19 November 2010 | Panama
The s/v Blue Sky crew as we clear the Panama Canal. We are now back in the North Pacific after an absence of nearly 5 years.
The advice from the Panama Crusing Guide re: Transiting the canal is, " ...every transit is different..." Wow what an understatement!
I was able to 1st transit on another sailing vessel as a line handler. The passage was totally uneventful. The weather aside from some light rain overnight in the Gatun Lake anchorage was the only adverse weather experienced. The wind was nonexistant and the cloud cover made the passage cool and we did not have to constantly dive for shade.
Our friends on another cruising sail boat made the transit next. They had such heavy rain in Gatun lake both overnight and into their passage to the Miraflores Locks that they were forced to use their radar in order to spot the channel markers and see the oncoming ships!
Our transit was marked by sharing the accending locks at Gatun with a tanker that nearly took up the entire lock. We were center tied but we also were "nested" or as we say rafted to a small sail boat. The line handlers on Blue Sky were responsible for the entire raft and with the assistance of one memeber from the other vessel, the line handlers had their work cut out. The turbulance and constant pulling in on the slack lines made this their toughest part of the passage (so I thought from past experience).
Their real challenge came when the tanker in front of us moved forward into the 2nd, 3rd Gatun Locks and finally into Gatun Lake. Here the strain on crew and lines was put to the test with not one failure. I'll say I was less stressed on the passage locking up into Gatun Lake than locking down into the Pacific.
I'll add another blog about our overnight stay in Gatun Lake and then a third blog about the passage down through the Miraflores Locks into the North Pacific Ocean.