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Air Power - Jan 25

We decided to break up the 70 mile passage into 2 days. We pulled in to a sheltered spot behind Grand Isle for the night after covering about 45 miles. After setting the anchor in approximately 5 meter deep water, we threw some ribs in the oven and were set for the night. There was a floating tiki bar on pontoons a couple of hundred meters in front of us. It was lit up with lights, with a few locals hanging out. It didn't look like it was worth the effort to put the dinghy in the water and go over. Instead, we stared at the lights and stars for this evening's entertainment. We got up early the next morning to finish the last 25 miles to the Canal. The waves built up during the day and were pushing us along. You could have surfed some of them on a board. And we did on our hulls. So did a handful of dolphins traveling with us. I kept an eye out for Gidget and Moondoggy, they would have enjoyed ride. How they manage to not get run over by the boat, amazes me. Pretty much, a sailboat our size, will surf most large waves coming from behind. When we looked on the AIS (shows us other boats on our chart plotter screen), we had to wonder what they were thinking. First their bow is pointed one way, then almost 90 degrees in another direction. Yep, that's how we surf. Then it was time to make our way through an anchorage that contained these huge cargo ships at anchor, awaiting transit through the canal, or offloading in the port of Colon. We had to zigzag our way through them, then make it through an opening in a breakwater jetty. Once inside, the water was flat, but the wind continued to howl. Even running both engines at this point, it was a chore staying in the channel to the marina entrance.

Now, we're sitting here in a marina called Shelter Bay. It occupies land that was once Ft Sherman, a former U.S. Army base at the Caribbean side of the Panama Canal. After checking in at the office, getting shore power hooked up, it was time to run the air conditioner. One of our French neighbors yelled over to us and pointed at the water. There was a 6 ft crocodile cruising by the front of our boat, then headed into the mangrove bush near the shore. Today, an agent of the Panama Canal came to measure all of our boats with a tape measure, and to have us sign documents, that we could maintain a minimum speed, and had the fuel to make it from the Caribbean to the Pacific side. Tomorrow we get briefed on how the transit is going to work. We are are going to be rafted with two German mono-hulls. One on each side of us. With 3 abreast, there will be plenty of us to handle the 120 ft lines going through the locks. Taurus and Lunatix on the outsides, Air Power in the middle. I guess the party is on our boat.

Dave & Jill

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