This week on Green Panther

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Category: Ships Log


Time period: Thursday, 01/02/2014 – Saturday, 01/11/2014

Hard to believe we’re already into the 2nd week of the New Year! It’s been a busy time on Green Panther with boat projects and a couple side adventures.  

 

I’ll start with the boat work. Christian has been continuing with wiring and hooking up our toys. This last week it has involved connecting our solar panels to the battery bank. Up until now our solar panels were just for show – our friends helped us mount them in San Francisco, but we ran out of time to connect them.  He also elevated the panels a bit by adding a block of sturdy plastic, so now the panels can clear the top of the posts they are mounted to and be propped horizontally. It seems horizontal solar panels actually work better than vertical solar panels. :)  Chris has also been working on adding LED lights to our head (AKA the toilet – we’re still in the dark there), trying to get our outboard engine running, and purchasing supplies to convert our icebox into a refrigerator. He is going to be an expert electrician when we’re done!

Connecting the solar panels. Note the wires are now  mostly connected and run through the stanchion (metal post on our deck) into our cabin.

 

Christian and a couple of our dock neighbors taking apart our outboard engine to try and diagnose why it won't run in idle.

 

While he’s been busy with those projects, I’ve been busy playing the 1950s housewife. Besides cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, and polishing stainless steel, I’ve also been tackling our seat cushions. I’ve been unable to find good upholstery fabric in a forest green color that we like, so we decided to just clean and repair our existing cushion covers with a lighter weight fabric I found. My proud achievement this week was figuring out how to sew fabric onto leather with our machine.  After an hour of messing with thread tensions and cleaning thread out of the jammed up shuttle, I finally got it to work. I’m beginning to gain more respect for what this machine can do.  The other project I completed this week was insulating our upper kitchen cabinets. Ever since we painted the dark green stripe on our boat, the amount of heat coming through has been incredible.  At mid-day, the cabinet walls are too hot to touch! Now the walls are just warm, so it’s a bit of an improvement.

Our upper kitchen cabinet. Note the wires running through the stanchion plate from our solar panel, as well as the new insulation in the cabinet (hard to tell because I covered the insulation with white fiberglass reinforced plastic).

 

We did manage to get out and do some fun things this last week as well. Earlier, one of our boat neighbors regaled us with a tale of how he had anchored overnight at the Mogote (sand spit where the whale sharks hang out), and in the morning was surrounded by whale sharks. He had them all to himself for a couple hours until the tour pangas arrived later in the morning. We decided we needed to try this as well, so on a 2-day stretch when the wind died down, we motored out with our friends on Pelagia and anchored off the Mogote, where the whale sharks usually hang out.  The trip started out promising; as we approached the Mogote we saw a pair of humpback whales. Although not whale sharks, at least we got the first part of the name! We were certain the whale sharks would be out the next morning. After a wonderful dinner on Pelagia, we retired to our own vessel, set out our wetsuits and snorkel gear, and went to bed with visions of whale sharks dancing in our head. A bit before sunrise I leapt out of bed, threw open the companionway hatch, and scanned the water. What to my wondering eyes did appear…  a very calm bay with not a fin in sight to disturb the surface.  Perhaps the whale sharks were still asleep in the deep, and would be out after sunrise?  After breakfast, we camped out in the cockpit with our binoculars and telephoto camera lens.  Nothing could be seen as far as the horizon. Not even a tour panga (they zoomed by and disappeared out of sight). About 11am, we piled into Pelagia’s dinghy for a shore excursion and explored the sand spit. By 2pm, the wind picked up again and it was time to return to the marina. Our dreams of seeing whale sharks were not to be realized that day.  Despite being skunked by the whale sharks though, it was still a nice relaxing day that did not involve boat work!

Humpback whales off of the Mogote.

 

Humpback tail.

 

Dawn over La Paz, with no whale shark fins.

 

Sunrise over La Paz; still no whale shark fins.

 

Exploring the sand spit with Pelagia.

 

Porcupinefish skeleton we found on the beach. Even their skeletons are cute!

 

There was a surprisingly diverse array of uninhabited seashells on the beach.

The other mini adventure we had this week was an attack of flour (grain) weevils. As their name implies, grain weevils lay their eggs on grain kernals, and the eggs can be in flour and other grain products.  Wikipedia says it can take up to 20 weeks for weevil eggs to hatch, but in warm temperatures it can be as little as 5 weeks. Somehow I have managed to escape them my entire life. Until now. We were having a dock party and our neighbors requested I make sugar cookies. As I was spooning out the dough, I noticed a dark speck in one spoonful and found it was a small bug. I figured it must have flown in when I was mixing the dough. I picked it out and baked the cookies. As I was moving the cookies to the cooling rack, I noticed an odd brownish worm-like shape on the bottom of a cookie. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be a segmented brown larva! Ew! I examined the other cookies and found about 40% had a small larva baked on the bottom. I checked my airtight flour container, and after a bit of searching, found some lovely squirmy larvae and small, dark, beetle-like bugs inhabiting it. I had just bought a brand new, 5-kilo bag of flour at the local grocery store and apparently it wasn’t very fresh. Well, the dock party was in 30 minutes and I didn’t have time to run to the store for new flour to make a new batch of cookies, so I picked out all the larvae I could find with a knife and brought the cookies to the party. I provided full disclosure on the cookies to my dock neighbors, sure they would be horrified and I would just trash them. However, to my surprise, no one even blinked an eye. They just laughed and said it was about time we had some weevils on our boat. And the cookies were gone within an hour. Apparently, you just add 1 gram of protein per sack of weevil-infested flour to your nutritional info.  I also learned from our neighbors that adding bay leaves to your flour can help prevent hatching. I haven’t found any scientific research to back this up, but I’ll try anything to prevent another weevil attack! And don't worry, I'll spare you photos of the weevils.

 

And so wraps up the exciting life and times of another week on Green Panther!

 

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