What’s Going On With Karl’s Engine

Before We Talk Engine…

I am lifting a garbage bag half full of fresh veggies over Karl’s railing and of course

two of the tomatoes broke and successfully covered the rest of the vegetables in a slightly sticky and smelly juice. Probably not very surprising since I dragged them along from Portobelo on two bumpy bus rides, shoved them into a cab, a ferry and finally into my kayak. And of course my backpack is rather soaked as well because one of the incoming waves caught me when I departed from the beach.

But at least I made the 3pm ferry although I got there at 3.17pm. I guess sometimes the Panamanian laissez-fair also works to your advantage. And at least it’s not raining.


The greateness of boat life

When I used to live in an apartment in Hamburg, the first thing to do coming home after a couple of days away, would be to switch on the light, most likely drop my bag, grab a cold drink and sink into the couch.

The first thing I did today after coming home was to check if there were any snakes in my cockpit (I found a small Boa lounging underneath my cockpit bench about two weeks ago). And instead of switching on the light, I fumble around in the dark for one of my Luci solar lights instead, in the hope that it still has some charge left. The third one finally seems to have a little juice and I start searching for my meter to check my batteries. And of course they are nearly dead. Actually, I don’t remember ever having run them that low, which is a bit scary.


I was only supposed to be away for two days, so I left the fridge on the lowest setting, hoping the solar panels would be sufficient for those 48 hours and my cheese would still be good when I return. But because things almost never go as planned, I returned to Karl no earlier than ten days later and my batteries are now down to 5V and the fridge obviously gave up working quite a while ago and my solar charge controller seems to be dead, too. I wonder if I should check how bad the damage is but in the moment of undoing the metal latch, I already regret my decision and start writing a list in my head for the next day:

– Charge batteries (damn it, do I have any gas left?)
– Empty nasty fridge and clean
– Laundry
– Bomb cockroaches (yeah, they love it when I am not there and get a bit too comfortable)


The next thing to check is the one that always scares me most. Shyly I lift one of the floorboards to take a peek into the bilge. Dry. Wow, awesome, that’s great news, we are not sinking, that’s really good news. Did I really think Karl would sink? No, but don’t you always have this tiny bit of doubt in the back of your head purely due to the fact that your home is surrounded by water? Maybe I am just paranoid.

Back to being by myself

But why am I writing all this? If you own a boat yourself, then you know all of this, or have at least similar experiences, so there is no need for me to tell you about it. There is only one reason for me sitting here with my computer on my lap typing away: I am alone.

And I don’t think I have been by myself since…arriving to Panama, which was about three months ago. That is a long time! And yes, I was getting a bit twitchy during the last two weeks but when I finally came back to Taboga Island today and saw Karl on his mooring, I felt kinda weird. A little bit as if I had forgotten how all of this works all by myself.


My parents announced their visit

It’s not only that. Two days ago, my parents told me that they are coming to visit me for a week. This will be their first time ever to visit Karl and me. And I cannot even take them out for a spin because Karl’s engine is dead, finito, Endstation.

I am super thrilled about them coming but at the same time I am a bit terrified. Do you ever get that feeling when something means so much to you and you know it’s slightly different from what your parents might have had in mind for you but still you want them to see it through your eyes and understand? Well, it’s one thing trying to get the message across in words, pictures and I even have videos to show them what’s going on in my life…


But now they will come here, set foot on Karl, see him, touch him, feel him, smell him (need to add “vinegar rub” to my worklist for tomorrow). It’s a big thing for me. And I realize how much I am still a small kid when it comes to my parents, even with my 35 years.

Coming to the point of this post

Anyways, the main reason I am telling you all this is because of that engine issue. It’s pretty bad and I have to ask myself if it makes sense to fix this old engine whose spare parts are scarce and quite pricey, or if I look for a new / old engine to replace it. I am tending toward the new / old engine option. But no, there is no further information about this yet. And there won’t be any for quite a while…

After my parents leave, I will head to Colombia to meet my sister. We had planned to meet in Ecuador, where Karl was supposed to be by now. Actually, we were originally supposed to meet in the Marquesas (looking at that engine incident, I have to say that my gut feeling was damn right telling me not to do the big crossing yet). Having a cruiser in your family requests a lot of patience and flexibility from other family members…I think I stretched it quite a bit this time (I hear my sister mumble to herself “this time”, Nike?).


My alone time is therefore down to a couple of days until I come back from Colombia, only to leave a few days later to head to Miami (more info about the “meet & greet” event later on this week!) for a week on my way to my “other home” in Germany. Yes, I am going home for some time again. Maybe two months, maybe three, I don’t know yet. Since I was supposed to be in the Marquesas by October, I had planned to spend a part of the hurricane season with my family and once you tell your mom you are about to come home for some time you cannot just take it back, that’s just not how it works with moms.

But I would be lying to say that this decision was only made to keep my mom happy. I had felt that I needed some family and friend time, more than just the two weeks that I had last Christmas with them. And yes, I am also happy to run away from my engine problem. More than happy, actually. It’s quite a big thing and I don’t know yet, how to tackle it. The time back home will give me a chance to do some research on second hand engines, maybe to reach out to some engine companies trying to get some sponsorship or simply to win the lottery.

Now you know why there is no update yet about the engine. I promise that I will keep you informed on the subject as soon as I have new info. And I also tell you with quite a lot of certainty that this is not the end of the journey. Karl and I are not done, yet, we still have many things to explore together!