Jan. 28 Shelter Bay to Lake Gatum
The morning was spent getting the boat ready for the transit through the canal; the World Cruising Club handles all the details including booking blocks of time on three separate days to get all the boats through. Lines and tires, to be used as fenders, were delivered to the boat and put in place. We left the dock around 3:30 pm and heading for the marshalling area where we would raft up with two other boats. Our advisor was dropped off by the pilot boat and we awaited instructions to head for the entrance to the canal.
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Dan installing the web camera at the spreaders

Once there, we tied bow, stern and spring lines to Chez Nous, a catamaran formally in charter in the BVIís, and the center boat in our three boat raft. We headed into the first lock and the line handlers on shore threw heaving lines with monkey fists tied around lead weights for us to grab and tie to our lines. Robin and I were assigned to the bow; our job would be to bring in the line as the water lifted the boat up in the lock. It is a strenuous job and there is some anxiety as mishandling the line could mean a boat would end up on the wall.
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Handeling the lines

I have never been through the canal before, but know some people who took a cruise through it once, but being just four feet above the water with the lines in hand has to be a considerably different experience.
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The gates for the new locks, the nearby tugs give some indication of how massive they are

We made it through all three locks without any issues and exited to Lake Gatum, where we would spend the night rafted up to another boat on a large mooring. Our advisor was picked up by the pilot boat and we all settled in for a couple well deserved beers and some rest from all the work we had done during the first part of the transit.
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The catamaran NDS Darwin sits at anchor in Lake Gatun as the sun comes up

As a side note, when we were told that each boat in the raft would have to have an advisor aboard many, including me, thought it was just a racket to squeeze a few more bucks out of the yachts. Having done it I can now say it was absolutely necessary, these very professional gentlemen directed all the actions of the skippers and line handlers on all the boats keeping the raft in the middle of the canal and insuring no one got hurt. Imagine if you will three skippers on three separate yachts rafted together with no one person in charge, there would probably be fist fights half way through.

Drink all day at home, your friends worry about you; do it on vacation and they say "what a good time you're having". Save your friends needless worry, travel more!