Monday, May 21, 2007

Sunday 20th May


9 20.716 N
79 54.555 W

Many happy returns of the day Phil, do what ever makes you happy!

Another day at anchor and it started to rain early on in the day. It became very hot and humid and then it rained some more, in fact all day long it alternated between hot and rainy, it was no fun as it meant we kept opening and closing the hatches, trying to keep things dry. It was so humid that we sat around naked for most of the day (no don’t let your imagination do the graphics!) We read books and chatted but didn’t do much else. Gerry suggested going to the yacht club for dinner but I said that we should use up the fish in the freezer which we did – it was far better than the fish I had at the yacht club the previous night. We learnt that the admeasurer was going to be coming out to our boat to measure it on Monday morning between 09.00hrs and 12.00hrs. This is the start of the process to get through the canal, once our boat has been measured we are assigned a number and transit date after which we wait until it is our turn. We then surround the boat with car tires to act as fenders, remove anything which may get broken, hire on 3 line handlers (one of us also has to be a line handler), take on a transit adviser and then if our turn isn’t postponed or cancelled we get to go through the canal.
All day long we watched as various boats made their way to the canal entrance which is less than half a mile from where we are at anchor. The traffic in both directions is endless and we have seen huge super cargo carriers go into the canal followed by small yachts – usually in a flotilla of 3 or 4. We won’t know until we have been measured how we will be transiting but judging from the amount of yachts waiting to transit I would imagine we will be going in a flotilla. The canal has cameras set up along the locks and they record boats going through, you can watch this progression on your computer at:
I’m hoping that some one will record our passage through the canal so we can watch it at a later date from a different view point than the one will have at the time – any volunteers out there? I will of course be letting everyone know by email the exact date of our transit when we know it! For those of you who like facts and figures here are a few on the canal.
The canal is 50 miles long from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean.
It runs from northwest to southeast with the Atlantic entrance being 33.5 miles north and 27 miles west of the Pacific entrance.
The sea level section of the canal on the Atlantic side is 6.5miles long. This section of channel is 500 feet wide.
Ships are raised or lowered 85 feet in a continuous flight of 3 steps at Gatun Locks.
Each lock chamber is 110 feet wide and 1000 feet long.
The length of Gatun Locks including the two approach walls is 1.2 miles.
After traversing the Gatun locks there is a 23.5 mile passage through Gatun Lake to the north end of Gaillard cut. The lake covers an area of 163.38 square miles.
Gaillard cut is 8 miles long.
At the south end of Gaillard cut ships enter the 5/6 mile long Pedro Miguel Locks and are lowered 31 feet to the 1 mile wide Miraflores lake.
The 2 step Miraflores locks follow and are a little over 1 mile long, lowering the ships back down to sea level on the Pacific side.
At the end of the day the wind began to kick in and we had to anchor watch for a while to make sure we weren’t going to drift – we are anchored in 40 feet of watch and we have every inch of our chain out, Luckily the wind died and we didn’t move so we ended up having a good night.



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