Ambassador 89 – Back in the Pacific

As much as I enjoyed the Atlantic ocean and Caribbean sea, it sure feels good to back in the Pacific. The Atlantic side of Panama was cloudy and rainy with thunder and lightning. But the Pacific side has dawned clear and sunny and wonderful. I am continuing my long journey from Buenos Aires to San Francisco, after a 2 week wait in Panama to transit the canal.

After yesterday’s morning delay, we were re-scheduled to pick up our canal advisor at 3:30pm, and transit straight through, without spending the night on Gatun lake. And it actually worked that way. We have a 32-foot Brazilian sailboat rafter up to us on entering the first Gatun locks, and we transited in the center of the chamber, directly behind a monster tanker. There is indeed some turbulence when the lock fills, and when the tanked engages his propellor, but we handled things fine and locked up the 3 locks without incident.

The Brazilian boat couldn’t re-start his engine though, so we towed him to the Gatun anchorage before continuing on our way across the lake. We had to motor at 8 knots to meet the schedule at the other end, but as it was dark anyway, we didn’t miss much. For the Pedro Miguel and Miraflores locks, we rafted next to a 100-foot motor yacht, who was tied to the sidewall, and locked down that way. The only challenge was that we had to separate after each lock, then he would go first, settle into the new lock, and we would have to cozy up to his side again. Sounds easy, but there was a surprising amount of current running with us, and a bit of wind, which made steering and maneuvering quite challenging. But no harm, no foul, no damage, and all ended well at 1am, when we spilled out under the Bridge of the Americas and officially entered the Pacific Ocean.

At 2am we stopped at the Balboa Yacht Club to allow my crew off, but they wouldn’t allow me stay more than an hour, so at 3am I departed for San Francisco. As soon as I did, the skies cleared, the full moon lit the way, and a 10 knot breeze filled in on my beam. Perfect!

Today I am continuing south for about 100 miles, working my way out of the Bay of Panama so I can turn northwest. What happens then remains to be seen, as a coastal route in still a possibility, as is an offshore route, or perhaps a combination of the two. Its all dependent on the weather. So when you look at the miles to go, it presume an offshore route, which would be longest.

5/5  8am  8.25N  79.36W   5543nm gone,  5065nm to go

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