The World ARC fleet have now finished exploring the beauty the San Blas Islands have to offer and are almost all in Shelter Bay Marina. The last five days have been extremely busy as boats are provisioning, fueling, getting measured and fumigated in order to go through the Panama Canal.
Transiting the Panama Canal is the third leg of the rally and this year there will be four different transits. All boats have to be measured by Panama officials and fumigated before entering the locks. Between the measuring and provisioning,participants have had some time to relax and enjoy the the Caribbean side of Panama.
Lock tours have been going on the last couple of days where the participants visited the New Canal locks and found out about the unbelievable engineering that has gone into the making of these locks.
Yesterday a skippers briefing was presented to the skippers of the first transit, who will be leaving tomorrow morning towards the Gatun locks and will aim to be at Gatun Lake by late afternoon on the same day. They will be rafting three boats alongside in the locks and each boat will have an advisor on board.
Early this morning the participants of the first Canal transit left Shelter Bay Marina to visit the Emberá tribe who still live in traditional villages, deep within the rainforest of Soberania National park. Arriving at the shores of Lake Alajuela, the participants climbed into handmade dugout canoes to travel to the banks below the village. After a heartfelt welcome, an elder within the tribe explained the history, culture and traditions of the village before we all enjoyed a delicious meal of fresh fish, fruit and fried plantains. Shortly after lunch the women within the tribe gathered to celebrated our arrival with a dance, where the men joined and soon after so did the rally participants. Before the day was over the village Shaman or medicine man lead a hike through neighbouring forest and introduced participants to local anaesthetics and foods found with in the region.
There is a great atmosphere within the Shelter Bay Marina and tomorrow the first few participants begin the next World ARC leg to transit into the Pacific.