Day 117, Year 1: The Admeasurer Visit
Date: Saturday, February 11, 2006
Location: Panama Canal Zone, San Cristobal, Panama (near Panama Canal Yacht Club)

At 1100 this morning, a pilot boat came up to Windbird and the Admeasurer jumped aboard. Jose Manuel was our official. He was young (by our standards), quick witted, and efficient. He measured our boat, checked out certain safety requirements, and then proceeded to fill out the paperwork. When he was finished, we ended up with an official Panama Canal Ship Identification Number-0801844. There is nothing else we can do until Monday morning when we head to the bank to pay our transit fee and then wait until 6 PM to call to get our transit date. It seems to be totally random. We have met people who registered last Tuesday who got a date of February 27. They know of a couple who registered on Monday and got a date of March 9. Yet we met people last night who registered on Thursday and got a transit date of February 17. The taxi driver/agent, Ellington, whom Mark met yesterday, still says he can get us a transit date this coming week, so we shall see. The boats from the Blue Water Rally, a ’round the world cruising organization, are all here. They were supposed to transit on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but they were told today that half of them would go through on Monday and the other half on Tuesday. This change has caused other cruisers to have their transit dates cancelled and reset. Interesting bureaucracy.

Last night at Happy Hour, we met Lene and Jens from Denmark (boat name Tuwanda), Fiona and Chris, and Fiona’s sister Jo, from England (boat name Three Ships), and Bud and Kathy from Mountain Home, Arkansas (boat name Invictus). Patrick and Margaret from Aqua Magic were also there. We all had a great time sharing cruising histories. We are the new kids on the block amongst this group. Most of these cruisers have been doing this for 4 to 5 years. Both Bud and Kathy and Patrick and Margaret have been in the Mediterranean for 5 or 6 seasons prior to crossing the Atlantic and heading into the Caribbean and both of these couples are in the same age range as Mark and I. Kathy, of Invictus, and I had a great time sharing our highs and lows of cruising. The only low for both of us is that we are far away from family. She has grandchildren and really misses being close to them. Margaret and Patrick have 6 grandchildren, and Margaret has the same misgivings about being away from family. But still, after cruising for the past 5 to 6 years, both couples will continue doing what they are doing and finding ways to leave their boats in safe ports to return home often to visit or spend the off-season at home. So many of the people we meet have no children, so it was great to meet cruisers of the same age that have children and could share their ways of dealing with the conflicting desires to cruise and to also be at home with family.

We met Patrick and Margaret for Happy Hour tonight and will have dinner with them at the Yacht Club tomorrow night. Depending on our transit date, we hope to take the bus together to Panama City on one day, and to spend another day in the “grand stands” watching boats transit the Canal.

Tomorrow will be a day of readying the boat to accommodate 4 to 6 extra people who can accompany us on our transit as line handlers. They will be spending the night aboard, and we are expected to provide food, a comfortable place to sleep, and plenty of drinks. I went into the Yacht Club this afternoon to check my gmail account. This is where all comments to the log are sent. But, believe it or not, the office was closed. In all of the small Caribbean islands that we have visited, the internet café³ have always been open on the weekends, but there in a metropolitan area, the only access is here at the marina and at one internet café ©n town. Neither will be open again until 0930 on Monday morning, so I guess I will just have to wait until then.

060211 Day 117 Panama Canal Admeasurer Visit