Location: Colon/Panama Canal
Today was our last day at the Shelter Bay Marina. After partaking in “Mad Nuts Flapjacks” a la Tim for breakfast, the Argo crew had a chance to grab some snacks from the nearby mini-mart (and use a toilet that we don’t have to pump 50 times). After our last run through the various marina amenities, we boarded Argo and began to do some passage prep. On this passage prep, one of the important jobs was to inflate fenders, objects that we would use to keep the vessel from directly contacting any other object. As passage prep came to an end, our journey to the Panama Canal had begun.
After lunch and an immediate departure from the marina afterward, Argo was boarded by Roger, a Panama Canal pilot who would be assisting us throughout the first day of our transit. Roger had much to say about the history of the Canal, being a third generation Panamanian. We continued to sail until we eventually reached the first lock of the Gatun section of the Panama Canal. The whole process was incredibly interesting. There was a very large cable laying vessel in front of us in each lock, and we rafted up next to a tug boat on our starboard side. This meant that within each lock we had to toss lines and use fenders to safely secure ourselves to the side of the tug. After we were secured to the tug, we would come to a complete stop within the lock and suddenly rising with the increasing water level. We did this three times until finally sailing into Lake Gatun, where we would watch a beautiful sunset as we continued toward the Pacific.
We are now moored in Lake Gatun for the night, where we spotted a few crocodiles along the shore after dark. What an adventure it was completing the first half of our Panama Canal transit!
Pictured: The whole group right before we left the dock at Shelter Bay Marina; a view of the bridge that is being built on the north side of the canal; some of the staff at the bow right before we entered the first lock; the giant gates that keep the water in place as the locks get filled and emptied; other views as we went through the Gatun locks, Watch Team 1 ready to control our bow line; gates opening into Lake Gatun which is in the center of the canal transit; sky views as we moved into the lake for the night.