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Date: 21 May 2011 05:31:01
Title: Lost communication ?? I

I cannot continue our blog or dairy without telling you a bit of what it was to get to Panama and of course one of our highlights (for many of us) the crossing of the Panama Canal in a tiny “matchbox” like our cat, but more than that really what it was like to FINALLY BE or GET  THERE (here)….    

 

I believe our last entry was when we were getting closer to Panama, was that before or after we almost run out of water???!!    And almost food J  I DO believe in our guardian angels and all prayers and people following us has helped us quiet a lot too!   The pictures we just sent to the blog about 1 month ago are from THOSE days…..!!!  That was way back in December and it really feels like it was years agoooo as it has been so much going on!

 

There is a photo with me on a red rainy jacket!!  We are collecting all the water we could get!  Our watermaker machine didn’t work (together with many other things at the time) and it was “a bit” critical!  So we decided to do a “water collection”  with the torrential rain, why not? It was actually one of our big blessings we had!!!!  We actually filled our water tank (180 gallons) in less than one day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  YES my friends that much rain!  And a lot of work for us too day and night!  You see me smiling THEN but it was not all “ROSIE” I can guarantee you that J

 

We actually spend a couple of days in a river/swamp system WAY inland! Where there was absolutely NOTHING but NOTHING else than mangrove, water and us!  It was not only a bit scary but also spooky at nights x 2!   In the mornings you could hear some birds passing by or just in the Mangroves but that was it!  The water looked like a mirror some times and it was beautiful.  We (actually Paul) decided to set sail in the middle of yet “another rainy day” to look for some “better weather” and to get somehow closer to Las Perlas Island but to get there we had to go or cross the “another famous” BAD CORNER!!  And what better name than PUNTA MALA (BAD CORNER!).    OF COURSE it was “another horrendous experience” that always come along with “ WHY THE HELL M I STILL HERE” etc etc !!! Despite we had our weather report man (Mackie back in Blackpool) and we got the report WE HAD TO GOOOO !!!    Anyhow, not much more in that area as you all know us pretty well by now…….   We of course passed the PUNTA MALA successfully (not thanks to captain intrepid, because AGAIN I HAD no option than to take the helm “not very impressed” as he was almost going to pass out due to HOURS at the wheel and being super tired) and finally arrived in Las Perlas early hours with better seas.   Tried to set the anchor in one of the bays where it was a bit difficult, it just wouldn’t hold anywhere!!!   After about 4 attempts we decided to give it a last chance but this time get more in the middle of the bay.  Of course HURRAY!! Got it J     Some hours later when the tide goes away…… (in the Pacific about 15 ft)  it was a different story all together!! 

We were in the middle of POINTY ROCKS all over us!!  Almost as if we would move we would be stuck on any of them!  OHH yes, another sleepless night.  As you can imagine the next day we didn’t want to know about more LAS PERLAS ISLANDS  and just got anchor up and off we sailed to PANAMA CANAL!!!! 

 

We had spend our last 10 to 12 days out at sea with “very little” contact with people and I will always remember when we first got off the boat and cleared with immigration we went to the bar/restaurant next to the Balboa Yacht Club where it was full of people, loud music and TV and a live band all at the same time while the four of us just sat there “staring” at each other just looking at everything!  Too much noise, people, lights etc for us!! IT was amazing.

 

Jason and I escaped to Playa for a immigration ORDEAL to get Jason’s paperwork finally done and of course to take the advantage and get to see all our great friends!  IT was absolutely great to have the chance to see most of them even for a very little time some of them L  but I think we did very well and a big THANKS to Mark and Norma who welcomed us like at home to stay in their place.  Of course thanks to “everybody” else who made the effort to see us or meet with us and also to invite us to their homes too Luisa, Monique, Tracy and Matteo, Tere and Omar etc etc !!!  IT WAS GREAT TO SEE YOU GUYS!!! ALL OF YOU!!!! J  and hopefully we can see you again very soon!

 

PANAMA CANAL CROSSING…!!

This had been one of the experiences we have been looking forward for very long!   Getting closer it was as ever the typical questions…. Mmm do we or don’t we get an agent to do the paperwork? What if we do and what if we don’t?  and blab la bla as you can imagine!   We finally got into Panama City without a decision (of course) and it was due to the immigration officer that we got in touch with a BRITISH AGENT!!!  (I wonder why?). 

 

Our preparation for it!

Line handlers?  How many do we get?  Can I be one?? Shall we get all 4?? Do we get somebody else?  What about the special lines? And the admessurer? FOOD? For everybody?? For how long?  What do they eat??  WAY TOO MANY QUESTIONS!   But little by little we went through it all and we did it SUCCESFULLY! 

Got two line handlers “professionals” and two tourists who were interested on doing it and we asked them to come along.   Craig and Jill were absolutely great company and helped all through the process and hopefully great friends after an experience that was nice too. I went shopping for us all thinking that it would be over in 1 day????!!!  We had to spend one night in the Gatun Lake which was a fantastic experience and fortunately didn’t run out of food or drinks.

 

The morning of the Saturday 4th December 2010 will be in my mind FOREVER!

I got up pretty much in the dark (I was just like a kid… way too nervious).  I really felt my blood running in my body and had no idea what to do!?  Paul just as always “very british” super calm and on “cup of tea”(perhaps not so calm! J).    The “pro” line handlers came first thing, our none PRO line handlers Craig and Jill were already onboard since the night before.  The “advisor”
(canal representative who will be with us all the way through the locks and the transit for the day) came about 40 minutes late but arrived with a big smile and ready to GO!   Off we went about 8.15 AM to start our crossing one of our most exciting things in our journey so far…..  I was trying to keep myself busy between being a hostess and trying to look after the boys who were up very early as well.  Seb had his Nintendo ready to take pictures all over, Jason was enjoying the ride up on deck, but both with plenty in their minds full of questions of WHAT and WHEN would everything happened?

 

The closer we were getting to the Miraflores locks I felt my blood was actually getting hotter and hotter! We got assigned to be tied to another catamaran with an Italian captain (VERY NICE and excellent captain by the way).   We had to come into the locks together and that was a bit stress for Paul and for me too as we had no idea “what kind of guy or captain was he?”   I started jumping way too early but could not stop myself!  As soon as I saw the camera I felt like I was a jumping machine! Waving to the world.   Once we got in the first set of locks it really was amazing the strength of the water coming into the locks and the way the water just lifts you up too.  The boys had their eyes wide open and a huge smile in their faces, it was beautiful to experience it together.

 

Right after the Miraflores locks we went through the second locks as well and after that we got separate from the Italian VINCENZO.   We spend all day crossing the river until we got to the Gatun Lake just after 4.00 pm and we had to tied up to a huge mooring buoy where we met our new Italian friend and crew by now to stay there for the night.

It was only 4.00 pm and despite being warned of the crocodiles, we all ended up swimming on the river, the locals (line handlers) assured us that they were nowhere near where we were!  It was another unique experience, in the water with the howler monkeys “howling” as it was getting dark.

 

The next noon (early morning according to Panama time?) they again picked us up with another “advisor” this time a bit of a wanker!  To take us to the last set of locks (Gatun locks).  We again had to raft up with Vincenzos catamaran but this time he would have another boat on his port side!!  It was a sailing boat but mmmmm it looked and felt a bit too tricky for Paul, Vincenzo and I !!! As we were getting closer to the Locks the wind picked up and it was even harder to try to get all 3 boats in line at the same time with very little space on each side!  This time we DID have a huge cargo ship behind us which made it even more scarier !!!  To see that huge thing almost about 10 meters away from you and it really looked like it was only about 2 meters away!

 

We were very glad when it was over and super happy that we had done it without any accidents as they do often occur.   We left the locks and got un rafted from Vincenzo’s catamaran and off we went to look for the Shelterbay Marina about 1 hour away! 

 

I now just have to send you some pictures for you to have a better idea of what it was like….  And we will try to get them as organized as possible so you can get a better picture….

 

Here we go…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 



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