After completing the first stage or our trawler-to-yacht conversion at the Navtech “shipyard” in Cartagena - a traumatic experience I can assure you -we’re now back in Panama. It took us a few days to get the ship ready for departure and we enjoyed great weather along the way. Besides a little main engine fuel problem along the way the trip was uneventful.
As you can see, we are now anchored safely in the beautiful Bay of Portobelo.
The ship has been stripped from all fishing-related gear, it’s rubbing strikes, wood on deck and all the DC equipment which is not needed any more (no more DC-motor powered fishing winches).
It’s not exactly a beautiful yacht get but there’s nothing a little sandblasting can’t solve. And the lines of this North Sea trawler are still beautiful.
The bay of Portobelo is about a 1.5 hour drive from Panama City and about 45 minutes from Colon, the Atlantic (Caribbean) entrance of the Panama Canal.
We’re now looking at our options on how to carry out the practical side of the conversion. Where, in what order, with who, etc. While Panama may be known as a maritime nation being the biggest flag (of convenience) state and having the Panama Canal and 3 big ports, it’s not a maritime nation in a traditional sense. There are very few Panamanian mariners working on ships (mainly due to Panama’s very bad public education system and total lack of English skills) and besides a few ship-repair shops, there is no maritime industry at all. So finding good labor is going to be a challenge.
Therefore, we’re going to make sure we’ll have very detailed drawings and design specs, detailed project management including work breakdowns that leave no doubt, the right equipment and above all, experienced supervision.
It won’t be easy, it won’t always be fun but in the end it will be worth it.