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Swingin' on a Star
Ship's log for the circumnavigating Saint Francis 50 catamaran, "Swingin on a Star".
03/28/2008, Sheleter Bay Marina

We have to wait 4 weeks to go through the canal.

Entrance to the Atlantic Locks
03/27/2008, Panama Canal

We dinghied around the Bahia Limon a bit. It is a huge bay with a lot of chop due to the large fetch and the big super tanker sized channel in the break water. It is best near the edges in a dinghy but you have to be careful because there are several reefs that crop up suddenly outside of the main thoroughfares.

We made our way up to the entrance to the Gatun Locks that take you from the Atlantic Ocean into Gatun lake.

The Panama Canal Yacht Club
03/26/2008, Colon

The Panama Canal Yacht Club is the old school hang out for yachties in Colon. It is right next to the train station and close to town, but you don't really want to go to town in Colon. The yacht club is a little tired feeling and I think I would only choose it if Shelter Bay was full up. That said the food is better with a wider selection than Shelter Bay and it is much easier to get to Panama City from the PCYC. Shelter Bay is far from everything and on the other side of the locks (add 0 - 1 hour) as well.

The Panama Canal Railroad
03/25/2008, Panama Canal

Well we are back down to a crew of three (counting Roq). Margaret left yesterday and Em left today. Both had early flights and because Shelter Bay is so far from everything, and because you have to cross the Gatun lock which can add an hour, both left at 3AM.

Hideko and I went with Em to Panama City International this morning. We took the Panama Canal Railroad back to Colon to see the sights. The railroad only takes passengers from Panama City to Colon at 7:10 AM and from Colon to Panama City at around 5PM. It is a nice historical type train trip with great views of the canal.

The Gamboa Resort
03/24/2008, Gamboa

The Gamboa Resort is situated in the Rain Forest along the Panama Canal. The lodge is built in an area that used to house US canal workers years ago. It is a very nice looking place with tours of the jungle and the canal as well as nice grounds of its own.

The Admeasurer
03/23/2008, Shelter Bay

Happy Easter!

Well I guess the Canal is a 24/7/365 operation. The Admeasurer showed up on Easter at one in the afternoon.

We measured in at just under 50 feet, which gets you a $600 ish rate. Then the Admeasurer saw our USCG documentation that said 50. They can not record less than the documentation. This cost us another $250. :-( It is good to have a boat that measures 49' 11". The canal and some marinas put a serious tax on that last inch.

We received a little Panama Canal ID card that stays with the boat for the rest of its life making future transits easier.

The New Panama City
03/22/2008, Panama City

We took a tour of the three Panama Cities today.

The original Panama City, Panama Viejo, is little more than a pile of stones and mortar east of the modern Panama City. The pirate Henry Morgan sacked the original Panama City in 1671 and it subsequently burned to the proverbial ground. He sailed up the Rio Chagres from the Caribbean side and marched the final bit over land. Unfortunately for the city all of the defenses were aimed at the Pacific Ocean.

The second Panama City is known as the Casco Viejo and was built on the peninsula just west of modern Panama City. This was quite a place in the hey day of the canal's construction. The canal passes right along the old city's west bank. While there seem to be some efforts to bring the old city back, and it does have its quaint patches, it is mostly impoverished and in disrepair.

The new city is fairly modern and packed with tall buildings. An expansion project is underway to fill in a large swath of the Pacific Ocean on the west side of the water front highway. It seems a place where you can get just about anything, but like most big cities, has its good areas and its bad areas.

When the canal expands in 2014 it is certain that the importance of the city will grow.


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