Maintainance and a Canal Trip

Serenity of Swanwick
Phil and Sarah Tadd
Sun 2 Apr 2017 16:54

Time passes very quickly here and the days all seem to merge. We have bought a new dinghy as our very old roll-up Avon, despite being in relatively good condition is not up to the job. To ferry us ashore through choppy water and over increasingly large distances we decided that we needed a hard-bottom tender, this is much drier, more efficient and less likely to get damaged on coral. This is quite a large investment so to prolong its life it needs ‘chaps’, a cover for the top of the tubes to protect it from UV. Last week we went through the canal as Line Handlers on a catamaran and while in Panama City bought material for the ‘chaps’ and odds and ends not available in Colon.


The Canal Transit.

Bruce on Enjoy requested line handlers on the morning radio net so we volunteered. On Monday we went from the marina out to ‘The Flats’, the anchorage in Cristobal harbour, and awaited our adviser. This is the man who pilots us up through the locks to Gatun Lake where we have to spend the night. He was on board not long after 3.30 and all went very smoothly we rafted up alongside Alcyone a mono-hull and entered the lock behind a ship, caught the lines thrown down from the lock side and passed up our mooring lines. As the water rises in the lock these lines have to be taken in to keep the boats in the middle of the lock. There are three locks on this side to get us up to Gatun Lake where we moored up either side of a large buoy for the night. The next day a different adviser came on board to pilot across the lake and down through three more locks to Balboa, close to Panama City. It’s about 30 miles across the lake and through the cut on the Pacific side to the locks going down so you have to be ready at 06.30 although the adviser might not arrive till later, ours arrived about 08.30 and we set off straight away. The lake was man made by flooding the Chagres river and supplies the water needed to operate the locks as well as providing hydroelectric power in the rainy season.

We arrived in Balboa in the late afternoon with no incidents and are now looking forward to our own transit on Serenity booked for 9-10 April.



In amongst the big ships



In the first lock



Across the Lake



and down the other side


Bruce was happy for us to stay on board for an extra night, so on Wednesday we had a quick trip into Panama City, bought the fabric we needed and visited a massive shopping Mall before catching the Express Bus to Colon and a Taxi back to Shelter Bay.


The rest of this week has been spent working on the ‘chaps’ and other odd jobs.



Will it fit?