"I'll hae nae hauf-way hoose but aye be whaur extremes meet..." Hugh McDiarmid

Sunday, 25 January 2015

panama stopover

so me and julie arrived in panama a couple of days before the first boats arrived. we checked into the new hotel, which was pretty nice although a bit lacking in the understanding of a vegan diet.....

there was a little bit more information about transit times as well, so I could plan getting my gear off garmin before mission arrived. in fact, I got all my stuff off garmin and got my washing done in the hotel before mission appeared!

we had a few days sightseeing to do in panama before julie left and I rejoined my boat, so we set about finding places to go. julie went out on her own one day as I had a stinking cold and was looking after the laundry...

she had found a place called the gamboa rainforest resort, which did all sorts of short tours from the hotel into the surrounding rainforest and out into gatun lake, in the middle of the canal. we signed up to a few and spent a lovely day up there. we climbed a tower into the roof of the rainforest and went out on a boat into the lake, and its surrounding areas. we saw monkeys and crocodiles. it was really cool.

view from the top of the tree tower

view from the top of the tree tower. this is the end of the first set of locks just heading into gatun lake


looking for wildlife in gatun lake

the monkeys are addicted to sugar....not good

baby crocodiles. apparently crocodiles are terrible mothers

that is a lot of containers...

presumably a structural reason for this

the traffic in the canal is pretty heavy. they are in the process of upgrading to super panamax so the biggest ships in the world can transit. apparently the locks synchronise for efficiency, going one way in the morning and the opposite in the afternoon. 

anyway, back to the sailing! mission and invest were the last two boats to motor in to panama, the day before julie left to go back to oman. at least she got to meet everybody! we were hanging around the coffee shop waiting when we saw them. we headed down to the pontoon to wait with the clipper staff. 

none of them had seen me standing there, and I walked right out to the end of the pontoon as they backed into their spot. sophie was the first to spot me, and I just heard her shout 'there's claire!' and suddenly everyone on the boat was looking at me. I'll be honest, I welled up a little bit cos I'd missed them all so much in the last four weeks and I was about to rejoin them!

minutes later I was surrounded on the pontoon by my crew and getting a big hug off matt. it was going to be a very short stay for mission, with a corporate event in the evening for the great britain campaign. us, invest and gb were going to be the last boats to transit the canal the day before race restart on the atlantic side. 

julie left the next afternoon and I helped out on the corporate evening. it was actually really good with free drinks and food (not much that I could eat) and we showed the guests round the boat for hours. we had an early morning the next day for our triple transit...

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