Panama Canal: Day 1

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Tanda Malaika and crew were filled with energy and excitement, knowing that today was the day.

It had finally arrived!

Everyone worked together and gave our girl a thorough scrub down – all stern salon floor boards were played out on the dock and cleaned and decks, helm and everything in between were scrubbed. For our canal transit we have a wonderful new crew member. Suzanna is from Denmark and needed a ride across the canal. She is 19 and such a sweetheart, so she has fit right in with the creatures and has become the newest family member.

We were told be on the flats by 1pm for a 4pm crossing time, so we said our goodbyes and see you laters to the beautiful people we’ve been rubbing shoulders with at Shelter Bay.

April and Cain who run the sail loft and do an amazing job on canvas work and sail repair, and of course Rodger, Hannah and their dog Mariana. They are headed in the same direction we are, so we’ll see them soon.

As we left, Danny gave 3 hoots on the hooter and other boats responded with hoots as well,

and soon that wonderful feeling of sea air blowing through our hair and the gentle roll over the waves under our hulls, was so calming and felt perfect.

Many large ships were anchored waiting their turn through the canal, so we zig zagged through them all and made our way to where smaller vessels lay at anchor.

One of Steve Jobs boats, named Venus, was anchored there. It is over 200ft long and cost $100 million dollars.

We waited patiently for our 4pm slot, some of us taking naps and others reading or chatting, and finally at about 6:30pm the advisor, Victor, was brought to the boat, and we set out for the locks.

He informed us that we would be going through behind a large ship, and that in each lock, a brand new tug boat would tie to the wall, then we would raft to the tug and a monohull from Denmark would raft to us.

Danny and I loved watching the creatures get to work as line handlers on their own Tanda Malaika. I think they were excited to show us the skills they had learned too.

It was an interesting feeling to be on the boat and watch the huge lock doors closing behind us, when usually we are surrounded by endless open ocean.

I was impressed with how quickly the locks filled up to the 75ft mark. The water in the locks was swirling with intense current as water entered, and each time the tug boat would move forward to the next lock, an intense current would push us to the side. It was fascinating.

Half way through it started to rain, which felt wonderful at first, but soon we found ourselves freezing even though it was 80 degrees outside.

By the time we reached Lake Gatun we were so tired.

Our advisor told us to be ready for the next advisor to board at about 7am, so it didn’t take long for us all to snuggle down for the night. What an amazing experience! Tomorrow in the day light and with no rain, I will take many more photos of the entire process. I am grateful for the genius minds that figured out the canal system, and I am especially grateful to be experiencing it.

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