Back in Shelter Bay and the Panama Canal beckons

Mark & Sue Owen
Sat 7 Mar 2015 13:57

Back in Panama and the marina at Shelter Bay, things really started to get busy as we finished boat jobs whilst Macushla was still in the yard.  We had good company in the yard with Australian friends Andrew and Clare on sv Eye Candy as neighbours on one side and new American friends Geoff and Sue on sv BlueJacket on the other.  Life got a bit too exciting when, on re-launch, we had a leaking propeller shaft seal and so 20 minutes later Macushla was back in the yard and skipper was formulating a solution with a local mechanic.  Once again skipper’s trusted drawing skills were called upon and we soon had a detailed engineering design for the local machine shop to work with.  Whilst waiting for the machined plate we took the opportunity to get some exercise and check out the surrounding area.


A Cruise Ship and Car Carrier waiting to transit the Gatun Locks:




Sights around Shelter Bay, including the former Theatre and Battery:






Enjoying a few Happy Hour Drinks with Geoff and Sue:




As well as completing key items on the jobs list, we were preparing for our transit of the Panama Canal and, having done some research, felt we could arrange this without the need to employ an agent.  First of all we had to ring up to get an appointment with an Ad Measurer, who came to the boat the next day.  We then had 60 days in which to deposit the transit monies in to a bank in Colon, after which we rang the Scheduler and were able to choose a transit day.  We hired tyres (fenders) and extra-long mooring lines from Tito and then all we had to do was arrange for 3 line handlers to assist us with the transit.  Often fellow cruisers are keen to assist so that they gain a valuable insight in to the process before they themselves go through, and Jeff and Katie (sv Mezzaluna) agreed to come with us.  Our third line handler was Ricky Ibanez, a local professional who came highly recommended.


The Ad Measurer comes to measure Macushla’s Length Overall (LOA):





Before setting off from the marina we had a major cook-a-thon to cater for line handlers and advisers as well as ourselves.  The transit through the Canal would take 2 days and you have to provide an evening meal, followed by breakfast and lunch on day 2, as well as various snacks and drinks.  Then of course there was the re-organising of ‘stuff’ so that the aft cabin could be freed up for Ricky, with Jeff and Katie sleeping in the saloon.


Then it was time to say our farewells and it’s always sad to say good-bye to friends who are not travelling in the same direction.  We feel sure we’ll see Geoff and Sue again, though, be it on the water, on land or up in the mountains…


Setting off for the Panama Canal (photos courtesy of Geoff Schulz):


With Jeff and Katie (sv Mezzaluna):




Heading out of Shelter Bay Marina: