First Day of Panama Canal Transit
25 March 2018 | Panama Canal
What an exciting day! We arrived in Panama on March 2, and were given a transit date of March 25. So the intervening days helped build the excitement and anticipation for making the Transit. We woke at 4:30am, received our one line handler at 5:45 am, and left our slip to receive our Traffic Advisors about 7:00am. We were off to the Miraflores Locks following a Big Boy, a car carrier called Grand Orion. We side-tied up to a tour boat, Fantasia del Mar, behind Grand Orion. We used tires and regular fenders between the boats, and two long lines plus regular mooring lines as spring lines. Going north, we were lifted in the locks, so the mild turbulence was from water coming into the lock. The significant turbulence was when Grand Orion moved ahead out of the lock. The ship wake provided up to a 4 knot current on our bow with waves, rips and eddies. But we easily moved away from the tour boat, and headed up to the next lock. Then repeat. Once through Miraflores Locks at 10:30am, we moved on to the Pedro Miguel Lock entering at 11:15am. This time the tour boat was tied up to a tug, when we tied up in the remaining space next to the tour boat with 20' to spare on the starboard side. We had two Traffic Advisors, the seasoned Ricardo, and Victor who was doing his final exam. Looking at the remaining ship traffic northward they said we were the last 'line handler' (cruising boat using hand lines) for the day. And the last Big Boy named Alpine Link was catching up to us in the adjacent locks. Of course there was no way we could keep up to Alpine Link after they passed us in the Gaillard Cut. So it was obvious we could not go through the Gatun Locks today, and that we would be mooring overnight before the Gatun Locks. Gatun Lake was beautiful, green island scenery. As we continued on, the southward traffic was plentiful with maybe 20 ships transiting. The winds picked up and were blowing 15-25 knots, with the accompanying cresting waves. After mooring to an ocean ship buoy, the winds settled down. Our Traffic Advisors left, and we settled in for the afternoon. So tomorrow we will leave sometime before noon to go through the Gatun Locks, and on to Shelter Bay Marina, our final destination. A special event was going on in the Gaillard Cut. There were upwards of 25-30 four-person racing canoes racing through the Canal. Most were four-man teams, but there were many four-woman teams as well. What a site to see such energy from paddlers 14 years on up. People were cheering them on from shore. The canoes had their canoe names on the side of the canoes, such as, Marry Me, Strong Panama, etc.