The Panama Canal

…or the “Canal de Panama” as they call it over here.

Panama Canal 1

Hello again Boatblog® Fans,

We knew we met be getting close to the Panama Canal when we looked at our plotter.Panama Ships 2

Aaaaaah. All those big green things are ships. And that’s a lot of ships. But even seeing it on the plotter doesn’t quite prepare you for when you arrive.

Panama Shipping 6

There’s hundreds of them. It’s like Cowes Week but with giant container vessels instead of yachts. We managed to dodge them all, even though we had a stowaway on board.

Panama Seabird

Soon we were safely moored up in Shelter Bay Marina on the Caribbean side of the canal. Shelter Bay claims to be the safest marina in the Caribbean, but these things are all relative. They don’t allow you to swim in the marina because of the crocodiles. Crocodiles! I kid you not. We didn’t actually see any, but they look just like logs, which is worrying because you often see logs floating in marinas.

So now it was just a question of waiting for our turn to go through the canal itself. We kept on getting delayed because there has been a lack of rainfall in Panama and the locks are low on water. This means that they don’t want to waste a ‘lockage,’ with all the water that uses up, on a few tiny yachts. So instead of going through together as a fleet which is what normally happens, we would have to go through in a ‘nest’ of three boats tied together, and one very big ship.

The Canal Authorities also insist that you have at least five people on board to transition the canal, so we were very lucky that the crew of Cavatina agreed to join us.

Crew

Thank you Cavatina.

At last we got the go-ahead. We would enter the first lock at 2045 (quarter to nine in the evening for you landlubbers). Which was great, except that it meant that we would be going through in the dark.

You and Island

And because we were a catamaran, we would be the middle boat of the nest of three. This was bad in that it meant we were responsible for all the manoeuvring, and good because it meant if we did crash at least it wasn’t our boat that would get all mangled.

Going into lock

It’s like having a giant fender on either side of us, though I’m not sure that’s how the other boats saw it. You don’t want to be tied up  next to a boat full of angry sailors because you’ve just smashed their boat into the wall, so you do have to concentrate.

Cookies

Sorry – wrong photo. That was Ju eating cookies. This is Ju concentrating.

Helm

Then they close the doors,

Doors closing

…let the water in, and before you know it you are up at the top.

Top of the lock

And ready to drive into the next lock.

View from the helm

Eventually we got through the first of the three locks which take you up to the Gatun Lake where we moored up for the night onto one of the giant mooring balls. They were really hard to tie up to as they are really made for much bigger boats so Lyn had to jump over the side to attach all the ropes.

Lyn on Mooring Ball 2

Which is quite scary when it is rolling about and one false step and you are in the crocodile infested lake. (Ju forgot to mention the crocodiles until Lyn got back.)

We got up early next morning to cross the lake.

Gatun Lake Sunrise

It’s a big lake so it took about five hours to get to the next set of locks which take you back down to sea level. For some reason, this time they decided that we should go into the lock before the ship. At first this didn’t seem so bad…

Big Boat 4

But then it got closer…

Big Boat 3

And closer…

Big Boat 2

And closer…

Big Boat 1

It was quite a relief when it actually stopped.

At last we arrived at Miraflores, which are the last two locks.

IMG 3917

You go down…

Line Handling 2

And down…

LH Going Down

Then they start to open the doors…

Door opens Pacific

And you get your first view of The Pacific!

Door opens pacific 2

First you see the Bridge of the Americas in the distance…

Bridge of US

which you go under…

LH Bridge of the Americas 2

And then you see the skyline of Panama City.

Panama City

Woo woo woo!

Just time for a couple of Arty Farty photos, the first is called “Crane.”

LH Sunset Crane

And the second is called “Train.”

Sunset Gatun Lake

To The Pacific and Beyond!

Ju & Lyn

4 thoughts on “The Panama Canal”

  1. Looks interesting. At least you can look forward (?) to the vastness of the Pacific. The Panama Canal must have been a sobering experience with the container ships bearing down on you. Looking forward to the next post. Safe sailing to you both.

    Regards

    John Williams

    >

  2. FANTASTIC!!! …. I was hearing stirring John Williams music as you emerged from the womb of the Canal into the brave new world of the Pacific ✊😂👏.

    The Dawn of a Hero! (Well, plural, but ‘Heroes’ doesn’t read so well) x

    1. That’s ironic! I mentioned the music maestro and the. Afterwards noticed he had already commented (see ‘John Williams’ post, above) 😂😂😂

  3. Oh my life Ju & Lyn, those really are very big boats! Very pleased that you navigated the canal safely. I only have one question. Is it possible to eat a cookie and be serious simultaneously? What an adventure – wishing you safe onward passage x

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