Friday, March 13, 2015

Panama, Crossroads of the World


SPECIAL NOTE - Right now there is a category five cyclone directly hitting the South Pacific Island Nation of Vanuata and many fear the worst. Although Sea Mercy has not officially partnered with Vanuata yet in 2015, they are on stand-by to help when the storm has passed. The need for aid is speculated to be great. Please help us by helping Sea Mercy and keeping up with what is happening in Vanuata. Read how to get involved at the bottom of this blog, and God Bless! 

Captain's Blog, Balboa Panama 3/13/2015

Our anchorage at sunset in Balboa, Panama

First-  I apologize for being absent for a while!  Somehow, just after clearing through the locks and just prior to a planned family visit to Seattle, I caught a pretty bad virus. It was a bit rough and put me back in schedule some. I recovered fully in Seattle and with a reschedule of my return flight I am now back on Sea Angel and getting us ready for crossing the Pacific.

Centennial Bridge across the Panama Canal

Birds at our anchorage in Panama
Resting after a big meal, Balboa, Panama





Panama is an amazing place.  

For us boating types it is a world crossroads.  The seas on either side are dramatically different.  The Caribbean side was lush, the sea there clear and with limited tidal variation, for the most part peaceful and calm.  On the Pacific side there is more contamination due to prevailing winds coming offshore bringing commercial, mostly ship pollution and soot as well as ashes from fires in the interior.  The water is not as clean here in the harbor so we choose not to swim or run our water maker, but the sea life is absolutely astounding.  Watching the birds feed at the tidal change (about 12’ from low to high), is watching a veritable feast.  It is absolutely crazy to watch them feed.  Included are a couple pictures of them resting, probably digesting?

GPS Image - Blue Triangles are ships- black boat
in the center in Sea Angel!
The Panama Canal transit was a real highlight.  For me there was a lot of anticipation and maybe a bit of anxiety as I had never transited through locks this large, and with such big companions.  There are three locks back to back going upward to Gatun Lake, a long inland transit, and then three locks back down on the Pacific Side.  It took us two days.  We all learned quickly that the transit is about speed and efficiency as it is very busy and time is a lot of money when they are dealing with getting huge commercial ships through.  It took us one raft up and one lock to get the hang of it, but from then on it was really smooth.  

The Ship Tai Hawk in the Canal
Freedom class US stealth combat ship in Panama Canal
Sea Angel was scheduled through the Canal with two other sailboats, both smaller, so we were the center boat and drove our “raft” through the locks.  There was substantial turmoil in the water and a lot of stress on our small boats and lines as the locks filled, and then again when we got some prop wash from the big ship just in front of us.  There was a bit of yelling between the advisors (one on each boat) and shore side line handlers.  We made it through three locks up on Saturday afternoon/evening then spent the night tied to a mooring in Gatun Lake.  That evening we heard the nearby howl of the black monkeys in the jungle.  The next morning we arose early and transited Gatun Lake and the narrow cut on the way to Milflores locks where we dropped back down to sea level on the Pacific side. 

It was a great opportunity to experience and receive the benefit of such a large work of human engineering.  We also got to see all the work being done on the new larger locks under construction.   We are now on a mooring in a district of Panama City called Balboa.  We are just a few hundred feet from the shipping lanes and get to watch the endless stream of large vessels in the crossroads.  

Stephanie and Oliver, wonderful help for
Sea Mercy in Panama

We have attended a Latitude 38 “Pacific Puddle Jump” kickoff party and have a wonderful new friend that has helped us connect with the needed resources to put all in order aboard Sea Angel.   All is well.
Balboa Yacht Club puddle jump kick-off party


Panama is and has been for us a place of transition.  There has been much that is changing in our environment, the scope of the journey to come has changed, there is a difference in our emotions, and in the detail of our preparations.  Panama has deservedly earned the title of “crossroads of the world” in my mind.   Please keep us in your prayers as we continue to prepare and then depart for the Galapagos and on to the Southern Pacific.

DL
Panama City Skyline from Balboa, Panama
PS - Watch below for a time lapse of our trip through the Panama Canal!



The Sea Angel is sailing for a cause. Sea Mercy is a benevolent program developed for disaster and critical care needs for remote islanders. Sea Mercy is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) charity with a simple vision and mission to "stand in the gap" with a service delivery vessel, trained health care volunteers, support equipment, and critical care services as island nations develop their "outer island" health care infrastructure, when critical health care need opportunities are present, or when disasters occur. 

Right now there is a category five cyclone directly hitting the South Pacific Island Nation of Vanuata and many fear the worst. Although Sea Mercy has not officially partnered with Vanuata yet in 2015, they are on stand-by to help when the storm has passed. The need is speculated to be great. Please help us by helping Sea Mercy and keeping up with what is happening in Vanuata.

We welcome you to consider donating on our behalf to Sea Mercy - they have several ways to get involved and are so grateful for your support. 

Sea Mercy's Corporate "We Care" Program is designed to help organizations attract and engage clients, vendors, and employees in the spirit of social responsibility and provide a wonderfully enriching partnership. There are several ways to participate with "We Care". Visit Sea Mercy's website for additional information. If you know of an organization or would like to involve yours, please share this information forward. 




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