Panama Canal

Bill and Caroline
Sun 10 Feb 2013 21:42
08:54.37N 79:31.44W

Preparations for ocean cruising should not be under estimated. Shopping for what seems to be eternity not only costs the equivalent of a small island, it also takes up the space and weight of a small island - which on a catamaran is not a good thing. However, undeterred, the wine got stowed and the rum found a home on board. Last minute engine checks and final queries are made, do we need more eggs? and shall we get more pegs, you never know when you will be able to find them? Tyres and long lines were delivered by the shipping agent for use in the locks and added to the bow down feel of the boat as everything was stowed in the forward lockers to clear the cabins for the lovely line handlers. Then fond farewells and departure….

The Adviser (like a pilot) and line handlers are a very precious commodity crossing the Panama Canal. All need to be looked after, fed and watered as their jobs are very time consuming and difficult….at times (see photos). You never know till the last minute what configuration your boat will be in with others in the lock. Rafted up with one or two others, alongside a tug or motor boat, or on your own. Both going up and down we were with a larger monohull which made things a little interesting at times. 

Anchoring in Gatun Lake overnight (between the Atlantic and Pacific locks) is beautiful with Howler Monkeys roaring in the distance. An early start at dawn across the lake and on with the transit, descending into the Pacific for sunset. 

Important things to remember are:

Don't leave the cooking gas on when the couscous is soaking. Thank you for your amazing pan restoration ability Arjan.
Don't tip the cold ice water down the companion way hatch, the ice cubes don't taste too good.
All sticks are not crocodiles, but some may be, so it is important to check them all out.  
Carrot Cake seems to go down well with everyone on board ….