Las Perlas - and more boat issues!!

Published on 15 February 2024 at 08:39

Still having a great time but boat issues never stop!!


Las Perlas islands were beautiful - we woke up on our first morning to find we had moored exactly where we hoped, right opposite a beautiful deserted beach where we spent a lovely relaxing day. 


We moved on to another island where we reunited with the World ARC fleet. There was the most amazing phosphorescence in the anchorage - you could just splash the water and all the moving water glowed fluorescent green. The only downside was that a significant number of people were stung by tiny, almost invisible jellyfish - not bad stings, similar to a nettle rash, but enough to put you off swimming!


But we've been having ongoing issues with battery charging (which haven't been easy to diagnose as the boat systems are very complex: there are both lead acid and lithium ion batteries, with both 12v and 24v systems, two different voltage alternators on the engine, as well as a generator and solar panels). Having finally got our solar panels working and getting good charge from them in Panama, we were disappointed that the main lithium ion batteries still weren't charging up very well; further investigation (ie more bits of boat dismantled to get into another bit of the bilges!) showed a bank of 4 lead acid batteries had failed, and the lithium ions were pumping 60 amps into them to try and maintain their charge, making the batteries literally too hot to touch - and draining the lithium ions. There was no question, these had to be replaced.


So yesterday we had an unplanned return to Panama - the seas were unbelievably flat, like a mirror so we motored. We could see dolphin and really big fish jumping in the distance, and had lots and lots of rays swimming past really close to the boat with the tips of their wings breaking the surface, magical!


Sadly this meant we missed the formal start of the next leg from Las Perlas to Galapagos this morning. But we have sourced and fitted a new bank of lead acid batteries, and this afternoon we set off from Panama again, this time straight to Galapagos with just 900 nautical miles to go, and only a few hours behind the rest of the fleet


We are far from the only ones with issues - of 27 boats in the fleet only 17 boats made the start, 10 were either still in Panama or had had to return to Panama, waiting for either repair or spare parts. 8 of them are still there, some expecting to be another week or more. And unfortunately the fastest boat in the fleet (a really sporty catamaran called Nica) hit a log a few hours after leaving Las Perlas, which damaged one of her saildrive units, and is now heading back to Panama for repair. 


It is a really long way to the next place where boats can get parts or maintenance work done (Tahiti has some facilities but the next real maintenance opportunity is Australia), so everyone is trying to get everything right before heading on from Panama. Anywhere else boats may have pressed on despite problems, to get them fixed at the next stop - but now there is no next stop until Australia.


So we're not doing too bad compared to others! Having left this afternoon we're settling down for a week of gentle sailing, not pushing the boat too hard, fingers crossed and touching wood that the next thing to break is not too serious!! 


I'm currently on the night shift watching the stars and the phosphorescence in our wake - there were apparently dolphins alongside during the previous shift but none now. Currently heading due south to clear the mainland, then will swing SW in a few hours to head for Galapagos.


We had 30 knot winds forecast tonight, but currently on a run with a nice steady 20 knots, and we're making nearly 8 knots over the ground which is pretty good for us, aided by a bit of current. Unfortunately winds are forecast to drop completely in a couple of days so we are likely to have to motor the 2nd half of this leg, but we'll have to wait and see what actually happens!



ps the last phpto is of boats moored just outside the marina at panama - the one on the far left is not an ARC boat, he's having an even worse day!!


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Sarah Barnes
4 months ago

Hiya, I saw from the tracker you were returning to Panama… happy to know it was only dead batteries taking you back! May the wind blow just nicely enough and in the right direction to allow you to catch up with the main fleet. All the sea life you’re seeing is amazing… it’s hard to imagine the seascape on your way to Galapagos. Don’t go hitting any logs now like the other fella! Much love to you both xx

Jan Edwards
4 months ago

Am so enjoying following your fantastic journey even if it is only from my armchair! Wonderful photos as well. Safe sailing. Jan xx