May 29, 2016 - Panama Stopover, Departure Day, Race 11

image.jpg

Although I am completing Leg 7 of the Race, some legs, like those I am on, have more than one race, so there are more races than legs in total. Tomorrow begins race 11.  

We have had a good stopover in Panama. We were greeted at the dock upon arrival by the Clipper Race shore based crew with a welcoming smile and a cooler full of beer and soft drinks. After the photo shoot with our flag for the second place finish, we gathered on shore to get our land legs back under us. There was a fair bit of swaying and staggering until we got used to solid ground under us once again!  It wasn't long before we all piled into taxis and  headed to Panama City for a night in a hotel, craving clean sheets and a shower.

 Linda ate the whole thing!

Linda ate the whole thing!

A good value deal was found for all of us at the Best Western. Linda and I followed the recommendation of the reception staff and tried a Panamanian food place for lunch,  and we're glad we did.


 Sean and Jane - Rooftop poolside was a popular spot in the afternoon.  

Sean and Jane - Rooftop poolside was a popular spot in the afternoon.  

 Jill and Elaine.  

Jill and Elaine.  

 Craving red meat, a bunch of us enjoyed Argentinian steak for dinner. The meat portions were huge, juicy and tender.

6am the next morning, we headed back to the boat. Our transit through the Panama Canal began with the boarding of a pilot, who would escort us. 

image.jpg
 Piloting boats through the canal is a tough job, but somebody has to do it! 

Piloting boats through the canal is a tough job, but somebody has to do it! 

With the pilot safely aboard, we then travelled, together with 2 other Clipper boats to the first of 6 locks, 3 up, through the lake, and 3 down. 

We went through the locks, rafted with the 2 other boats, Derry-Londonderry-Doire (DLD) and UNICEF.  

Here are more pictures to give you the idea.  

 Heading off, with DLD and UNICEF.  

Heading off, with DLD and UNICEF.  

 Chatting. There was a lot of hurry up and wait.  

Chatting. There was a lot of hurry up and wait.  

 DLD and UNICEF rafted.  

DLD and UNICEF rafted.  

 Us Clipper Telemed+  snugged up against UNICEF. 

Us Clipper Telemed+  snugged up against UNICEF. 

 Approaching the canal behind a cargo ship.  

Approaching the canal behind a cargo ship.  

 The gates close once we are tucked in behind the cargo ship. The boats have been carefully measured and scheduled accordingly.  

The gates close once we are tucked in behind the cargo ship. The boats have been carefully measured and scheduled accordingly.  

 Canal worker tosses us a weighted line for us to attach our heavier line to, which he then retrieves.  

Canal worker tosses us a weighted line for us to attach our heavier line to, which he then retrieves.  

 This engine guides the larger ships into place, in concert with a partner on the opposite side.  

This engine guides the larger ships into place, in concert with a partner on the opposite side.  

 After the water rises, we exit the lock.  

After the water rises, we exit the lock.  

 We put our tarpaulin up for shade, but then it turned into shelter from the rain. The other crews looked on with envy, and a few joined us for a visit :-) 

We put our tarpaulin up for shade, but then it turned into shelter from the rain. The other crews looked on with envy, and a few joined us for a visit :-) 

 We were treated to a lovely sunset as we waited 3.5 hours, rafted together on a morning can in the lake, for a new pilot to join us after the first's shift was over.

We were treated to a lovely sunset as we waited 3.5 hours, rafted together on a morning can in the lake, for a new pilot to join us after the first's shift was over.

 Transiting through the final 3 locks in the night time was interesting.  

Transiting through the final 3 locks in the night time was interesting.  

These locks are 100+ years old!  They reminded me of the Welland Canal, that bypasses Niagara Falls, close to where I grew up. Somehow I expected something on a grander scale. I guess the new locks, opening soon, will have a much greater capacity. 

 These locks are 100+ years old! 

These locks are 100+ years old! 

We arrived at Shelter Bay Marina at about 10pm. Most crew were delighted to find the bar still open, and I gather a good number of beers were consumed that night.

The next day, we started work at 7:30am and after final preparations at the dock (refueling, cleaning bunks, rigging check, etc.), we piled into taxis once more and headed for the Radisson in Colon. We were told to always roam in groups and to stay close to the hotel. We did and we were fine.

We spent a day of lounging by the pool and exploring the "Free Zone"  (tax free shopping), The next day, we scrounged up a couple of "tour guides" (they didn't speak English) and played tourists for the day. 

image.jpg
 Portabello - a 250-year-old fortification put in place by the Spaniards as part of the second phase of defense edifices in the Carribean.  

Portabello - a 250-year-old fortification put in place by the Spaniards as part of the second phase of defense edifices in the Carribean.  

 We piled into a motor launch to get to Isla Grande for some lunch. Photo credit: Sean Lee

We piled into a motor launch to get to Isla Grande for some lunch. Photo credit: Sean Lee

image.jpg
 Time for a quick dip in the Atlantic before heading back.  

Time for a quick dip in the Atlantic before heading back.  

Today we are to be at the boat at 4 pm. We head off the dock this evening for a motor sail through the night to the start line. Tomorrow is the start of the race.  

I hope we can once again keep you on the edge of your seat cheering for us as you follow the little green boat on Race Viewer! We want to be on the podium twice in New York for Leg 7 prize giving!

 Smile! 

Smile!