even with the new pistons and rings there was still a compression problem. To make a long story short, the block was sent off to the machine shop in David where our sleeveless block was converted to a sleeved one so that the pistons would fit properly. The renewed parts were fitted and the engine started.
After this joyful news, Arthur fetched the engine with a panga and shortly after we hauled it back on board with a newly purchased chain block, assisted by Luiz and Luiz (Brazilians residing in the marina). We lowered it down the companionway, and eased it onto the engine mounts. Exodus’s rust coloured old heart was replaced by a shiny metallic/ gold/ rust colour outfit. Over the next days all the other parts were connected and the new heart was tested. It runs perfectly and starts without any complaints.