Yep, by the time you read this post, Tulum-5 and the LF2SF Crew will be rollin through the Panama Canal, heading toward the Atlantic Ocean (Caribbean Sea) and the Spanish Main! Our big day has finally come and we’re pretty excited to take Tulum-5 through this historic engineering wonder of the world. We’re bummed that the folks we invited to come crew and linehandle were not able to make it. We’ve had significant trials of spirit and determination just in the short way from Costa Rica to Panama City, there were few easy miles and we encountered significant mechanical and weather challenges. But we’re here and really glad to be moving through the canal, looking for a well earned break on the other side. Tulum will get some TLC and we’ll give ourselves a well earned break to write, relax and see some more of Panama and possibly Colombia while we’re here.
While we were in Panama City, we were able to get the family to the very detailed Canal Museum, allowing us to more fully appreciate the challenges that went into building and maintaining the Canal as well as the various political struggles the Panamanian people have gone through over the years. The 44 miles of Canal has history, blood, sweat and tears built into it that most people can’t imagine, we’re glad we were able to get to the museum to more fully appreciate the full impact of the this momentous day we’ll share as a family.
Here’s our ship’s number placard for the Canal. This is significant because it proves you’re been there and done that. As a family, we still have the placard from Tulum-2, it’s framed and hanging on a wall.
Besides all the paperwork that must come waaaay before you ever get near the Canal (read Prepping To Cross The Ditch: Tulum’s Panama Canal Primer) you’ve gotta prep your boat for the crossing. Each boat must have (4) line handlers. We strongly preferred not to hire line handlers and invited friends to come linehandle for us, but they could not make it, so we had to hire three line handlers. Then we need to take on the fenders and ropes needed for the Canal. Every boat MUST have (4) 200-ft lines on board (those are the blue lines you see in my pic above) and our agent provided the very nice giant fenders. The days of finding old tires as fenders for the boat and wrapping them in plastic wrap seems to be gone….old tires are really dirty and you don’t want to use them anyways. But….since we’re rafting up with two other boats, we’ll only actually use two of these lines and two line handlers, freeing up the HelmsMistress or El Capitan to cook or take pictures.
It’s taken Tulum three years to get here. We’ve had significant challenges each year we’ve been cruising but that’s part of cruising, sometimes. We’re had good friends come into our lives then move into a new chapter of their own lives. We’ve met cruising celebrities and found them to just be people like us, counting several as good friends wherever we might see them again.
So in ending this last post written from Panama City, Panama in the mighty Pacific Ocean, I’m humbled and awed to be able to share these 44 miles with my family as we move to the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. After I’m able to process and slow down a bit on the other side of the ditch, I’ll share this journey with all of you. Each of you out there who reads this tiny sailing and travel blog is one of my friends, sharing in the adventures, trials and tribulations as we go through life slowly on a cruising sailboat.
Thank you for sharing the journey with us this far, we hope you’ll keep reading, commenting and enjoying.