Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Time to Go

 You can only reprovision so much, and wait for wind so long before you just go. After two weeks
of increasingly depressing weather reports (even my paid weather router said “You’ll have to wait for a ‘seasonal change,’ meaning wait for a couple more months) we tired of the continual rolling from ferry boat traffic at the busy La Playita anchorage and departed for the Las Perlas Islands, about 30 miles southwest of Panama City. Naturally, it was a perfectly windless day. We motored the entire distance under a cloudless sky watching the cityscape of Panama City slowing receding into the horizon.
Just to left out of this picture are literally hundreds of ships waiting to go through the Panama Canal.
Arriving at the first major island, Contradora, we anchored about ¼ mile off the Hotel Romantica beach. Normally when we anchor it is in sand or mud and the anchor suddenly grabs and almost throws me backwards. This time I could feel the anchor skipping along the bottom, and then finally grab something. Blissfully we retired to the cockpit for sundowners, not knowing that other boats had dragged in this same location, including one of our friends who ended up temporarily stuck on a reef just behind us. Ignorance is bliss.
Thank God we spend the money for a new whisker pole in Trinidad, we'd be dead down here with it with all the downwind sailing.
Our goal in the Las Perlas was to chill out a little after all the hassle of Panama City, fill up on water, and score a weather window for our 900-mile passage to the Galapagos. We visited with some fellow cruisers, worked on some boat projects, and rested. I finally attacked a project I’d ignored for some time: the clogged outlet line on the aft head. Meryl was so shocked at my glee when I finally fixed it she thought (as she has many times) that I had finally gone nutter. That meant we now had two functioning heads, a very big deal if you live on a boat and are expecting guests.

Another project was going up the backstay to clean the connection for the SSB radio antenna.
Later in the day we did some snorkeling with Jeff and Katie on Messaluna and saw a lot of large fish, including rays and huge parrot fish. Also lots of turtles. After snorkeling we explored a nearby cove where a large inter-island ferry was wrecked on the beach and a large resort complex lay in ruins. (And who do we run into but our “sans clothing” friends with whom we went through the Panama Canal). As far as the ruins, Contradora had been a US airbase at one point and our guess is when the military pulled out most of the economy when with it. Today it’s a weekend getaway island for rich Panamanians, as evidenced by the many million dollar mansions lining the shoreline.

One day we went ashore, not an easy task in the Pacific since there are up to 15 ft. tidal ranges, which means you have to haul our 200 lb. dingy high up on the beach. We walked across the small island to the ferry landing where there was a dive shop and a few restaurants. We found it interesting that the Panamanians aren’t as naturally friendly as other places we’ve visited, especially Columbia. There’s a kind of toughness to them (think of Manual Noriega) that’s not endearing.

We had a nice lunch at a little restaurant and bought some food, then went back to the hotel where we were anchored to get water and ice, only to find out the only potable water on the island was the little bottles the sold in the grocery store. We did talk the hotel manager out of a little ice, so that was good.

This is the famous beach from the Survivor TV series.
On March 27th we did a very short sail to the next island south, Isla Chapera, famous as the filming location for the US TV show, Survivor, as well as the British, French and other versions of the show.  We ended up just chilling on the boat and leaving the next morning for Isla Espiruto Santo, a beautiful little island just off the larger Isla Del Ray. The bay between the two islands makes for a well protected anchorage (not that there were any ferocious winds) and we took advantage of the calm water for a first pass cleaning of the bottom in preparation for the Galapagos passage. We also did a brief dingy exploration of the bay looking for streams or rivers where we could get fresh water, but had no luck.

The next day we sailed to Isla Canas, but decided not to anchor there and continued south to a more protected bay at Rio Cacique. We talked with an Australian boat, Volo, that was anchored nearby and found the river we’d hoped to get fresh water in was brackish all the way to its source. He also mentioned that Isla Canas, where we’d originally planned to clean the bottom, was home to some big salt water crocodiles. As an Aussie he said sharks didn’t scare him, but the saltwater crocs do. I quickly decided this would be a better location for the final cleaning (using SCUBA gear) of the bottom.

The reason for all this persnicketyness is that the Galapagos has a diver inspect your hull as part of the check-in process. If he doesn’t like what he sees, they will send you 50 miles offshore where a professional diver will clean your bottom. A group of 19 ARC World Tour boats were refused entry just a month early and had to go offshore with a diver at the cost of $5000. That’s why we’re paranoid about this. The Aussie did like the idea that I was in the water at the same time he was cleaning his bottom, “That way the crocs will at least have a choice of what to have for lunch.”

The next day we debated what to do. One of our friends had already left for the Galapagos that morning and Volo told us they would be leaving that evening. Looked like a soft northerly was developing so we decided we might have a go of it. We upped anchor and motored about two miles south to the small fishing village of Esmeralda where we’d heard they had potable water. After a quick anchor we got in the dingy and headed ashore. With surf breaking on the beach it looked like a landing would be problematic, but a guy onshore waved to us and we ran the dingy up on the beach, where we were met by an armada of young kids, who bless their hearts, helped us pull the dingy up the long sandy beach.

We followed our new friend (who didn’t speak a word of English) down the beach (why didn’t he have us land there in the first place?) and into the very small (and poor) village to his house. Seated on the porch were most of his family, including a wife and daughter wearing those huge hair rollers in the hair that were popular in the ’70s, who were peeling vegetables for dinner. He went inside and got two yellow 5 gal. buckets of their family’s drinking water and carefully poured it into our collapsible jugs, using a small plastic bottle as a ladle (I thought this was going to take all day).

I then carried the two full 5 gal. jugs what seemed like two miles down the beach to our dingy in the 100-degree heat while Meryl took off with the guy somewhere to find more water. When I returned I found them sitting in a line waiting for one of the only two water taps in the village, both taps dribbling water at a glacial pace. Village women were doing their family’s wash in the yellow 5 gal. buckets, then rinsing them out and filling them with drinking water. Then, to my amazement, they put a small rolled towel on their head and lifted the 35 lb. buckets up and walked off just like you see in Africa. Amazing they could carry and balance that much weight on their head.

After about an hour we worked our way up in line and our friend helped fill our 3 cubes. We then all took one and trudged off down the beach to the boat, now a home to about 10 kids. To their credit they all helped drag the dingy into the surf (we gave them some money to split amongst themselves) and we headed out to the boat. One enterprising young kid and his sister followed us in a very sketchy dugout and helped me pour the water in the tanks and sold Meryl some papayas.

My friendly helpers at Esmeralda.
By now it was 4:00 pm and we were wiped out, but our friend on Volo radioed us and said we’d sleep better on passage then in the rolly anchorage at the bay, so we decided it was now or never and upped anchor for the 900-mile passage to the Galapagos. Once we rounded Punta Cocos we actually picked up a nice northerly wind and set our main and genoa for our longest passage ever.

To be honest I have to say there’s always a lot of apprehension before these long passages, especially the passage off the coast of Columbia. Magazine articles and books have been written by sailors who ran into difficulties or perished on these passages. Maybe we’ve been lucky to slowly build up by taking overnight, then two-night, and finally a five-night passage for this seven to ten night passage to the Galapagos. And all of this is only a prelude to the mother of all passages, the 25 to 30-day passage from the Galapagos to the Marquesas. It’s all a learning experience, but one with a lot at risk.

We were both so tired we slept soundly during our off watches, content that we were finally on our way to the Galapagos.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Provisioning for the South Pacific

After 3 years of puddle jumping around the Bahama’s, Virgin Islands and most of the Caribbean, it was finally time to head for new horizons further south.  We had become accustomed to the shorter one or two day passages and all the conviences that a more built up island culture has to offer. Things like supermarkets and Budget Marine Stores with all the parts and supplies any boater would lust for. Banks with ATM machines, air-conditioned Malls, gelati and ice cream shops, bakeries, 2 for 1 bars. You get the picture...

It would mean longer passages and more planning and more provisioning.  You could no longer count on a loaf of bread or fresh vegetables at the next port.  I could no longer use my normal modus- operandi,  “Gee its 5 o’clock already! What are we going to do for dinner?” It would mean learning to be more self-sufficient, baking our own bread, using tricks to extend produce, and many other changes.  Hence, I started realizing I needed to up my provisioning game a couple notches and plan to stock the boat for our 3-4 week passage to French Polynesia and onward as food items are much more costly in FP. 

I have been using a spreadsheet that lists all our supplies from baking items to paper towels which tells me how many we have of each item on board and where they are located.  I try and keep the inventory updated but always double check my stock before shopping.  I also use the “To do” program on my iPhone with a very long grocery list I can adjust easily.   Some cruisers have taken it a step further and kept track of how much they use of each item which enables them to figure how much peanut butter eg. they would need for a particular period of time.  My strategy is a little less technical, I buy as much as I think we might need and cram it all into the cabinets, closets, under the settees, under the floor boards and piled up on the guest berth!  Basically,  if we run out of peanut butter we will just have to eat something else and realize life will continue on…somehow. 

Main can & jar storage under settee in our main salon
A cruiser friend in Panama told me about a wonderful Recipe Program called “Paprika” that helps you manage your recipes, grocery lists and links your computer with your iPhone so you can double check your list against recipes you need for your various dishes while you are shopping.  It proved invaluable when I was getting organized for the Panama Canal Transit.  I had to feed six people for two days and wanted to make sure no one went hungry and that I was available to handle lines through the canal at all times.  So everything needed to be precooked and ready to go. I have been gradually transitioning my recipes over to this program and am finding things much more manageable.  Plus when we do have internet I can look for new recipes by searching for the food items I am interested in using up.  Of course, we rarely have internet on board since we started heading south.
Once we were in Colon we began the process. I had heard Reyes, a large grocery store chain,  offered transportation back to the marina if you spent more than $500.  Anni and Tryg were visiting to help us through the canal so they came along and helped me pile two carts full of groceries.  Unfortunately, the transportation had broken down that day and was not available.  Oh well, things happen so we ended up getting a taxi back for $20 which was easier than piling it all on board a bus with 15 other people!
We also planned to visit a number of stores once we were through the canal and closer to Panama City.  We visited three different stores; Super 99 for whatever we found for a reasonable price; Riba Smith, a high end store for those hard to find items; and Price Smart a Costco type store with some similar Kirkland brands for larger quantities of items needed and a variety of meat & chicken.  We ended up spending well over $1500 altogether and hopefully our boats water-line will not sink too far below the water!

We saved our fresh produce shopping at Abastos Market in Panama for the last moment. This market was amazing.  Clare, from S/V Eye Candy, and I found the prices very reasonable and everything imaginable was available.   We filled up our hanging net with 3 Pineapples, Coconuts, Papayas, Oranges and Mangoes.  Also, bought a couple cabbages, lots of carrots, onions, potatoes, garlic, ginger, red and green tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, green onions, peppers, parsley, zucchini, 4 dozen fresh eggs and limes.  All for under $20 a great buy indeed.

Saturday Market in San Cristobal, Galapagos

With Tryg joining us for the passage to French Polynesia I hope to organize our main meals to be minimal preparation and minimal cleanup.  I plan to have as many meals in the freezer as possible and other meal ingredients bagged together for easier preparation.  Since this is all new territory for me I hope to have the menu’s organized according to ease of preparation as some days cooking will be more difficult than others.  We also plan to have a rotation schedule so everyone gets a chance to prepare a meal and be familiar with the galley. This is very important to me not wanting to be a galley slave.  I will let you know how the passage goes and what we might do differently next time.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Transiting the Panama Canal (with a bunch of nudists)

The goal of a Canal transit is to pass under the Bridge of the Americas in one piece.

The buzz around Shelter Bay Marina is all about going through the Canal. The majority of the boats in the marina are either preparing for or waiting for their transit date. You hear lots of horror stories about other boats going through, which creates a certain level of tension amongst all the sailors. Another concern (Meryl's),  was menu planning as it was rumored if an advisor didn't like your meals he could call and have another delivered at your expense. So most crews were preparing good and plentiful food for six people to last the entire transit.   Of course everyone had various suggestions on how to make a successful Canal transit.  Some of it is helpful, some not so.

On Tuesday our agent, Eric Galvez, dropped off four 100 ft. ¾” lines and 8 large teardrop fenders for use during the transit. We got the fenders strategically placed around the boat and the lines stacked on the foredeck. Of all the advice we got the best was from our friend Andrew on Eye Candy:  “Walter, just relax. It will be OK.”

On March 12th (our son Brad’s birthday) we left the marina around 12:30 pm with Annie, Trig, and Gabriel, a 22-year-old line handler we hired through our agent. We motored about five miles to an anchorage called The Flats, located just before the entrance to the Canal. We got there early in case the schedule changed (we we supposed to go through at 5:30 pm) and we could go through ahead of time. Unfortunately, no such luck.

If you could blow this photo up you would understand our consternation about going through the Canal with this boat.
There was only one other sailboat in the area, a funky older catamaran that we will call The Other Boat (TOB) with an older blonde, very naked man walking the foredeck. I did my little prayer of “Please God don’t let that be the boat we’re going through with.”  We anchored in very windy conditions and waited. No other sailboats came, raising my apprehension.

Our Adviser Guillermo (on the left) arrives to assist Flying Cloud through the Canal.

Our Adviser (required by the Canal to assist us in the locking process, kind of like a ship’s pilot) finally arrived at about 6:15. His name was Guillermo. All the Advisers have normal full time jobs and do advising on their days off. He normally worked as a security guy patrolling the Canal by boat, so he knew the Canal like the back of his hand.

Guillermo was calm, cool, and collected, which is way more than I was at that time.
Guillermo gave the command to “up anchor” and (unfortunately) raft up with TOB, a German catamaran with a group of German/Austrian nudists on board (they were clothed all the time through the Canal, thank God!). I had to laugh when Meryl didn't get the spring line quite right and was admonished by a woman with a deep German accent saying "Don't you speak English?"

We entered the first Gatun Lock behind the container ship, Ice Glacier.
We had the Senior Adviser so I had to “steer” the raft. It was now very dark, but as we approached the locks things lit up like Friday night football. The locks are 1000 ft. long and 110 ft. wide, but it seems much narrower when you are rafted to a wide catamaran. We slowly entered the Gatun Locks, a series of three connected locks, that would raise us 85 ft. to the level of Gatun Lake.

Having a professional line handler like Gabriel is worth every penny of the $50/day fee.
Gabriel was great organizing the two large 125 ft. blue lines and getting the fenders adjusted just right. The Adviser gave me commands like reverse, forward, slow forward, neutral and relay the same over to TOB, which also had an Adviser on board. Unfortunately the captain of TOB, seemed more interested in talking with his crew of two couples than really paying attention. It was like party central on that boat, which made things more tense for me.  We followed a huge ship into the locks, which was also a little intimidating. The good thing is our Adviser was extremely competent and gave us excellent instructions during the transit.
This is a good shot showing the length and height of the lines going to the top of the lock. Tending these lines in synch with the other boat is crucial.
As we got close the line handlers high up on the lock threw a weighted ball (called a monkey fist) attached to a lightweight line to our foredeck. We had air mattresses covering all the solar panels since the monkey fist would easily crack them with a direct hit. Gabby (Gabriel) expertly caught the messenger lines and tied them to our big blue lines with a quick bowline. Trig took one back to the aft cleat and Gabby ran a blue line to the front cleat. The line handlers then pulled the heavy blue lines up to the top of the locks and put them over huge yellow bollards. TOB was very slow handling their lines causing our boat to drift closer to the wall. Finally with everything under control (and our Adviser constantly reminding the other skipper to do things), the massive steel doors closed behind us and water began swirling (sometimes with a lot for force) into the locks. Trig and Gabby would slowly pull our lines in as Flying Cloud rose with the torrent of water entering the locks (gravity feed from Lake Gatun 85 ft. above us). The main force of the water flowing in was on TOB’s side of the lock meaning they had to tend their lines very carefully to keep us off the lock wall. Well, one can only wish.

It took about 15 minutes to rise to the top of the first lock. Tryg and Gabby then pulled the big blue lines back on deck and until they just had the thin messenger line, and we slowly motored forward while the lock keeper guys walked the lines forward so we could enter the next lock. Every once in awhile Gabby or Tryg would have to “flip” the line to get it over some obstacles along the lock wall.

We repeated this procedure twice more, all the time watching the party atmosphere on the nudist boat. It was very disconcerting to have them not paying attention. At one point I heard a lot of laughter and looked over to the foredeck of TOB to see two guys pulling down the shorts of one of the women to get some GoPro footage of her bare bum. OMG. Concentrate, Walter.
Gabriel knew just how to use our heavy blue lines to "bridle" us to the buoy for our overnight stay on Lake Gatun.

We then motored out of the third lock, untied from TOB, and motored about 50 minutes in the pitch black to a large orange mooring buoy where we tied up for the night. A boat came after about an hour to pick up the Adviser, but Gabby slept in the sea berth. It had been a long, tedious day and we were all exhausted. What was happening on TOB, tied to another mooring ball, is best left to one’s prurient imagination.
We had some 600 ft container ships sharing the anchorage with us that night.

The next morning we got up at 6:00 am since a new Adviser was due at 6:30, but he didn’t show up until about 8:15 am. Then we motored for about three hours, racing at 6.5 knots trying to get as far ahead of TOB as we could. Our Adviser was hoping we could raft to a tour boat that was about to go through the 2nd set of locks, at the Pedro Miguel.
They are continually dredging the Canal to maintain the 59 ft. depth throughout the passage.

The Titan Crane, one of the world's largest floating cranes, was actually built in Hitler's Germany and claimed as war booty by the Americans. It came to the Panama Canal in 1999 from Long Beach, CA.
It is a little disconcerting to being sharing a relatively narrow canal with 600 ft. container ships going 16 to 22 knots.
The passage through the Culebra (Gaillard) Cut is very narrow so tugs are used to keep the ships on course.

Unfortunately that didn’t work out so about 1 ½ hours later TOB comes slowly motoring up and we have to raft up with them again. The next part got kind of screwed up as we almost went in the left hand lock, but then they told us to go back out. We then motored around with strong 20-knot gust hitting us making maneuvering very difficult. Finally about another hour wait we entered the right hand lock in front of another huge ship. Same routine, but this time going down. For Trig and Gabby it was a little more tense since any kink in the outgoing line would have us hanging from the lock walls, but they both did a great job of paying attention and paying out the lines at the right speed.

A webcam photo supplied by Meryl's cousin, Lisa Van Kampen, shows us entering the last set of locks at the Miraflores Locks.
These arrows denote the status of the lock: Straight Up = not ready; Angled down = moor to that approach wall; and 90 degrees right or left = enter the right or left lock.
Here the line handler is getting ready to let go of the blue mooring line and walk it along the walls to the next lock.
Our friends Annie and Tryg were a tremendous help in getting us through the locks safely. I think they are both breathing a sigh of relief.
When you turn around and see the Sunbelt Spirit looming, it puts the fear of God in you. Just last week a ship this size couldn't stop and crushed the lock gate in the Kiel Canal in Germany.
This view is a welcome sight to any Captain as he gazes out over the final lock at Miraflores and sees the Pacific Ocean in the distance.

Tryg and Meryl had a good system for locking down where Meryl would untangle the line for Tryg, who would slowly feed it out the fairlead as the boat descended in the lock.
The Visitor's Center at the Miraflores Lock is always packed with tourists watching the antics below. If they only knew how nervous those skippers were at the time.
On the Pacific side of the Miraflores Locks there are two sets of lock doors to counteract the extremely high tides of the Pacific Ocean.
We stayed rafted and this time had to tie to a buoy for over an hour while waiting for a inbound ship to clear the lock. This time we went into the lock (the Miraflores) first with the huge ship entering after us. Very intimidating to turn around and see this massive ship towering over us. Locking down was a little more difficult since you have to smoothly pay your lines out and there is a lot of force on the boat from the water swirling around. The doors opened (the Miraflores Locks have two gates as an emergency against the high tides of the Pacific) and we walked our lines into the final lock. This last lock is the toughest since you have about a 3 – 4 knot current from behind and the boat has to be held tight. Gabby and Trig did a great job, but it was still party time on TOB. Finally we got out and joyfully untied from TOB (hoping this was the last time I would ever see them) and we motored ahead to drop of the Adviser and a little further on we dropped off Gabby and the lines and buoys we had rented.

We then motored about 30 minutes to an anchorage called La Playita. We saw our friends there and went to anchor but with a side current pushing against an opposing 20-knot wind it was tough to get the right position in the very crowded anchorage. A nearby cat indicated we were too close to him so we pulled our anchor up and got ready to come around for a 2nd try when, who but TOB, motors right past us and anchors in the exact spot we were headed to. It’s the only time I lost my cool and screamed at them. It had been a very tense two days for me with a lot at risk and these idiots where in the way all they way through the locks. I somehow in my mind knew they were going to do something like that so I vented my anger. We then found another place, got anchored, and had a quantity of beers.
The intrepid Captain and crew of Flying Cloud relieved to check this one off the bucket list.

A very long two days and we’re really glad it’s over. When I went to start our outboard this morning to take Annie and Trig to a hotel, I found the motor was frozen. I'm sure it's the same issue that I thought we had fixed last August so now we have to deal with that on top of getting ready for the Galapagos. Luckily we had a little 2 hp. Yamaha squirreled away in the depths of the boat and like a champ it started on the first pull.

We’ll chill out tomorrow and then hit the ground running on Monday. As soon as we have all the shopping, motor repair, etc. done we’ll head out to the Los Perlas islands off the coast of Panama and wait for a weather window to the Galapagos. Trig is flying home and then meeting us in the Galapagos for the long 3 week passage to the Marquesas. It will be great to have him along for company on the long 3 to 4 week passage.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Getting Ready to Transit Panama Canal

We had lots of trepidation preparing for our sail from the San Blas to Colon (Shelter Bay Marina). It had been very windy the last three days with waves crashing over the reef and a forecast of 20 - 25 knot winds with 8 ft. seas. We waited a couple of extra days but finally ran out of time, and with the wind seemingly abating we took off for Portobello on Wednesday, March 4th.

We had talked to some locals and found out you could sail inside of Escribanos Reef, which would give us some protection from the big seas. We had been cautious about sailing that close to the shore coming down, but found it was a piece of cake going north. The charts have a zillion little squiggles in this area but it was at least 50 ft. deep the whole way and we enjoyed a beautiful beam reach in 15 knots of wind all the way to Portobello.

We anchored in our old spot at Portobello and got up early the next morning for an enjoyable sail in somewhat lighter winds all the way up to the Canal entrance and Shelter Bay Marina.

It was great to be back in the protection and social world of the marina, but the spell was soon broken when both our macerators (that operate the heads) failed at the same time. The next week was hell trying to get the heads running again (we needed them to go through the Canal and we also had guests arriving).  I will spare you the details, but this is one job I hate doing and I had to do it four times since the first fix didn’t work. Ugh.

Our 15 minutes of fame in Latitude 38 magazine.
On Saturday, with me still deep in the head repairs, Meryl attended a party put on by Latitude 38 magazine for people going on the Pacific Puddlejump. They gave a special presentation on sailing around Tahiti and details of activities planned in French Polynesia for the arriving PuddleJumpers. We got our pictures taken as a group and individual pictures for a future article in the magazine. We were pleasantly surprised when the electronic version of Lat 38 featured us along with three other couples talking about why were were sailing to Tahiti.

With our friends Annie and Tryg due to arrive later Saturday evening, we needed to get the boat cleaned up (and deodorized). This is always somewhat of a challenge as the guest berth serves as our “garage” piled high with sails, suitcases, foods, and other detritus. They arrived late Saturday night with a duffel bag full of needed boat parts and just as the forward head and boat were somewhat functioning again.

Having Annie and Tryg here was wonderful. They took the marina van in on Monday to the Reys Supermarket with Meryl to begin our provisioning for the South Pacific, leaving me free to install the new aft head pump and new macerator for the forward head. We had hired a local guy to help with the plumbing issues on the forward head, but he was a mixed blessing. He managed to burn out the new macerator pump I had just installed the day before, forcing us to order one through the marina at over twice the price of the one A & T brought down in their suitcases. This must be another of those “tests” we endure to make us stronger people.

We did get a couple of breaks, however, to take a nice nature walk up the Kennedy Loop where we saw a whole pack of capuchin monkeys, the kind with the white faces and chests. They were having a great time leaping from tree to tree over our heads. Every once in a while we heard the weirdest sound, like a fighter jet in the distance making a low pass. We later found out that was the sound of the howler monkeys who were deeper in the jungle. It’s a very erie sound at best.

Our solar cells are at risk going through the Canal when the line handlers throw their lines with heavy monkey fist to the boat, so we covered all our panels with air mattresses.
The rest of the week was spent provisioning and preparing for the Canal transit. We had delayed our planned Tuesday transit until Thursday to give us a little more time to get ready. On Tuesday our agent stopped by and dropped off four large blue ¾" poly lines and eight huge round fenders that we will use going through the Canal. The boat is starting to look like a garbage scow and the realization that we going through the Panama Canal is starting to sink in. There are so many horror stories (just a few days earlier a boat got slammed into the wall when the boat it was rafted to didn’t tend its lines quick enough) that everyone is antsy about the transit. Also, it's the final commitment for those who considered staying in the relative safety of the Caribbean Sea and are now headed for the wild Pacific.
Getting ready to cast off from Shelter Bay Marina for our Canal transit with our friends Annie & Trygve Johnson.