|Our tracker shows us moving from the Atlantic to the Pacific!|
|The two youngest crew members surveying the ships on the horizon and contemplating the task ahead|
We headed out to the Flats Anchorage to pick up our advisor. He turned out to be a fantastic guy. He is a tug boat captain and very knowledgeable, not only of the working of the locks and canal, but also a mariner, which was a huge help. Sometimes the advisors are administrative people (as we experienced on day 2), and don't always understand how boats work. But Christoph was awesome, and I think a huge part of making the first transit through the Gatun Locks relatively stress free.
|The Pilot boat approaches and drops off our advisor|
We've learned that most things here are of the "hurry up and wait" mentality, and that was precisely what happened. Christoph pointed to a ship in the distance and told us that was the ship we were going to transit with. Then he received a radio call, and a cell phone call. Apparently the ship was carrying some sort of chemicals, and we were not allowed to go through the locks with it. So we had a 2 hour wait. We decided to use the time to cook an early dinner and we just hung around...waiting.
Then finally it was time. "Our" new ship, "Seaboard America" came sailing past, and we fell into step behind it. Once it was in the lock, we took up position behind it. On the way up, the sailing vessel goes behind the ship, on the way down, the sailing vessel goes in front. Then the line handlers on the lock walls threw a heaving line and we tied our big lines to them. Then they walk the boat forward and pull our big lines up and tie them onto huge cleats on the side of the lock wall. Then, when the water starts filling the lock, the line handlers on the boat (Garrick, Adrian, Gudrun and our Panamanian helper Alan), have to keep the lines tight (in this case pulling them in), to keep the boat steady and in the middle of the lock. It took 6 minutes for the lock to fill up. It was amazing. The water churned like a boiling kettle and in no time, we were at the top of the first lock!
|Approaching the locks behind Seaboard America. |
You can see a ship coming out of locks on the right, we went in on the left
|In the lock with our advisor|
|One of the locks before it was filled with water. You can see the line handlers at the top of the lock wall and the lines going to the boat|
Here is a link to a quick video of us in one of the locks. You can see how the water churns as the chamber fills up:
Cool Runnings in Gatum Locks chamber-Panama Canal
It was pitch black when we anchored, so it was a treat to wake up in the morning and view our surroundings. Mist rose out of the jungle as we sat on deck with our morning cup of coffee.
|Captain Dave enjoying his morning cuppa. Construction of the new locks can be seen in the background.|
|Adrian and Garrick on deck in the morning discussing the previous night's transit|
|Gatun Lake in the morning|
|Approaching Culebra Cut|
It was a beautiful but hot journey across the lake, and we saw a crocodile, birds, and ships. It took a couple of hours and soon we were at the Pedro Miguel lock, the first one to take us a step down! This time round we had to go against the wall, which was not what we had wanted, because you run the risk of damaging your boat against the rough lock wall. But you can't argue with the Canal officials, and we made use of the big fenders we had hired, and hoped for the best. It all turned out OK, but it was somewhat stressful!
|In Pedro Miguel Lock inspecting the wall we had to go up against. On the right is our advisor for the day|
|Approaching Miraflores Lock. We look so tiny amongst the huge cargo ships!|
|Cool Runnings approaching Miraflores Lock, with our chamber partner, the Overseas Pearlmar behind us|
For me the scariest part of this last transit was the HUGE ship, the "Overseas Pearlmar" that came in the lock behind us! It seemed like it was never going to stop, and just kept coming closer and closer and closer. It was so close to our stern, we felt we could have touched it! It was maybe a boat length from us (40ft)!! I NEVER want to be that close to a ship again...EVER!!!
|Overseas Pearlmar just barely fit into the lock|
|It just got closer and closer...|
|The Overseas Pearlmar towering above Cool Runnings and her crew|
|Ben and Gaby in the last lock before the water drained out. |
The Pacific beckons behind them
|The lock gates open...and we were in the Pacific!|
|Our view from our anchorage: Panama from the Pacific side|
Cool Runnings entering the Pacific Ocean
two additional videos:
Ben flying the drone for 1st time in Shelter Bay Marina:
Ben flying drone
Last night in Panama City....in old City looking towards new City
Last night out in Panama City Old town