January 30, 2015
We made it through the Canal, with no damage! The last clause being the important one. We had an easy passage through the three locks up into Gatun Lake on Thursday, rafted next to a small passenger ferry – they handled the lines to the lock wall. Thursday night we were on a mooring buoy in Gatun Lake, swimming in the freshwater and listening to the howler monkeys in the trees. It’s a huge lake, entirely surrounded by gorgeous and apparently untouched jungle.
Today we had a flawless, center-chamber passage through the three locks down into the Caribbean.
Some bits of excitement here and there – lots of close proximity to big ships and rough lock walls, sometimes shocking turbulence in the locks as water was let in to raise us – but the big one was this morning. After the crew took an early-morning refresher swim in the fresh water, Andy and I noticed what we thought was a log or something floating nearby. Log my foot! It was a six foot (or so) alligator! Alligators, the pilot assigned to our boat told us later, are territorial – and he was apparently “showing the flag” rather than looking for breakfast.
Passage through the Canal ran about $1,800 – for those who are wondering about the current state of things. Still cheaper, and way easier, than going around Cape Horn. The toll for a big container ship runs, we were told, closer to a half million bucks.
We’re now in a slip at the Shelter Bay Marina inside the breakwater that protects the Caribbean entrance to the Canal. We’ll lose our beloved crew member Hannah, who is moving on to work in the highlands of Thailand after three wonderful and extremely helpful months as part of Serafina’s regular crew. We’ll be poorer when she leaves, but we are already richer for the time we had together. Andy and Anita will also be returning to Seattle, after providing great companionship and skillful help on our passage from Costa Rica and through the Canal.
So, a transition is in progress. We’ll spend some days here preparing for the next stage of the trip, which we’ll report on in the coming days.