Colon - Panama Canal

I am still at Shelter Bay Marina Colon, but not for long

Blog Post 19 by Jon Sanders: Panama Canal, but not for long.

I am still at Shelter Bay Marina Colon, the Atlantic end of the Panama Canal, but not for long.

PB2 tyre fenders – ready for the locks

Shelter Bay is the natural meeting place of lots cruising yachts. Their tall masts and rows and rows of furling headsails. Mostly American and European. They are a friendly bunch.

They wait, they wait and wait for their slot to transit Panama.

There is plenty of space to pass through. It is the limited number of advisors (obligatory on board), i.e.: pilots, that holds things up. In fact, it is obligatory to have a minimum of six on board.

The Skipper, called Captain in Panama; the Advisor (Pilot); and four Linesmen, to pay out and haul in the four dedicated long ropes provided by the linesmen or agent. The Linesmen can be your own crew, and it’s probably a good idea to have one or two professional Linesmen.

The locks are intended for ships. The big ships. The water comes in and out quickly with turbulence.

Rick, my Linesman – did I write “my”, more likely Paul’s Linesman – advised me

our transit is on next Monday, 22nd May ‘17

Paul and Shiralee are booked on the Boeing 737 the day before from SXM (St Martin/ Maartin), and Rick will pick them up from Panama City.


Rhys Brindley and Trevor Youngberg are two young blokes who sailed the, Kim Swarbrick designed, Swarbrick 27 named Liberdade from Fremantle (Perth) Western Australia to SXM Caribbean. Kim designed the 27 when 19 years of age, 45 years back.  Liberdade is 40 years old; and for that matter, Rhys is 23 and Trevor is 24.

At SXM Rhys got a 28-meter yacht delivery to Portugal, and Trevor sailed Liberdade single handed to Bermuda. It took Rhys seven days – he said he needed to motor for the last two of them. Near arrival, at 3 am, his engine cut out. He discovered he had a fuel blockage in the fuel line.

The environmental sulphur-free diesel attracts water which grows bacteria that makes a black jelly type sludge. It’s important to put a spoonful of anti-bacteria, BIOCIDE, in every 20 litres (5 gallons) of diesel. Plus, it’s helpful to keep your tank full when not in use.

So Trevor Youngmountain (oops berg), arrived in Bermuda, from Perth Western Australia. If one was to burn a hole thru the Perth’s southern suburb of Rockingham, go on through the middle of the earth and out the other side of the planet, one would come out in Bermuda. The antipodal point (The other side of the orange). Needless to write, 5 am in Perth is 5 pm in Bermuda.

5 o'clock everywhere. Entrance to Shelter Bay Marina
5 o’clock everywhere. Entrance to Shelter Bay Marina

Back here at Shelter Bay Marina, there are seven Australian yachts and three from New Zealand. Much of the rest (of the yachties) cannot tell the difference between the Australian flag and the New Zealand Flag.

Who cares. We can.

New Zealanders tend to think Australia is only West Island anyway.

Regards all





Cruising yachtsmen - cook your own. Long table at Shelter Bay Marina
Cruising yachtsmen – cook your own, long table at Shelter Bay Marina
John Halley – Manager, Shelter Bay Marina



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