Shelter Bay Marina is a beautiful and peaceful marina surrounded by rainforest. The staff there is very helpful and the atmosphere very friendly and relaxed. Everybody is waiting for the channel passage and tries to help each other. On the second day after our arrival the measuring took place and with a little help from our skipper Mirabella measured 49 feet only and not more than fifty which saved us 500 $!! Our agent Erick told us that there had been a cancellation and he will try to put us in on April 10th. And indeed he managed to put us in. Next morning he confirmed the date. That was really fast!!!
It was almost a pity that we had to leave so soon, because we met a lot of nice people like Tove and Rasmus from DIES NATALIS , Elena and Woytec with Paul from IMAGINE or Annemieke and Rob from CHARLIE II and just on the day of our departure INFINITY checked in – another boat from the Atlantic Odyssey. We haven’t seen them since Barbados and now we were both here in Panama! Jeremy told us that ROGUE would arrive on the next day, so we missed them. But hopefully we will meet again in Marquesas. The kids enjoyed the pool and Jaël trained her snorkelling skills. Finally Valerian also arrived in Shelter Bay Marina and joined the crew. So we could try out if it really would work to have three additional crew sharing a cabin or if it would be too much.
For the canal we had to move to the anchorage in the afternoon. The advisor was meant to come at five p.m. and finally got on board at 6 p.m. Our advisor Ricardo was a very nice guy. Very friendly and calm, explaining everything very well. He supervised Osmane who did with us his 9th canal passage. Everything went very smooth. Audrey and Valerian took care of the line at the bow and Mauro was on the stern line. We were nested to another sailing boat. So we just needed to care about the two lines on our starboard side. So it normally works like this: the big fat guy has to get into the lock first and then they add some sailingboats nested together in a package of two or three just to fill the room. The big ships pay around 200’000 dollars for passing the canal.
Around 10 p.m. we finally arrived in the Gatun lake and stayed at a huge buoy for the night. Next day at 8.00 a.m. our new advisor Edwin came on board and we started motoring throught the Gatun lake. In front of the Miraflores locks we had to wait for our nesting partner. This time it was a catamaran. His name was CHASING STARS and they had 5 girls on boat! So Jaël was very happy when she was invited to go on their boat after we were rafted together. She came back just shortly before the doors of the last lock were opening and Mirabella floated into the Pacific.
We met CHASING STARS again in the anchorage after the canal and we are looking forward to meet them again in French Polynesia.
Valerian and Audrey decided to continue their voyage on the boat Valerian came to Panama with. During the days in Shelter Bay Marina and also during the canal we already felt, that three additional crew is too much and would not work for the long passage to the Marquesas. We spoke to Mauro and agreed, that if we would find another person we would continue with two additional crew otherwise just with Mauro. Sometimes life is funny… we found Marine and it seemed to be the perfect match. She worked as a swimming teacher for kids and dive instructor on Martinique and was looking for a passage to French Polynesia. She also wants to learn more about sailing and so she joined us. Her first task arrived sooner than we thougt…
We wanted to move to the fuel dock but our anchor was stuck… first she tried to dive down to the anchor and check out what the problem was, but as the water was really murky it was very difficult for her to see or do anything. A French couple of another boat saw that we obviously had a problem with our anchor and offered us their complete diving equipment. That was so generous and saved our day. So Marine put on the diving gear and dived down. Our anchor chain was wrapped around some kind of metal thing. Marine could sort it out and so we finally could take the anchor out. Well done Marine and welcome on board!