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TOPtoTOP went through Panama Channel!
Balboa Yacht Club, Panama City, Panama, day 508
Biking total: 43 days, 1877 km, 13’400 altimeters.
Climbing total: 187 days, 3060 km, 106’700 altimeters.
Sailing total: 278 days, 8073 nm, 26 altimeters (Panama Channel)
After our school presentation in the San Blas Island, we received wonderful drawings from the children. These 365 islands are not more than 1 meter over sea level. Sea level raising, – a cause of global warming -, will be the end for the Kunas! Alberto Ayarza, one of the three teachers, who has done the translation from Spanish to Kuna, will do more drawings about this risk with his students to inform more people through the TOPtoTOP website and the TOPtoTOP postcard action (sea “act now”).
We left the San Blas Islands with a tinge of sadness and sailed to Panama. We quit a wonderful society of ancient ways which really worked and where everybody was looked after, very happy kids, very proud of their history and totally at one with nature.
Arriving at Colon we stayed at the Panama Canal Yacht Club for 5 days while we were waiting for our transit time. With the help of Fiona we were able to contact the right persons and we have had the fastest transit of all sailors here.
The town was virtually a ghetto, full of delapidated, large, once beautiful buildings teeming with local people, mainly unemployed and dangerous to walk around. What a difference to San Blas! It had to be the worst of Western culture.
The Canal transit was wonderful. We were supposed to start at 3.30 am with Mike from Australia and Elise and Jonathan from France as “line handlers”. At 5 am a tug boat came up and our “pilot” Camilo Gonzales jumped aboard to be with us for the transit. It was fun having an experienced crew and the whole day was very enjoyable.
We went through the first 3 locks at the Caribbean end of the Canal between 6am and 8am and saw the Atlantic for the last time. Then we spent 4 hours motor-sailing through Gatun Lake round all the little islands covered in rainforest where we have seen monkies. It was so beautiful and sometimes there were big cargo ships to be seen. We were tied to a Swedish sailboat, – friends of us-, in the lock and untied for the trip across the lake. There were another 3 locks to transit at the other end and then we were in the Pacific! About 2 miles downstream we picked up a mooring at the Balboa Yacht Club which was just beyond a new large bridge-the only bridge linking North and South America!
The bay is full of islands and we are moored just off the main channel to the Canal. Just there it started raining like in a waterfall and Elise and Sabine were collecting water. After the rain we saw Laura Bruce on a nearby mooring, – friends we met the last time in the Canarian Islands. Together with Laura Bruce we will sail to Salinas in Equador.
It will be very said to say goodbye to Hanspeter after 5 weeks together. He has to go back to Switzerland next Monday. So we are looking forward to the next leg together with Elise and Jonathan, who join the expedition till Equador.
Thanks to Balboa Yacht Club for the free mooring!

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