8.04.2013 PANAMA CANAL & PANAMA CITY
Sun 7 Apr 2013 23:00
PANAMA CANAL DAY
The day finally arrived when we would be going through the canal! Everyone
is really excited! We all put our crew shirts on to look the part for going
We made our way over to the entrance and were meant to be tied up to two
other boats with us in the middle to go through the locks. With us being in
the middle it meant that we didn't need to do any line handling, but Paul
was the one who would be responsible for the steering of all three boats
through the locks and avoiding the lock walls!
The first boat came alongside and all the ropes were successfully attached,
it is a bit of a panic as the timing has to be just right and everyone is on
edge as neither party want to damage each others boats.
There was some confusion with the third boat as they had not signed the
waiver to agree to
transit with two other boats. Without the waiver they were told they would
not be able to transit at all and would have to pay again to go through on
another day. Not great news when the majority have to wait around two weeks
for a transit date!
Anyhoo the third boat quickly decided to sign the waiver and caught up to us
before we went through the lock! We wish they hadn't!!
Firstly they managed to collide with the front side of our boat as they were
coming alongside too quickly. They had decided to employ line-handlers as
there were only two of them. After we had calmly assessed the damage caused
to our boat and said it was fine, the woman on the other boat, an Australian
with a strong accent, shouted at me and Charlie 'YOU'RE NOT
PROFESSIONAL LINE HANDLERS, THAT'S THE PROBLEM!!!!'. Awful woman who made
the experience mainly unpleasant for herself! Partly for us also but she
became a bit of entertainment for us after a while :-)
After that excitement we transited through the locks successfully except for
one incident caused by the 'Professional Linehandlers' who got their lines
tangled up :-/
After we went through the third lock we were untied from the other two boats
and in the Gatun Lake where we spent the night.
9th April 2013 - Day 22
At 7am we continued through the canal towards the final three locks. It took
4 hours to cross the lake. When we reached the first lock, we were
re-attached to the same two boat we were attached to yesterday (joy!). It
takes around 2 hours to go through all three locks.
Once through the third lock, we were free to go and explore the PACIFIC!!!!
Paul did an amazing job with steering all the boats through the locks as the
wind really picks up as the water levels go down and it can be tricky to
make sure that the boats on either side don't hit the wall.
We anchored just off Flamenco Island in Panama City where we saw that Skimpy
was was also anchored! (Skimpy is the guy who sold Lynsey and Charlie the
bikinis). Once anchored, we all jumped in the sea (fully clothed) to
celebrate that we had arrived in the Pacific. It now felt like we were on
the other side of the world!
After a day of mainly resting, we went ashore to have a look around and have
a drink etc. Panama City itself is a bit further down the coast but there
are a few cafes, bars and restaurants.
10th April 2013 - Day 23
Today we mainly cleaned the boat as much as possible then went out for
dinner in Panama City. We found an italian restaurant with a band playing -
very atmospheric! Panama City is very Americanised with tall skyscraper
buildings and chain restaurants like 'Hooters!' - slightly more cosmopolitan
than Colon on the Atlantic side of Panama!
11th April 2013 - Day 24.
Today Charlie and Lynsey tackled the first stage of the big food shop for
the Pacific Crossing for the next 6 weeks! We found a huge american
supermarket where we were able to buy most things we needed. Fresh fruit and
veg shop to be done tomorrow. With the easy part over, the difficult part
was getting it all back to the boat then finding places to store everything.
Freezer space was a bit of an issue but found homes for everything in the
end. In the afternoon we went ashore to explore Panama City Old Town which
will be beautiful once it has been fully renovated. It has lots of character
and quite similar, but on a smaller scale to Cartagena old town. We had a
drink in one of the sqaures before heading back to the boat.
12th April 2013 - Day 25
THE final food shop - we went to the local mall to buy the remaining stores
we need for the crossing. After that we had a more quiet day today and went
out for a few drinks in the evening! We came across a rather aggressive
Racoon at the rubbish tip - they are so funny looking, they actually do look
13th April 2013 - Day 26
We had a day of just 'pottering' today doing odd jobs to get the boat ready
as we had to wait until 3pm to get to the fuel dock in the marina. Lynsey is
becoming more confident with rope handling when coming alongside these docks
now although still need a lot more practice with knots and things! There is
so much to learn and by the time it comes to doing something learnt last
week, it's been forgotten - doh! It will all sink in eventually :-/ I HOPE!
14th April 2013 - Day 27
We left Panama city to sail to the Las Perlas islands. We saw some jumping
Stingrays, dolphins and a Whale jumping out of the sea in the distance.
Charlie and Lynsey went through all the food stores and rationed everything
from week 1-6 - there were tins of food all over the place but at least we
now know that we won't be hungry by week 6! We arrived at Isla Contodora in
the afternoon and anchored to stay here.
15th April 2013 - Day 28
Today we explored Contodora. Apparently this is where the TV series Survivor
is filmed...This is one of the more touristy islands in Las Perlas so there
is a bit of stuff going on here. On our way back to the boat Paul was
approached by a lady on the beach asking where the nudist beach was. We did
happen to know where it was as it was pointed out on a map we had! So...Paul
got the map out to show this woman who pressed herself against him (boob &
crotch) to get a closer look - I couldn't help but laugh!
During the afternoon we did a bit of snorkelling. Since arriving in the
Pacific there has pretty much been absolutely no wind, we are constantly
sweating and the sea is really calm.
16th April 2013 - Day 29
Today we intended to sail across to another island but as soon as we went
around the corner someone picked up a Wifi connection that didn't need a
password - we ended up staying all day so we could all sort things out, send
emails and Skype family and friends as the internet connections we have been
able to get previously haven't been great. We went ashore on a hunt to get
some bread. First thing - no dinghy dock and the tender is too heavy for
just two people to drag onto the beach. Paul ended up anchoring then
swimming to shore. Second thing - Both shops on the island were closed for
siesta time - no bread doh! So we decided just to head back to the tender as
it was too hot to be walking around. Third thing - Lynsey steps on a rusty
nail that has pierced through her flip flop and into her foot! Ouch!!!
Lynsey not so bothered - Paul freaking out! So overall not a successful trip
ashore and pretty much shouldn't have bothered! Other than that the
afternoon was great - swimming, sunshine and snorkelling!
17th April 2013 - Day 30
Sailed across to another island to visit a village. Not very nice - mangey
dogs, trash everywhere akthough we anchored in a pretty spot for the night.
The Las Perlas islands are stunningly beautiful and unspoilt. The sea is so
calm it makes it really easy and enjoyable to move around.
18th April 2013 - Day 31
Sailed back to Contodora Wifi bay! Spent the day and night here.
19th April 2013 - Day 32
Today we started the passage towards Galapagos but did stay one more night
off an island in Las Perlas and watched Star Wars A New Hope in the evening.