Central America, tick.

Tue 9 May 2023 03:43
08 46.822N 79 28.82W

What an amazing few days. A seriously quick blast though Central America. After a great few days in the San Blas and then a slightly frustrating wait for the canal we’re out into the pacific and on our way again.

The canal was amazing. The bureaucracy getting ready for it was crazy. Loads of waiting around for our inspection which was built up to be a big deal and then actually turned out to be a very cursory glance at the boat without even a measurement! 

The transit of the canal was fantastic. Much easier than was built up to be but an amazing experience. We had to take on 2 more line handlers and a pilot. They were great people who knew a heap about the canal and made it all very easy especially in terms of communication and logistics. We were  rafted up with one other boat for the first locks. An Amel 53 run by a Dutch chap and an english woman doing a multi year circumnavigation. Everyone has more time than us! On board with them as line handlers was a French couple who had a 35’ aluminium lifting keel boat, also planning on a multi year circumnavigation but they were also planning to work in French Polynesia which of course is easy for them. 
We were in the lock with a 300m car carrier. The water was pretty turbulent on filling and when the big boat engaged his prop to move out. Was no problem though and easy enough to keep square with both the lines and engine. Was quite fun being in the raft, kinda like driving caterman  except with a different Helmand man on the other hill. We quickly developed a rapour  and  largely ignored the pilot on his boat who seemed to like the dramatic and the sound of his own voice!

After the locks we left the raft and motored through the lake, a beautiful place and a real experience to get passed both ways by huge (up to 340m!) cargo boats. 

Then into the Panama City locks and very quickly the 3rd lock was opening to reveal the pacific. 

The wind is generally very light for the Galapagos crossing but there is (and has been for past 3dasy) a pulse of N’ly. Was unfortunate we missed the earlier cabal slot for the 4th as we’d have been able to make more of it but hopefully it will last another few days. We do expect to do quite a few days of motoring.
The delays have meant the Ryan definitely downs have time to get to Marquesa with us so he will get off at the Galapagos. We weren’t planning to stop there at all but Ryan needs to get off and will break the passage and allow fuel and reprovisison. The cruising permits are very expensive and come with lots of regulations about the boat so we won’t be there for more than a day or 2 and  won’t be allowed to leave the main port. A shame but we’re keen to into French Polynesia and properly slow down into the cruising life.