Canal Day One – Gatun Locks

(Gatun Lake, Panama Canal, Panama)

We’re halfway to the Pacific bru!

After putting the finishing touches on Oceanna this morning – including putting our first-rate line handlers to work the moment they stepped aboard (win!) – we motored out of the marina with our very own send off party.

As exciting as it is to be heading out on the next leg of this adventure, it’s hard to say goodbye to the amazing friends we’ve made. To Maria and Cathy on Joana, I know there’s not another pair like you out in the world. We’ll certainly look, but we’d prefer if you just came on through to the Pacific yourselves. Thanks for all the memories. And to the friends we barely met aboard Neko, Mary and Pete. Too bad we’re going in opposite directions.

Our first stop was back in The Flats where we were to pick up our advisor. Now as the Admeasure went, waiting for a Canal official is very similar to waiting for the cable guy. They put you in their schedule and tell you to wait for them anywhere between 3:15 and Christmas.  Around 5pm, our advisor and his trainee showed up and we were off for Gatun Locks.

Arriving at the first lock we knew we’d be situated in the back of the lock behind the large ship Atlantic Reefer, but were unsure if we’d be “center chamber” or “sidewall” with a fancy fishing boat. It seemed like we were given the direction for every possible alternative, but in the end the call was made that we’d be tied off to the fishing boat which would be tied “sidewall”. All the better for us. This options meant there was little actual work to be done. Simply load up the starboard side of Oceanna with fenders and tires, then throw our two lines over to be tied off to the boat once it was in position.

It’s extremely important to be tied off in the locks, as when the water starts to enter the chamber to raise us all up it can be quite turbulent. Along with the actual influx of water, the mixing of salt water from the ocean and fresh water from the lake makes it even hairier.

I was overly impressed with the speed of the locks. There are no pumps involved, the entire system runs strictly on gravity. Before I knew it we were raised up and moving forward into the next lock. As impressive were our diligent line handlers. And as promised, I really didn’t have to do anything. They even reminded me to take pictures as I stood gawking at the whole operation.

Three locks behinds us and we had been raised 26 meters on to Gatun Lake. A quick motor over to the mooring field, tie ourselves off sideways to a large buoy, and it was shandies for everyone!


Marina chores – everything from installing AIS Systems to cleaning the curtains.


Putting Kate to work making her own bed.


And Jason swabbing the decks.


The Oceanna Canal Crew!


Chao to these beauties! Cheers to seeing you again out on the big blue.


The new locks sitting waiting to be installed. Those tiny looking books to the bottom right are not-so-little tugs.


All hands on deck.


A massive car carrier fresh out of the locks headed the other way.


Entering Gatun Locks!


A view back out of the first lock just before the doors closed.



Following Atlantic Reefer through to the Pacific.


This fishing boat has two lines up to the Canal linehandlers on the wall, then we’re tied off to them. We just sit and enjoy the ride as the boys on the fishing boat take in the slack.


Enjoying the view backward as we’re up a level.


As we progressed through the locks the sun set, giving us the night time experience as well.


Kate, most likely laughing at her line counterpart’s inaccurate measure of her abilities.


Boys being boys. Busy analyzing if the GoPro Greg taped to the mast was getting a good enough shot. (It wasn’t)


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