After a fantastic couple of months on the slopes we arrived back in
Panama on the 17th March and having bribed the South African boatyard manager
Dave with a bottle of “Mrs Balls” famous South African chutney we managed to get
Bamboozle back in the water just over 24 hours later. We thought it would take a
week or two to organise our transit but our Agent Tina McBride was even more
efficient than we could have hoped and she managed to secure us a spot in the
schedule just 5 days after our return.
The result was a few days of complete panic, trying to get as much of the
heavy provisioning on board as possible and for my part to make sure everything
(or at least most things) on board were working. It wasn’t exactly seamless but we were
as ready as we could be by the time we had to leave the pleasant surroundings of
Shelter Bay Marina as we could be.
The transit went very smoothly thanks in a major way to our excellent
line handlers, Connie and Steve from “Better Days” and Rudy, a Panamanian who
regaled us with information and stories as we made our way across the isthmus.
There are lots of pictures below and I hope at some stage to manage to post a
few video clips as well but am currently hampered not only by a lack of
bandwidth but also by my inability to master the technology.
We are now anchored in Playita a few miles to the south of Panama
city at the Pacific end of the canal. We have received a massive box of spares
from Florida, kindly sourced and organised by my brother Mole. This means that not only do we hopefully
now have most of the spares we need for the next 8 months but also we have wind
instruments that actually tell us the wind speed and direction and an anchor
windlass that works in both directions.
We still need to buy a great deal more fresh and frozen foodstuffs before
we head out into the wide South Seas but we would like to be on our way before
Easter. We will pause in the Las Perlas islands for a few days but then
our next landfall once we leave Panama will be the Galapagos. This is
about 900 miles from here and then it is a further 3000 from there to French
Polynesia so once we leave, there is not much hope of getting hold of anything
but the most basic supplies and if we have forgotten something we will have to
learn to do without it!
Good to go..... trying to
look relaxed before we head into the Canal.
(Transit Advisor) arrives on board. Most unusually he arrived bang on
immediately set off down towards the first set of locks and the entrance to the
approached we heard we would be sharing the lock with this
Here we are
in the first lock squeezed in behind the "Mottler". You can see the
called the Mule which helps to control the ships. Big ships have 8 of
As you will
see in the next picture all we get is 4 men at the end of the
This is our
equivalent of a Mule. 4 lines are thrown down to the yacht by
throwers and then secured to the dock wall. Our crew on board then have to
work controlling the lines.
working as one of the line handlers. She may look relaxed but when the
moving up in the lock, the strain can be immense and it requires full
accidents or damage to the boat.
This is the
view looking back down toward the Caribbean from the top of the 3rd
(now 85 ft
above sea level).
top of these locks we then motor through Gatun Lake and into the
At this point in narrows down to a true canal which does not leave a lot of
Steve from the yacht Better Days, our excellent (and very experienced)
handlers. They have helped many boats this year to transit the
canal whilst they are
on their boat in Shelter Bay.
We had one
local Panamanian line handler on board. Rudy has been through
countless times and is a fantastic source of information and stories as well
she thinking?"....... Although the whole operation requires some
enjoy their transit. You can see the ship in the other lock parallel to
Ricky calls the shots as we descend in the Miraflores locks.
more lock to go. These lock gates are still the originals put in place by
builders in 1914.
lock gate opens to reveal the Pacific Ocean ahead.
Lucy with our Pilot Ricky who was absolutely
fantastic and a pleasure to have on
He provided great entertainment as well as
safely guiding us through the Canal.
of the final lock. A hugely relieved Skipper being hugged by his