Mystic Moon Panama Canal Transit
Kathy and I are getting very excited about our transit of the Panama Canal, now scheduled for next Tuesday, 6/2. There are a few other emotions.....like anxiety, stress, puckered, etc!!!!! Yes, even John has a JSP (John sweaty palm) factor on this one!
Below is a link to the Canal's webcams where if you have the time and desire you will be able to see Mystic Moon in the Miraflores and Gatun locks:
We do not know our exact transit time yet, just the date. Our agent, Enrique Plummer, will call on Monday and hopefully receive our transit time. Then I believe it will be confirmed early Tuesday morning. We will send out another email Tuesday morning via some friends to all of you once we know the exact time. Our best guess is we will be in the Miraflores locks between 8- 10:00 CDT. Of course, as anything, the time will be mas o minus:))))
As just a quick note, the Canal was completed in 1914 and is essentially the same now. Coming from the Pacific side, it has three uplocks, Miraflores (a set of 2 locks) and Pedro Miguel, then you cross the manmade Gatun lake, then the Gatun locks (a set of 3 downlocks). Each lock is 1000' long and 110' wide. The Canal is about 50 miles long and we hopefully will transit all in one day. There is an outside chance we will have to anchor overnight in Gatun lake.
We have requested to transit the locks rafted next to a Canal tug or to have a center tie. We do not want to be tied up against the walls, as the cement is quite rough and due to turbulence in the locks you might incur some boat damage. Probably, what will happen is we will raft up to some similar boats and have center tie. We really want to raft to a tug as that seems to be the easiest way to go....we'll see!!
Our Canal transit process started last Monday, when we traveled from Isle Contadora in the Perlas Islands to Flamenco Island and moored in the Fuerte Amador Marina. It is extremely daunting when you start to approach Panama City. Our AIS had 107 targets/ships and our radar on a 3 mile range had over 50 targets. It was just spectacular to watch. AND, that is with the traffic down 30% this year thru the Canal!! We will do a Canal update once we have completed the transit and we'll include some of the pictures.
Our agent arrived on the boat Monday afternoon and we started the check-in process to Panama as well as the Canal Transit process. And, of course, first things first, money is exchanged. When it is all said and done, it will cost ~$2,000 to enter the country and transit the Canal, about what we expected.
Tuesday, the Admeasure inspector came to the boat and we filled out quite a few papers on the condition and specifications of Mystic Moon and then he inspected and verified Mystic's dimensions. After that, Enrique called the Canal Authority, and requested and confirmed our transit date for Tuesday, 6/2......Kathy's birthday......nice birthday present, right!!!!!!
Today, Kathy and I are going to go see the Miraflores locks, a series of two locks and the first set you go through from the Pacific side. We will get a good feel how things operate as we sit and have lunch watching the process and visit the museum. Then on Friday, we are going to be line handlers for Hank and Betsy on Equinox, friends we have been with from Mexico. That will be a lot of fun and will give us first hand knowledge of the Canal. Always fun on someone else's boat:)))))
On Monday, Enrique will deliver our lines (4 lines, 7'8" diameter and 150' long) and tires to be used as fenders (two sets of 5, doubled tired, for each side, all wrapped in heavy plastic bags). Tuesday morning, two other line handlers (you need 4, hired by Enrique, should be young, strong, twenty-something's) will arrive. We will then proceed to move towards the locks and pick-up our Canal Advisor. We are required to have an Advisor onboard. While I will remain as the Captain and fully accountable for Mystic Moon, the Advisor is an experienced Canal person (usually a tug captain or a Pilot in training on his day off) and he will guide us through the entire process. While I will be extremely busy piloting the boat, Kathy will be very busy feeding all the line handlers and Advisor. There are lots of stories and rumors about the feeding trough so we have stocked up for all potential needs!!
As stressed and anxious as we are to transit the Canal and enter the beautiful Caribbean, where we plan to cruise for a few years, we are a bit melancholy about leaving the Pacific. We feel like we have gotten to know her well, and a bit sad to leave our friend. We now have traveled over 13,000 nm and 1950 engine hours, and traveled from as far north as Juneau, Alaska!!! It has been as they say.......What -a-Ride!!!!!
OK.....that's it for now. We'll email everyone Tuesday morning with an update on the transit time!!
Wish us luck!
John and Kathy
moored at Amador Fuerte Marina, Panama City, Panama