After my mom and I got back to Panama, we stayed in Linton Bay for a day and then left for a place close to the Panama Canal. There were no other boats in the anchorage, so we stayed an extra day because it was so nice. We left after two days, and went to a marina right next to the entrance of the canal. While we were there, we met up with some of our friends, Bora and Love and Luck. All the kids swam in the pool most of the time. On our second day in the marina, we figured out we’d be able to cross earlier than we expected. We set our date to go across in two days.
In the canal, you go through six locks. You need to have line handlers to catch the lines, loosen them, and tighten them. We were able to hire two line handlers, and one of our boat friends wanted experience, so he came on too. My mom would be the fourth line handler. The line handlers slept on our boat the night before we crossed the canal. We had to go early, so there wasn’t enough time for them to take a taxi. We left around four in the morning.
For the first set of locks we were rafted to a monohull, and we were right up against the wall. When the water started to rise, the fenders were getting stuck, and bending our life lines. We thought one was going to snap. Luckily, we were able to push off the wall and saved our life lines. The next two locks we went through with no problem.
After the locks, we drove into the lake, spotted lots of crocodiles, and moored on a giant mooring ball. We stayed there for a couple hours, resting. We had to wait for this big boat to go through the canal before we could cross. We went through the next three locks with a giant cargo ship behind us. As it was coming in, I thought it might crush us because it was so close. It barely fit through the canal, it had about a foot until it hit the wall on either side. We went through the last three locks rafted with two other boats. We had some problems with one boat who was unwilling to do some of the things the advisers told him to do. Other than that, we went through fine. We moored on the pacific side at the end of the day, and the line handlers left.
We stayed there the next day because Love and Luck, our friends, were suing the Panama Canal. Sally and Lucy, the youngest, stayed on our boat while their parents and older siblings went to Panama City. Unfortunately, they had to wait thirty days before the Panama Canal would decide if they would pay for the damage to their boat. We left the next day to La Playita bay. We stayed there about a week, working on the boat and doing school work. We went into Panama City a few times to get our French Polynesia visa and shop. We left for Las Perlas Islands after the week was over. We spent a few days relaxing on the boat. We went up a creek that was supposed to have crocs, but we couldn’t see any. We saw tons of stingrays though. We left Las Perlas Islands and went to Vista Mar Marina back in Panama. When we docked, we saw huge jelly fish swimming around. Someone told us later that a sting from them could kill you. We met seven kid boats during our stay at the marina. Two of them had kids our age. We stayed for two weeks playing, eating, sleeping, and working. We did two more grocery runs to prepare for our seven day passage to the Galapagos. Unfortunately, our boat friends were going to Mexico for the season, but we will meet them in New Zealand next year hopefully. On the weekend, we took a weather window and started our longest passage yet and our first overnight on the Pacific side. It would be seven days with only me and my family (and later on some red footed boobies).