Position: 09°22’N, 79°57’W – Shelter Bay Marina, Panama
Second time lucky. Our advisor Roy Paddy boarded Ashling on Wednesday morning and we set off for the Canal at last.
From the start we wondered about his surname so after briefing the Skipper and crew, we asked him about his family history. He looked 100% Panamaian so we couldn’t have been more surprised when he told us he was actually part Irish! His surname can be traced back to an Irishman in Barbados a few decades ago whose difficult Irish surname was probably replaced with the traditional international Irish nickname by the locals. Roy soon showed that he had inherited the irish sense of humour when the Skipper asked him how long he had been working on the canal: “Working here? Well actually today’s my first day”. He was just having the craic and has actually been working for the Canal for 25 years. However the initial look on the Skipper’s face was priceless!
The transit across three locks and Gatun Lake took two days to complete. We passed countless cargo ships, barges and tugboats, all of whom made Ashling look like a little toy boat going at snail-pace speed in comparison. Every year approximately 250 yachts or pleasure craft transit the Canal, compared to 12,000 cargo ships, so we really are in the minority. It was a busy day for the crew but we did manage to take some photos and footage along the way. Click here to watch a short video of Ashling and her journey through the Panama Canal.
After completing the Canal transit, we said goodbye to Mario who was only too happy to be heading home to his wife and newborn baby after spending three days on board. We also bid farewell to Caroline and Johannes, our Swedish friends who are embarking on their own adventure to circumnavigate the world over the next 18 months – and some people think WE were crazy?!?! We will be following them closely on their blog and hope that our paths/routes will cross again one day.
We are now at Shelter Bay Marina on the Atlantic side of the Canal, enjoying some R&R and preparing for the next leg of our trip – a 600 mile sail north from Panama to Grand Cayman. It’s been a month since we first touched land in Panama and it’s time to get our feet wet again.