|Las Brisas (The Breezes) Causeway at sunset...Our view each night from Windfall.|
Windfall is now "officially measured" (48.88' overall length) and we have a date of May 17th to transit the Panama Canal to the Caribbean side! After the boat is measured you then go to a specific bank to pay $1,500 (includes a refundable $875 deposit), the next day you schedule with the canal for a date and time to transit.
Now the fun begins to get getting everything prepared, stocked, provisioned, stowed, locked, Diesel and Gas topped off, oils and filters changed, and new course set for Shelter Bay Marina on the other side of the canal.
We plan to have Doug & Linda (Aquadesiac) and Larry (Rocinante) come along as line handlers....Hey we asked a lot of friends from the US to come through the canal with us, only to get excuses like "Well, uhh, err, hmmm..I've got to dog-sit that day", or "I'm not sure but I don't think we can get the time off", and finally "When? Uhhh, I can't make it then, maybe next time"! Sure, sure...we understand...really, we do! Ha Ha It's okay!
|A Moray Eel at the nearby Smithsonian Institute|
A Two-Toed Sloth (with new baby) lives in the trees at the parking lot - They sleep 20 hours a day! Nice!
|Our Admeasurers with paperwork completed allowing Windfall to transit the canal - Thank you!|
Nancy has been stocking up a new LARGE cooler with bottled water, sodas, and other drinks for our crew to enjoy while transiting, it's amazing how much a crew can go though when doing the transit.
Currently, it's not known if we will make the transit the entire canal in one day, or if we will spend the night in Gatun Lake, as we've done on friends boats transiting the canal in the past, and make it a two day passage. Either way...Caribbean here we come!!
We're not in too big a hurry to get to Bocas del Toro, so we've got a few days planned to stop along the way and get in some great snorkeling, fishing, and adventures along the way.
We will definitely miss Panama City, the beautiful Las Perlas Islands, Taboga Island, and the Darien areas, and the many friends we've made while here.
This is the link to the Panama Canal Live camera... if you wish to take a look at where we'll be on the morning of May 17th. http://www.pancanal.com/eng/photo/camera-java.html The Miraflores Locks are on the Pacific side and the first set we will transit, the HIGH RES camera is pointed to the opposite end of the same locks. There are 3 locks, two at the Miraflores, and one a half mile further at called the Pedro Miguel Lock. Once through these three locks its an easy 40 mile trip through the "Cut" (where they actually dug the canal) and through Lake Gatun and to the Gatun Locks on the Caribbean side. We will "Lock-up" (raise) 85 feet from the Pacific to Lake Gatun, then "Lock-down"(lower) 85 feet, via three additional locks (near Colon) to the Caribbean. FUN!
The new (larger) locks are to open in 2 years for the ships too large to pass through the current locks on each side. These ships are known as "Post Panamax Ships" and carry 5,000 to 10,000 containers. These ships cannot (currently) pass through the locks and must offload before the locks, then loaded onto the Panama Railroad, and finally the containers will be offloaded from the train and onto another "Post Panamax" ship waiting at the opposite end. You can see why these new locks are so important for the entire world markets!
Hopefully, we will be transiting beside and tied to a large tugboat. It takes two tugboats assistance for many of the ships that enter and exit the locks, but we may end up ahead or behind a large ship in the same lock! Gulp! As the current from the big ship's propeller(s) can really cause a lot of turbulence in a lock, this is when it's a little more tricky for our line-handlers to control the lines tied from the canal to Windfall ! Whoa! Hold on! Oh, and those tires tied along Windfall's sides...THIS is when they'll come in handy to prevent Windfall from grinding on the side of the canal's cement walls or the side of the Tugboat. Exciting for sure!!
|All smiles - Nancy & Pam from the Idaho catamaran "Tisha Baby"|
|Doug and Linda (background) enjoying the evening|
|There's a lot of cruiser's advice going around that table!|
Oh, how we will miss Panama City and it's wonderful people, the many friends we've made along the way, beautiful Isla Taboga (Island of Flowers) and the famous Las Perlas Islands...(Spectacular!) We just realized we won't be on the Pacific anymore, I guess we'll have to adjust to our new cruising grounds...The Caribbean!! I know...it may take some time to adjust, but the crew of Windfall will do our best and keep you updated on more Windfall Adventures!
Well, time to get busy and cleaning Windfall, Nancy wants us to look "pretty" (polished & ship-shape) when we transit the canal ! Yep! Work...work...work....