Travel notebook

Sauvetage d’annexe sous tension

In order to finalize the preparation of Noddi for the crossing of the Panama Canal: We had to get some tires. This was done by Emilien and Léo. Then I had to bring them back from the port to the boat with our mini dinghy.

¡Adiós Lucas, adiós!

Heavy tires... Too heavy!

Premier passage avec 3 gros pneus de camion : bien évidement très lourds. Je positionne alors les 2 premiers à l’avant et je passe dans le dernier tout à l’arrière; in order to distribute the weight. When I accelerate, the boat will pitch back and the weight will balance this effect.

15 minutes later : Job done. I arrive at the sailboat and that's when things start to get serious. The tires are impossible to install on the boat. I am stuck to Noddi at the back but I can't put the tire on; far too heavy.

I use all my strength, but it is not enough. I will have to use another muscle: my brain.

I hooked the tire that was blocking me to the engine of the dinghy; I managed to get out. I then gain a little freedom of movement allowing me to position a tire on the small platform at the back of Noddi. I then managed to climb like a chimpanzee; I positioned the other tires on the boat. It is now done.

Second batch

Without taking any rest, I get back in the dinghy, restart the engine and go to get the last 3 tires. When I arrive, Emilien and Leo are waiting for me with a cold beer: it's cool! I drink it quickly and leave with Leo to take care of the last load. This time it's car tires. Small detail that will make all the difference.

Being smaller, it is then possible to position them at the front of the dinghy. When it is less than 2 meters long, there is little legroom left with the fuel tank. I am then well back on the left side of the boat. I leave the marina quietly, and, when it's time to speed up : it is the drama.

Backflip 10/10

The dinghy rises, but much more than usualThe tires in front are bulky but too light compared to the engine, the tank and myself in the back. The first wave arrives and makes our dinghy take off. In a few thousandths of a second: I fall into the water.

Lieu où l’annexe s’est retournée

I quickly got my head out of the water, quickly came to my senses and tried in vain to turn the dinghy over; now upside down; engine in the water. I had to swim in the channel, near the mangrove. I was in the same waters as the crocodiles recently observed by boaters. No time to think about it, I have to save our dinghy. Otherwise we will have nothing to reach our sailboat.

Swimming is difficultthe current is strong, I pull the dinghy and the gas tank out of the water with one arm, thus avoiding that it leaves us. At this moment, I am still quite far from the marina.

A rescue... unexpected

I hear shouting in the distance, a man waves to meI tell him that I am fine, he disappears running. I don't really know what he is doing, so I continue to swim. A few minutes later, I see a huge military boat coming straight at me. I identified 4 people on board, all wearing balaclavas, bulletproof vests « C O M M A N D O S ».

A man at the front yells at me in Spanish to stay calm and wait. I don't want to wear myself out. I then slowed down the pace. At this moment, the boat approaches and this man hangs from the boat held by a colleague, they pull me and allow me to take support on the overturned dinghy. I manage to pull myself aboard their military vessel. 

With their help, I recover the dinghy and find myself surrounded by hooded soldiers on a Panamanian army commando ship.

Commandos de l’Aéronavale Panaméenne m’ayant prêté main forte

They were extremely fast and efficient. The captain asks me, still in Spanish, what I have to recover in the water. I try to explain to this commando in an approximate Spanish that I was in charge of tires. They finally understand me after having said: "Michelin! Bridgestone! Pirelli!" while making big circles with my arms.

Neither one, nor two, the commando having hoisted me on board manages to identify one, he shouts it to the captain who pushes an insane acceleration with the 1,000 hp of his ship. The man at the front manages to catch him with a big boat hook; he brings him on board. Then a small boat from the marina came to pick me up.

I go overboard and recover the dinghy with the help of the commandos. Once this is done, the military ship leaves, I thank them greatly and here I am on board the marina boat with a man from the port.

The man accelerates and his engine instantly fails. This is impossible: the jinx is definitely on me! He calls his colleagues on the radio and tells me to look at the engine.

How to tell him... He didn't find the best person to fix his engine. I look at it and realize that his mooring rope has become entangled in the propeller. I try to unblock it, but the rope is under tension, I ask him for a knife, which he has by chance with him. I cut the end, free the propeller and restart his engine. Here we go again.

Arrival at the port

After so many adventures, we are finally at the port: at the quay. We unload the dinghy with Emilien and Léo, they do not ask any questions and Leo starts to rescue the engine after drinking a few liters of salt water. He dismantled the spark plugs and the air box, and dried everything well. He ends up starting it, expelling a lot of impurities. It is now functional. 

  • Nicolas
    February 28, 2022Reply

    Grosse chaleur Lucas , ça va faire des sacrés souvenirs tous ça 😉

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