Welcome to Isabela - This is the least visited and largest (by far) of the major islands.

Welcome to Isabela – This is the least visited and largest (by far) of the major islands.

 

Oh look who's come back from ashore Dear, let's rush out to meet them!

Oh look who’s come back from ashore Dear, let’s rush out to meet them! These local “lions” are genetically directly related to it’s California cousins. No one is sure however exactly how they got here as none exist between Northern Mexico and the Galapagos Islands.

 

This gives an entirely new take on a "guard dog"....:-)

This gives an entirely new take on a “guard dog”….:-)

 

The Green areas are the location of the Volcanos. All but one seen here are active. The large one at the bottom middle is the one we visited - Sierra Negra. The Harbor at Puerto Vilamil is at the bottom of this map. There are only about 4,000 inhabitants on this island, ALL of whom live at or very near Puerto Vilamil. The island is 100 miles long top to bottom and the equator passes almost exactly through the northern most volcano seen here.

The Green areas are the location of the Volcanos. All but one seen here are active. The large one at the bottom middle is the one we visited – Sierra Negra. The Harbor at Puerto Vilamil is at the bottom of this map. There are only about 4,000 inhabitants on this island, ALL of whom live at or very near Puerto Vilamil. The island is 100 miles long top to bottom and the equator passes almost exactly through the northern most volcano seen here.

 

After about an hour and a half hike, we were treated to this view of the rim of the Sierra Negra Volcano which last erupted in 2005.

After about an hour and a half hike, we were treated to this view of the rim of the Sierra Negra Volcano which last erupted in 2005.

 

Panorama of the 8 mile wide crater of Sierra Negra Volcano - Isla Isabela - The Galapagos Islands

Panorama of the 8 mile wide crater of Sierra Negra Volcano – Isla Isabela – The Galapagos Islands

 

After our return to Puerto Vilamil, we more or less felt a lot like our friends here.

After our return to Puerto Vilamil, we more or less felt a lot like our friends here. Here in “Eco Tour Heaven”, you can see who has all the rights!…:-)

 

The small yet frisky Galapagos Penguins were everywhere in the anchorage, often swimming right up to the boat.

The small yet frisky Galapagos Penguins were everywhere in the anchorage, often swimming right up to the boat.

 

A lovely advantage of being in Puerto Vilamil is that you can actually do some wildlife touring without a guide. There was a lovely 2 mile trail right out of town that was perfect for our desire for a do-it yourself experience.

A lovely advantage of being in Puerto Vilamil is that you can actually do some wildlife touring without a guide. There was a lovely 2 mile trail right out of town that was perfect for our desire for a do-it yourself experience.

 

Pink Flamingoes are here, often in big numbers.

Pink Flamingoes are here, often in big numbers.

 

The ever present Marine Iguanas.

The ever present Marine Iguanas.

 

Frisky little guys.

For the most part, they don’t move much.

 

These birds had some help. There were big schools of fish chasing little schools of fish tot the surface right off the beach. As such, the Storm Petrels, Terns and Pelicans were having a nice breakfast.

These birds had some help. There were big schools of fish chasing little schools of fish tot the surface right off the beach. As such, the Storm Petrels, Terns and Pelicans were having a nice breakfast.

 

We'd been told that tortoises in the wild were often spotted along the trail and we we're in for a treat.

We’d been told that tortoises in the wild were often spotted along the trail and we we’re in for a treat.

 

Our local transportation.

Our local transportation.

 

This was one of about 5 tortoises we saw within a few hundred meter area.

This was one of about 5 tortoises we saw within a few hundred meter area.

 

He was so ready for his close up.

He was so ready for his close up.

 

Hey, everyone wanted to get into the act. The tortoises in general didn't seem to care a bit about the tourists.

Hey, everyone wanted to get into the act. The tortoises in general didn’t seem to care a bit about the tourists.

 

We had a really nice outing and had to run the usual gauntlet to get back to the dinghy at the dock. The sea lions often had to be literally stepped over to get back in the dink.

We had a really nice outing and had to run the usual gauntlet to get back to the dinghy at the dock. The sea lions often had to be literally stepped over to get back in the dink.

 

Getting ready to go, we had heard of a local organic farm which sold direct to the public. The only down side was that Nikki (while digging for potatoes here), got some kind of bacteria under her finger nail and it infected which was a bit of a concern. We didn't discover this till we were at the end of day one of our sail to the Marquesas.

Getting ready to go, we had heard of a local organic farm which sold direct to the public. The only down side was that Nikki (while digging for potatoes here), got some kind of bacteria under her finger nail and it infected which was a bit of a concern. We didn’t discover this till we were at the end of day one of our sail to the Marquesas.

 

Nikki in her element. She's a gardener at heart.

Nikki in her element. She’s a gardener at heart.

 

The local kitchen. Make no mistake, as soon as one gets out of town, the third world is back. The smoke from the fire looks like a waterfall.

The local kitchen. Make no mistake, as soon as one gets out of town, the third world is back. The smoke from the fire looks like a waterfall. It can’t be all that healthy to breathe it day in and out either!

 

Getting "Beach House" ready to for the big sail. I was re-cleaning the water line, a never ending job. At least the water was warm.

Getting “Beach House” ready to for the big sail. I was re-cleaning the water line, a never ending job. At least the water was warm.

 

Our last sunset in the Galapagos. All the boats you see here were waiting for a weather window for the 3100 mile trip to the Marquesas. For the most part, a lack of wind was the issue.

Our last sunset in the Galapagos. All the boats you see here were waiting for a weather window for the 3100 mile trip to the Marquesas. For the most part, a lack of wind was the issue.

 

We're off! We knew from the weather report we'd have to motor the first 125 miles or so to the Southwest to pick up the trade winds.

Nikki strikes the colors and we’re off! We knew from the weather report we’d have to motor the first 125 miles or so to the Southwest to pick up the trade winds.

 

Day 1. Motoring was of course something we were hoping we wouldn't have to do to much of. The next place we'd really be able to attend the engine issues would be on the island of Tahiti - now 4000 miles to our west.

Day 1. Motoring was of course something we were hoping we wouldn’t have to do to much of. The next place we’d really be able to attend the engine issues would be on the island of Tahiti – now 4000 miles to our west.

 

Goodbye Isabela, Goodby e Galapagos.

Goodbye Isabela, Goodbye Galapagos.

 

Our first sunset in route. It would be 18 more days before we saw our next landfall at Fatu Hiva in the Marquesas Islands. Our next Gallery will be about the sail - stay tuned! Nikki and Scott

Our first sunset en route. It would be 18 more days before we saw our next landfall at Fatu Hiva in the Marquesas Islands.
Our next Gallery will be about the sail – stay tuned! Scott and Nikki.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re catching up on Ship’s Blog’s and Photo Galleries while we are awaiting the installation of our NEW ENGINES which arrived from Australia yesterday. Hopefully they will clear customs and be installed by the end of next week! We’ll be updating the main blog and photo galleries while we’re here! Enjoy!

 

Arrival at Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos

Arrival at Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos

We got right to work removing the port engine which had developed an oil leak at the crankshaft and was performing horribly since it's rebuild in Panama

We got right to work removing the port engine which had developed an oil leak at the crankshaft and was performing horribly since it’s rebuild in Panama. I had to fashion a block and tackle to haul the engine out of the engine room using the boom as our “crane”.

Using two hard points we'd installed before leaving Los Angeles in 2007, we were able to use the ceiling in the engine room to move the engine into the opening of the hatch where we removed it and put into a water taxi to take ashore to have it inspected and crankcase seal replaced. We hoped for nothing more! - (eventually we would replace both engines due to the faulty rebuild when we arrived in Tahiti).

Using two hard points we’d installed before leaving Los Angeles in 2007, we were able to use the ceiling in the engine room to move the engine into the opening of the hatch where we removed it and put into a water taxi to take ashore to have it inspected and crankcase seal replaced. We hoped for nothing more! – (eventually we would replace both engines due to the faulty rebuild when we arrived in Tahiti).

 

While in Santa Cruz (The main island of the Galapagos), we did two day tours. This one was to a private tortoise reserve.

While in Santa Cruz (The main island of the Galapagos), we did two day tours. This one was to a private tortoise reserve.

 

The species of tortoise on the island of Santa Cruz are much bigger than the ones on San Cristobal that we had seen the week before.

The species of tortoise on the island of Santa Cruz are much bigger than the ones on San Cristobal that we had seen the week before.

 

It's pretty cool being able to come quite close to the animals and really get an up close view. I'm 6'4" tall, so you can see this is a pretty good size tortoise. He was estimated to be about 30 years old and they live to be well over a 100 in many cases.

It’s pretty cool being able to come quite close to the animals and really get an up close view. I’m 6’4″ tall, so you can see this is a pretty good size tortoise. He was estimated to be about 30 years old and they live to be well over a 100 in many cases.

 

Nik in the thick of it.

Nik in the thick of it.

 

 

Here's the inside story of what a tortoise shell looks like without the tortoise. This and several other shells are in their museum.

Here’s the inside story of what a tortoise shell looks like without the tortoise. This and several other shells are in their museum.

 

A rather unique perspective into a large tortoise shell.

A rather unique perspective into a large tortoise shell.

 

While we were at the tortoise reserve, we also stopped along the way to walk through a 1 km long lava tube formed by the islands volcano (which is now extinct). Nikki wasn't to keen on going the entire way when we had to crawl on hands and knees for about 10 feet, so I continued on alone and met her the on the other side.

While we were at the tortoise reserve, we also stopped along the way to walk through a 1 km long lava tube formed by the islands volcano (which is now extinct). Nikki wasn’t to keen on going the entire way when we had to crawl on hands and knees for about 10 feet, so I continued on alone and met her the on the other side.

 

Welcome to the wild side. Note the size of the spider in the middle of it's web.

Welcome to the wild side. Note the size of the spider in the middle of it’s web. The web was about 3 feet or (1 meter) across!

 

The next day we walked from the boat to the Charles Darwin Center which is the main public viewing area for Santa Cruz Island's tortoises.

The next day we walked from the boat to the Charles Darwin Center which is the main public viewing area for Santa Cruz Island’s tortoises.

 

These guys are in a huge pen but have quite a great deal of freedom to move around. This was the home of "Lonesome George" who was believed to be the last of his species. However, rumor has it that a big announcement may be made within the next year and more "George's" may have been found on the island of Isabella? Stand by, if so, it will make the "eco news".

These guys are in a huge pen but have quite a great deal of freedom to move around. This was the home of “Lonesome George” who was believed to be the last of his specie when he died last year. However, rumor has it that a big announcement may be made within the next year and more “George’s” may have been found on the island of Isabella? Stand by, if so, it will make the “eco news”.

 

Just in case you thought these guys couldn't be a bit foreboding? We weren't even close by the way.

Just in case you thought these guys couldn’t be a bit foreboding? We weren’t even close by the way.

 

Long necks. This tortoise was curious about the people and came in for a look.

Long necks. This tortoise was curious about the people and came in for a look.

 

Peek-a-boo!

Peek-a-boo!

 

Yes indeed it was the Galapagos Tortoise that was the inspiration for the character "ET" in the film of the same name. I'm sure you can easily see the family resemblance.

Yes indeed it was the Galapagos Tortoise that was the inspiration for the character “ET” in the film of the same name. I’m sure you can easily see the family resemblance.

 

On yet another day, we went to the island of Baltra. This is an uninhabited bird, sea lion and iguana sanctuary. Interestingly, it takes a 30 minute boat ride to get to and is in sight of the main airport on Santa Cruz Island.

On yet another day, we went to the island of Baltra. This is an uninhabited bird, sea lion and iguana sanctuary. Interestingly, it takes a 30 minute boat ride to get to and is in sight of the main airport on Santa Cruz Island.

 

It's mating season and the male frigate birds pump up to attract a female. Talk about strutting your stuff....:-)

It’s mating season and the male frigate birds pump up to attract a female. Talk about strutting your stuff….:-)

The happy couples. Two mating pairs of frigate birds - Balta Island.

The happy couples.
Two mating pairs of frigate birds – Balta Island.

 

Baltra is also home to the Blue Footed Boobie Bird.

Baltra is also home to the Blue Footed Boobie Bird.

 

Another happy couple. Kiss Kiss.

Another happy couple. Kiss Kiss.

 

The males protect the nests and if you get too close, they are quite aggressive.

The males protect the nests and if you get too close, they are quite aggressive.

 

We also saw lots of both land and marine iguanas. The land guys are like this one. the marine iguanas are black.

We also saw lots of both land and marine iguanas. The land guys are like this one. the marine iguanas are black.

 

Land Iguana, Baltra Island, The Galapagos Islands.

Land Iguana, Baltra Island, The Galapagos Islands.

 

As we were departing the island, several Galapagos Sharks came to see if we had anything interesting to give them. They're used to cleaning up after the fisherman.

As we were departing the island, several Galapagos Sharks came to see if we had anything interesting to give them. They’re used to cleaning up after the fisherman. This shark was about 6 feet long.

After we left Baltra, our boat took us to a nice remote beach on the north side of Santa Cruz for lunch. Here Nikki fun watching the "Sally Lightfoot" crabs.

After we left Baltra, our boat took us to a nice remote beach on the north side of Santa Cruz for lunch. Here Nikki fun watching the “Sally Lightfoot” crabs.

 

Sally Lightfoot Crabs are this distinctive color and are all over the islands.

Sally Lightfoot Crabs are this distinctive color and are all over the islands.  The name “Sally Lightfoot” comes from their ability to escape expert trappers and author John Steinbeck commented on them while in the Sea of Cortez in Mexico’s Baja Peninsula.

 

 

Upon our return to Puerto Ayora, Nikki spotted this open air fish market where the Pelicans were waiting for scraps from the fishermen cleaning the fish.

Upon our return to Puerto Ayora, Nikki spotted this open air fish market where the Pelicans were waiting for scraps from the fishermen cleaning the fish.

 

Needless to say, Nikki saw fresh Yellow Fin tuna and for 5.00 USD, we bought half the fish.

Needless to say, Nikki saw fresh Yellow Fin tuna and for 5.00 USD, we bought half the fish. As many of you know, I don’t like fish, but I will eat fresh tuna. Why? It doesn’t smell at all and that’s what I don’t like about fish!

 

Nelson Mandela - Well, that's what our main water taxi driver kiddingly called himself to all the boaters and tourists. He was a good guy.

Nelson Mandela – Well, that’s what our main water taxi driver kiddingly called himself to all the boaters and tourists. He was a good guy and spoke English. Note Nikki’s fresh cleaned fish in hand.

 

Last Night on Santa Cruz. I have tremendously mixed feelings about this island as the anchorage is usually very uncomfortable and the tour boat operators are down right dangerous. I'll have lots more to say about all of this in the blog, but we hope you got a feel for Santa Cruz Island - the main island of the Galapagos in this gallery.

Last Night on Santa Cruz. I have tremendously mixed feelings about this island as the anchorage is usually very uncomfortable and the tour boat operators are down right dangerous. I’ll have lots more to say about all of this in the blog, but we hope you got a feel for Santa Cruz Island – the main island of the Galapagos in this gallery.

This Ship’s Blog will be a little different. We’ll let the photos and captions tell the story……  After a new set of batteries and working out the final teething issues (we hope) –  We’ll be off to the Las Perlas Islands of Panama on the 22nd of March. Shortly thereafter, off to the mysterious island of Malpelo and then the Galapagos!

Thanks to all of you who “live blogged” along with us and sent us screen captures (several of which are in this gallery).

Enjoy and KIT (keep in touch)!

Scott and Nikki

 

Pacific Puddle Jump - Class of 2016 from Shelter Bay, Colon - Panama

Pacific Puddle Jump – Class of 2016 from Shelter Bay, Colon – Panama. These are the owners and crews of vessels who would soon transit the canal for their journey’s across the Pacific. There was also a smaller group who were already through the canal who would have a party the next day. Other similar groups would be leaving from Mexico and California.

Nikki ready to go from the Caribbean to the Pacific

Nikki ready to go from the Caribbean to the Pacific

Mike and Beth Lonnes joined us and here Nikki an Beth are ready to go

Mike and Beth Lonnes joined us and here Nikki an Beth are ready to go

Our first "Advisor" Dalton and Mike as we ready to enter Gatun Locks for our trip from the Caribbean to Gatun Lake

Our first “Advisor” Dalton and Mike as we ready to enter Gatun Locks for our trip from the Caribbean to Gatun Lake

The last northbound vessel of the day is on the left and our "ship mate' - Chembulk Minnesota is ready to enter the first lock at Gatun.

The last northbound vessel of the day is on the left and our “ship mate’ – Chembulk Minneapolis ready to enter the first lock at Gatun.

s/v "Free Wheel" a 55 foot monohull would be our "raft tie" to starboard with Magnus at the helm.

s/v “Free Wheel” a 55 foot monohull would be our “raft tie” to starboard with Magnus at the helm.

s/v "Kristiana" from Australia with Paddy at the helm would be our "raft tie" to port.

s/v “Kristiane” from Australia with Paddy at the helm would be our “raft tie” to port.

Making the raft before we entered the first lock. Beach House would be in control as we were the "biggest" boat, though not the longest. I would be responsible for helm and propulsion throughout the transit of each lock.

Making the raft before we entered the first lock. Beach House would be in control as we were the “biggest” boat, though not the longest. I would be responsible for helm and propulsion throughout the transit of each lock.

I can still here Dalton saying, "Follow that Ship". Note the car bridge is still down as an ambulance suddenly had priority over us. It was lifted to allow us to enter within 5 minutes.

I can still here Dalton saying, “Follow that Ship”.
Note the car bridge is still down as an ambulance suddenly had priority over us. It was lifted to allow us to enter within 5 minutes.

Double doors closing behind us at the first step up. Each step up was 27 feet and there would be three levels into Gatun Lake.

Many of the locks were double doors. This one was a single, closing behind us at the first step up. Each step up was 27 feet and there would be three levels into Gatun Lake.

Doors closing - our first lock and the excitement was palpable.

Doors closing – our first lock and the excitement was palpable.

The "unlock" is supposed to be potentially the most difficult as we are not only getting a mix of salt and fresh water, but Chembulk Minneapolis is using her engine to move through each confined lock. Think Warring Blender!

The “unlock” is supposed to be potentially the most difficult as we are not only getting a mix of salt and fresh water, but Chembulk Minneapolis is using her engine to move through each confined lock. Think Warring Blender!

It was getting dark as we started, but completely dark as we finished.

It was getting dark as we started, but completely dark as we finished.

We spent the night in Gatun Lake. Chembulk Minneapolis continued on her transit which would take her a total of about 8 hours. For us, a two day affair as we cannot keep up with the big ships on the 40 mile transit to the next set of locks at Pedro Miguel. The sunrise was spectacular. Here we have "Free Wheel" and "Kristiana' tied together with a rubberized mooring buoy between them.

We spent the night in Gatun Lake. Chembulk Minneapolis continued on her transit which would take her a total of about 8 hours. For us, a two day affair as we cannot keep up with the big ships on the 40 mile transit to the next set of locks at Pedro Miguel. The sunrise was spectacular. Here we have “Free Wheel” and “Kristiane’ tied together with a rubberized mooring buoy between them.

The next day, we were joined by our new advisor, Roy. He and professional line handler Eric were great.

The next day, we were joined by our new advisor, Roy. He and professional line handler Eric were great.

The big ships move fast in Gatun Lake for the 40 miles transit from Pedro Miguel to the Gatun Locks.

The big ships move fast in Gatun Lake for the 40 miles transit from Pedro Miguel to the Gatun Locks.

We stopped to wait for our friends and our new ship mate who was 12 miles behind us. This is Gamboa and you can see an ungainly car carrying ship on the left with "Titan" on the right. The crane, Titan, was built by the Germans in WW2 and was then the largest in the world. They used it for making U Boats! Panama bought it in the late 1960's and use if for canal maintenance right up through the present time. They bought if from the German government for 1 dollar!

We stopped to wait for our friends and our new ship mate who was 12 miles behind us. This is Gamboa and you can see an ungainly car carrying ship on the left with “Titan” on the right. The crane, Titan, was built by the Germans in WW2 and was then the largest in the world. They used it for making U Boats! Panama bought it in the late 1960’s and use if for canal maintenance right up through the present time. They bought if from the German government for 1 dollar!

Club Fed - Panamanian Style. This is where the deposed dictator, Manuel Noriega is spending his last days. Right on the Panama Canal. It's a former U.S. Military prison.

Club Fed – Panamanian Style. This is where the deposed dictator, Manuel Noriega is spending his last days. Right on the Panama Canal. It’s a former U.S. Military prison.

After navigating the very narrow "Galliard (aka: Culebra) Cut", we finally came to the Centennial Bridge. This opened in 2000 and was a huge traffic buster for the Panamanians. The cut is so narrow that ships cannot pass each other for the better part of 8 miles. As such, the canal traffic more or less moves one direction or the other about half the time each day.

After navigating the very narrow “Galliard (aka: Culebra) Cut”, we finally came to the Centennial Bridge. This opened in 2000 and was a huge traffic buster for the Panamanians. The cut is so narrow that ships cannot pass each other for the better part of 8 miles. As such, the canal traffic more or less moves one direction or the other about half the time each day.

The Brain Trust: Getting ready to enter the locks at Pedro Miguel. These locks have two steps down and are about 1 mile before the final step down into the Pacific at Miraflores.

The Brain Trust: Getting ready to enter the locks at Pedro Miguel. These locks have two steps down and are about 1 mile before the final step down into the Pacific at Miraflores.

Here you can see how it's done. The small boats only go through in the first trip of the day and usually 4 or less at a time. The guys on the sides, throw monkeys fists at the end of small lines (for weight) and our guys tie off to then with a big loop. They pull them back and just set them on the big bollards (cleats). The crews on the boats adjust the lines, not the guys on the sides.

Here you can see how it’s done. The small boats only go through in the first trip of the day and usually 4 or less at a time. The guys on the sides, throw monkeys fists at the end of small lines (for weight) and our guys tie off to then with a big loop. They pull them back and just set them on the big bollards (cleats). The crews on the boats adjust the lines, not the guys on the sides.

Cowgirl on a boat! Nikki relaxes (rare on this transit) while the guys handle the lines. Nikki was working non stop most of the time.

Cowgirl on a boat! Nikki relaxes (rare on this transit) while the guys handle the lines. Nikki was working non stop most of the time.

Pedro Miguel Locks. We got here so far ahead of our "ship" that we had time to sit in the canal lock for over an hour by ourselves.

Pedro Miguel Locks. We got here so far ahead of our “ship” that we had time to sit in the canal lock for over an hour by ourselves.

A unique view of Pedro Miguel Locks.

A unique view of Pedro Miguel Locks.

Mike and I were brainstorming that the view from "on high" would look quite cool.

Mike and I were brainstorming that the view from “on high” would look quite cool.

So, in the bosun's chair I went and Mike hauled me to the top of the mast. Roy cringed a bit....:-)

So, in the bosun’s chair I went and Mike hauled me to the top of the mast. Roy cringed a bit….:-)

And the view from the top was well worth the ride! Kristiana on the left, Beach House in the middle and Free Wheel on the right

And the view from the top was well worth the ride!
“Kristiane” on the left, “Beach House” in the middle and “Free Wheel” on the right

Here from the top of the mast, you can see the double door system on each side of the control room.

Here from the top of the mast, you can see the double door system on each side of the control room.

That's me at the top

That’s me at the top

I'm so trendy - my first "selfie". I might add, a fairly unique one.

I’m so trendy – my first “selfie”. I might add, a fairly unique one.

Cap Ines - a Panamax Vessel. This ship is a container ship and is the absolute maximum size of the current canal. 105 feet wide and 880 feet (more or less long). She's a moving city.

Cap Ines – a Panamax Vessel. This ship is a container ship and is the absolute maximum size of the current canal. 105 feet wide and 880 feet (more or less long). She’s a moving city.

Our ship finally arrived! She sure looks small next to Cap Ines. (I'll have to fill in the spelling when I can).

Our ship, “Berkay N”, finally arrived! She sure looks small next to Cap Ines. Note the “Mules” (Electric trains) and cables tied off to the ship. The Mules are only used to center a vessel and keep them off the walls. They are locked to their tracks and manned. They can hear the Pilots, but cannot speak back to avoid confusion. They communicate with lights and bells only back to the Pilot abroad the vessel. In case you want a high paying job btw, the Pilots can make up to $400,000 USD/per year! They are in negotiations for up to $500,000! Nice job, if you can get it.

Down we go at Pedro Miguel

Down we go at Pedro Miguel. This lock was only two steps down and is about one mile from here to the final locks on the Pacific side at Pedro Miguel. Note the cutouts in the wall on the center left. These are outdated cleats originally built when the canal was new. They are no longer used.

Nikki waiting for the doors to open.

Nikki waiting for the doors to open.

Note the double doors. Originally, these were powered by small electric motors but now are powered by hydraulic rams which can be seen outboard up high on each door.

Note the double doors. Originally, these were powered by small electric motors but now are powered by hydraulic rams which can be seen outboard up high on each door. The doors are actually held closed by the water pressure.

The doors fold back flush to the walls so the Panamax vessels don't rip them off the walls! The canals are essentially gravity fed and yes, some freshwater from the lake is lost on every opening. However, the lake is constantly overflowing into the ocean over a spillway and a dam, so this water would be lost anyway. Currently however, there is a drought and the spillways are turned off. The spillways were built at an engineered level to support the lakes constant depth to idealize the locks usage.

The doors fold back flush to the walls so the Panamax vessels don’t rip them off the walls! The canals are essentially gravity fed and yes, some freshwater from the lake is lost on every opening. However, the lake is constantly overflowing into the ocean over a spillway and a dam, so this water would be lost anyway. Currently however, there is a drought and the spillways are turned off. The spillways were built at an engineered level to support the lakes constant depth to idealize the locks usage.

"Cap (Cape) Ines" is a true moving city with up to 2500 containers. Each container is charged at about 80.00 each. As such, it cost Cap Ines about $200,000.00 USD for this transit. The canal nets about 5 million USD/day. A cruise ship at 140.00/passenger could cost up to $500,000.00 per transit!

“Cap (Cape) Ines” is a true moving city with up to 2500 containers. Each container is charged at about 80.00 each. As such, it cost Cap Ines about $200,000.00 USD for this transit. The canal nets about 5 million USD/day. A cruise ship at 140.00/passenger could cost up to $500,000.00 per transit!

We entered the locks at Miraflores to the sight of the Mules all lined up on our left. We were again in the West locks.

We entered the locks at Miraflores to the sight of the Mules all lined up on our left. We were again in the West locks.

A reverse view from the Miraflores Camera. Many of you wonderful friends and family sent us screen shots. Thank you all!. Here you see us in the same place as the previous photo with Cap Ines on our left - photo right.

A reverse view from the Miraflores Camera. Many of you wonderful friends and family sent us screen shots. Thank you all!. Here you see us in the same place as the previous photo with Cap Ines on our left – photo right. “Bekay N” trailing in the distance.

Entering Miraflores from the Web Cam ahead of "Berkay N".

Entering Miraflores from the Web Cam ahead of “Berkay N”.

Nice and tight shot of the three of us rafted. For our line handler it had been an easy trip. The next lock would change that! (3 steps to the Pacific and the middle one is a doozy).

Nice and tight shot of the three of us rafted. For our line handler it had been an easy trip. The next lock would change that! (3 steps to the Pacific and the middle one is a doozy).

Miraflores Visitors center. You can see all the folks watching the ships (and sailboats) come and go. The Web Cam is on the pole in the upper right off the building. Our advisor called ahead to make sure the camera was aimed at us - cool!

Miraflores Visitors center. You can see all the folks watching the ships (and sailboats) come and go. The Web Cam is on the pole in the upper right off the building. Our advisor called ahead to make sure the camera was aimed at us – cool!

MULES! in waiting.

MULES! in waiting. We were in just ahead of our Panamax friend – Cap Ines. He had 8 mules connected and you wouldn’t want to put anything like a part of your body between Cap Ines and the sides of the canal. It’s that tight!

"Cap Ines" is YUUGE (as it is now popularly written). Look at the perspective of this vessel next to the guys on the dock.

“Cap Ines” is YUUGE (as it is now popularly written). Look at the perspective of this vessel next to the guys on the dock.

We had some time while waiting for "Berkay N" so we hammed a bit for the WebCam while waiting.

We had some time while waiting for “Berkay N” so we hammed a bit for the WebCam while waiting.

Mike and Beth. Beth took more photos than I did and Mike ran the GoPro which made a cool time lapse video of the entire trip. I hope to post it soon!!!!

Mike and Beth. Beth took more photos than I did and Mike ran the GoPro which made a cool time lapse video of the entire trip. I hope to post it soon!!!!

Chill time before the last two locks.

Chill time before the last two locks.

As we entered the second step of three, Advisor Roy said that due to the salt/fresh water mix in this part of the canal, we could expect a strong current from astern. This causes loss of steerageway and the micro excitement began! At first, I could handle it by literally backing the raft up. Paddy remained calm to port. (I wouldn't have been!). Then a line handler not to be named, failed to tighten a stern line and we almost had a fiberglass sandwich with "Kristiana" threatening to be scraped off the wall. Believe me, you don't want to touch that wall while moving in a piece of plastic. Our line handler Eric, quickly put a big fender between Kristiana and the wall averting disaster. And we were only 1000 feet from the end of the trip!

As we entered the second step of three, Advisor Roy said that due to the salt/fresh water mix in this part of the canal, we could expect a strong current from astern. This causes loss of steerageway and the micro excitement began! At first, I could handle it by literally backing the raft up. Paddy remained calm to port. (I wouldn’t have been!). Then a line handler not to be named, failed to tighten a stern line and we almost had a fiberglass sandwich with “Kristiane” threatening to be scraped off the wall. Believe me, you don’t want to touch that wall while moving in a piece of plastic. Our line handler Eric, quickly put a big fender between Kristiana and the wall averting disaster. And we were only 1000 feet from the end of the trip!

Webcam from outside the locks caught us entering the Pacific. The first time Beach House has been here in four years.

Webcam from outside the locks caught us entering the Pacific. The first time Beach House has been here in four years.

Our view: This is the last step down and much calmer than the one before it.

Our view: This is the last step down and much calmer than the one before it. Beach House returns to the Pacific Ocean. This lock is the highest at 50 feet. The reason is that there can be 28 foot tides on the Pacific side. These are the biggest tides we’ve seen anywhere in the world. In Australia, we had 18 foot tides in Mackay and Darwin.

Passing the "Bridge of the America's" into Balboa with Panama City off to our left. The traffic flows 24/7/365 at the Panama Canal.

Passing the “Bridge of the America’s” into Balboa with Panama City off to our left. The traffic flows 24/7/365 at the Panama Canal.

This dredge is non stop. It continuously makes sure that minimum depth is assured for the big ships.

This dredge is non stop. It continuously makes sure that minimum depth is assured for the big ships. Free Wheel heads toward the anchorage.

Beth documented the trip extremely well.

Beth documented the trip extremely well.

Goodbye Roy!

Goodbye Roy!

The pilot boats themselves are almost as big as we are. Here Roy gets to go home every night and await the next small boats. He told us a story that he actually went on a French 18 footer once. They ran out of gas in Lake Gatun as the "skipper" was told he only needed 5 gallons for the 55 mile trip!...

The pilot boats themselves are almost as big as we are. Here Roy gets to go home every night and await the next small boats. He told us a story that he actually went on a French 18 footer once. They ran out of gas in Lake Gatun as the “skipper” was told he only needed 5 gallons for the 55 mile trip!…

Our agent, whose name was also Roy, came to collect our rented lines and fenders as well as Eric who he hires out as a line handler. Eric and Roy (our agent) were great and we'd use them again in a minute.

Our agent, whose name was also Roy, came to collect our rented lines and fenders as well as Eric who he hires out as a line handler. Eric and Roy (our agent) were great and we’d use them again in a minute.

Frank Gehry designed this "Bio Diversity" Museum that is on the Amador corridor adjacent to the canal in Balboa. The hill you see is called "Ancon" and is the highest point in Panama City. Great view and named for the first official vessel to transit the canal i 1914.

Frank Gehry designed this “Bio Diversity” Museum that is on the Amador corridor adjacent to the canal in Balboa. The hill you see is called “Ancon” and is the highest point in Panama City. Great view and named for the first official vessel to transit the canal i 1914.

A celebratory bottle of Verve Cliquot was shared for our successful transit and return to the Pacific Ocean.

A celebratory bottle of Verve Cliquot was shared for our successful transit and return to the Pacific Ocean.

Sunrise at the anchorage at La Playita. This anchorage is not really as nice as the photo. The water is dirty,, the tides are extreme and the constant ship traffic causes more than a few crash and bangs.

Sunrise at the anchorage at La Playita. This anchorage is not really as nice as the photo. The water is dirty,, the tides are extreme and the constant ship traffic causes more than a few crash and bangs. The boat in the photo is “Alcyane”, a fellow California Yacht Club member from Marina del Rey.