Yours for $10 (in Bocas del Toro, Panama)

Way back in the day, when we were in the San Carlos work yard (probably somewhere around week 5 of our 7-week work yard stay), our good friend told us about the $10 days. Those are the days that if someone came up and said “hey, I’ve got $10, can I have your boat?” you’d reply, “yep, and would you like a side of fries with that?”.


Seriously, boats can be a drag.

Just when I was thinking “haven’t had to write too many I-hate-boat-projects-posts lately”… *poof* there goes the happy factor!

Here, sing along with me to the tune of “the hip bone’s connected to the…blabla”, k?:

“The alternator fell off so we made a new bracket; we towed the boat with the dinghy into the marina and then met Kiwi-Dave; he made us a new fancy-schmancy (read: pricey) bracket; the new bracket installation snapped off the stud it was attached to; Jon replaced the stud and had to open up the coolant resoirvoir; it was dirrrrty in there; then we tried to start the engine and oh! the starter wouldn’t starrrrrrrrrt; so we took the raw water pump off and hey! Only one vein left on the raw water impeller (if only we didn’t have to dismantle the whole engine to check this sucker — thanks Westerbeke!); so now we have to take the heat exchanger apart to retrieve impeller fin bits and pieces; and hey! the starter would not come off, and it was dark so we gave up and went to bed; woke up, emptied the lazarette, took every spare engine piece off we could dream of; re-read the fabulous manual (“remove two bolts. remove starter”) and cursed the directions a little more; called the one mechanic in the area and while I was on the phone hey! the starter came off… just needed the threat of a mechanic I guess 🙂 so now we can get back to trying to figure out what’s wrong with the starter motor, oh!”

So, yup. $10 and you can have her.

Oh, and the conversation that went with coffee this morning? Something like this:

“Should we just leave the boat here and fly home now?”

“Yep, but then we’ll have to figure out how to get the starter off next year. Can we bring a new engine back with us?”

“Sure. Or we should ship the boat. What was the quote you got? $14k to New York City? $14,000 seems like the deal of the century.”

“Still a huge chunk of change though. For $14k we could probably hire somebody to inflict bodily pain every time we consider giving up.”

“Oooh I like that. Who should our torturer be?”

And then we start brainstorming who our torturer could be. Or what RV we should buy. Or what unsuspecting soul we should donate Brio to. It’s a fun game, really 🙂

Just one more thing. Way-back-when, I had an amazing mentor who taught me that when people say they want a “challenge”, you should laugh at them. Because what they really mean is that they want the growth that comes from surviving a challenge, but the only way you get that growth is by going through the challenge, and challenge, my dear friend, is not fun. It’s pain and hurt and frustration and hopelessness and exhaustion and trial and error and a whole lot of effort and it’s only if you actually persevere through that you might even get anything good out of it all anyways.

But maybe — just maybe — at the end of all this we’ll be able to look back and smile a fond little smile at the memory of being a broken boat in Bocas and laugh at how much we’ve learned and how much we’ve grown since then, and it will all be worth it.

Until then, it’s pretty much pain and hurt and frustration and hopelessness and exhaustion and trial and error and a whole lot of effort.

Just keepin’ it real for y’all 😉




Yours for $10 (in Bocas del Toro, Panama) — 17 Comments

  1. Leah, Sorry about that. Did I mention we sold our boat. Next one won’t have a 26 year old engine.. Nor wil it have a disasterous collection of miss-matched DC devices that contributed to the infamous, “Do you smell smoke? Really, something’s on fire.” The batteries were under the quarterberth of course, under me. Then there was Polly shouting, “John get up here, The sun is in my eyes and I can’t see and there’s construction in the channel!” “Construction?” Asks I. “15′, 13′, 3′” says the depth gauge.
    More quotes: “Shut it down!”, “Tour boat approaching the sailboat in the channel right in front of you. We’re dead in the water and can’t get out of your way…….”, “Where’s our boat?”, “Do you want the bad news or the bad news?”, “You’re just going to have to poop in a bucket. I won’t drive this boat anymore!” And finally from the naked plumber who was rebuilding the toilet pump for the fourth time in as many weeks, sitting in his own foulness on the floor of the head, “I don’t want to do this anymore.” Our next boat, don’t laugh, will have a port-a-potty, a new outboard, no wind generator, only two batteries and no staysail. Don’t despair. You’ll have great stories…. Hugs, John. PS Paula and I are still happily married.

    • John I laughed out loud many times while reading this, and breathed a tiny sigh of relief when I finally read ´still happily married´ haha!! Thanks for the moment of shared experience & levity… looking forward to swapping boat stories in person one of these days 🙂

  2. What an inspirational situation that you are both living! I love the idea that over coffee in the mornings you are both able to twist the scenario around to deal with costs and consequences and still come out on top! Good on ya both!

    • I think we need the benefit of hind-sight before we´ll call it inspirational hehehe 😉 But it IS a good learning situation all around!!

  3. No, you don’t get $10, you have to pay $10 for someone to take it off your hands don’t you? I know someone who would be your torturer, someone with torturing experience 🙂

  4. Great post – I was laughing out loud as I started to sing your song! There are days, where I’m sure we would have taken $7.50 and thrown in a Big Mac for our boat.

    • Haha I like it Ellen!! I always feel like a bit of a heel, complaining when we´re out here ´living the dream´– so it´s nice to know somebody relates!! 🙂

  5. Too funny! Great post..

    BTW-Don’t set your hopes on RVing as a solution to not having your home breakdown. Our 96 rv issued about as bad as sailing our boat in terms of issues and finding parts. Sometimes all you can do is laugh. It took us 15 states and 2500 miles to find a replacement wiperblade….Had a quote for $300 and 2 day leadtime along the way. Was able to replace whole assembly with a generic type connection. Unbelievable. The list can go on…k

    • Awww darn just when we´d pinned our hopes on a Wesfalia 😉 Guess the key is to find a life that doesn´t involve small engines and great distances… maybe we should take up bicycle camping??? 🙂

  6. You guys are amazing, love your adventures and this blog…Had a dream last night (after catching up on the blog) that Misha and I were on a boat sailing to Cuba and we ran aground and there was a hole in the hull and water rushing in and we were radio-ing you guys for your boating expertise. Hope you’re back yo happy Caribbean sailing soon!!

    • Hahaha I love it Ioana!! We miss you guys — you´re going to have to come visit in Maine or maybe we can meet halfway somewhere warm!!

  7. I was having a $10 day earlier this week! We ended up having to replace our transmission a week into cruising. Yay for “challenges” eh?
    Persevere, you’ll laugh about this in a month.

  8. You both must be over 7 feet tall by now :-). Wherever you live you need a sign that says ‘Growth welcome here’.

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