Blog Sunday 7th February
Panama Canal Atlantic Side 09:22.02N 79:57.08W
We left San Blas with a group of other BWR boat all heading
for Portobelo a journey of about 60NM . The sail was quite good to begin with,
the winds being from the starboard beam at about 15 knots. We were keeping up
with the lighter faster boats until the wind decided to drop and we ended up
putting our engine on. We motor sailed for the remaining half distance until
we arrived at our destination. The wind had ceased by then and we anchored on
the other side of the estuary from Portobelo in a lovely spot. That evening we
were invited onto Camomile for a meal with Bill and Sue and David and Susan
from enchantress. We had a great night and I managed to stay awake believe it
or not. Bill ended up getting the whiskey out and together with David we
partook in a “wee dram”.
The next morning we were woken with the sound of howler
monkeys in the forest. After breakfast we headed off into town to find an
internet cafe so that John could Skype Arun, his Grandchild on his birthday.
John went outside of the cafe to do this in private, but we all heard him
singing happy birthday so everyone inside joined in. I was busy updating the blog
and sending it off when it was time to meet up with the rest of the BWR crews
to be transported to a restaurant for lunch and the Panama Canal briefing.
Unfortunately the BWR management team ended up being delayed for nearly two
hours which meant 30 people sitting around waiting mainly i the church where it
was cooler. There was a festival that cay so the local were dressed up as
Here is a little bit of information about Portobelo.
Columbus named the bay Puerto Bello when he stumbled in with his weary ships in
1502. Francis Drake used the port in 1570 as a base to rob Spanish ships and
was reputedly buried at sea near here where an Island has been named after
him. At one stage Portobelo was so full of gold and silver ingots plundered
from the Native Americans that it lay in the streets unguarded. Henry Morgan
heard about this fact and started raiding the port in 1668. The town now still
has the remains of the forts that were built by the Spaniards and were
destroyed by British Admiral Vernon in 1739.
After we were picked up we arrived at the restaurant and the
canal briefing started with each skipper introducing himself and his crew.
Some of the introductions mentioned something about drinking and alcoholism but
mine was to confirm that John and I weren’t GAY.
We were bombarded with facts and instructions about the
canal transit and were given a sheet with the names of line handlers on it.
Each boat needs to have 4 line handlers and a skipper on board to go through
the locks. This is a logistical nightmare to organize so some negotiations
took place over a meal and a couple of beers. We have ended up with Carol from
Bali Blue, Derry from Jackamy and Edith from Semolina. In our dreams!!!! We
do have crews from those boats but we don’t know which ones yet.
We returned to the town and did some provisioning before
heading over to help Brian out on Miss Tippy who needed a volunteer to go up
his mast to check for damage. Brian is the person who got hit on the head with
a broken spinnaker pole and ended up having 30 stitches in his head.
Being laid back.
Sunday saw us heading off early to get to the Panama Canal
and our starting point of Shelter Bay. We had to motor for all of the 25
miles. We arrived at our destination having cleaned the topsides of Fai Tira
on the way in preparation for having 3 extra crew staying on board, as line
handlers during our 2 day transit. After we arrived and eventually birthed we
were paid a visit by the canal measurer who filled in lots of forms and took measurements
of the boat to check its size against the documentation BWR had provided.
Monday we start our canal transit, if you want to watch us
go through on the web cams at sometime between 8.0pm and midnight UK time go to
www.pancanal.com The first lock is called
Gatun. We are really looking forward to this bit and still can’t believe
we have made it this far.
Pictures of the canal
Some pictures of the local wild life.
Bye for now, Pete and John.