Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Transiting Panama Canal this weekend!

According to the canal authority last night, our transit date is definite for this weekend.  The agent will deliver the tires (to tie alongside the sides of our boat) on Friday; and we are supposed to be in the anchorage area called The Flats at 4:00 p.m. Saturday to pick up our advisor.  We will then move near the entrance to the first Gatun lock and will be nested there.  Nesting means rafting up.  We will tie up with 2 other sailboats and then enter the first lock while all tied together.  We have met the owners of one of the other boats.  Supposedly we are the largest boat of the 3, so that means we should be placed in the center.  Could not be any happier about that bit of news!!  Sure hope it turns out to be true.  If we are the middle boat then we will be the controlling boat who uses their engine to drive all 3 boats through the canal locks.  We will untie the boats when we reach Gatun Lake and then tie up again before we enter the San Pedro Miguel and Miraflores locks.

We had planned to have the agent supply the linehandlers but have changed our minds.  A very nice couple from Perth, Australia are docked here at Shelter Bay Marina.  They are on the last third of a circumnavigation.  They offered to be linehandlers for us.  Another young couple, also from Australia, said they also might volunteer; but we won`t know for certain for another day or so because they might have another commitment.  If they cannot help us, then we will find someone else.  We really only need one more person because either Bill or I could also be considered a linehandler while the other one of us drives the boat.

We will transit the 3 Gatun locks on Saturday evening; then motor across Gatun Lake and stop for the night.  Sunday morning we will transit the San Pedro Miguel lock and the 2 Miraflores locks; then enter the Pacific.  There are live cameras in 3 spots of the Panama Canal.  If you want to look for us, here is the link:

Sorry that we cannot provide times that we will be in either Gatun locks, Miraflores locks or the Centennial Bridge area.  But there should be only 3 small boats transiting this weekend so we should be easy to spot.   Look for the brown genoa cover on a ketch and that should be us -- hopefully in the middle between 2 smaller monohull sailboats.  Once we have exited the Miraflores locks then we will be untied, so we will pass beneath the Centennial Bridge (Bridge of the Americas) individually.

Bill has gone to Panama City today to pick up his visa for French Polynesia.  We tried to go yesterday but due to various delays there just was not time for us to make the trip and be at the Embassy before they close at noon.  So we returned to the marina and Bill will try the trip again today alone -- while I defrost one of the freezers and pre-cook some things for this weekend. 

Each boat is required to provide meals for their advisor, among other things.  Must also provide shade for him and drinks.  If the meal is not to his liking then he can call for a catered meal to be delivered to our boat once we are stopped in Gatun Lake.  A delivered catered meal for an advisor would cost us $350.  These guys think they are important!  As we are also required to have 4 linehandlers (even if we are the center boat and won`t be handling any lines), that means I need to provide dinner, breakfast and lunch for 7 people, plus drinks in this hot weather.  And there is always the possibility that the advisor will be accompanied by an advisor trainee.  In that case I will need to feed 8 people for the 3 meals.   So I want to cook or bake several things today and tomorrow to have ready for the weekend. 

We bought some very sheer cotton fabric when we were in Panama City last week.  I hope to make some long pants and long-sleeved top of some sort to protect me from the "no-no`s" in the Marquesas.  I`m sure these are the same as what we call no-see-ums.  Since I do not have a pattern and definitely am not a seamstress or tailor, there is no telling how bad this outfit will look and fit.  But the important thing is just to cover up, so wish me luck with this sewing project today. 

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