Saturday 14 February 2015

PORTOBELO and Beyond

The trip to Portobelo was a great trip with winds on our beam most of the way.  For the non sailors out there that is the wind coming at you from the side and you are able to move very quickly if the wind is good. We were expecting a 2 knot current to be against us but there did not appear to be any current.  Portobelo is a very protected anchorage and there is lots to see
 Cannons at one of the 2 forts on either side of the harbour with the harbour in the background.

The fort on the other side of the harbour protecting the Spanish gold that was shipped from Portobelo

Upon arrival the crew from “No Regrets” invited us out to Captain Jacks for supper.  It turned out there were 4 boats from the BPO (Blue Planet Odyssey)  who had dinner together that night.  Lovesail and Ransom joined us as well. The food was so good we went for lunch the next day as well with the crew from sailing vessel OM. 

The Black Christ in the local church. It is said that there was a pilgrimage each year where believers would crawl on their knees from as far away as Costa Rica to visit the Black Christ.

From Portobelo we came over to Colon.  There was very little wind & we motored the whole way over. 
There are ships everywhere as you approach.  They are anchored awaiting their turn to go through the Panama Canal 
What a sight to see all the ships anchored waiting to get through the Panama Canal.
We are now in a slip at Shelter Bay Marina across from Colon.  We depart on Monday and will go through the Canal between 4:30 and 5:30 PM Panama time on Monday.  If you watch this web cam
of the Canal at 2:30 PM  Calgary time or some time past that you will see sailing vessel Maggie going through the canal. From the information I have right now we will be tied up to 2 catamaran boats as we go through the canal.  Maggie is blue in colour.

We just had a fabulous day.  We toured the building of the new locks of the Panama Canal.  Jimmy Cornell arranged  the visit. The locks will be 1200 feet long and 60% wider than the exiting locks.  It is being built to accommodate the LPG gas super tankers that will carry the gas from the fracing in the United States.  We learned that the Chinese are interested in helping Nicaragua build even larger locks through Nicaragua.  We were able to drive through the bottom of the locks and see the huge gates that were shipped from Italy.  4 of the gates are already in place and 2 still need to be put into place.  The fellow leading the tour creates the 1100 page monthly report for the building of the canal complete with 200 pages of full page photographs.  He takes a monthly  helicopter trip to get a picture of the progress on the new construction. The new locks will use 60% less water than the old locks using 3 separate catch basins per lock to save the water.  From what I understood there is full redundancy in all the controls and wiring for the locks with over 500 kilometres of wire. They told us this is the biggest building project anywhere.
 We then went to Panama City and saw the other end of the Panama Canal. Then on for a visit with the head of the Panama Canal Authority where he told us about the new locks that they hope to test in March and April and open them in May 2016. He signed BPO boats log books and was presented a plaque from the Blue Planet Odyssey.

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