Panama Canal

20. March 2011, Sunday
9° 11' 54" N, 79° 52' 33" W

Finally! We have our permit for the canal passage.
However, we are not allowed to be alone, because the mandatory crew for each yacht is 4 crew, 1 pilot, plus captain.
Frank and Doerte, (le Barons) came specially from Panama City to hire on the Odin for the transit. Together with Werner the crew was complete.
You may believe me that it is a really nice ride in the locks when millions of liters of water rush from below into the chambers within minutes and raise the water level by 8 meters each time.
3 yachts are tied together in a package so that they can be packed into the locks behind the big ships.
When they then use their gigantic propellers to start, they turn the pool into a real whitewater hell.
The crew must now ensure that all 4 lines are evenly tensioned so that the ships tied together do not turn sideways, are pressed against the rough wall and are severely damaged.
After 3 locks we are in the fresh water of Gatun Lake. We moor at a buoy at 1 a.m. and fall dead tired into the bunks.
Wake up and new pilot at 6 am.
Almost 100 years ago (1913) the Panama Canal was opened. Over 20,000 people from all over the world died during its construction. Accidents, malaria, yellow fever, animals, murder... There were many ways to get to the afterlife.
Now the digging continues, because the canal is being expanded. In many places, huge construction machines have been eating their way into the earth for more than 3 years, tearing ugly scars in the seemingly untouched jungle. .
For hours we head west across the man-made Gatun Lake until we reach the 3 final locks down into the Pacific. Down it's a breeze. Since this time none of these giant poets are in front of us, we enjoy the "comfortable" conclusion.
Well, now we are finally lying in the "very cold" waters of the Pacific, in front of the gigantic skyline of Panama City and look forward to the endless expanses and the beauty of this huge sea.