Monday, May 01, 2006

Into the Pacific

Our time in Colon is finally over. There were moments when it felt like our sentence would never end. Despite our three week wait, we were still putting the boat into a workable state the morning of our transit. We'd planned to head up a nearby river the Wednesday before to give the engine a good work-out after the pre-Pacific service we'd given it. Unfortunately we ran out of time and only managed half an hour round the anchorage, but everything seemed to working well, until we picked up our advisor (trainee pilot). Then all manner of afflictions appeared to infect the engine; stalling in neutral, loss of power at high revs. We didn't instantly warm to our advisor and I was concerned that if he sensed a problem he wouldn't let us go through. The prospect of another three weeks in Colon hung over us as we circled in front of the Gatun locks for over an hour. Our tension eased considerably when we finally formed our lock transiting raft and "Midnight Blue" the middle boat of the raft provided the horse-power to pull us through. By midnight we'd made it through the three Gatun locks, tied to a buoy in the lake, bid farewell to our advisor and tucked into a delicious late supper. While other crews sat in their cockpits enjoying the sounds of the jungle we set to work on the engine. Fairly quickly we diagnosed air in the fuel and by 1am we'd fixed the problem. It transpires that I'd incompetently replaced the fuel filter and air was finding its way between the gasket and the filter. Many thanks to Ken from Eagle's Wings, one of our line-handlers, who'd suffered a similar issue with his generator and rapidly pin-pointed our problem.
At 7am we were joined by Ricardo our advisor for the trip across the lake. The atmosphere on-board was celebratory as we motored through the beautiful jungle landscape without a glitch.
The focus then turned to how to contact the person who controls the view from web-cam in the Miraflores locks.
Web cam view: Entering Miraflores
No-one appeared to know for certain which of the many cameras around the lock was the web-cam, so we took no chances and waved madly at each camera in turn.
Web cam view: Miraflores, Kika on left

Just before 3pm the last of the lock gates opened and we entered the Pacific.
lock gates open
As we approached the mooring in Balboa we were greeted by fellow inmates from Colon. Noa and Ragtime waved back at our ecstatic grins - we'd finally made it. Much thanks to our fantastic crew of line-handers - Beth and Ken from Eagle's Wings and Anne from "Flyer".Ricardo proved to be excellent company, as a story teller, relating the history of the canal and finally persistently trying to call the web-cam operator.We just had time to take in our new surrounding before being whisked ashore to share a celebratory drink with Tim from "Midnight Blue". Tomorrow we'll fill up with fresh food and soon after head off into the unknown for the Galapagos


Matt said...

Hi There
well done! A new ocean, enjoy the Galapagos. Look out for the boobies. Do you have a new email address

Andy said...

Wow the Pacific!

Great going although I'm a little suprised at the air in the fuel filter problem, school boy error nick.

Good sailing