We're in the Pacific!

Published on 6 February 2024 at 21:46

We're in the Pacific!!

We spent a night in Lake Gatun halfway across the Panama Canal, moored to a very large mooring buoy with two other yachts. Whilst waiting for the advisors that we have to have on board we watched an extremely large crocodile swim past - apparently they've never had a crocodile attack on the Canal but it definitely deterred us from swimming!

We passed through the Gaillard cut and descended the 3 locks towards Panama City and the old Pacific Sea. We were again in a raft of 3 yachts, going into the lock first, followed by Pacific Jasper, a big freighter which was right on the width limit for the canal (only about a foot to spare!) so was very slow coming into the locks. We were quite grateful for that as it was very intimidating pulling up close behind us - all we could see was the bow, the bridge was way out of sight.

But all went well and we ended up motoring under the Bridge of the America's into the Pacific just as dark set, quite an experience! We are now in a marina looking back at Panama City which is an impressive sight!

So we are through the Canal despite the much publicised water shortages which are restricting the operation. There has undoubtedly been less rainfall for the last couple of years, partly due to El Nino and partly due to global warming etc. But equally a new much larger set of locks were added (in parallel to the original ones) in 2016 to allow much larger ships to transit the Canal, so it now uses much more water, but they didn't do anything to increase the water supply. So guess what they're short of now!

They do now have a 10 year plan to dam more rivers - apart from the environmental effects of the new reservoirs themselves, it will inevitably affect the water supply and tropical forests downstream. But since 93% of the Panama economy depends on the Canal, there is no doubt it will happen!

The Canal does make Panama relatively prosperous, it is a very different feel to Colombia, much smarter.

But not everything has been going as smoothly as we would like. The engine was getting a little warm in the last lock, after many hours at idle, so we turned it off - and it then refused to restart, wouldn't even turn over, you could just hear the solenoid clicking (and the starter motor is brand new!). Luckily we were still rafted so the other two yachts were able to take us out, and we were able to get the engine started before splitting the raft up. Phew!

We have more significant problems too - I'll put that in another blog!

Harri is returning to Shelter Bay tomorrow to help one of the other boats transit the canal on Thursday, whilst Fred returns to UK on Friday so we will be down to 5. We'll miss Fred - he has been great company and fun to have on board

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Amanda Boswell
4 months ago

Great seeing your blog. Good luck with the next leg 👍👍 xxx