Global Voyageur

Be a virtual voyager - join the tartan navy to follow the Mackays on their return to Scotland

21 June 2012 | Clyde Marina, Ardrossan
20 June 2012 | North Channel, Irish Sea
17 June 2012 | Bay of Biscay
15 June 2012 | Coruna Marina, La Coruna
14 June 2012 | Marina Coruna, La Coruna
13 June 2012 | North Atlantic Ocean
12 June 2012 | North Atlantic Ocean
09 June 2012 | North Atlantic Ocean
07 June 2012 | Ponta Delgaga
06 June 2012 | Ponta Delgada
04 June 2012 | Angra
02 June 2012 | Horta, Faial
01 June 2012 | Horta , Faial
28 May 2012 | North Atlantic Ocean
25 May 2012 | North Atlantic Ocean
24 May 2012 | North Atlantic Ocean
23 May 2012 | North Atlantic Ocean
22 May 2012 | North Atlantic Ocean
21 May 2012 | North Atlantic Ocean
20 May 2012 | North Atlantic Ocean

Second time around.....

31 January 2010 | Flamenco Marina, Panama
Susan Mackay
No hangovers on this boat, David and I were up bright and early. We had to vacate our space on the dock for its private owner and now rafted alongside A Lady, the Irish flagged Oyster 56. We may not have managed the city tour but I was not going to leave Panama without a second visit to the Miraflores Lock Museum. Francois came along too. We spent quite some time on the viewing platform watching the ships passing through, just where we, three days previously, had waved enthusiastically to the crowd watching us.

What is Max watching at Miraflores?

What a tight fit!

We ate in the restaurant beside the last and final lock, as these ocean giants paraded before us, dipping down as if in a final theatrical bow as the lock emptied itself of water. Forty ships a day transit the canal. It is compulsive viewing but we had to tear ourselves away and take in a bit of culture, working our way down through the museums four levels of canal history. The stills photography and cinematic footage was fascinating. We stopped off at the best supermarket in the city, Riba Smith, for our final provisions, and then got stuck in a most horrible traffic jam on the way back to the marina. We had been invited for drinks aboard Chessie and we just hate to be late, but sitting in the taxi we were utterly helpless. Needless to say, Jutte and Jochen were very gracious about our lateness and we got to know them over a couple ofglasses of wine a little better. Like us they are double handed and like us on a large vessel, in this case an Irwin 54. Jutte is a physician turned artist. She has the most amazing portfolio of paintings, which sell for thousands of dollars. It is quite amazing to meet up with and discover the talents of the people who are sailing around the world with us and our lives are all the richer for it....

Party Bus

30 January 2010 | Flamenco Marina, Panama
Susan Mackay
We settled happily into Flamenco marina. Tight for space we were rafted alongside Asolare. The marina has not progressed one iota, the pontoons still the rickety planks of four years ago. Ashore there are still a good choice of restaurants and bars but they could do so much more. Having spent more time in the San Blas, we had denied ourselves time here. Hoping to go on the city tour we had to abandon the plan, instead taking the part for the top of the furler to a metalwork shop in Panama City. It was however, expertly done, so a very successful outcome. I did make sure of my long awaited retail therapy and spent a lovely long languorous day at the Albrook Centre, completely lost myself in a shopping heaven, David totally tolerant of my indulgencies. In the early evening, WARC hosted a drinks party at the marina following which we all jumped aboard a party bus which they had hired to drive around Panama City. Well, I didn't see too much of the sights of the city but boy, did I have fun in the bus.

Party bus animal
The music was deafening, rum and cokes flowed and we all managed to drink the bar dry.

Cheers Francois
The idea is that you dance while the bus is going along. Why everybody had to hang on to the overhead straps beats me because it was really was just like being on the sea as the bus jolted along on the uneven roads, and we should all by now have our sea legs.

Party in full swing
The evening was a riot of fun. I love my parties, I love to dance, and I honestly can't remember when I have enjoyed myself so much....

Our Party Bus

The Transit

29 January 2010 | Flamenco Marina, Panama
Susan Mackay
The Transit It was a two day transit. Up early I had spent the morning of departure preparing our evening meal. Meanwhile David checked out and prepared the fenders and warps. Francois arrived nice and early, taking the train from Panama City. We all had lunch together and shortly after that Paul from the WARC came on board. We cast off and headed over towards Colon and to the flats anchorage where we were to await our own personal advisor.

Anchored on the Flats
We were given a departure time of 5pm. The wait there seemed interminable as it always does when you are anticipating something very exciting but at last at 5.30pm we saw the boat come storming out to all of us, manoevering expertly alongside each boat as it delivered each advisor to each yacht.

Pilot boards A Lady

Waiting our turn
Nick another employee of the WARC team jumped aboard along with Edwin. Never having transited the canal before Nick and Paul had hitched a lift and we were so happy to have them aboard. Not too many people ever get the chance to go through the Panama Canal on a small yacht and it really is something not to be missed. Edwin, our advisor, had the most wonderful flashing smile and calm manner.

Edwin, our first transit advisor
It must be one of the most relaxing canal transits in the world, for you do nothing. The advisor controls all the operations being in constant touch by VHF radio with the chief advisor who is on the leading "nest" and the one bringing up the rear. Each "nest" has a senior advisor who takes charge of the boat that has to do the driving, in our case Voyageur. As we made our approach towards the first great Gatun Lock, Ronja , a Jeanneau 49, came gently alongside and we rafted together. From that moment on until our arrival in the Gatun Lake we were literally joined at the hip!

Gatun lock

Entering Gatun Lock
My goodness was I spoiled having Francois, Paul and Nick who did all the line handling for me. No scampering about the decks with lines for me. No heaving and pushing at heavy lock gates. All I had to do was take heaps of pictures and feed my "boys"! It is quite my favourite canal. Just like our last transit we entered the first lock in the dark, the massive overhead floodlights making one feel like centre stage in a huge auditorium. It is a memory that will stay with me forever, one of life's unforgettable moments. The monkey's fist hits the deck first time and the boys retrieve it and tie a bowline to our light weight lines which are then taken up and secured to a bollard at the top of the lock. The Gatun locks are a series of three uphill locks all joined to each other, so once the water level has risen and the lock gates are opened all the shore side staff have to do is "walk" the boat forward. David had to sit at the helm position motoring forward as required, using the bow thruster every now and again to keep our two boat nest in position. It does require a certain amount of concentration but Edwin controlled all the operations in a very relaxed manner. We exited the last Gatun lock at 9pm and immediately went to anchor in the lake overnight. Ronja stayed rafted up with us. They had only fifty metres of chain and were a little nervous that their anchor might not hold in the 20metre depths so we held together on Voyageur's anchor. Jan made the mistake of bringing across a bottle of Aquavit and I sensed it could have really turned into a bit of a party night with Francois entertaining us with his stories, but with an early start the next morning sense had to prevail and we finally had to call it a day around midnight. Such a shame as we really do love our parties. Poor Paul and Nick were struggling to stay awake. They have long hours and work so very hard for all of us. No sooner than David and I were in our beds and a hideous wash from a ship sent our two boats gyrating and snatching horribly as if in an angry tussle, so there was no choice, but by mutual agreement to unleash our ties, Ronja going off into the night to anchor elsewhere. Sleep was not easy however as the wind continually gusted causing the anchor to grind over the lake's rocky bottom. The alarm was set for 5.45am. David and I were barely dressed and our new advisor for the second part of the transit arrived. Maclean, a very different personality to Edwin, had a very business like approach and was not wasting any time. The order to raise the anchor was given and within minutes .. we were once again on our way.

Dawn on Gatun Lake
Today is the day that David and I and our beloved Voyageur go into the Pacific. But I could not dwell on this thought for too long. There were five hungry men to feed.

Feeding the brutes! Paul & Nick
The long relaxing 5hour "drive" through the Gatun Lake gave us all a chance to "come to", take breakfast, for some, catch up on lost sleep! and, for me, clear some of the carnage in the galley from the previous evening's late night dinner.

Sailing through Gatun Lake
Maclean, every inch the professional, said he like to keep things simple. He style was to keep all radio communication to a minimum. He disapproved of too much unnecessary "chatter" and indeed at times it could be very distracting. I noticed how he and Edwin although appearing very casual about their role, at the same time were always acutely attentive and alert to the movements of the boats. Just as last time, I found the whole exercise utterly fascinating. There was a most wonderful breeze blowing through the cockpit, the canal can be a very hot and humid place otherwise.

Reminder of home

Passing under Centenary Bridge

After our passage through the Gaillard Cut where we saw the ongoing widening works, Nick suddenly struck on the idea to climb Voyageur's mast for a bird's eye photo shoot. Paul winched him up in less than two minutes, Nick climbing with such agility I thought for a moment we had been boarded by one of those monkeys that inhabit the surrounding area. It takes me ten minutes of hard graft on the slow speed winch, pausing as David reaches each crosstree for a breather. Now I can understand how Paul was able to row across the Atlantic! I was awestruck by their combined talents.

View from the top

As we entered the Pedro Miguel Lock, the first of the downhill locks, the officials requested that Nick come down.

Entering Pedro Miguel Lock
But there was no stopping him for on our approach to the next, the first Miraflores lock, he was back up there again, taking loads of great pictures. Wow! How absolutely wonderful for Voyageur that he was atop her mast!

McLean, our 2nd transit advisor
We waved and waved to the webcam at the Miraflores Lock, to my granddaughter, my family, my friends. Who knows if they saw us but all the people standing at the top of the viewing platform certainly did. David and I will return in a couple of days to the marvelous museum there for a second time and do our own viewing but it is highly unlikely we will see anything but an endless stream of container ships, tankers, car transporters, for just a very small percentage of the world's sailing vessels ever venture into the Pacific Ocean.

Moving into the Pacific
At 13.00 we passed under the Bridge of the Americas seven hours after our early morning start and were out into the Pacific.

Passing under the Bridge of the Americas
We moored up in Flamenco Marina and celebrated the occasion with a bottle of bubbly.

Celebrating our return to the Pacific
It hasn't sunk in yet. The Pacific Ocean now lies ahead, Australia, the next continent. It just gets better and better..

Next Time Next time I will give the advisor a ready made meal for one, and make sandwiches for lunch. Next time we might remember to charge our camera batteries. Next time I might have time to take some video footage. Next time the Banana Cut might once more be open to traffic. Next time..... Will there be a next time? Never say never. Who knows! It is all part of the adventure of life....
Vessel Name: VOYAGEUR
Vessel Make/Model: Amel Super Maramu 2000
Hailing Port: Rhu, Scotland
Crew: Susan and David Mackay
David first learned to sail on a Loch Fyne day boat out of Helensburgh Sailing Club on the River Clyde in his mid twenties. With the arrival of a family he did not do any more, until in 1984 we bought our first boat, “The Golden Soak”, a Matilda 20. [...]

Our motto:Carpe Diem

Who: Susan and David Mackay
Port: Rhu, Scotland