12th March 2013 – Panama Canal crossing and Gatun Lake

We had 7 people onboard and the excitement was high as we were about to cross through the famous Panama Canal. Our first lock was Gatun lock, Charm Offensive was raised 85ft through three lock systems to the Alligator infested fresh water lake of Gatun.

We spent the night in the lake and bumped into the Volvo 70 “True North”, a yacht I had the pleasure of sailing on at 27kts surfing down a wave in St Lucia thanks to Nicky Sooter. It was great to see them and we rafted up alongside for some rum and beers. Damian was so excited he went to the wheel of the Volvo 70 and pretended to steer at 0kts for what felt like the entire night. Every time I looked he was grinning and turning the helm making noises, yelling at the crew to ease the jib, and things like pressure on as if he was a Volvo 70 ocean racer. I wonder what would have happened if we were actually sailing.

The next morning albeit slightly hung over we woke at 6am and meet our new pilot, he liked to joke and even feel asleep as we navigated the 20 miles of freshwater lake towards the Pedro Miguel and Miraflores lock. The diesel groaned and I like to say loved being washed out with fresh water for a few hours. We then dropped another 85ft through 3 more locks rafted up next to a Beneteau.

As we excited the canal the feeling of achievement overwhelmed me as I had passed through the last lock into the Pacific Ocean and over the half way mark of my Journey home.


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