Panama Canal Day 2 - Through to the Pacific.

Mon 17 Feb 2014 17:45
08:54.61N 79:31.6W

The morning queue heading North through the Gatun locks.

We were up before dawn as we'd been told the new pilot advisor would be with us between 6 and 6:30am. Of course 7am arrived with no advisor and so we radioed and were told he'd be there about 9. This meant we had plenty of time to make a good breakfast and enjoy our surroundings, which included not only the birds welcoming the morning sun, but the howler monkeys too. Here's a few seconds of their calling:

our neighbours sharing a mooring buoy.

Our own buoy, midships.

We were on the lookout for crocodiles, as we'd been told there were lots here, but weren't lucky enough to spot any.  Soon after 9 the pilot boat approached and we had our new advisor, Ivan, on board. It took about 4 hours to travel to the Pedro Miguel locks, the wind was behind us so the advisor kept on asking us to slow down so that we wouldn't arrive too soon. 

Dodging ships in the channel.

By the time we got to the Gaillard cut the water was completely brown: they were dredging the side of the channel, it seemed to be some sort of massive hoover that sent the mud and water down a floating pipeline to be dumped on land.

Visitors en route.

The Pedro Miguel and Miraflores locks were quite straightforward. We simply rafted with Isla Jechica just before the first lock and went through them all together, including going across Miraflores Lake. Phil said it was great fun being a temporary catamaran. To turn to port the port side boat reversed, whilst the starboard side boat advanced, turning us on the spot. Much easier than with a single engine!

The dock hands threw us a monkey's fist attached to a light line. We tied this to our big lines and the dock hands walked alongside us the length of the lock, until we were in position. They then pulled up the heavy lines and made fast.

Phil from Moon Dancer showing off the monkey's fist (mid tummy!) attached to our big line.

Dock hands walking the light lines down with us.

After that it was just a matter of letting out the lines, whilst keeping tension on them, as the water went down.

Fore and aft line handlers, Justin and Nell Moon Dancer, and Phil Moon Dancer with Eric.

Unlike on the way up, on the way down the big boat comes in after us. It's a little disconcerting having one so big coming up behind us, but it's on lines to locomotives on rails either side so is completely under control!


The first of the Miraflores Locks has a big building with balconies where hundreds of people were watching us, we discovered later that this is where the web cam is as Ellie took screen shots of us coming through!

Us watching you, watching us...

Cam view, we're on the left of the picture: When we were up we were up, and when we were down we were down...

Once we got started in the afternoon the three locks all happened pretty quickly, and before we quite knew it the last lock gates were opening, these ones green sea gates, and we were coming out into the waters of the Pacific, with pelicans as escorts and herons heralding our arrival.