Monday, May 08, 2017

The Pacific Ocean, we made it through the Panama Canal!!!

FWe made it through the Panama Canal on our own boat!   There were a few dicey moments but we only have one war wound and we could leave today if we wanted. 
We headed out to the designated spot to pick up our advisor with an extra crew of three aboard.  We had one professional line handler, Gabriel and two young volunteer French fellows, Ludwig and Barthe.
When we arrived in the flats there were two other boats waiting and we thought we would be going through with them as a group.  The pilot boat arrived with the advisors and our fellow Omar , got off and then the pilot boat left, no other advisers got off?? It turns out the other boats had their transits cancelled for that day and had to wait another full day.  Thank heavens we were the lucky one to get to proceed with our journey, I would have been most unhappy if that had been us. 
We were told that the Falmouth Bay would be our buddy going through the first three locks and that we would be on our own, not nested up with two other boats like we were the last time,  requiring all four lines to be manned. As we approached the locks we saw the pillars for a new bridge that is being built and the skies were very threatening. 
They opened up and we got wet as we motored into the first lock.  The boat rises in the first three locks so you have to pull the lines taut as the water rushes and gurgles in to the enclosed space. The lines are the only things that are stopping the boat from swirling around with the water and bashing into the sides. 
As we entered the last lock on the western side an eddy caught the boat and shoved it towards the side of the lock.  It looked like a collision was inevitable , but Barry finally got control of the steering back and edged away from the wall.  If he had turned to sharplythe rear end would have smacked the wall and we may have damaged the wind vane. We dodged a bullet there and although the dinghy motor which is mounted on that side scraped the wall , all that happened Isi we got a bunch of mud on the cover. 
Our last view of the Caribbean Sea, we are in the second lock elevated above sea level by quite a bit. 
Our stay at the bouy in the lake and the transit of the lake the next day sent off with it incident.  I explained what the sailing terms were in English were to Ludwig and he very studiously wrote them down in a journal he was keeping. 
In the second set of locks we went into the lock in front of a container ship.  In the first lock we were tied to a tug boat.  That was great , we did not have to be responsible for the lines, we just tied up to the tun and he dealt with the lines while we were going down.  
In the second and third locks we were one again alone.  The line handling was easier this time because you just had to ease the lines out as we went down. 
At the top and the bottom of the lock, it is quite a considerable distance that you have to travel down. This is also our first view of the Pacific. We had made it hurrah. 
We popped the cork on the champagne and toasted the line handlers, the advisor, the Panama Canal and the Pacific Ocean, while making sure that Neptune got his salute with a taste as well. I thought we were free and clear and that we have made it through with just a near miss.  It is never good to count your chickens before they hatch.  We still had to have our advisor picked up.  When the pilot boat came there was a mis calculation on the part of the pilot boat captain and there was a collision between the two boats. He banged the stanchion that is aft of the starboard gate and bent it a bit.  The gate still closes but there is a bend in the stanchion and it looks quite crooked.  It is not structural though and does not need immediate repair.  
We are going to go into Panama City today to visit a museum about the Canal before we head to Golfito in Costa Rica. We will probably catch the afternoon tide to get a good boast on our way out.