Panama Canal transit preparations underway


Saturday 22 February 2014

Just a quick update from ‘Project Adina Panama Canal Transit’. It’s all going very smoothly if truth be told. Almost too good to be true!

The Partridge and Plume decided to tackle getting a transit by doing it themselves rather than shelving out money to an agent. We researched it and with Susie being able to speak Spanish we reckoned we could do it. Actually fair dues to the Panama Canal authorities – they are well organised and very helpful. As per the last blog we had registered our details and phoned them to confirm they had got them. Next step is to get an appointment for an admeasurer to come to the boat, fill in various bits of paperwork, measure the boat and check it is up to the transit. We did that, got an appointment, and while he did arrive a little late, he did have a lot of boats to measure! We got measured in the nick of time to catch the free bus to town to then pay the money required.

We handed over $1875 to the bank and got confirmation it was paid to the Panama Canal. Deploy Susie to then phone for the big one – a transit slot! People always appreciate that she can speak Spanish and while the chap could speak English, he admired her efforts. So the exciting news is we’ve been given a tentative slot for Monday 24th subject to enough advisors being available. An advisor is essentially a pilot who comes on the boat with you and guides you the whole way. So we’re pretty pleased – to get in and out of here in less than a week will be good going. We were told you’ll need a number of days to get registered and measured and then 8-10 days after that to get a slot. But we still need to cross fingers, slots are often moved due to the big freighters getting priority.

Given all that, Susie wrote a poster to look for volunteer line handlers in the marina. Each boat must have a skipper and four line handlers. You pay around $150 for a line handler but there are always people doing the transit who want to do it for practise first. We had hoped to do that ourselves but we aren’t going to get time! Susie was putting her poster up at the same time as a Swiss couple were putting up a poster looking for a boat to come and transit on! So now we have our line handlers! Told you it was nearly too good to be true.

Its great fun here, reminds us of preparing for the Atlantic crossing, a real buzz about the place, everyone preparing not just for the transit but heading off to the Pacific. A lot of Australians and as ever they are a really friendly bunch. A lot more catamarans too. We reckon it’s half monohulls like ourselves and half catamarans. Quite a difference to being in Europe. Europeans favour monohulls and most have plans to cross the Atlantic and see the Caribbean. But everyone we talk to says the Pacific is the place to be so we’re rather excited.

It’s certainly been manic for us – we had 6 weeks to prepare for crossing the Atlantic. Now we have 1 week to prepare for the transit, passage to Galapagos, Pacific Ocean crossing and then life in the Pacific. Food is harder to come by in the Pacific and apparently very expensive so everyone is loading there boats to the rafts. We’ve already done two mega-shops. Susie is tearing the boat apart finding space. Tom’s Bar has sadly now been de-commissioned to make space for provisions. We’ve split our tasks – Susie is doing all the provisions and Tom is getting the boat ready. That means rigging checks, engine/generator checks, watermaker checks, cleaning, getting gas, fuel, navigation etc. It’s actually the easy job compared to the provisioning.

So all very exciting, really does feel like we are preparing for a big adventure! Let’s hope there is no busting this bubble, we’re enjoying it.

Next update will be once our slot is confirmed and they’ll be a few Panama Canal facts and the webcam links if you want to try and follow us! And we welcome any news from people – we really do enjoy hearing from friends, we sit at our table, read it out and chat!

Better dash, another delivery arriving. I’m worried Susie will be storing stuff in my bed next!

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2 responses to “Panama Canal transit preparations underway

  1. Mike says:

    The Galapagos are currently being hooliganised by the World ARC (except for an Irish boat that’s been stuck on a 225 tack in the middle of nowhere for a number of days/daze). Hopefully the natives are still friendly by the time you arrive.

    Re. Stocking up on food etc. Have a read up on the various country’s policies as NZ, Australia and French Polynesia are very strict about what food you can enter with. Many an unhappy yachtie has had to turf a lot of food out in the past. All to do with keeping foreign bugs and diseases out to protect local agriculture/horticulture in the case of NZ/Australia and just to be difficult and unwelcoming in the case of the French….. 😉

    Best of luck with the transit and don’t forget to buy the t-shirt.

  2. Ros says:

    Everyone at home is excitedly waiting for your confirmed transit date and time so that we can schedule our commitments around watching the webcams! For anyone in UK who is interested there is another article about the Panama Canal’s centenary in today’s Telegraph Travel section. The journalist enthuses about the wildlife living in the area; beware of jaguars stowing on board! See you soon, Mum.