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Panama Canal, 7th & 8th of June

June 12, 2012

The date for our transit is the 7th of June. We shall be in “the Flats” at 3pm. Our crew Ebba, Pat, Luka and Evan arrive before lunch and we move to the Flats, it’s nicer waiting there. After lunch and coffee the advisor gets dropped off at 4pm and he brings a trainee. Off we go. We raft up with another catamaran, about the same size with many people, a baby and a big slobbering dog who likes to jump over but is not allowed to. We wait for the “Golden Bear”, a US Navy training ship that goes into the lock in front of us. It’s nearly dark as we are inside the first lock.

Around 7.30pm we make it to the mooring in the Gatun Lake. And start with cold beers. Than a Thai curry, red wine, sangria, popcorn, chocolate, rhumdrinks….
In between we go swimming in the lake, the crocodile’s are sleeping, maybe. They are caimans actually. At 3am the drinks are finished, we have to go to bed.

Good luck Hannes went to bed earlier so he’s not as tired as everybody else at 6am. Cx drags herself into the galley to make coffee and prepare a greasy breakfast that should help against the hangover. Our new advisor also has a trainee so it’s 8 hungry mouths to feed. A ggod thing for Cx to sweat out all the alcohol, temperature rises to about 40°C inside!
And we luckily see a fat caiman!

At 11.40am it’s time for the first lock going down. We raft up, in we go. The whole place for ourselves! Only 2 sailingboats! Going down is much easier as there is less power on the lines, going up it’s strong currents, going down is much easier. Or so we think. Close to the second lock after crossing the small lake the sky gets black. Thunderstorm coming up very fast.
We are just inside and on the lines but not good enough. The storm moves both boats to the right side, the other cat gets vers close to the wall. Thunder and lightning, squalls, hard to see in the heavy rain. We go down in the heaviest storm. Everybody is soaked and starts freezing. Temperature drops down to 24°C! The thunder is deafening, the lightning goes on for seconds in a row, very scary. And then we can’t move on as the guys carrying the lines on land left and hide somewhere. we wait about one hour, Cx scrubbs the deck to keep warm, the crew prepares coffee.

The worst is over as we move on but the rain continues. In the Las Brisas anchorage we still have squalls but the sunset is dry and beautiful. Everyone is warm enough to have the first cold drink! What a welcome to the pacific. And going through a lock in a heavy thundestorm is something to remember!

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