Written by David Townsend

11, March 2007

Position 09°20’559N 079°54’669W

At anchor off Colon, Panama.

Hi dear friends, thank you for following my journey. Here is this week’s update.

There is only one word to describe Colon and the atmosphere created by the international community that waits here day in, day out, inside our secure compound. Waiting and waiting for information on their transit date. The film, apart from the sub plots could almost have been written about Colon,  Casablanca.

Life on board:

On our arrival the taxis within the compound will take you around to the various offices to complete formalities, without them it would day days. Once done you wait onboard to be measured, this just to check which price bracket you sit in. During this process the vessel is also given its unique Panama Canal transit number, Pinta’s number is – 3006710.

Once measured you are given the cost and paperwork needed to pay for the transit. Short half a mile taxi ride to the City ban’ complete the formalities. Within 8 hours you are given your transit date.

I won’t go too far into the situation here but an incident that happened only a day after my arrival sums it up. Some crew members off a vessel went into town via taxi. (you use a taxi even to several hundred meters, the taxi driver waits for you then brings you back) for what ever reason they told the taxi driver to go so they had to get another taxi back. When they opened the door of the taxi the front seat was covered in blood from a shooting that took place only minutes ago.

Even is a place like this you need to get off the boat, so it was that on Thursday a few boat crews went out for the day. We got a luxury bus to Panama City, costing £0.70 pence. Once there we got on another bus to take us to the zoo. For the money you cannot complain, 25 cents entrance fee.

Socially because of the environment we are under our livers take a pounding, often until the early hours. The cost of food brings you ashore to save using the onboard cooking gas up. Once there you get into the swing of what ever is happening. The main problem that for a 1.5 litre jug of beer costing only around £2.00 it tends to flow all night long. The worst night so far ended up with our little group causing the bar to run out off beer, well that’s not entirely true that happens most night our group is ashore here. The table count at the end of the night was 20 jugs and over 40 shoots, needles to say little was done the following morning other than the planed trip ashore to the zoo.

Currently the yachts transit leaving the anchorage at 17:50hrs, that’s 22:50hrs (GMT) and can viewed going trough the locks on the Panama camel website. They arrive at the first lock at around 23:00hrs and the last lock between 17:00 – 19:30hrs (GMT)

The boat:

It took several days to fully understand the damage done by the seas off here; many other vessels also got caught in the freak waves, which apparently are common off here.

Fair winds and calm seas.