Panama Canal Transit, Day 2
06 April 2017
The final Gatun Locks have two sets of locks, and this time, we were going through in the center, alone, with four lines! Cool. Of course there was a huge tanker behind us too!
When we are center tied, the canal workers throw lines to us that are attached to a monkey fists (this is a huge knot at the end of the line that is very heavy to carry the line to the boat). We then take this line and tie it onto OUR lines and then they haul our lines up to the canal wall and tie us off to a cleat while the water is raised or lowered. Well, they didn’t just throw the monkey fists, they hurled them at us in a swinging fashion. It’s pretty dangerous as you can be hit or your solar panels or any other delicate item on the boat can be damaged. We finally had all four lines (one guy had to try three times to get it on the boat and it almost knocked the GoPro off my head, yikes! I yelled to him “Is this your first day on the job?” Maybe that had something to do with it :P I should have yelled “You throw like a girl!”, haha. Just kidding, they are friendly guys and always wave and smile.
So after all four lines are secured to the canal, the water is lowered and we (the four line handlers) slowly let out our lines as the boat goes down, down, down. The water level was lowered about 30 feet and it happens fast.
The water level dropping doesn’t cause any turbulence but when the tanker behind us is pulling in behind us, he is pushing all of this water forward and it only has inches to escape around his ship to go behind. We had one incident where this turbulence created a 3 knot current and our stern was pushed sideways before the line handler could secure the line to keep us from hitting the wall.