With two line handlers from "Blessed" - a New Zealand boat, we left Shelter Bay Marina, arriving at The Flats about 35 minutes later and picked up our third line handler, Denis from "Sunrise" and our charming advisor, Ricky.
After a quick assignment of tasks and a brief rundown of what to expect and what was expected of each of us we raised anchor and entered the channel.
Around 5 pm, just outside the first lock we rafted with a catamaran, played around with the maneuvering of this now strange vessel and proceeded to the gates where four lock personnel each threw a thin line with a knot called monkey's fist onto our boats.
We tied the large bowline (another knot that creates a loop) of our long, heavy lines to these and they hauled them to the wall of the lock. They then walked us to our place directly behind a huge orange ship and placed the bowline over a bollard.
Now we had to put tension on the lines to keep us centered in the lock while it filled with water. The doors opened, our heavy lines were released from the bollards on the wall and the ACP line handlers walked while we powered directly into the second of the three connected locks on the Atlantic side. From the third of the Gatun Locks we entered Gatun Lake, which is the highest point in the Panama Canal. We then separated from the catamaran and motored through the lake and through the Culebra Cut, during which time the sun set and we had a wonderful pasta dinner with salad and to everyone's delight, ice cream for dessert.
After about 5 hours of eating, relaxing and chatting we were ready to enter the Pedro Miguel Lock but the catamaran hadn't waited for us so we went in solo and secured our lines as quickly as possible because a huge bow was crowding us from behind.
Hmmm... not exactly a cozy feeling, we felt trapped and squished with those huge, steel, double doors closed ahead.
No problem though, they stopped with a safe margin of space between us and Gypsy Blues stayed safe.
A short motor through Miraflores Lake brought us to the Miraflores Locks. We shared these last two locks with the same ship but there was significant water turbulence while entering and exiting so we had to be quick securing the lines and had to wait a bit before releasing them. We then got out fast to keep control as the ship came up behind us.
By midnight we were in the Pacific!!!
What a great feeling, to be safely through the canal and in another ocean where all kinds of wonders and adventures await us.
We followed the channel out along the Amador Causeway, dropped off our advisor and were safely at anchor amongst the wakes of all the pilot and work boats by about 2:30 am. Everyone hit their pillows immediately and slept soundly.