At last we're rocking gently at Las Brisas anchorage, Pacific side.
It's been an eventful couple of days and didn't get off to a brilliant start.
We had 3 line handlers organized and the day before we were due to leave 2 of them, a couple, decided they wanted to do something else, in spite of them making a commitment, agreeing a price
etc. I hope they get no seeums in their underwear.
Fortunately the one left, Leo, has been through the canal 20 times and soon managed to rustle up some replacements
. A guy who'd been through once before, and a woman (fitness instructor) who'd never been on a boat and her 15 year old son.
We ended up being a merry bunch in spite of language problems and everything worked out fine.
We left Shelter Bay with perfect bad timing...
With about an hour to get to The Flats to meet our 'advisor', we saw a massive dark cloud approaching. I made the call to get out of the slip before it got any closer so we wouldn't risk being stuck there when we should be at the Flats.
Lines off and gently backing out when we got slammed by 15-20 on the beam. Full keel
, 30 tons and no bow thruster. No way to get head
which was what we needed for our exit. So we went with the wind further into the finger docks to where I figured I'd hold her stern to wind and fend off if we had to while I looked for a plan B. There were 2 empty slips and we got bow in and a line over a cleat. Stern came around as the wind started easing, backed out again, got head
to wind and motored out with just inches to spare.
We figured the canal couldn't throw us any more curve balls than that.
We ended up rafted with a 35ft power boat
. Being 65ft LOA
we were told we'd be the controlling vessel. Well, they had 3X300 hp outboards and a serious bow thruster. We ended up very easily working together and we managed the 3 locks to Gatun Lake without a hitch, apart from a learner advisor on their boat being hit on the head by a monkey fist and having to be put off in the second lock
That power boat
was the 'dinghy' to a superyacht they were on their way back to meet. We tied up to a massive mooring
buoy for the night. Medicinal rum
leeched into the lake via the crew...
6:30 am our new advisor arrived and we set off across the lake at a steady 6 kts. We got to Pierre Miguel lock at about 10.30 and tied side on to Pacific Princess, one of their big tour vessels. It had a nasty 'toerail' that stuck out at least 6 inches and would have done some nasty damage to our brightwork if it hadn't been for Sandy and the others doing some nifty fender
We had to tie and untie to Pacific Princess at each lock going down.
Dropped off the advisor and headed to Balboa
YC where we planned to hire a mooring
for a night to offload hired tires and lines but they said they had nothing available. All the empty ones we could see must have been invisible to them.
We headed to Las Brisas and found a fairly thriving community of cruisers anchored here.
PS. we didn't use an agent and appear to have saved a small fortune.