Sailing from Panama to NZ... 2009 travel blog

Little Mike and Arne

Our boat is on the left, We are rafted to another.










We are behind this boat

Line handler Leonie

Water almost to the top.

The lock is full

Note the line to the shore to keep us in the centre.

Leonie and Jack resting.

Jack deep in thought.

Arne & Little Mike.

Gates closing.

Gate almost closed

Leonie & Jack resting.

Gate nearly closed


Leonie and Jack.

The Panama Canal is in three parts – from Colon a series of locks up to the Gatun lake that is about 50 miles wide, then another series of locks down to Balboa on the Pacific side. In order to transit the canal system the boat must be capable of 4 knots under engine. Sails may not to be hoisted in lock areas, but we can motor-sail across the lakes. We have to declare our cruising speed then authorities decide if we are potentially a one day transit – most yachts take 2 days anchoring for the night in the lake before descending to the Pacific. Every yacht is required to have four line handlers and a skipper to helm.

We did the first half as far as the lake at night working as line handlers . The canal is floodlit. It was a really nice balmy night making the line handling not too difficult..

The next day must have been 40 degrees or more which made it very uncomfortable.

The night transit was from about 2000 hrs till 2300hrs and the day started at 0700 hrs until about 1400 hrs. By the time we got to a mooring on the lake it was very close to midnight.

We were moored very close to an island inhabited by howler monkeys than screeched to each other for much of the night. One would make the initial call then a chorus of others would reply then yet another group further along would then reply.. Like an audio Mexican wave..


We are anchored not far from Panama City in a place called Balboa. When we need to go ashore we go in our dingy to the dingy dock where taxis are most of the time waiting. Restaurants are in walking distance. Balboa on the weekends livens up. It becomes a nightspot for the locals.. The restaurants which have fresco dining have live bands that play well into the night...Our boat is moored not more than 100 meters from it all..The canal shipping line is just here as well large container ships and cruse ships go by in an almost continual line.

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