Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Pacific!

S/V Aspen – February 10, 2010 – Log #28
Position: 8 degrees 54.4’ N 79 degrees 31.5’ W
(Balboa, Panama)

Aspen is in the Pacific!

Our transit of the Panama Canal was a 2 day adventure. We started out at 3:30 pm on Sunday and entered the Gatun locks at 4:30, rafted to two other sailboats. There were three sailboats side-by-side as we entered the first lock in daylight.

Ahead of us was a 450 foot ship called the Pacific Reefer. We followed her throughout the 3 locks.

Locking up 85 feet into Gatun Lake took about 2 hours. It was just getting dark as we separated from the raft and took a huge mooring buoy in Gatun Lake for the night.

The stars literally sparkled as their light reached Aspen, sitting quietly in the midst of the calm lake.

We had 4 line handlers on board Aspen. The four people were friends from other sailboats who volunteered to come along for the ride. They were also all British so we learned a lot of new English words.

All we had to do for our line handlers was to feed them and give them a place to sleep for the night. Also, we should have had a toilet that worked and of course the toilet took this moment to barely work.

The captain, Steve, spent about 1.5 hours on the beast and decided it was time for the dreaded bucket to be deployed for later use. The toilet was hopelessly clogged.

The advisor, along with the six of us, enjoyed our evening meal of an antipasti plate, meatballs, pasta, garlic bread and salad.

Once the advisor departed it wasn't too long before we retired early to the sounds of silence all around us. Everyone was pretty exhausted from going through the locks.

Early the next morning, Monday, January 8th, we were awakened by the roar of howler monkeys all around us. As we were enjoying nature we heard another roar, that of the pilot boat looking for Aspen.

Within a minute the advisor was transferred onboard Aspen and we were motoring fast toward the three locks that would lower us into the Pacific Ocean, 35 miles away. The beauty of the lake was remarkable as we motored through the winding channel, dodging 960 foot ships enroute to the Caribbean.

Aspen was motoring as fast as she could go in order to meet our timetable for the Pedro Miguel lock at 11:01 AM. We arrived at the lock with only minutes to spare. We were rafted to one other sailboat this time as we made our way down the set of 3 locks into the Pacific Ocean.

The web camera at Mira Flores Locks looked down upon 6 people waving madly at the cheering crowd that was watching the entire process.

Our little raft once again split apart after the last lock and the advisor departed Aspen.

Directly ahead of us was the Bridge of the Americas - the Gateway to the Pacific Ocean!

So here we are, once again at anchor onboard Aspen but in an entirely new ocean. The water is just as warm, the trade winds are still moving us about but there is the promise of a new adventure just over the horizon.

Welcome to the Pacific Ocean Aspen and crew!!!

Sail on sail on Aspen...

Steve and Maria

1 comment:

  1. Jeeze, Steve, going through the canals after a Reefer, with no pooper.