Mond. 9.2.15 Contadora

Luna Quest
W. Eric Faber
Mon 9 Feb 2015 22:32
Position: 8.37N 79.02W
Las Perlas Islands - Contadora

Daily Run: 38 miles

Next Destination: Galapagos

On Tuesday, 3rd February, we began our transit of the Panama Canal late in the afternoon. Together with a 62ft catamaran and a 53ft Oyster, we formed a pod or nest as our pilot called it by rafting up to one another. Rafting up was a tricky business in front of the first lock with 20kn of wind blowing us towards its entrance (the Gatun lock, which has three steps - i.e. 3 separate locks). Each step raises the boat by about 10mtrs to reach the level of the Gatun lake that the American created in 1913 by flooding the land from the Chagres river. Once through the lake, the pod was stepped down again to the Pacific sea level in a similar way through the Miraflores locks, a trip of about 35 miles. As we were firmly tied up to the catamaran’s starboard side, there was no need to employ our engine as the two engines on the catamaran were powerful enough to tow both Luna Quest and the 53ft Oyster. By the time we were through the Gatun lock and into the Gatun lake, it was time to tie up for the night. A huge buoy, so big you needed to jump onto it to tie a line, provided us with a peaceful night (only the catamaran needed to be tied up as we remained firmed tied to the catamaran). The following morning at 7am our pilot returned to lead us through the Gatun Lake and into the Miraflores locks. Julia had made a huge HELLO sign to POPS and the FABERLINGS, which I hoisted in the Miraflores locks, having been told that a web camera showed all boats in these locks on the Panama Canal website. Having passed under the Centennial bridge and the bridge of the two Americas, we were officially out in Pacific waters. It was about two o’clock and it would take another hour before we could moor up in Flamenco Marina, not far from Panama City.

Panama City would be the last place to provision and buy spares for the next 4000 or 5000 miles. An abundant supply of taxis made the trip into Panama City a quick 20 minutes, so that any sorties for provisioning was made relatively easy. The supermarkets are massive and suberbly stocked. We managed to fill two trolleys emptying into three large cardboard boxes that just fitted into the boot of our taxi. We also had rectified a buckled front wheel of my Brompton bike, a non-performing lens for Julia’s Nikon camera and we purchased a wall charger for the Gopro camera. On Sunday 8th we visited a nearby Bio museum, where Panama’s history was laid bare through artefacts, geology and archeology.

Today we cast off at 7am and while the wind looked promising at first, it soon failed and then headed us. By 10am there was barely enough wind to fill the sails and so we motored the next 25 miles to Contadora, our World ARC rendezvous before heading off to the Galapagos on Friday 13th.