S/V Uhuru

Brian and Debra's excellent adventure.

05 April 2017
05 April 2017
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28 March 2017
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26 February 2017
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12 February 2017

Panama Canal Transit, Captain and crew

06 April 2017
Transiting the Panama Canal is an amazing trip. The engineering, the canal, the massive locks and the whole process is very impressive. We all had a great time. And then, just like that, you’re on the other side of the continent, in the Caribbean Sea! Just awesome

Panama Canal Transit, Done!

06 April 2017
When the final lock was opened, the momentum of the water being pushed behind us by the tanker propelled us forward at 3 knots so along with our boat speed, we were moving along pretty fast at 6 or 7 knots. Welcome to the Caribbean! Haha.

Panama Canal Transit, Day 2

06 April 2017
The final Gatun Locks have two sets of locks, and this time, we were going through in the center, alone, with four lines! Cool. Of course there was a huge tanker behind us too!

When we are center tied, the canal workers throw lines to us that are attached to a monkey fists (this is a huge knot at the end of the line that is very heavy to carry the line to the boat). We then take this line and tie it onto OUR lines and then they haul our lines up to the canal wall and tie us off to a cleat while the water is raised or lowered. Well, they didn’t just throw the monkey fists, they hurled them at us in a swinging fashion. It’s pretty dangerous as you can be hit or your solar panels or any other delicate item on the boat can be damaged. We finally had all four lines (one guy had to try three times to get it on the boat and it almost knocked the GoPro off my head, yikes! I yelled to him “Is this your first day on the job?” Maybe that had something to do with it :P I should have yelled “You throw like a girl!”, haha. Just kidding, they are friendly guys and always wave and smile.

So after all four lines are secured to the canal, the water is lowered and we (the four line handlers) slowly let out our lines as the boat goes down, down, down. The water level was lowered about 30 feet and it happens fast.

The water level dropping doesn’t cause any turbulence but when the tanker behind us is pulling in behind us, he is pushing all of this water forward and it only has inches to escape around his ship to go behind. We had one incident where this turbulence created a 3 knot current and our stern was pushed sideways before the line handler could secure the line to keep us from hitting the wall.

Panama Canal Transit pm

05 April 2017

After transiting through the three Miraflores locks in the same manner as before, we arrived at the Pedro Miguel locks. We again side tied to the motor vessel as before and completed those three locks and then we began our motor into Gatun Lake where we tied up to a big red buoy for the night. The day’s transit took about 7 hours. Our advisor was picked up by another pilot boat and we were free to swim, enjoy some cold IPA beers and a spaghetti dinner aboard.

It was a surprise the first time we jumped into the lake because we didn’t float back up to the surface. Gatun Lake is a fresh water lake and fresh water doesn’t give you that free ride back up to the top like salt water does. It took a minute underwater to figure out I better start swimming or I wasn’t gonna reach the top! Yikes. I remember looking up and seeing the surface way up there, haha.

Panama Canal Transit am

05 April 2017
We entered the first lock (Miraflores) at approx. 9am behind a cruise ship. We were pretty close to them and many people were waving and taking pictures of us right below them. In the first set of locks, we were side tied with two lines to a motor vessel that was also side tied to a tug, which was tied to the wall. The tug that was tied to the wall had to do all the work with the lines, pulling in the slack as the water level was raised. This causes a bit of turbulence as the water level raises fairly fast. I’d say the whole process, from when the lock closes and the water fills and then the other side of the locks open, takes about 30 minutes.

I had sent my family a text message telling them that we were at the lock, and my daughter in law, Ashley, was nice enough to take a screen shot from the web cam as we went through. Thanks Ashley!

Panama Canal Transit am

05 April 2017
So, here we are in Shelter Bay Marina, Colon, on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal. We finally made it through!

After crewing as line handlers for our friends on Solar Flair and then transiting ourselves, we gained experience in three separate ways to transit, quite an addition to our resume!

Our day began quite early. We were up at 4:30 to have coffee and breakfast and prep the boat for the day. A pilot boat dropped off our advisor at 6:30am. Those pilots can maneuver the boat so close to let the advisor step off and then back quickly away. Very powerful motors!
Vessel Name: Uhuru
Vessel Make/Model: CT-41
Hailing Port: San Diego, CA
Crew: Brian & Debra
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