Miss Molly in the Pacific!

Miss Molly 4
Bob & Peggy Wilkerson/Geoff & Merel Pettifer
Sat 31 May 2008 11:09
08:54.80N 79:31.26W

Thursday afternoon Miss Molly started her Panama Canal transit with two other sailboats. A Dutch ketch tied up to her starboard side and a French catamaran portside to. We had 3 extra linehandlers on board for this occasion; Rudy, our man from Panama who can find us anything and help us with everything we need here, and the crew of sistership Fuerte, Jubee and Will. All experienced sailors, which was a good thing since the lines for the locks all came back to Miss Molly. So all on board were doing the work while our neighbouring boats could watch us work up a sweat by letting out and pulling in the heavy lines.

Miss Molly being the heaviest of the 3 boats also meant that she was providing the engine and steering. And that is how Geoff ended up manoeuvring a 66 by 55 ft raft into the 100 ft wide locks. An interesting challenge with the different boats influencing the steering and the French virtually unable to understand what we were trying to communicate to them to make the transit easier for all of us.

Never mind; it all turned out well. The boats came through unscathed and we even managed to wave when we passed the webcam in the Miraflores locks. It feels wonderful when the last lock doors open up to the Pacific and you untie the other boats - there is a whole new ocean ahead, awaiting us! So we had to let out some cheers of relief from exiting the Canal and joy for the ocean ahead.

Late Friday afternoon we arrived in the Flamenco Marina near Panama City, where we said our goodbyes to our wonderful linehandlers. We were exhausted by not just the physical work and the hot sun, but also the mental tension of making sure everything went smoothly while rafted up and anticipating where things might go wrong. Not that there was time to sit back - we got bombarded by all sorts of visitors who had to do paperwork on the boat; clearing in, customs and what not all. All we wanted to do was have a meal and go to bed. We tried to watch a movie after dinner, but fell asleep on the couch within 20 minutes. And it was not due to the movie, so we hit the sack and slept like babies!

We will now start to work on the last preparations before we can leave hot and hasty Panama City behind us, so we can make our first few miles in the luring waves of the Pacific.

Cheers from Geoff & Merel