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A Canal Passage never to be forgotten


Monday morning started like any other on the rally with a wonderful yoga class given by Sabine from IRENE IV which Jeanne mary and I thoroughly enjoyed !
The day then moved slowly with a number of postponements to our anchoring schedule outside the marina . (I even had time for a quick cycle in the jungle ! ) We eventually headed out mid afternoon into a steady 25 knots to await our pilot . He arrived around 5.30 pm Tony ,a charming and highly skilled individual who guided us for the next 5 hours . We approached the first of the Gatun locks as darkness fell and nested with IRENE IV and IRISH BLESSING  with much more ease than I imagined !IRENE IV s pilot then took overall control and For the next two hours she led the Irish nest  through three separate locks .The crew quickly got used to their stations and the only nervous moments were when the line handlers through the monkeys fist on the foredeck but with John Wayne type rope handling all went smoothly ! We finished the last locks around 9pm and entered lake Gatun where we had a three hour motor to reach our mooring at the other end . We ate dinner and enjoyed quizzing Tony on all the questions we had about the engineering  of the Canal . Around midnight we tied up on a huge mooring  opposite IRISH BLESSING , said goodbye to Tony and settled in for the night .
Tuesday morning was a sleep in as we had to wait for some of the fleet who had anchored at the other end to join us . During the morning some massive tankers glided by which I tried to capture in photos around midday our newPilot Martine joined and we headed for the first locks of the day , the Pedro Miguel .  Again we nested easily and IRENE IV s pilot took control . The first lock had one chamber and the second the Mirafores had two chambers and  a Museum with a roof full of spectators! Again  we had ample opportunity for some great photos each chamber taking about 30 min to drain . We were so lucky to be right at the front for all the passages which  gave us perfect viewing. At approx 5.30 pm the last lock opened and over the Loudspeaker The Oyster Rally was welcomed to the Pacific ! How cool was that just seven months after Ruth II departed from Belmullet. And as we slipped under Bridge of the Americas James quietly commented  "Quite a milestone "
Liam and I have now left for a few weeks at home and we wish Mary Andrew James Amanda Jeanne and Eibhie Some great times in Galapagos which they have  promised to report on regularly .