Page 46

1 February 2001

Today Karsten visited me and he had an address for me to use on the "Commodore" at San Miguel Marina. Down there someone owns a trailer that ought to be big enough, so I'll contact him tomorrow. A local bloke(/guy), Alfonso and two other Yachties were along for the smooth trip through the canal.
Frantz is German and sails a big catamaran, usually a single sailor, but for the time being he has Bernd along. He runs a charter firm in Germany and has(/owns) a boat at Majorca, which he either rents out or sails himself with charter guests. (Also) he sometimes has customers/guests(/friends?) on board.

We should have had the(/our) pilot boarding at 06.00, but it was changed to 07.00. You have to call the night(/evening) (before, edit) to get a definitive answer. Louis arrived at 06.00 to pick me up. The pilot was half an hour early, so we were in a bit of a hurry.

We sailed(/went) round the corner by(/at) the anchorage where the first three sluices(/floodgates) that lifted us up to be level with the canal. In(side) all three floodgates we were by the side of(/beside) a tug boat, which was(/turned out to be) easy and unproblematic.
After the last floodgate we had 21 miles to the anchorage where we were to stay for the night, since the pilot didn't want us to make the (whole, edit) sail in one day, which could have been done easily.

At 3.30 p.m. we reached the anchorage and were told that the pilot would return the next day at 10.00 a.m. Alfonso asked Louis if he was willing to(/would) pay for 5 US$ for a bus ride(/fair). Then he would go home to spend the night instead of staying overnight on board and be back the next morning at 08.00 (a.m.). He received(/got) the money and returned as agreed.

The pilot arrived at 10 a.m. and we had seven miles to reach(/get to) the floodgates. The pilot told that today there were no tug boat. Instead there would be a small work boat we could go beside or we could take the middle floodgate with our four lines (up) on land, which was the captain's decision.

After a lot of talking(/discussing) back and forth Louis decides to go for the central(/middle) floodgate. A short while later as we were approaching the floodgate the(/our) pilot calls the sluice(/floodgate) master to inform (him) that we're ready to go in, but we're told to go beside the work boat. The pilot asks very cautiously if it's(/would be) possible for us to go through the middle of the floodgate, to which the sluice master, an American, replied: "You're not listening. I told you to go beside the work boat". (There's) no doubt about who's in charge.
The pilot really isn't a pilot, but an "advisor" without (any) responsibility. But you have to have him on board. Mostly to make sure that the traffic runs smoothly and the small boats don't make any stupidities I suppose.

The last three floodgates are easy. They carry(/take/bring) the boat down to the same level as before entering the canal. The water runs quietly down, whereas the first three take in water and causes some turbulence. For each level the floodgate uses 200 million litres of water, all of it coming from (the) ponds up in the mountains and an adjacent(/a neighbouring) river. After(/Following) a dry season it's possible that there might not be enough water. Then they have to lower the water level in(side) the pond and the canal and(/which means, edit) limit(ing) access(/admission) of the largest ships, the coal ships go to drop(/throw over) some of their cargo into the bay to raise the waterline.

Last year the canal was closed many times for(/concerning) the largest(/biggest) boats due to (the) water shortage.
Earlier it was a (rather) complicated matter calculating the price of a yacht transit, but now there is a fixed price concerning boats below 50 ft. 500 US$ + a guarantee amount of 800 US$, which is returned(/paid back) to you (after some months), if you haven't caused any damage along the way to the canal or equipment.
Just as soon as Panama assumed control(/took over the command) of the canal the raised the price to a minimum of(/at least) 1500 US$ per yacht.
In 1931, an American swam through(/across) the canal and had to pay 36 cents. I'm not aware(/I don't know) if that is calculated after displacement, ft.(/length) or weight.
The largest boats(/ships) pay 180.000 US$. But their daily cost/expense is also approximately 50.000 US$, so no matter what it pays(/it's worthwhile).
We saw a big cruise ship go through the first three sluices(/floodgates) only to (drop) anchor and then go back out again. Typically American. Then they can tell that they have "sailed the canal". Reminds me of when American tourists go on a package tour of Europe, seeing the whole of Europe in two weeks!!!
The man on the bus to his wife, "You photograph the right side, then I'll take(/do) the left....".
Just(/Right) before the Balboa marina the(/our) pilot is picked up and we headed for(/went to) the marina to moor. We arrived at 2.30 p.m..
Alfonso and I took a taxi to (get to) the us terminal and paid four dollars for it and (another, edit) two dollars for a bus ticket. The bus was air-conditioned and had video on board and the trip took an hour and a half.
Back again and Trojka's still where it's supposed to be, which was nice to see.

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From Esbjerg, Denmark to Tahiti aboard a Junker 22