Nancy and Sam welcome you aboard Windfall, our 1977 Maple Leaf sailboat. Windfall is a center cockpit design, 42' length, 13.5' wide, and 40,000 lbs of cruising fun!

On August 7th, 2010 we set sail on our "No Itinerary" world cruise and enjoying the "Cruising Life" very much! It's a wonderful adventure!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Panama Canal with friends Sunnyside Up

Here comes our Adviser
 Nancy said she needed a trip through the Canal to help rest her mind when we take Windfall through the Canal next February, so we volunteered our line-handling services to Sunnyside Up as they planned to go through the canal October 2nd.
Warship 46 "Rentz" and the Peace Boat
    We were to meet our Adviser at 6am, but as usual it was 9am before we seen the service boat coming to deliver the Adviser. We were lucky to have "Freddy" as he is a dredge operator during the week and does the Canal Adviser gig for extra money on his days off. He was a wealth of information, such as there were 22 dredges working 24 hours a day on the new Locks being built and one is the largest suction dredge in the world! 

   We thought we would be lucky and go through the locks with a US Navy Guided-missile frigate the USS Rentz..."Warship 46" as they were called on the VHF Radio. It sounds pretty cool to listen as they spoke on the VHF Radio..."This is US Warship 46..... ". Somehow saying "This is Warship  Sunnyside Up..." just didn't fit into the mold.  As luck would have it they turned to the service docks, and just happened to be where the "Peace Boat" was also at for service..interesting photo with the two side by side.
We side-tied along this Tug. A ship is in the lock ahead.
    We were lucky to be side tied to a tug, and the Captain was quite a character as he was showing off with doing 360 degree turns inside the lock! We met him and found he likes Willamette Valley wines from Oregon. Soon we were listening to the song "Red Red Wine" playing loudly inside the locks and for all to hear at the visitors center!
    Soon we were side-tied with the tug as the water raised in each lock...very fun!
   The trip was beautiful,  sitting a deck of Sunnyside Up we watched as huge ships passed on their way to the Mira Flores locks.
Getting Sunnyside Up ready for the locks
    We did learn that with the new locks that are to handle the Post Panama Canal ships (too big to go through the current locks) the 49 year old Bridge of Americas will have to be replaced as the newest Post Panama Cruise Ships will not fit under the bridge! It's amazing how high the bridge is now!!

  We entered the Mira Flores Locks at 11am with hopes to make the trip in one day, but again luck was not with us, and at 3pm we were within reach of the Gatun Locks (Caribbean side) and our adviser said it was a no-go. Ahg! But we're right here! Nope! They are finished "Locking Down" for the day and only boats "Locking Up" into the lake were going through.

Tug with a car carrier under the Centennial Bridge
    Oh well, we have to spend the night on Lake Gatun tied to a huge mooring ball. Tom checked the water temp at 89 degrees...soon we were all jumping in for a swim...illegal to do according to the paperwork....Mmm Hmmm, sure...we wouldn't think of swimming in warm clear fresh water!

    We were having great weather..until....CRACK! Lightening began to strike all around us and CLOSE! Within minutes rain began to pour as we were all huddled up in the cockpit. Carolyn made a great lasagna dinner that kept the crew filled and ready for the next day "locking down."

Spending the night on the lake tied to this HUGE float
    Be ready at 8am for your adviser to arrive is what the radio told Tom.....Uh 2:30pm he showed up. The Advisor's boat couldn't find us and spent 1 hour zig-zagging through the lake trying not to hit a ship due to the very heavy rain storm that came through. At last they found us and as he stepped aboard..."Let's Go"!
    It didn't take long for the crew to ready the lines and await Captain Tom and the Adviser's orders as we entered the locks.
     This time we were to "Center Lock" which means we have the lock to ourselves and all four 200' lines are tossed to the men standing on the lock's edge to help us through.
Line Handler Paul and Captain Tom in the lock - Notice ship in the rear
    Nancy and Paul took the stern lines, while Carolyn and I took the bow lines...of course we were not under any cover and exposed to the rain...but it's a warm rain and it really wasn't that bad.
 We were through the locks quickly and dropped off the Adviser near the city of Colon. We entered Shelter Bay Marina at 6pm with a half hour daylight to spare.
The pool and hot tub at Shelter Bay Marina on the Caribbean side...nice!
    We didn't have time to enjoy the swimming pool and hot tub, but the showers were much enjoyed. We had a great dinner at the marina bar/restaurant before our taxi was to show up at 8pm. It's a $85 dollar fare from Shelter bay Marina back to Panama City. 
     Sadly, on our way back we were on the highway and our taxi hit a large dog crossing the road. Damage was pretty extensive as we got out and checked the bumper hanging down, lights shinning up to the sky, and the radiator fan rubbing against the radiator. Not good.

Soon, we were on our way to Panama City with repairs the best we could do and arrived at 11pm.
Tom and Carolyn aboard Sunnyside Up at dock Shelter Bay
    Larry, from Hobo, came to pick us up at the dock and before long we were back aboard Windfall and nestled in our comfortable bed for the night.
     We hope Tom and Carolyn have a great sail on their way to the San Blas Islands and destinations unknown beyond that.... Ahh, never know where they're headed.
     Best of luck to Sunnyside Up, and thank you for a great trip. We hope to meet up with you "Out There" again somewhere.