Saturday, March 15, 2008

We are right in the middle of the filming of new James Bond movie

March 15, 2008 Saturday

As mentioned previously, the newest James Bond movie (#22) is being filmed here at Shelter Bay Marina in Panama.  The movie is set in Haiti and we guess that most people won’t realize that Haiti doesn’t look a thing like Panama.  For one thing, there are no trees in Haiti because they have all been cut down to be used as fuel for cooking and such.  And Panama is jungle so there are millions of trees of all kinds. 

It is interesting watching all the work that goes into making this movie.  They have 4 little souped up boats that are being used in chase scenes.  These look rather derelict but are really fast boats with brand new big engines.  They look like they are driving themselves but there is a guy strapped into a rocorro seat inside the wooden console in the middle.  There is a very small slit for the driver’s eyes so that he can see, but with limited vision range.  This small slit is covered by netting so it appears the boat is driving itself.  The James Bond actor and a brunette Bond girl stand in the back and sometimes act like they are fighting while the boat drives itself during these chase scenes.  Funny to see and we are sure the final movie won’t look anything like the play-acting fighting that happens while the shots are made.  Don’t know how they shoot and edit to make this play acting fighting look realistic, but it just looks funny in real life.

The actor playing James Bond (think his name is Daniel Craig or something like that) is being hosted on the big mega-yacht docked right next to us, named OLGA.  But we have only seen the actor from a close distance so far.  He has a body guard that makes sure that no one gets too close.  And they don’t like photos taken.  We are not fans of this guy so really don’t care.  But it is entertaining to watch all the movie goings-on happening around us.  Bill talked to “James Bond” and his Bond girl this afternoon; just a few sentences.  The body guard didn’t stop him.

They were supposed to blow up a small boat yesterday afternoon.  The explosives are all set, but they still have not blown it up.  Hope we are around when that happens.  Would like to see what it really looks like and then see how they make it look in the final movie.

The admeasurer was out to our boat this afternoon and measured BeBe in every direction.  We now have a Ship Identification Number for the Panama Canal transit.  Our agent is supposed to call us after 6:00 this evening and tell us the assigned transit date.  But we already know that it is very likely that the assigned transit date will be changed, probably more than once.  We arrived to transit the canal right in the middle of a work slow-down by the pilots.  

A pilot is required on a big ship (I think a pilot is required on any boat over 80-feet length.)  At any rate, smaller boats like ours do not use pilots; we get an advisor.  An advisor is someone who is gaining experience so that he can eventually be a pilot – because pilots make the big bucks.   The advisor will board our boat and remain on the boat through the transit process.  We have to feed him nice meals while he is aboard (as well as the 4 line handlers that are also required).   The advisors make a big deal out of the quality of the meals served to them.  If we do not feed him or if he feels that the quality of the meal served is unacceptable to his standards, then a catered meal must be brought out to our boat – at a cost of $350 to us.  So most cruisers make it a point to serve something good.

So back to the pilot work situation.  This is the busiest time of the year for canal transits.  We have heard that the pilots now make $250,000 per year and they want a raise to $400,000.  They have labor contracts and cannot simply strike for higher pay.  But they can call in sick.  And they can move the ships through the canal locks at 3 knots instead of the required 8 knots.  And that is what they are doing right now.  This explains the unusually high number of ships outside the breakwater awaiting canal transit on the morning we arrived here.  The pilots are creating a backlog of ships to transit the canal.  And we are caught in the middle of this, even though we don’t use a pilot.  Commercial traffic takes precedence over pleasure yachts transiting the canal – as it should be, since they pay roughly $300,000 to transit the canal and we pay less than $2,000.

Nothing we can do about this except hope for the best.  The transit date is out of our control.  Stay tuned for several updates about this, I’m sure.

You might remember that we came to this marina so that Bill could work on our engine because we experienced a slight problem on the passage from Bocas del Toro.  Bill wrote the following about our engine heat situation:

We were experiencing white puffy smoke or steam and overheating at high RMP.  This symptom means that it is likely that water is hitting a hot mixing elbow in spurts rather than an even flow. 

How a Marine Diesel Engine is Cooled:
A marine diesel engine cools itself with a combination of two water systems.  One is sea water; the other is a mixture of coolant and water.  The mixture of coolant and water circulates through the engine just like an automobile.  However instead of a radiator, we have a "heat exchanger."  Cool sea water passes thru small tubes which are surrounded by the coolant and water.  The sea water removes the heat from the coolant and water and is expelled through the exhaust.  It is injected into the exhaust at the "Mixing Elbow."

We did the obvious things we thought:
  • Checked the Water Chest Strainer (it was OK)
  • Replaced the Impeller (old one looked fine)
  • Removed and cleaned the heat exchanger (looked OK)
  • Removed and cleaned the Turbo Intercooler (looked OK)
  • Replaced the thermostat (did not check the old one)

The problem continued on our passage from Bocas del Toro to Shelter Bay Marina near Colon.  On the way here I recalled that a small transmission oil cooler is plumbed in-line with the sea water line from the Water Chest to the sea water pump on the main engine.  It is relatively simple to disconnect the rubber end boots from this oil cooler. 

I disconnected both ends of the transmission oil cooler.  On the inlet side of the cooler I found about 1/3 cup of small mussel shells and other debris which almost completely blocked the water flow.  The water flows thru 3/16" tubes and the transmission oil flows around the tubes.  The whole thing is about 2 1/2" in diameter and about 8' long...water hoses on each end: 1 "IN" the other "OUT"...and two high pressure hoses from the transmission - 1 "IN" the other "OUT."

Anyway, I got it cleaned and put everything back together.  I started the main engine and noticed that a lot more water was flowing through the exhaust.  I am 99% sure the problem is solved.  We will not know for sure until we power up to 3,000 RPM under load.

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