Alone Like a Rolling Stone

Last preparations

Body, our neighbor's dog is back on his boat. The owner back from the States and his guardian, after a channel crossing, back. We are extras who only get attention when there is a goodie. But that is also good, because the week has it quite in itself. Before we want to go through the canal, there is still a lot to do. 

Colon Shopping Center, Panama

Engine maintenance is on the agenda and Gaby is taking it easy. In the morning, she takes the bus to the grocery store, while I talk to myself and use the deepest slang. Like every time, I am annoyed about the lack of space to get to the oil filter, and like every time, it falls out of my fingers and messes up the whole engine compartment. With paper towels, which here in Panama just don't want to suck, I clean up the mess. The air intake is cleaned and the diesel filter is changed. The subsequent test run works perfectly. The water cooling circuit is checked and a little water is added. The next step is the hydraulic system. Here, too, a little oil is needed. Last but not least, the drives are greased. It wasn't so bad and worked out fine. Gaby comes back from her shopping trip and the lack of a donkey was the only thing that slowed down her shopping frenzy. "We'll have to go back tomorrow, otherwise we won't have enough," is the first thing she says before she even enters the boat. I am amazed at what such a small person can carry. So we go shopping together again the next day. 

Irene and Peter two of our linehandlers

We also get to know our linehandlers, whom we have searched for and found via WhatsApp group. Besides Reinhold from the Mare, whom we have already accompanied through the canal, Irene and Peter arrive and pay us a visit. They are currently in Panama City touring the country. Two salt humps who, due to unfortunate circumstances, do not have a boat ready to sail at the moment. But they both can't leave it and therefore have hired us. We are very happy to sail with them through the canal. We fill up the water tanks once again and I hand over the gas bottle to be filled. A serious mistake, as it will turn out the next day. In the morning our agent writes to me and tells me that we have to anchor this afternoon, because we won a one day trip through the canal. 

Reinhold our third line handler

Tomorrow morning at 04.30am we start. Apart from the fact that no fenders and lines have been delivered yet, our line handlers are still missing and the gas bottle is in Panama City and will be filled there first. We had heard of such passages being made, but with the people we have talked to so far, no one has made such a passage. We then also assumed that we would enter Lake Gatun in the late afternoon, spend the night at a buoy and continue into the Pacific the next day. But what would life be if there were no surprises. I try to calm down first, because the tension in the last few days, with me, has risen a little. I go to the Marina office and try to find out the location of the gas bottle. As suspected, it is still in Panama City. The friendly secretary clarifies the whole thing and if everything works out, the bottle is in the afternoon, shortly before our departure, in the Shelter Bay Marina. That is now settled. In the meantime, the lines and the fenders also show up. All that's missing now is the crew. The crew of the Wild Ting2 arrives and inspects our catamaran. Two evenings before we said hello and talked a bit while having a coffee. The topic came up about our cat and that it would look like Burkhard Pierske's first. When I replied that ours was the sister ship, they were thrilled and eager to take a look. The Outerem 45, with which the two are underway, is of course no comparison. It's a modern catamaran with lots of space and easy access inside the ship, while on ours everything is a bit tighter and climbing skills are not a hindrance. Nevertheless, we have the impression that they liked it with us. Now we are waiting for our crew, which should arrive any moment and then we will start the big adventure, the trip through the Panama Canal, a second time. 

Everyone is still completely relaxed

This time with our own boat. How the story ends, we will tell you next week. Now we have to get everything ready for the passage through the canal and make the last preparations. All of you fair winds and keep a stiff uper lip.