Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Welcome to a new ocean

The Panamanians refer to this side of the canal as the Atlantic. Most Americans call it the Caribbean. Whatever, we're here. We barely escaped having to spend the night in Gatun Lake, and we didn't reach the Panama Canal Yacht Club fuel dock (to drop off our line handlers) until well after dark.

Our advisor (José) was great, and our line handlers did an excellent job, but, thanks to José, they had it easy. We were able to transit all of the locks by tying up to a Canal Authority (APC) tug. That meant our handlers didn’t have to adjust the lines for changes in the water height; the tug did that. I was at the helm for all of the up-locking, and John took us back down. There are three levels each way, so that meant each of us got to dock to the tug three times. John took lots of pictures all the way to the Gatun locks. When he took over the helm, it was too dark for more photos. When we dropped off our line handlers on this side, it was about 9:30 pm. They came aboard at 0600, so it was a long day for everyone.

We were the only northbound sailboat yesterday. If you were watching the webcam and saw a single sailboat, that was us. We saw five other sailboats southbound; they were nested in groups of two and three.

Now we’re at the dock at Shelter Bay Marina. We’re supposed to haul out here Friday, but we heard in the restaurant that their TravelLift just broke, so we’ll see. Wish us luck with that. It’s always something, isn’t it? I guess that’s what makes it an adventure.

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