From East to West, Panama Canal
02 April 2013
WE are ready to let go the lines and head back through the Panama Canal. We have a couple of cruisers as line handlers plus 1 hired line handler onboard. We have to head out to the flats in Colon by 1pm. Our transit was scheduled for 5:30pm. Once we got to the flats, we were informed that our transit was now going to be 6pm. Darn, it is going to be dark when we transit and dark when we arrive in Gatun lake for the night. As scheduled our advisor came onboard at 6pm and off we went to transit the Gatun locks (3 chambers in total. The 2 cruiser friends that are helping are going through the canal on Friday and wanted to get some experience before their transit. For this transit we were behind a big freighter, we would rather be in front than behind. In the 3rd chamber we were quite close behind him and when he started to move out of the lock we were all pushed around quite a bit but the lines were still attached to the sides.....all was good. We were rafted to a French boat through this set. Once in Gatun Lake we had a couple of drinks and then off to bed as our advisor was to show up between 6:30 and 7am.
We are glad we set the alarm for 6am as the advisor arrived shortly after 6am, we had to get ourselves together and pull anchor right away. Again, the ride from the lake and down the canal to the Pedro Miguel locks is kind of boring but at least the weather was not scorching hot. We were to transit the locks starting at 12 noon, we got there early so we were had to hand around for a bit. While doing so we saw a large crocodile just this side of the first lock. This is the first one we have seen in Panama.
For this set of lock we were rafted to a Lagoon 420 catamaran called Chili Cat and on the other side of them was the French boat, so 3 of us rafted. Chili Cat was the control boat. We had a smooth transit through these locks and arrived at the La Playita anchorage at 2pm. Once through the canal we dropped off the tires and ropes at Balboa Yacht Club and our crew who were now going to head back to Shelter Bay Marina.
It felt good to be back on the Pacific side, it actually felt comfortable. We found that there were a few of our friends still in the anchorage, people we had met in Bahia del Sol. Today we lazed around.
One thing we really missed at Shelter Bay was that they did not have a local net, so it was hard to contact other boats. On this side they have a local net and tomorrow morning we will be on it.