These are guest photos and videos to the Livin’ Life blog. While transiting the Panama canal aboard Stella Polaris, Maggie as well as Brita and Jason from Blue Moon took a number of photos and videos. Here is a selection of these to help represent our experience.
Click in the center of the photo above to open the slideshow in a bigger size. Then scroll through the pictures by clicking on the right or left arrows on the sides.
Enroute to the Gatun Locks in the Panama Canal, many swift moving tugboats churned up the otherwise flat water as they passed by us.
Dave received instructions for line handling.
It was a tough job to hold that line, but someone had to do it.
Jason and Dave paid out the lines to the canal linemen each in their own way.
After losing a fender off Stella Polaris, our raft neighbor on Kulfi tried fishing for it before we had to leave the lock.
Efforts continue to capture the wayward fender.
As the water rose in the lock, Dave took in the slack to keep Stella Polaris centered. The eddying water would spin the boats or push them to the side if the lines were not taken in.
Nothing happened quickly in the Panama Canal. This video shows the lock closing at standard speed. They didn’t close all the way on their own, the pressure of the rising water finished the job.
View of the lock closing behind the rafted (nested) boats.
Some of the lock doors didn’t close as fast as the others. They worked like my joints: old, creaky, and rather slow.
Our Panama Canal pilot came aboard and checked in on the radio. He informed us that a large ship was going through the locks with us but that there would be plenty of room. Then he noticed all the outboards on Stella Polaris…
Stella Polaris pulled up beside Kulfi to raft (nest) up. Another smaller sailboat rafted to the other side of Kulfi and we went through the Gatun locks three across.
The small German sailboat received the stern line for the starboard side lines to the Panama Canal linemen.
Kulfi received the lines from the Canal line handlers. The linemen always throw it perfectly and safely. When it came our turn, I caught it and was assigned to tie it to Dave’s line so that was where I headed with it. Jason had to tell me a few times before it sunk in that the line should go back to him. Oops. But I quickly tied the next line onto Dave’s loop.
The Panama Canal line handlers walked us into the lock and, as Jason said, there was no turning back.
The Gatun Lock linemen had to go up steep flights of stairs as they walked us into the locks.
After positioning us in the lock, we sent our lines up to the cleats where we were attached. It was our job to take in slack or let some out as needed.
Goodbye Caribbean Sea! The gates close off the Atlantic side behind us.
Sped up to save time, this video shows the water rising on the lock gates behind us.
The water rose quickly and you could see the turbulence caused by it. The water looked almost like it was boiling. It looked like we would feel it a lot more than we did. Perhaps that is part of why small boats need to be nested or rafted. The turbulence might knock around a single monohull.
We went through the Gatun Locks behind a 520 foot ship. We heard that the turbulence caused by the ships can be bad, so waited for it to hit us.
On to the next lock, the linemen walk us forward. They don’t pull; we go under our own power. But I suppose they are there to help in case we run into trouble. Mostly, they just hold onto the lines in order to put them on the cleat when we are in position.
Oh no! We had a fender escape. Somehow the line broke and off it went. There was no way to grab it from the boat and we helplessly watched it float away.
The errant fender stayed in the lock with us. Would the turbulence carry it back or keep it away? It seemed caught in an eddy.
A cool shot of the Panama Canal trains that help the big ships through.
Through with the last Gatun Lock, our lines were released and we brought them back aboard.
And that is the end of the footage and photos I have to share on transiting the Panama Canal. Hope you enjoyed them. Thanks to Andreas and Margrethe on Stella Polaris for taking us along. It was a great experience and we really enjoyed your company and Maggie’s cooking! Thanks also to them and Brita and Jason from Blue Moon for their photos and videos that I have shared here.