Wow I canâ€™t believe itâ€™s March alreadyâ€¦ crazy. I think I left off just before the canal. We spent a couple days at the marina there, I think I wrote about provisioning already, and the only other highlight was this silly dog that came by our boat every now and then named Pit. She was some sort of Jack Russell looking type and seemed to just wander around the marina at her will. I had seen her previously at night getting worked up over the fish in the water, but I spent ten minutes with her one morning during class watching her on the dock.
It was so hilarious, I donâ€™t know how to explainâ€¦ she first would wander the length of the dock, looking over the edge, and when she found some fish in the water she would fixate on them and her whole body would quiver in excitement. As the fish swam around she would prance around the dock to keep them in sight, the whole time making little whimpering sounds. I donâ€™t think Iâ€™ve seen a dog want something so badly before. At one point she balanced her body so she was leaning out over the dock, butt up in the air, looking like she was about to pounce on them in the water. Luckily, she didnâ€™t, but I saw her owner later and found out that occasionally she does jump in after them, but quickly loses interest. The owner described â€śfishingâ€ť as the dogâ€™s passion and obsession, which I thought was a good word for it.
All you had to do was say â€śfishâ€ť in an excited voice and the poor thing would start prancing around frantically looking in the water. The day we left was pretty relaxed, we just motored to the anchorage where we were supposed to wait in the afternoon. After some delays, of course, our pilot came onboard at around 8pm and we were off. Itâ€™s pretty lit up in there, it has to be, but the huge lights made it all a little surreal. There was only one set of locks to go through that night, with three levels, so we lined up behind a huge container ship type thing, and two sailboats rafted together. We were at the very end of the lock, with lines from our bow and stern to both sides of the lock. The line handlers on the canal end walked our lines the length of the lock when we moved and attached them when it was time to go up.
isn't he cute?!
Going up was definitely the most dramatic, there was a huge rush of sound and whirlpool like effects were send on the waterâ€™s surface everywhere as it rushed in. The boats in front of us were swaying back and forth in their turbulence, and we had our bow thruster on the whole time to keep us in position. Let me backtrack for a sec- as far as I know it there are 5 different ways of going through the canal, depending on the size of boat and what is available. Every boat above a certain length (125 feet?? A certain weight??), like the bigger cruise ships and tankers, has their lines attached to what looks like mini Amtrak cars that mechanically pull the boat along the track. If you are smaller than the certain size you either tie up to one side of the wall of the lock, raft up next to a tug, raft up to one or two other boats your approximate size, or sit alone in the middle.
they are very graceful underwater
A tug would have been cool but there were none available, sitting in the middle worked just fine for us. So after three locks we were out and in the fresh water Gatun Lake, where our pilot cautioned us not to swim as he left because of the population of crocodiles. The whole thing took about three or so hours. The next morning the pilot came around 8 or 9 and we spent the whole morning and some of the afternoon motoring through the lake. It was actually kind of boring, there were surprisingly few boats that passed us. I read a book that day. In the afternoon we began the last set of two locks, with three downward steps between them.
entering the canal
I canâ€™t remember whether it was the first or the second, but at one of them there is like an observation building that tourists can view the process from. We pulled up to the lock and were waiting for it to begin when suddenly I heard my name being shouted from the top of the building. At first I laughed, what are the chances of hearing your name being shouted from a building at the Panama Canal, but then I realized that it was my friends Steph and Hilary who had a layover in Panama City that day, found out where we were going to be, and came to see us. It was pretty crazy. We all waved up to them and they took some cool pictures of us going through the lock. That afternoon we were in the Pacific! We spent the next day and a half on a mooring at the Flamenco Marina, a nice place, and the shipmates had a day to explore Panama City.
waiting to go up
I went provisioning and stocked up more for our pacific passage. The next day we set off for the Las Perlas islands, which some people said looked like Connecticut but I donâ€™t know if I agree with that. We did a big boat clean and they all went diving at this deserted one called Isla de Mogo Mogo, where we think one of the Survivor series was filmed. The next day we made a quick pit stop back in Panama City for some charts and a clinic run, and then we were off for the Galapagos! We started out with some amazing wind, well maybe not so much the wind but the current. In almost no wind we were making six or seven knots, and with a very small amount we were making eleven and twelve.
It was pretty unreal to cruise along at 12 knots and not feel it at all, like the boat wasnâ€™t even heeled over. After about two days the current died off, and so did the wind, so we motored for a while in glass seas. It was very beautiful out the whole time, and we saw a bunch of dolphins and even some orcas. The low point came when it rained for my entire watch one night, a first for me aboard Argo. I discovered that my pants are not waterproof and my jacket drips down into the front and sleeves so I was more or less soaking wet after the three hours. The most excitement came the day before we got into the Galapagos when we crossed the equator. We timed it so we arrived in the afternoon after all the classes were finished, and tried to slow the boat down enough to coast across and take some pictures of the coordinates on the screen.
by Steph/Hilary of us
It was close, but we just barely missed the 00.00 mark, oh well, I have a picture of it about .08 off or something. One of the shipmates researched line crossing ceremonies so the night before everyone came to dinner dressed as the opposite sex, more disturbing than amusing really. After the crossing itself we stopped the boat and everyone lined up on the caprail and Dan came by with the fire hose and sprayed everyone into the water. I even went in for a quick dip. The next afternoon we arrived in the Galapagos and spent the day cleaning the boat and waiting to be cleared in. I didnâ€™t see them, but I guess every now and then sea lions would appear swimming alongside the boat. The next morning though I got my chance, as I got to go along on a snorkel tour with the shipmates.
Two power boats came to pick us up from the boat in the morning and took us to a rocky island that had sea lions, blue footed boobies, and iguanas living on it. We spent at least a half hour snorkeling in the clear water, just a few feet away from dozens of sea lions frolicking next to us. They are so cute! They are like big water puppies! They look very playful when they swim, which I think they actually are, and every now and then would circle around you and look at your mask and sort of check you out. It was really cool. We also took the boat to see a cool rock island and stopped at a beach for everyone to play. It was really cool. I went ashore in the afternoon, where there are dozens and dozens of more sea lions lounging around pretty much everywhere.
me jumping in at the equator
They lie on the beach, on the sidewalk, on the rocks, on the steps, everywhere. Mostly the are sleeping, but sometimes they flop around and bark and make their way to the water for a swim. I guess a really big problem here is keeping them off all the boats in the harbor, as they like to stop and rest places when they are swimming. Some boats have taken measures to prevent them from coming onboard, like wire or netting, but if you look closely at every other boat you can see the large oblong brown form nestled in anywhere they can. A lot of sailboats had them resting on the steps on the transom, or in dinghies. This morning we left San Cristobal and are heading to Santa Cruz, the bigger island, where we will spend the next four or five more days seeing some more cool things. It should be a pretty good time!
it's like a puppy!