Canal Transit Preparation

The first batch of six Odyssey boats completed their canal transit today, We are scheduled to transit with four other boats starting tomorrow, probably late afternoon, probably reaching Gatun Lake after dark, and spending the night there. Tuesday should be an early start, and into the Pacific by late afternoon. It’s all a little uncertain because we’re in the middle of Carnival, which is a big holiday here, and we can’t count on people showing up and keeping promises after they’ve been out partying all night…

The boat is probably more ready than it has been for any departure to date. New alternator is working. Oil has been changed (earlier than recommended, but if we don’t do it here, then we’d probably have trouble disposing of the old oil). Replacement for broken fitting on boom is procured and installed. Newly fabricated fittings to improve the strength of the screecher side stays arrived and are in place. Missing bolts in jib roller furler have been replaced. New propeller is installed on hydrogenerator. We’ve topped up our diesel tanks. We’ve filled our water tanks.

We did our big provisioning run to the supermarket in Colon, an hour’s bus ride away. Because we were spending $500, the supermarket offers a van to bring us back to the boat. I’m uncertain just how long we’re trying to provision for. Can we get food (that we want to eat) in the Galapagos? In the Marquesas? But really it doesn’t much matter. We couldn’t pack any more food on the boat anyway. Our lockers are FULL.

The one thing we still need is some fresh food: bread, fruit, veggies. I’m hoping the “mini-market” at the marina will have enough of these things to make do. We should have some basic fresh fruit and break to feed our canal Advisor/pilot and line handlers. We’ll find out in the morning…

Emotionally we’re all ready to go. We’ve been here long enough (it’s been a week).

The Canal has web cameras (still photos, not video) that update every 30 or 60 seconds. There are high resolution images for the Gatun Locks and Miraflores Lock. We will pass through the former tomorrow evening, but it will probably be too dark to see us. Tuesday afternoon, though, perhaps around 1:30pm (Panama and Eastern USA time, 1830 UTC), we should be at the Miraflores Lock. The photos are from quite a distance, so don’t expect to recognize anything more than the distinctive shape of our boat. We will have our tracker turned on, so if you want you can watch our progress on the BPO web site, and when we get close to the Miraflores Lock (toward the south end of the Canal) you can check the web cam and try to spot us (and watch the water level drop in the lock).

Our understanding is that we will move through the locks in a “nest” with Maggie and Om. Om has the most powerful engines, which will probably put them in the center, with Maggie lashed along one side and us rafted to the other. This arrangement doesn’t make much sense, though, as it leaves the largest and smallest monohulls rafted together. Maybe our Advisors will change the plan — it is all up to them. Everything is subject to change, including our starting time.

This is probably my last “wifi opportunity” for quite some time — at least until we arrive in the Galapagos, and maybe not even then. So no more photos for a while, but I’ll be sending occasional updates via SSB radio and asking Hallie to post them for me. I have enjoyed all the comments y’all have posted. Keep ’em coming, even though I don’t see them until I get to the next wifi spot.

2 thoughts on “Canal Transit Preparation”

  1. You three have to be the three busiest guys around. You blithely rattle off enough things to keep a small army tasked for a month. Good you have the energy. Enjoy the ride through the canal. Will be looking forward to your next series of pictures.


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