The unique experience of transiting the Panama Canal as we saw and heard it. On board was Lesley, Kelly, John, Karol and myself, David. This was the minimum required by the Panama Authorities for duties such as line handling through the locks as well as operating the boat.
ON THE PACIFIC SIDE...NO TURNING BACK
13 March 2010 | PANAMA CITY
LESLEY KELLY DAVID
Look at the new Gallery of a few shots.
Within afew days will have a video up of the transit
TWO DAYS ON THE WATERS OF THE PANAMA CANAL-AN EXPERIENCE TO BE HAD. ARRIVED AT AN ANCHORAGE JUST SHORT OF THE CANAL ON THE ATLANTIC/CARIBBEAN SIDE AT 1600 FOR A PICKUP OF THE 'ADVISOR'...WHO CALLS ALL THE SHOTS. LESLEY, KELLY, JOHN AND KAROL AND MYSELF TOOK OF WITH THE ADVISOR AND WENT THROUGH THE FIRST THREE LOCKS, GATUN LOCKS....UP UP UP....UNTIL WE WERE IN GATUN LAKE. THERE, UPON THE LAKE, WE WERE GUIDED TO BIG FLOATING BUOYS AND TIED UP FOR THE NIGHT. WE HAD JUST TRANSITED WITH TWO MONOHULLS....ONE ON EACH SIDE OF THE BIG CAT SHEARWATER. OF COURSE THE CAT CALLED ALL THE SHOTS! IN THE MORNING AT 0600 WE BEGAN OUR 20 MILE TRIP ACROSS THE LAKE TO THE FIRST OF THE TWO DOWN LOCKS......PEDRO MIGUEL LOCKS AND SHORTLY THEREAFTER OUR SECOND LOCK THE MIRAFLORES LOCKS...DOWN DOWN DOWN AND THEN.....THE MAGNIFICENCE OF THE PACIFIC...WHICH BROUGHT FEELINGS WITHIN ME OF AWE AND SLIGHT TREPIDATION AS TO WHAT WAS AHEAD FOR SHEARWATER AND ME IN THAT VAST EXPANSE AHEAD.
ABOUT TO ENTER THE PANAMA CANAL
01 March 2010 | CRISTOBAL/COLON HARBOR
LESLEY KELLY DAVID
In one hour from now, Monday, 1400 hours, we will be underway toward the canal. It has come to my attention that there are cameras at the locks that can be viewed by anyone who is interested to see how it works or to see a particular boat.
Here is the address:
We willl be transitting the first set of locks ( Gatun Locks)at somewhere between 6-8 pm today, Monday. We will be in the last locks somewhere between 11 am to 2 pm tomorrow Tuesday.
Hope you get to see us!!
Kelly, Lesley david
On the way to the Canal - Portobello - Town of Riches
24 February 2010 | Portobello, Panama
Kelly and David
Very interesting town steeped in commercial history of another era: The Bay of Portobello was discovered in 1502 by Christopher Colombus. It was chosen as the Caribbean transshipment center because of its magnificent harbor and convenient location. From this port tons of gold and silver flowed to the commercial capital of the Spanish empire, Seville. Not going unnoticed by pirates, the town was assaulted by Henry Morgan's 460 man force and, with little resistance, he took the town, all its gold and a ransom of 100,000 pesos not to destroy Portobello. What remains today is a magnificent harbor with a sleepy town cradled in the ruins of that illustrious time.
09 February 2010
Singlehanding - Sleeping - Good Idea?
After almost 10,000 miles under my keel, most being by myself, the scariest moment occurred while I was asleep.
I woke to the sound of a fog horn blowing, Odd? I though to myself, I am 10 miles from land and no charted obstructions in the area. So as I crawl out of the bunk, and take a look outside, I realize that I just passed a oil rig, not but 25 yards off the port.
Thats enough to keep you awake for a few hours.
After realizing that I luckily avoided a travesty, I walked to the bow and found a pod of 6 dolphins off the bow. To this day, I believe those dolphins kept me from collision.
Single-handing is not smart!!! But for some of us thats all we got.
Few who come to the island leave them; They grow grey where they alighted; The palm shades and the trade wind fans them till they die
-R L Stevenson
What is the best way to keep awake? the old alarm clock? How many hours on, and how many off? is it wise to take the sails down...and drift while you are at sleep? what about ships around at 22 kn `s ?
The answer is to sleep about 20 minutes at a time which is about how are the horizon is from the deck of a small vessel. Larger ships can be seen when they are further away. Use whatever alarm will wake you... survey the horizon, plot your position, check the trim etc.. and get some more shut eye. It's very tough.
I think the best choice is just to island hop or coastal cruise if you're single handing. I never plan to sail anywhere where I can't get to land within about 30 hours or so by myself. I'll grab a friend or a volunteer or just someone who needs a ride if I'm going to be forced to be out there for more than about 48 hours. Still, I say this now, but I may change by tune later after I've had a bad shipmate or two and had to deal with them for a couple of weeks
There is also single handed sailing with someone who is incapable of any contribution although they are on board. This can actually be a liability and make sailing MORE stressful and difficult.
Offshore single handing is not a worrisome because there are fewer hazards out there... no rocks, buoys, reefs or submerged sand bars in the middle of the ocean. Of course, there are other vessels, though few, and floating hazards... containers which means you need to keep watch.
But I have also seen super tankers heading at me on a reciprocal course 500 miles from land.
Aside from heavy weather the hardest thing is sleeping and watch keeping when single handing offshore. Oh... and repairs can be challenging too.
Harbor hopping is the way to go when near land, get to the next port as quickly as possible and get some sleep after you have settled in. If this is not possible and you are doing an overnighter, 20 min of sleep at a time, depending on your speed and weather conditions. My longest time without good sleep was 36 hrs. That was a truly grueling day and a half. Many of thoughts of quitting sailing ran through my mind during that passage, But when the anchor finally dropped, I felt great sense of pride in completing that task, and just made the easier trips more enjoyable.
My suggestion for those who choose to single hand, is to invest in a good radar with collision alarms. This will give you a better 20 minuets of sleep.
Passage making is definitely easier. not much to hit out there, I always shorten all sails while sleeping and still set the alarm to wake me every hour for a horizon and position check. My longest stretch was 34 days, it wasn't awful, but it definitely could be more pleasant. Sleep wasn't my issue, Boredom was!
I spent 10 years single handing, all of it on the Pacific including crossing the Pacific. Of course single handling is not a good idea so the answer is do you accept the fact that you are putting your life in danger? If not, then don't single hand. Now just because you do accept that fact doesn't mean you will not take some precautions: I spent as little time as possible coastal cruising unless I could do it in short hops so I could stay awake the entire time. Additionally, most of the routes I chose were infrequently used by shipping traffic such as from Ecuador to Easter Island. In fact, coastal cruising is where I saw most of the large ships. I did sleep. I knew that if I didn't sleep my judgement would be doubtful under adverse conditions and the truth is I don't believe the long distance single handed cruisers who claim they sleep 10 minutes at a time. No matter how many radar reflectors you have you should be aware that many smaller freighters don't keep their radar on. I certainly learned that between Fiji and New Zealand.
Wind steering and an off course alarm...A button that turns your alarm (crapy noise of your choice) off in the companionway means you have to get up to the point that there is no point not having a look around. If you get very tired then perhaps heave too __ in daylight__ and take the risk of a few hours sleep. In daylight you can see them better and they you. A very tired sailor may make mistakes that have consequences as bad as being run down by a 29 trillion ton super tanker....you have to have a close look at your hand and chose your cards carefully.
I single hand a 36 foot sloop. It's small enough that the forces under most conditions are workable for a man in good physical condition. But you need a reliable auto pilot or self steering, a windlass for anchoring and probably roller reefing, and lines led to the cockpit for all sail control. A good SSB rig is also almost essential to keep you in touch with weather reports.
But in heavy weather the forces increase very quickly so reefing and storm canvas are crucial.
ON TO THE PANAMA CANAL/SOLO ACROSS THE PACIFIC
09 February 2010 | CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA
Am in the final days of preparation toward leaving Cartagena and heading to the Panama Canal. Our family friend Sue Kelly will join me for the trip to the Canal and then we will be joined by Lesley and Nancie for the transit itself. It promises to be a unique experience, complete with tires to protect the boat, hazards of small boats in amongst the giants, line handlers, professional advisors and ....well I will post a description of what we are to expect.
Then when reaching the Pacific, all leave the boat and I continue on alone. And...where's Mango? Well, very reluctantly I accompanied Mango back to Vermont and he now enjoys his natural state of snow and subzero temperatures. He has found a new girlfriend "Nelia", my sister's black standard poodle, ..... is reportedly very happy. The nasty dog policies of the Pacific Islands and Australia made it impossible to go on together. So for the rest of the trip, its ''mangoandmewithoutmango". The boat seems empty without him and symbolically his dog bowl sits where it always sat.....in the cockpit....now empty.
As to going on solo......I was asked this morning...."Why?". And, after being rather inarticulate as to an answer.......I seemed to paraphrase the old famous answer: "because its there". "because I want to see what its like" what is it really like......alone, in the middle of the biggest ocean on earth. So, baring finding a perfect crewmate......my intention is to set out on the 8000 mile voyage alone.
Mango is a smart, funny, sensitive and totally unique wheaton/sheepdog. . He is my partner on this patently undoglike voyage but remains cheerful about the whole affair. [...]
David, the "Me" part of MangoandMe is awed by
Shearwater as it will always be a better boat than he a sailor-the way it should be. First stop, South America.
Shearwater is a 47 foot, very sleek and light catamaran.
She is part of a fleet of 11 that were built - its a sister ship of Shearwater that holds the unofficial speed record.
Of the this fleet, only one has flipped...so we are on the side of good odds!