Arrival at the entrance to the Panama Canal

Hooray for us. We are at the entrance to the Panama Canal! We arrived here today, Monday, at about 12:30 p.m., having sailed from the nearby island of Isla Grande this morning. We were in Isla Grande just overnight – having sailed there from the San Blas Islands on Sunday. It was a beautiful, very windy sail both days along the coast of Panama. Coming into the harbour at Isla Grande was a bit hair raising as we entered a fairly narrow channel between the small island of Isla Grande and the mainland of Panama. There were big green crashing waves on the shore and huge swells that rocked the boat a lot – then suddenly it was calm and clear and we were in a nice protected anchorage. Apparently Isla Grande is a huge week-end place for Panamanians and the small beach there was packed with locals – swimming and picnicking on the beach. Little water taxis ferried people back and forth constantly and we enjoyed seeing so many people after the solitude of San Blas. We had a nice quiet evening on our boat – dying to go to a restaurant – but not having the energy to set up our dinghy and engine and go to shore. We were very excited to arrive at the Panama Canal today – passing dozens of huge container ships outside the harbour entrance. We are at a very pleasant and clean marina here – called Shelter Bay Marina. It was quite a thrill to have the chance to go for a little walk, and have both lunch and dinner at the marina restaurant. As much as we enjoyed San Blas we were starting to miss some of the amenities of modern civilization. We found a Panama Canal agent right away – someone who is quite well known among “yachties” – and he has already got us set up in the official Panama Canal registration system. Tomorrow he is sending over the official “admeasurer” to get the exact dimensions of the boat – a requirement for the Panama Canal transit. He is also getting us a transit date ( probably about March 13th), with all the required equipment and crew that we need. We will fill you in more about all that as the time progresses. In the meantime just wanted to let you all know that we are safely here, and very thrilled about being here on the Caribbean side of the Panama Canal in our own boat. P.S. We just heard from someone that there were crocodiles in the water near some of the San Blas Islands. Oh, my – sometimes it is better not to know such things.