Part way along the Panama Canal


Tuesday 25 February 2014

Good morning from Gatun Lake where we woke at 5:30am. We have been told to expect our Pacific pilot advisor at 6am but the departing Atlantic pilot was highly sceptical about that happening so early!

Next to us are three catamarans who are less amused as they were all transitted together and the two outside cats have damage from the walls. Much to our surprise we were alone with one container vessel.

For reasons unknown we were delayed once we got to the actual lock. Challenging for Tom on the helm as he then had to hold a position for an hour and a half with 15-20 knots of wind only being allowed the odd circle.

Then everything happened fast. First up, the Panama Canal authorities were a shore line handler short and had to run to get another line. That and their throwing skills weren’t the best so a few lines were missed! It’s quite intimidating having a line with a big monkey knot, which is essentially a round knot the size of a closed hand, thrown from up high that arrives at speed with a big thud.

Our Swiss crew line handlers of Huaras, Jacque and Jacqueline were fabulous. Together with Susie they had to pull in thick lines as Adina rose. Quite tough as the water’s surge is trying to buff the boat. Tom’s job was to keep the boat steady and move the boat between locks. The shore land handlers walk with our lines between the locks. You need to maintain a steady speed and increase throttle as water from the next lock flows in.

Dinner and a beer or two before heading to bed around midnight.

Today we travel through the Gatun Lake and Culebra Cut before descending through the single Pedro Miguel Lock and then the two Miraflores Locks. Our Atlantic pilot told us the Miraflores Locks are the most challenging where most accidents happen due to strong currents. So it will be a case of full focus.

The Miraflores Lock has a webcam so hopefully you might spot us. We’ll keep the tracker going.

Time for morning coffee. We can hear howler monkeys but no sign of our pilot yet!

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