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Bella Donna (8) - April 19, 2007

Land Ho? Not yet. The wind has died completely!

Last night we sighted a single red light in front of us about 4 miles out. It is a 40-foot sailboat with one red light on the top of her mast. She never showed up on our radar. A 20-meter length or less sailboat under sail saves electricity by using one tricolor running light on the top of the mast. One light bulb sends three colors of light; red facing the port side, green for the starboard side, and white for the stern side. It wasn't very clear because the boat stood still with the light wind. Should we pass in front of his bow or behind his stern? The answer is behind his stern.

We proceed as we approach the south end of the Panama Canal. There are many tankers and freighters anchored as we pass by. The water is only 180 feet deep, so we try fishing again. We catch no fish. The morning is excellent with a clear blue sky. When the giant fireball rises in the sky, I am sure it will be hot. We enter the breakwater and wander towards Shelter Bay Marina,, to check in and get in line to transit the canal. We are told that a man will be here tomorrow to measure the Bella Donna. He will not believe anything we tell him, and his measurement is final for figuring out the cost to us to transit. It is noon, and it is HOT, HOT, HOT.

There seems to be a riot in Colon today as some of Panama is unhappy because they are not getting enough fresh water. The highway to the local town is closed to traffic, so we are here, but can’t go anywhere. The second richest man in Canada is here on his boat, wanting to take guests to Colon to take tours. Unfortunately, he is trapped on his boat as well. You know they use fresh water from Gatun Lake to fill the locks on the canal, and whenever a ship is let down to sea level, the freshwater escapes out to sea. I hope they do not have to suspend canal operations to free up some fresh water for the people. They could use salt water, but the pumping uphill would be too costly and, more importantly, too slow.

We got docked and spent all afternoon trying to catch up on email and finding the best place to get the wifi signal on shore; it turned out to be on the boat, not on shore. So here I am, having a 99% SODA and 1% scotch drink in the relaxed afternoon in Bella Donna’s cockpit because I can’t drink much alcohol after the dry passage. I need to get this blog post out so someone can read it—more tomorrow.

God bless Bella Donna.

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