Borta med Bengt

En resa

The week that has past us!

Sunday 17 November 2019, Las Brisas, Panama-City

We try to update the blog in English but the last weeks have been 'busy'. Even if we do not have to go to work, go with the dog or take the car to the supermarket we still had things to do before we could transit the Canal.

Monday 4 November we got measured by the Ad-measurer who came at around twelve o'clock even if the appointment was for nine in the morning. He was a nice guy who went through the necessary information and filling in forms at a high speed. Most is done on a tablet but we still had to fill in some forms by hand. The only thing we seemed to have missed was a fog-horn driven by compressed air. The two handheld fog-horns we have on board were no good. We had to buy one.

Bengt was measured and turned out to be 49,05 ft. Had he been over 50 ft the price for the transit had been much more. We also got our SIN (Ship Identification Number) so if you buy Bengt in the future all is ready for a canal transit.
Apart from paying a considerable sum of money you also need three line-handlers (Elisabeth being the fourth) who have to sleep over one night and who you have to feed. The advisor has to have access to a toilet and get food and drink (from unopened bottles). One had to have lines (4x 22 mm/125 ft) and big fenders which have to be rented (120 dollars). Since we did not use an agent we had to pay a bond of 891 dollars which one gets back a few weeks after the transit if the canal company doesn't feel like you have to pay some more.
The transit is done in two days with a stop on Lake Gatun for the night.

All locks have a webcam:

Total costs for the transit:
The actual transit 800 Measurement 54 Security fee 130 Bond 891 Total 1875 USD

Tuesday was the last of the holidays of four, colon-day. This day is only celebrated in Colon and has to do with the liberation from Columbia. We took a long walk in the jungle that surrounds the marina. There are many ruins around which are slowly being eaten by nature. These are mostly remains after Fort Sherman. It is very moist once in the jungle and glasses get foggy and sweat starts pouring out of your body. We tried to find and see some of the monkeys that we can hear every night but had no luck.
Wednesday was pay-day so we took the shuttle-bus to the City Bank in Colon to pay our transit fee. The city has not changed much since I was there in the eighties. More run down and dirty and lots more cars and people but still not a safe place for a gringo with money in his pocket. The bus drops you off in front of the bank were two armed guards take care of you. Payment is quick and easy. All the paperwork is given to you by the advisor so the only thing you have to do is sign and give the cashier your stack of dollarbills. After 20 minutes we were back on the street but without 1900 dollars. We took a cab to the shopping center, 4-Alto, from where the shuttle-bus departs for the marina. We had even time to do some shopping. We wrote a mail to our line-handlers on the other side and ordered lines and fenders from Stanley. We phoned the canal company after 18:00 and got our time; Monday 11 November. '

Stanley came by on Thursday morning and was paid for his ropes and fenders. Six large boll fenders and three ropes were laid on the boat when we were in town in the afternoon. Unfortunately, a line to short so Stanley will have to come and leave another one. The day before the passage you have to call the company again to get confirmation and a time when the ' advisor ' arrives on board. This is done on ' The Flats ', the anchorage outside the marina. Paul, Marion and Katharina (not the Frenchman thus) come on Monday at lunchtime and then we could start our canal adventure. We have shopped and shopped so now we can sail two times around the world without buying a single can.
In the evening we got to disassemble the toilet-pump and clean it up, a real shit-job.

Friday we wanted to wash the bed mattress but then the power went so we had to wait with that. We looked at the engine instead and checked the cooling water and the oil. The collecting tank was leaking again so I repaired some tiny holes with epoxy. Will see if that helps. The idea is that all (small bilge pump, grey and black water) wastewater flows into the tank before it disappears into the sea. At three o'clock the power came back and we washed the in two parts cut bed mattress, then we went and swam in the pool. A warm and sunny day today, quite unusual, so it felt nice to swim around a bit and chatting with the, unusually many, other sailors who had the same thought as us. We also got a new neighbor. An American boat ' Tidal Dancer ' with a nice couple on board, he from the USA and she from Tahiti. They even had a big dog with them which Obama watched with great eyes but ' Duke ', as the dog is named, is kind and afraid of cats. They will go through the canal on Friday and then sail to Tahiti to visit the family. Saturday we took the shuttle bus to the grocery store for the last time. It was mostly fresh produce and bread we purchased. I have unfortunately a nasty mosquito bite on my left arm that became inflamed and the entire arm got swollen within a day. After consulting with Antje, a nurse, it became antibiotics and Fucidin ointment. Very warm and humid but no swimming in the pool for me. Elisabeth swam around and splashed happily in the beautiful cool water. Lots of talking with other sailors about the channel.

Sunday the wound felt a little better, the swelling has gone down a bit, but it does not look good yet. More pills! We called the Channel Company and it seems that we are going through on Monday night. Cooking for the three line-handlers that come tomorrow at lunchtime. The last washing machines were run, and the water tank was filled. Cleaning inside the boat. Ready for the transit!

This time I used Google translate for parts of the text. Horrible! No more.

Until next week!