Transiting the Panama Canal

 

 

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            The first set of gates closingOn Wednesday the 23rd of January, the crew onboard Kind of Blue (Dick, Anita, Stuart, Annette, George, Jack and Jed) were joined by a Panamanian pilot whilst anchored on the flats. We weighed anchor and headed down the channel towards the canal entrance with two other yachts- a catamaran and a mono-hull. We had to wait for about an hour while several cargo ships came through and then we rafted together and motored towards the locks. The lock gates themselves were gigantic and each weighed over 400 tonnes. The workers at the gates threw monkey-fists to us, which we tied our lines to ready to moor in the centre of the lock. When we were tied securely behind a huge container ship, the pipes were opened and massive amounts of water came gushing in from below us. The slack from the linesSurprisingly unspoilt on the lake was rapidly brought in, within five minutes the lock was filled up, and we moved into the second locků

            The next morning we woke up, tied up next to a mooring that we had arrived at the previous night. A new pilot came aboard and we headed off across the lake through the banana cut, followed by the two other boats, and keeping a close lookout for crocodiles. After a while, we re-joined the main channel and motored side-by-side with some of the enormous cargo ships. Soon, we passed into the Gilliard cut where there were loads of machinery and vehicles, all working to widen the channel. There were lots of plastic pipes stuck into We encountered a lot of big shippingthe ground and we learned that they were for placing dynamite to remove the rock.

            When we neared the other end of the canal, we passed underneath an enormous suspension bridge that crossed the Gilliard cut. Once again, we rafted up to the mono-hull and moved into the lock, closely followed by the Liv-1 crew who were helping aboard another yacht. The gates closed behind us and we began to get that sinking feeling as all of the water was sucked out of the lock. After the Gilliard lock, we crossed a small lake (still rafted up) and went into the Miraflores locks, at which point, Jack was hoisted up the mast to take some photos!Jed getting ready to handle his line

            The final lock gate opened and we entered the Pacific Ocean, untying from the other yacht and motoring down past the Panama City boat-yard towards the yacht club. The pilot boat came along side and our pilot jumped aboard, ready to go and lead another boat through. We picked up a mooring buoy outside of the yacht club and settled back for a beer and a quick swim for the boys!

            It was a sad moment when we had to leave Kind of Blue, and we all waved goodbye to Dick and Anita from the shoreline as we carried our bags (and the tyres!) across.

 

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A tug practising fire drill