Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Panama Canal Day 2 Gatun Locks

When we woke up this morning the rain was gone and the lake was calm. We were told that a new canal pilot would arrive between 10 and 11 am. Around noon the pilot still had not shown up so a radio call to the pilot station was made. We were told that it would now be around 2 pm. So we waited. We watched several of the large freighters go into to the locks. Around 2 pm the pilot showed up and we waited some more. At 3:30 we finally untied from the mooring buoy and slowly started heading to the locks. At the Mira Flores locks we went in last...behind a big freighter. On this side we had to go in first. The problem was that we were to tie up along side another tour boat but the boat was running behind coming from the other side of the canal. When it finally got there we were able to enter the first lock. This time we loaded at the top level in each lock and drop down as they pumped water out. Here are several pictures of our trip through the Gatun Locks to the Caribbean Sea.
The last set of locks and our first view of the Caribbean!
The trip from the exit of the last lock to the breakwater protecting the port of Colon took about an hour. We had to stop about half way and let the pilot off and the line handlers with their gear. Daylight was already fading as we exited the last lock. The closer we got to the breakwater the worse the weather was not looking like our run to Bocas Del Toro was going to be a pleasant one...Here are some final pictures of us exiting the breakwater. Until next time...Cheers!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The new and improved website is finally up and running! Take a minute and check it out. We have been getting lots of questions regarding the name of the boat. Go to the website and all your questions will be answered...either that or you will be even more confused! Cheers,

Merry Christmas....Feliz Navidad!

Wishing everyone a joyous and peaceful time with family and friends!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Flamenco Marina and Panama Canal Day #1

We arrived at the Flamenco Marina at dusk on Tuesday, December1, 2015. We were notified by the marina that our agent...Peter Stevens, of the Delfinao Maritime Agency would be down to meet us shortly. This was a surprise because it was already about 7pm. But sure enough Peter arrived a few minutes later and came aboard to meet us. He is an absolutely delightful man! He spoke with an english accent and holds a US Passport. He has obviously been doing this for a very long time. He sat with us for about an hour and told us what to expect when transiting the canal. He also thrilled us with several stories of past escapades! If you ever find yourself needing to transit the canal I highly recommend him! When he left he took our passports and all the required documentation to get us cleared into Panama and obtain all the necessary cruising documents. The Flamenco marina is located between the entrance to the canal and Panama City. It is the largest marina we have been in so far with slips for approximately 750 boats. The majority of the slips are filled with sport fishing boats....several hundred million dollars worth! The Marina has several restaurants, bars, shops, etc. It even has a pretty large boat yard with haul out facilities. Here are some pictures of the Marina and surrounding views.
I think I found the last remaining Bennigans in the world...its at the Flamenco Marina in Panama!
Peter Called us late on Wednesday to let us know that we would be going into the canal on Friday morning. The canal lines would be delivered on Thursday and the line handlers would show up at 5:30 am on Friday. The canal requires at least 4 lines of a certain diameter at least 125 ft long (I hope that is correct...trying to recall) You are also required to have 4 people on board to man the lines. Since their was only 3 of us and one was the captain we had to hire 2 more people. Peter picked 2 great you will see later they knew exactly when and where to do everything and made this canal crossing very enjoyable! The next day was spent provisioning and preparing. The grocery store that the taxi driver took me to ( REA I think) was about 20 minutes away. It was the first grocery store that I had been in since San Diego that I recognized a majority of the items. I got up about 4:45 am on Friday to prepare for our departure...take out the trash, fill the water ice chest, and make sure that everything was stowed and cabinets locked. I walked outside at about 5am to take the trash to the dumpster and our two line handlers were asleep on the dock beside the boat with their gear! That was different! At about 5:30 the Captain received a call from the Canal Pilot dispatch office telling him what time and where we should meet the pilot boat and our pilot. All boats have to have a Canal Pilot on board when traversing the canal. The pilot comes with his own handheld radio to talk to dispatch about what moves we are to make and when. We were told told to meet the pilot at 6:30 about a couple miles away. By 6:30 we were in position waiting on the pilot. I made breakfast for everyone while we waited. The pilot showed up not long after and the waiting game began. We Idled for a few hours before our "Lock Mates" Came into view and we lined up and started the slow trek up the entrance to the first locks. Here are a few pictures of the mouth of the canal and where we sat for a couple of hours waiting to enter the first locks.
Here are a few pictures of the new locks that they are working on....seems the opening has been delayed for several months because the new style lock gates leak.
After several hours of waiting around it was our turn to enter the first set of locks. The locks on the Pacific side are called the Mira Flores Locks. There are 3 sets of locks on each side of the canal. Which ever side you enter the canal on, the locks take you up approximately 85 feet. When exiting, the locks take you down Approximately 85 feet....this all depends on the tide. I could go into the history of the canal but all that info is readily available. I will say that it was very interesting being able to see in person what I had learned so much about back in High School. The Canal is certainly a marvel of engineering! Not only did they do something that many people said couldn't be done, they founded an entire new country in the process. The panamanian people are very proud of the canal and its continuous function without stopping for 101 years! They should is amazing and definately the highlight of the trip so far for me! Here are several pictures of the first set of locks...enjoy
We were lucky enough to be able to tie onto a large tour boat for the 2nd and 3rd locks on the Pacific side...this reduced the stress level tremendously! We were very poplular with the tour boat! Here are more pictures from the remaining 2 locks on the Pacific Side.
After we reached the other end we tied up to the mooring buoy and settled in. The pilot boat showed up and took the pilot of the boat and the line handlers took a well deserved break on the mooring buoy. After dinner I was on the back deck fishing when I started see lights heading our way. Before I knew it a Catamaran had tied up on the other side of the mooring buoy and us. Then another sailboat tied up on the other side of the Catamaran. I got up early the next morning before the other boats took off to take a few pictures. Here are the remaining pictures of the first day in the post Leaving the Canal and the trip to our current location! Enjoy!