Monday, June 5, 2017

Panama Canal transit and a week at sea

not much room either side of this boat
Katya at the bow

exiting the canal into the Pacific Ocean

Through the Canal between two continents

Rumpus spent a day moving between the north and south American continents; from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean. Our 12 hour transit: moving, tying, lifting, lowering, drifting, motoring…..between the 3 Atlantic locks and the 3 Pacific locks there is a network of lakes surrounded by lush forest.

Our canal companions and the Colon bridge construction at dawn

We started at 4 am and were in the Pacific Ocean by 4:39 pm 
To enter and transit the locks we tied up with other small boats. One was a 39 foot Sparkman Stevens, covered in sponsors’ signage, belonging to Jon Sanders, a legend of Australian yachting. At 77, he is on his tenth solo world circumnavigation. He set the record for a triple unassisted non-stop circumnavigation in the 80s. A venerable man of the sea, he drank beer as his crew manoeuvred the little boat through the currents and locks of the canal. At one point they spun out of control in the final lock and retrieved the situation by tying to us bow to stern.

All small boats must have an advisor on board for the transit. Our advisor, Francisco, has transited the canal hundreds of times. We also hired Ludovic, a French traveller, to be our line handler. 

3 yachts are tied together. We motor gently through the imposing gates of each lock. Then wait for the lock to fill. 3 locks on the Atlantic side, motor through the lakes for several hours, then 3 locks on the Pacific side…and that’s how you cross through two continents. 

Passage to the Galapagos Islands. 

A day of shopping: plantains, coconut, capsicum, celery, coriander, onions and many many mangoes and pineapples. A few hours’ motoring took us to Isla Bona, a beautiful isolated anchorage. And then, two or three  rough and bouncy days with adverse current, wind on the nose, overcast and hot conditions. 

We ran the new watermaker to fill our port water tank. Ran the flushing mechanism afterwards and forgot to close off the valves. A few hours later all our fresh water had gone back into the sea…

Katya cooked wonderful meals, working in a kitchen that sloped uphill/downhill/forwards/back every few moments. Nico was always there whenever we needed some help or strength. We crossed the equator in the middle of the night. And hundreds of miles from land, we had an overnight visitor - a piquero patas rojas (“red footed boobie”) - he landed on our deck, then flew around to the stern railing where he spent 14 hours perched asleep.

and after our Equator crossing, we were lucky enough to to catch 2 tuna at the same moment - so plenty for the next few days at the Galapagos. 

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