RAIN: When it rains in the Tropical areas, it really rains. This picture was taken on Saturday, and shows the spectacle from cockpit during a rain shower. We could only see a few meters! But, a few minutes later, the sun was shining from the blue skies again.
The canal transit went incredibly smooth, and both the personnel, the pilot and the system are very professional. We transited together with two other yachts, Kira from Germany, and an American yacht. All yachts are required to have four line handlers, to assist with the lines needed to harness the boats inside the lock chambers. We were able to get Jacques from France, his lovely wife Sandra from Colombia and Clifford Vaughs from Boston to assist us. Cliff has transited the canal roughly 30 times already, and both Jacques and Sandra have transited several times before. So we were probably one of the most experienced crews (except for us two) to transit. It was a relief for us to have such an experienced crew onboard.
BALBOA: Underveis has reached the Pacific! We are currently moored in Balboa, where we are provisioning and preparing for the passage to the Galapagos islands. We are feeling completely intoxicated these days, and that is only because we realize that we are in a different world ocean.
Galapagos next
We had to stay anchored for several hours in the Flats (The area just in front of the canal at the Atlantic side.) before we were given a pilot, but after that everything went very smoothly. We transited the Gatun locks at around 2100 hours, and went up into Lake Gatun where we moored for the night. We were all very tired, and after only one cold beer, we all fell asleep. The next morning we woke up early from the screams of the monkeys in the jungle. We set off at around 06.30 and motored the approximately 28 nautical miles through the lake and to the Pedro Miguel lock. A great trip, with an overwhelming nature and animal life. We didn’t see any alligators, even though they exist in great numbers there. Lake Gatun is really a rainforest that was irrigated almost 100 years ago, to provide water for the canal. But still today, trees and branches stick out of the water, and straying from the marked channel is said to be a very dangerous thing to do.

Later in the day we reached the Miraflores locks, where many of our readers correctly spotted us go through on web camera at approximately 13.02 Norwegian time (19.02 local time.), on Saturday, as a part of a raft consisting of three yachts tied together. We were in the Pacific! Now we have traversed not only a world ocean, but a continent, too. In Colon the tide was around 30 centimeters, here in Balboa it is 4,5 meters, with the strong current to go with it. As we speak, we are moored at the Panama Canal yacht Club, and things are great. We are stocking up, have sewn and installed a sunsail, bought a new spare anchor and fixed a number of bits and bobs. We have been social, and met a very pleasant Panamenian-Colombian family that we visited in Colon, and they have visited us. By the way, Panama City and Colon have been haunted by violent riots in the past few days, and the police have shot a demonstrator. So the mood is very tense here in Panama for the time being, and we have had some limitations as to what and where we have been able to go for a few days. But now things seem to be calming down. We will set sail for Galapagos just over the weekend, a passage of some 950 miles. Boy, are we looking forward to that!

Balboa, Panama, 17.02.2008
TRAVEL COMPANIONS: An entire convoi of ships transited at the same time. To the foremost can be seen the American catamaran "Cabaret", with Bill and Nancy, a very pleasant acquaintance for us at the Underveis.

# The construction of the Panama canal is amongst the greatest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken by man. A passage from New York to San Francisco through the canal is around 9,500 kilometers, less than half of that of the former route around Cape Horn, that is approximately 22,500 kilometers.

# The Panama canal is roughly 81 km long. It has two sets of locks on the Pacific side, the Miraflores- and Pedro Miguel locks, and the Gatun locks on the Atlantic side. Each lock chamber is 305 meters long, 33,5 meters wide and 26 meters deep.

# The canal has two passages, so that ships can transit in both directions at the same time. The difference in height from the ocean up to lake Gatun is 26 meters. 14 times more matter was removed when the Panama canal was built, than when the Suez canal was built.

# The locks on the Atlantic side have massive steel locks 21 meters tall and each weighing 745 tons. Still, they are so well balanced, that it only takes a 40 hp motor to open and close them.

# The construction was hampered by problems, including diseases (especiallyt malaria and yellow fever), and massive landslides. As many as 27,500 people supposedly lost their lives during the construction period.

# In 2014, the Panama canal is scheduled to be expanded with a new channel running parallel to the existing two. It will be so wide that it can fit even the largest ships being built today and in the foreseeable future.

(Sources: Wikipedia, the Panama canal)

EGGSHELL: Tiny Underveis as a part of three vessels rafting together. We are the boat closest to camera, that is, to the right. The transit went very smooth, and everybody at the canal are very professional. (Photo: The Panama canal)
LANDLUBBERS: The family of Sandra and Manuel Luiz came to visit us. Even granny came along. We made them some Norwegian-style porridge. They seemed to like it, even though Sandra (far left) became seasick simply from laying at anchor!
GIGANTIC: The ships taht transit the canal, are enormous, and the largest ones are the container ships and the ro-ro shils. This one was so large that it hardly cleared the bridge. But safety is very good in the canal, and accidents very, very rare.
SCENIC: The passage through the artifical Lake Gatun, 26 meters above sea level was a scenic experience. Rainforest, birdlife and green and luscious nature. Unfortunately, we didnt spot any alligators, but they are numerous here. In silhouette can be seen the German yacht "Kira".
(Photo: Clifford Vaughs)
(Photo: Clifford Vaughs)
LITTLE ANGEL: Little Gabriela (2) really charmed us. She entered the ship, threw herself onto the nearest couch and felt herself completely at home. This in spite of the fact that she had never been in a boat before. The porridge also went down at an alarming pace, and she smiled, laughed and made mischief, making us all laugh. To the left big sister Kelly and granny Tereza.
INTIMATE: IT was intimate below decks when we were visited by a Panamenian enlarged family. We ate porridge, served snacsk and drank sodapops. Conversations were running in Spanish, English and Norwegian, including all intermediary versions of the aforementioned!
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