Now in the Pacific Ocean
08 55.05 N 79 31.47 W-
We transited the Canal on Monday/Tuesday - Feb 22/23 and are now anchored off Panama City where we will complete our provisioning, do some planned work on the boat and look for a suitable weather window to make the approximately 5 day passage to Galapagos. We may take in some offshore Panamanian islands (Las Perlas) on the way before we make Central America disappear over the horizon behind us.
All went well with the transit. We were rafted in the center position of 3 sailboats: Nika, an Australian family (3 small children) in a Bavaria 47 on our starboard side and Porto B, a young (age 34 - newlyweds) Argentinian couple on a Morgan 38 on our port side. We had met both of these crews in Shelter Bay Marina over the previous week so it was fun to be making the transit together. We climbed up the 3 locks on the Atlantic side just before dark on Monday evening and then anchored in Gatun Lake for the night upon disembarking our ACP advisor/pilot (Dalton). ACP is the Panama Canal Authority and employs 9000 people in the overall Canal operations. At about 6:30 am on Tuesday, the next advisors (one advisor/pilot for each sailing vessel) arrived and we immediately got underway to cover the 27 nm to the down locks at Miraflores with a then scheduled arrival time of 11:30 am which gave us lots of time for a slow motoring of the distance through the lake. There was a minor change in time to 11:25 while we were enroute but the time interval remained fine for the much slower Argentinian boat to catch up to the other 2 of us as we again rafted together for the down locking. Sea Mist provided all the maneuvering power and steering for the 3 vessel raft. We contacted family as we were in the Miraflores locks and they were able to see us on the webcam positioned there. We had our cruising friends, David and Marian – S/V Kilkea, as our additional required line-handlers as we needed one operator and 4 line handlers as required by the ACP for a transit. They returned by bus to Shelter Bay Marina once we arrived at the end of the Canal and dropped them at the Balboa Yacht Club fuel dock; they will transit with their boat, Kilkea, tomorrow/Friday and Saturday to rejoin us on the Pacific side.
Our first night anchored here at Flamenco – Playida saw the arrival of very unusual winds and strong seas from the Southwest….not at all the norm for this time of year….and something many of the 70 boats at anchor were not well prepared for. There were 10 to 15 boats that had major problems in dragging their anchors and had to reanchor in the dark of the late evening hours. Sea Mist held perfectly due to our exceptionally fine anchor (Ultra – from Turkey) that we acquired in Istanbul back in 2007. We moved yesterday afternoon to the north side of this causeway/peninsula as the seas continued to be a bit rough in the anchorage even though they had subsided considerably. When the wind returns to coming out of the North today or tomorrow as forecast, we will return to the south side which only takes about a half hour to motor.
Stay tuned, more to come before we leave Panama.