Tue 11 Apr 2006 22:22
It has been a while since our diary has been kept up, there Is one
main reason in that Norman who has been handling all things to do
with computers and communications has made the decision that
Panama was going to be his final destination on this trip, I was
very sad to here his plans but it seems now that he has so many
good friends back home and it is time to start things new back there.
 I am very gratful that he was interested enough to be apart of our
journeys over the last few years. He has contributed an enormous
amount of work and time to getting this trip together, and anyone
who has sailed with him knows how great it is to have him there when
things get difficult.  So Norman you are a star and thanks for everything
good luck with your plans back home.
The penguin crew list has been a little fluid of late but has now settled,
Scottish Colin has signed up untill New Zealand where he will have to
rejoin the normal world and go back to work as a radiographer, he has
been back packing around the World for the last two years.
Niamh has settled  in well, as long as Penguin stops at all the top dive
sites along the way she seems very content, looks like she enjoyes the
sailing too. Colin has been surfing and Niamh diving during our visit to
Galagoes so it seems that i am providing a very good taxi service. 
Hopfully one of them will take over from Norm with the diary. We have
also suffered from a computer melt down, my second hand IBM laptop
was unable to handle all the programs being run on Normans machine
so after a number of attempts at getting things to work we have given
up and bought a new one in Panama.
So now for the Diary.
During the wait after registering at colon for our transit,we decided that
a visit to the San Blas Islands was not to be missed. So we sailed back 
out of Colon into the wind for a 70mile trip back along the coast. We
arrived at Chichime at 18.30.It is made up of two islands surrounded by
coral reef, there are a few Kuna Indians living in huts and lots of coconut trees.
Once we had dropped anchor in the lagoon we new we would not be
moving on untill we had to. The native people were very friendly and
enjoyed selling there hand sewn molas also lobster fish and crab were
all under $5.  Norman had arranged to do the canal transit as a line handle
on a swiss boat so the time to leave came quickly. Luckly for him I managed
to arrange one final river excursion, so after going to the main village and
getting the Chiefs consent we were collected at 0545 one morning to travle
by dug out canoe up the river Mandinga. By the looks we had from the other
local canoe travlers this was the first gringo that had been up there. After
about 2 1/2 hrs of Indiana Jones adventure are destination a Kuna village
was still at least a further 2hrs away, so we stopped for a drink of coke
admitted defeat and started the trip back to the boat. We got back to the
boat at 1400 and by1500 we had said our goodbyes and thank youes and
were back on our way to Colon. Next day we got Norman to his rendevous
for the start of his transit at 1500. Five days later it would be Penguin going
through but his flight had been booked.The swiss boat was nearly swamped
by all norms luggage but Penguin is now floating on her Waterline. So time
for are sad farwell very brief mercifully its embarrising to see grown men all
No sooner was norm out of his cabin when Niamh moved in Perks, of service,
Colin when he arrived was blissfully unaware and settled to his new cabin with
relish. His previous night had been spent sleeping on the roof of a hostle so I
suppose the new bunk looked like the Ritz.
Between us and our taxi driver/shipping agent Ellington {Clint Eastwood on speed
ex US marine] we managed to get all things done for the transit, which started
at 1830 on the 25april. Ellington looked after us well whilst in Colon, it is  very
run down with a lot of squaller most of the people are extremly friendly and helpful
but it is notorious for yachties getting mugged so you have to be carefull. The
Buildings were all built 60~90 years ago for the shipping companys, they now
stand as a splendid monument in their decaying state to a past era.
 So at last with a crew of 4 the pilot and myself we started the transit at 1830,
this meant going through the first set of three locks under flood light, we rafted
up with 2 other boats and went into the locks behind a large ship the gates were
closed behind us the bells sounded and the water started boubling up around us
as we were lifted. Contary to the impression given by the photo which is obviously
a very clever fake the skipper remained extremly cool and everything went very
smoothly.By 2200 we were tied to a mooring bouy at the lake listening to the
wildlife around us. The pilot was due to meet us again at six in the morning,
because he was a bit late we managed a quick swim then it was off down
the lake  to get to the locks on the Pacific side for the decent. The lake is
a man made flooded river it provides the water for the locks and has still
the remains of the trees sticking up above the water.  Once again all went
well, during the decent we were able to see the scale of the structure which
was built and still operates after 100 or so years very impressive.
By two o clock we had cleared the last lock and were heading out towards
the Pacific under the bridge of The Americas joining north to south, and
that was that a big mile stone past, the only way back was through the Pacific.
  We have now done our first 1000 miles into the Pacific and have reached
Galapagoes which is fantastic, we crossed the equator on our way and since
arriving have been diving with seals,turtles iguanas,and sharks, Colin has
been of surfing the waves on his new board which he had made in Panama
Niamh is off on her second dive, she is desperate to see Hammerhead Sharks
before we leave. So the problem is now we have 8000miles of sailing through
the pacific with nothing to look forward to.  I am sure thats going to make
some of you feel very sorry for us.
I have enjoyed writing my diary entry and will try and persuade one off the
others to write the next entry and keep you all entertained.  Rob..

Hello just a quick note to say hello. I'm the newest member of the Penguin Crew having manged to bum a ride from the gates of the Panama Canal. Have only learned to sail on current travels, admitedly almost two years ago, as I am trying to get back home without airoplanes. Couldn't have hoped for a better place to pass over the wide Pacific. The guys are fantastic and its showing all sighns of being a fantastic adventure cruising through the Pacific islands.

Things I've learned so far - how to drink Gin and Tonic and hopefully how to use a sextant, though not at the same time, as Rob is threatining to make me do the navigation for three days without the GPS. We may end up back in Panama, or mabie round one of the Capes.

Anyways there are some waves waiting to give me a pounding just along the beach so I will sighn out for now,