Muz and I finished our paperwork and it was just a matter of waiting our turn to get out of Colon. This place as mentioned before is horror, the city of Colon is just filled with filth, dodgy looking dudes, quite a few of the Kuna, soldiers and run down buildings. We had to wait at Tito’s lockup, safe as houses in there, and met Marcus’s gran, we then drove throughout the place to immigration, customs and the harbour master. We also went to the bank down by the wharf as you need to pay cash to the Canal Authority, lucky the bank was just next door, I wouldn’t want to be wandering around with to much cash on you here.
The boys took us shopping and geez the price of everything is so cheap, spewing as I found the same camera I bought for Moe for a third of the Australian duty free price. We stocked up mainly on alcohol and Moe bought a cocktail making book. Sorted. We then filled a shopping trolley with every spirit and liquer we could think of. They also sold these frozen packets of Yumcha which we jumped on and stocked the freezer.
We had a big night with the Dolly Grace guys as they left a couple of days before us, ended up pretty horror, their Captain is a bit of a panic merchant and very do it my way or its the highway, so will have to keep an eye on him. Vinnie and Mark are cool and it is always fun when they are around. We met your usual marina mob, this time an Israeli, Yaya, who was the captain of a beautiful yacht, Gay and Dave off Cumulus1, a 50 foot Benetau, the guys off Larabeck who ended up rafting up with us through the canal.
Moe was stuck in the marina as Colon was me fisherman showed her around the gardens which are huge plus she did the washing and came across dodgy grotty yacht antics. She loaded our washing into a machine but come back shortly later to find our stuff piled on the floor and some wanker had loaded his washing in. She unloaded it and started again, when the wanker came back he even tried to make a fuss, wont tell you where he came from.
We whiled away the hours in the pool, the bar or washing the boat and had a big night with Tito and his crew and the guys of Larabeck. They had come to meet us as the boys had told them of our exploits in town, we bought them lunch and beers on a couple of occasions, may not be the norm I’m guessing, so we had a impromptu piss up. Poor old Tito’s driver wanted to get going for about 5 beers but he just had to hang around.
Next day we got the nod to head out to the flats and wait at anchor for the pilot to come and we should get underway around 1700. This was delayed and around 1830 we had knocked back quite a few beers and half a bottle of wine, Muz was cooking a big pot of spag bog for the crew which when the the pilot boat arrived in pouring rain, doubled. Tito had sent the three boys to be our rope handlers, Marcus just said enjoy yourself we will look after your ropes. Unreal.
We followed a ship into the Gatun Locks and rafted up with Larabeck. The guys on the land chuck monkey fists down to you and then haul the ropes back, just out the corner of my eye I saw one coming at me and caught it left handed just before it hit me in the head, luck seemed to be with us. The gates close behind and then up you go, then into the next lock and same again. Fair bit of surging going on but with the boys and Yaya looking after the ropes all was good. We then made our way to a big mooring bouy and tied up for the night. Some people jump in here like a dare as there are crocodiles in the lake, we didn’t, we just sat back and pigged out on Muz’s excellent dinner then crashed. The boys sat up and drank all the beer then when it was finished curled up out the back. The new pilot was there at 0600 and off we went doing 6 knots and just putting along. Muz had to cook again for the new pilot and we filled the esky back up with beers for later on. It was a thirsty old day. The boys were a bit sluggish but after a bit they started up again, giggling and taking the piss out of each other, calling everyone wankers, even us now, funny buggers. Moe spyed a crocodile swimming past and every half hour or so a bloody great big ship comes past. There are parts where the corners are a bit sharp and they have tugs sitting there waiting to bunt the ships around them. It was the only place where I reckon people live on the canal, it is an amazingly clean stretch of water, no rubbish at all. We motored all day and got to the Miraflores Locks early afternoon, had to wait as a fully loaded Panamax was coming through, you could hear it scraping down the side of the lock, they don’t have much room to spare. The going down was pretty uneventful and no real drama but the good thing was we could all look up to a building and wave to mum who was watching us live in Australia on the webcam. Felt pretty good as we had just about made it to the Pacific, not bad for three rangas anyway. We exited the locks, Larabeck took off for their marina and we headed around to find the Dolly Grace mob. We ended up checking the anchorage and as we had to provision food, fuel and water we decided to see if we could get into the Flamenco marina, Marcus to the rescue speaking the lingo and they let us hang off the fuel jetty. Dolly Grace rolled up for one beer and had to leave, but we would meet them at Malpelo Island, a few days off. The boys scored our tyres, rolled up the ropes, called us wankers had a beer, hugged us all and were gone back over the mountains to Colon. I would reckon that that was as close to being the perfect Panama Canal experience. On you Tito.