(La Playita, Panama City, Panama)
Last night the Canal officials (read: Cable Guy) told us to expect our advisors between 6 and 8am. So like clockwork, our advisors showed up at 9am. The majority of the day was spent motoring along Gatun Lake and through the Gaillard Cut. All the while watching the seemingly endless parade of massive container ships, even bigger car carriers, and extremely powerful tugs keeping them all in line. Oceanna was most definitely the pipsqueak on the playground today.
Five and a half hours later we arrived at the first lock of the day. The Pedro Miguel Locks which lower us 29.5 feet from the elevation of Gatun Lake to Miraflores Lake. For this lock we were rafted to a tug who was tied “sidewall” in the lock. Another easy operation for the Oceanna crew.
Following the single lock at Pedro Miguel we had a short motor across Miraflores Lake to arrive at the final two locks. The Miraflores Locks are located just outside Panama City and have a large visitor center and restaurant. Therefore, the top balconies of the multiple story building looking over the locks were loaded with people. Oceanna was position front and center in the locks for transit, so it was pretty easy to feel pretty important with everyone waving and snapping pictures.
For the final two locks Oceanna would be positioned “center chamber”. Meaning all four of our line handlers were in the action. The process begins with Canal linehandlers throwing lines with heavy monkeyball knots at the end. These leader lines are caught on board and attached to the large lines we had positioned at the four corners, then pulled back to the wall. Once each line had a counterpart on the wall it was a smooth operation of walk-the-catamaran into position and tying off relatively center. As the water was released from the lock; Jaime, Keith, Kate, and Jason slowly slacked their lines, allowing Oceanna to stay in her center position on the water. In the second lock we had a short discussion about the implications of leaving the lines tied tight and the resulting hovering, disastrous, amusement park-like ride that would follow. We didn’t try it out.
After the second lock of the Miraflores set, the doors opened setting free onto the big bad Pacific. We scooted under the Bridge of Americas, dropped our advisors off, finally setting anchor and popping the champagne. We had arrived!