After enjoying the calm serenity of San Blas the World ARC fleet are making their way towards Shelter Bay Marina in preparation for the upcoming Panama Canal transits.
Shelter Bay Marina is located on the Caribbean side of the Panama Canal and will be home to the fleet for the next few days as they enjoy the natural beauty, historical interest and diverse cultural experience of Panama. Fourteen yachts have already arrived to take advantage of the excellent facilities here as well as a lively programme of events put up by the Dock Bar and Restaurant.
The Panama Canal joins the Atlantic and Caribbean seas to the Pacific Ocean, and for cruising sailors represents a major milestone in their circumnavigation. The fleet will be split into two transit groups with the first group commencing their transit on 30th January and the second group following on the first of February. Each transit group will lock-up through the Gatun Locks (Caribbean Sea side) in the afternoon before anchoring overnight in Gatun Lake, and then locking-down through the Pedro Miguel and Miraflores Locks on the Pacific Side the following morning.
Preparations for the transits is handled by a Canal Transit Agent on behalf of the fleet and part of the process is the admeasure procedure. During admeasurements, yachts will be assessed by the Panama Canal Authority including measurement of length overall and a number of other specifics taken for each vessel. Skippers will also be fully briefed with the expertise and experience of Rally Control.
In between boat works and provisioning, crews get the chance to visit the Gatun Locks Visitors Centre and the Panama Canal Expansion Observation Centre. An excellent facility where skippers and crews can observe first-hand the operations and procedures of the lock movements before taking their own vessels through.
Participants will also make a visit to the local Embera tribe, a traditional village on the banks of the Chagres River deep in the rainforest of Panama. Crews will join the Embera tribe for a traditional lunch and appreciate their customs and way of life.
by World Cruising