We made it through the Panama Canal! We did it! We actually did it! And on our own boat. YES!!!!
OK, so I got a little excited about it. It’s only something I have wanted to do since I was a young kid. I finally did it. Next time it’s the long way around. You know, Cape Horn.
I want to send out a big THANK YOU! To everyone who tuned in to watch us go through the canal and to those who were able to send us pictures they captured on-line. I was humbled by the number of people who responded and have contacted us about the transit. I was trying to submit updates to the 4 strange byrds facebook page, but for what ever reason they didn’t make it to the page. I’ve no idea where the updates went.
For those who are interested here is the canal crossing rundown.
We left the Shelter Bay Marina at 2pm on Sunday and headed over to the waiting spot for our canal adviser who was supposed to be there at 5. We sat there until around 7+ pm when the adviser finally showed up. About 45 minutes later we headed for Gatun locks.
We rafted up to another boat from the USA as we entered the locks. The up locks are much more challenging than the down lock, but the line handlers on Stray Catz (all volunteers) did an excellent job. The line handlers on the other boat two of which were professionals didn’t do as well. At one point the lines got loose and that meant Stray Catz was heading toward the big ugly concrete wall. They got the line under control and all was well, but lets just say there was some yelling on their boat and some scrambling with fenders on ours.
Leaving the Gatun locks about 2330 we stayed rafted up to the other boat and drove about a mile to a mooring buoy. We were tied up and engines shut down about midnight. Kylan and I grabbed the spot light and were able to spot some crocodile eyes over by the shore. A little to far to capture on camera.
Expecting our next adviser at 0600, the alarm went off at 0545. After crawling out of bed and surveying our surroundings. The sunlight barely creeping over the hills. I wondered if I misunderstood the time. None of the other boats in the area were stirring, but by 0610 here came a pilot-boat. With the adviser on Stray Catz we were on our way by 0620. Still no one on the other 10 boats in the area were moving.
The wind picked up from behind and with the advisers permission we had the jib up to supplement the engines.
Five hours later we were approaching the Pedro Miguel locks and by this time we could finally see some of the other boats way behind us. We tied up to another mooring buoy and waited almost an hour for our time slot through the locks. That is when we found out that the other boat we had come through the first locks with had transmission trouble and would not be joining us.
The down locks are quite peaceful.
You can hardly tell your descending. Other than the walls keep getting taller and you have to let out a little more rope. The Pedro Miguel locks are only about a mile from the Miraflores locks. We reached Miraflores locks shortly thereafter, and that is where all of you got to see us.
It was great fun and exciting. There is an observation deck over the Miraflores locks and it was fun waving to all the people up there watching us. After the locks we motored a few miles in the Pacific Ocean to the anchorage where we broke open the champagne and celebrated a safe and successful crossing.
Then it was goodbye to the line handlers (except Kylan), and a huge sigh of relief as I collapsed on the couch.
Our volunteer line handlers, Kylan, Russel, Dianne, Arnold and Vincent were fantastic. Thanks to all of them for keeping Stray Catz scratch and dent free. All did a wonderful job and were great company. And special mention to Maribel for her help to Anna keeping the advisers and crew fed.