Today is the day!!! We are finally scheduled to go through the Panama Canal and they have a live webcam so you can watch from home. Basically the way it works is:
Thursday, March 25th
- We leave the dock at 3pm today and go and anchor out near the entrance.
- Our Panama Canal Advisor joins us at 5:00pm and then we motor up to the entrance of the first set of locks called GATUN LOCKS.
- At this point we raft up to 2 other boats. Artemo will most likely be on the outside and and a catamaran will be on the inside.
- We enter the locks rafted up as a nest of 3 boats and this is usually between 6:00 and 7:00. You can watch this on the webcam but since it is night time for the first set of locks you may not be able to see us that well. Also this webcam is kind of grainy. http://www.pancanal.com/eng/photo/camera-java.html
- The Gatun locks are a set of 3 locks and we do all three rafted up and then we enter the Gatun Lake.
- Right at the beginning of the lake we tie up to a huge mooring ball and the Panama Canal Advisor is picked up for the night.
Friday, March 26th
- Our pilot joins us at 5:30am and we begin motoring across the lake
- At about 10:30 we reach the final set of locks called MIRAFLORES LOCKS
- We raft back up and enter the locks.
- You should be able to see us on the MIRAFLORES webcam which is quite good and it will be daytime at about 11:20 but I would monitor between 10:30 and noon if you are interested. The kids and I will try and wave towels on deck so you can see something! http://www.pancanal.com/eng/photo/camera-java.html
We are really excited. I am sorry I haven't written for a while. We have been doing all those things that we have read about for so long and I have been savoring every moment...even the exhaustion. I feel like for so long we (or maybe perhaps I) have let this adventure pull me along, like a current but over the past week there has been a shift. I am finally feeling like I am leading the adventure. The fear has dissipated and I am now feeling excited, curious, and happy.
I am provisioning the boat for 6 to 7 months because from what we have read there won't be a proper grocery store until New Zealand. We have also heard that everything will be very expensive and often times rotten or full of bugs. You can all just imagine what it is like to buy for this extended period. I purchased $1000 worth the other day and made quite a dent in the list but I am sure there will be another $1000 left to spend. Alex and I spent the afternoon dividing and vacuuming sealing everything. $1000 dollars worth of groceries sat out around the boat for a couple of days, while I cleaned and repacked locker after locker. I was shocked when I had all the food repackaged and a home for everything! I even kept an inventory of where every item was stored. We will see how long that lasts :-).
Cornelia (from Gromit) and I figured out how to do all of the paper work for the canal and check out without an agent. We were very proud of ourselves. Many others are paying from 500 to 600 for the services of an agent. We spent 75 each for a fellow who speaks good english and could take us office to office, girl power!
Amelia is the queen of the marina! She knows almost everyone and at least once a day someone introduces themselves to me and says they know my daughter. Man I love her. She makes this whole trip so much more fun. She is loving having her friends (Maia and Zoe from Gromit) here. They are swimming non stop. Alex is also doing great. He has made a good friend from France named Wesley and despite the language barrier they have been having a great time. Alex's mission this past week has also been to get as much knowledge from all the salty sailors on fishing. He has $50 to spend at Panama City and he wants more gear and wants to get the biggest bang for his buck. Through his conversations with our neighbor Harry he generously offered Alex lures, a rod and even some line! You can imagine how thrilled he is. He has been pouring through a book he borrowed from Gromit on fishing. It is so cool to see him this excited.
Graham is doing great. He has gotten so many things done while we have been on dock. He doesn't often sit and take a break (but I know he loves a project). He had our AIS working before but know it is realizing it's full potential. We can now see other boats overlayed on our radar and chartplotter. It is very cool and will bring a huge peace of mind as we cross the Pacific.
Early yesterday morning Graham, Alex and I went for a walk. It is shocking that we can walk only a short distance out of the marina and see so many cool things. We saw a huge migration of Capuchin monkeys jumping from tree to tree. It was one of those moments when you hope you don't all of a sudden wake up. So neat to see babies on the mom's back and the look out monkeys throwing branches at us. Really unbelieveable. We also saw a couple spider monkeys. Oh and the other day I saw an ant eater! They look just like the ones in the cartoons.
Today I am going to cook, cook, cook. We are told and we saw when we went through, that the transit through the canal is all about the food! It really is a celebration. I have to tell you that when we cross under the Bridge of Americas on Artemo and head into the Pacific Ocean it is going to be a moment that none of us will soon forget.