Preparing for the Canal transit

We are lucky to be in the Shelter Bay Marina. This place is so new that they put in the cleats to our slip just before we came in. We are the first boat to ever be in this slip. Power and water are not yet availabile. Yesterday, a crane on a barge drove a piling across from us so that a new finger pier could be secured, then two guys installed cleats, and 15 minutes later a boat was tied up in that spot (while the barge moved 30 feet away). Today the barge was dredging the channel right next to us, so it is pretty noisy but in compensation I will have not have to worry about running aground coming out of here. The marina is at the old Fort Sherman US military reservation that has sat abandoned for many years. The roads are still in place but the grounds are totally overrun with trees and jungle growth, and only the foundations of most structure are to be seen. The trees are filled with beautiful birds, howler monkeys, and lots of other animal life that have lived undisturbed for decades. Panama has made it a national park but the only visitors are the few yachtsmen in the new marina.

We have been so busy since we arrived here two days ago that we have not left the marina, even to buy fresh food. We were “admeasured” by the Panal Canal Authority this morning and assigned a number for our transit, tentatively planned for next Tuesday the 13th. The plan is to leave late in the afternoon and do the “up” lock to Gatun Lake, anchor in the lake overnight, and then do the down locks Wednesday morning to the Pacific. In addition to getting admeasured, I have been working on solving our outstanding repair issues. I have had Cristobal Marine Repair out twice to help diagnose problems. Turns out that fresh water accumulator tank is kaput and there is none to be had in Panama. I got on the phone with West Marine in the US and have one on the way. I talked to Cat Pumps in Minneapolis and found a Panamanian distributor who will sell me the special lubricating oil the pump needs. I also am having a new foredeck light fixture and stainless steel guard being fabricated here in Panama. Hopefully, all of this will be in place before we leave on Tuesday.

We have no place to stay on the Pacific side. I hope to get a mooring at the Balboa Yacht Club but that seems unlikely. We will probably have to anchor out. There is lots more to say but we need to go out for a jungle walk before it gets dark.