Up with the lark once again, at 5.30, + just a couple of little jobs while we waited for the pilot to arrive. Dave, predictably, was worried – about the toilet. So I had to go + fetch a spare, which we stowed in the canoe. Ho hum. Then… off at 7. A substantial crew: D, M, Val, me, John, Barbara, + Eddy, the young guy. And a really good transit, I’d say. What were the highlights? In our first lock, we tied up next to a tug, + did suffer some damage – not a good start, you might say – losing a fair lead, and twisting the rail round the top of the boat, when we bounced against the tug in some turbulence. There was a good deal of agonised shouting – aw shits + goddams, but that was all predictable, tho’ disappointing after the quiet discipline of, say, Scott’s boat. We went thro’ a pretty severe thunderstorm, + consequently got very wet. These all sound bad things, don’t they. Right. On the plus side we made excellent time, at least until halfway. Then, in the down locks, we first had to wait for an hour, + then spend ages waiting for a big ship to come in behind us. Even so, we arrived at 7.30… good time indeed. I also had the opportunity to listen to the Walkman – now there’s luxury. And, of course, the food was excellent throughout, + there was plenty of booze. I think Barbara + I successfully managed to get on each other’s nerves, but not so anyone could have noticed.
When we arrived at the Balboa Yacht Club, there was no-one around to show us a mooring, so we had first to go + tie up at the fuel dock. Dave took the opportunity to call some friends, who came out to visit us. However, by this time Val + I were bedded down on mattresses on top of the cabin – we were both pretty well exhausted. Quite a feat, bedding down 7, but I believe it was managed quite well.
This was our third transit (or partial transit) and was probably the most trouble-free, despite the problems mentioned above. One incident unrecorded – when the lines are thrown down to the boat from the dock, each one is attached to a monkey’s fist, a ball at the end, covered in rope. We are warned not to try to catch one, as they are hard and heavy, but in one lock, with these things being thrown in, one of them was on its way to smash into Barbara’s head, and Eddy just reached out a casual hand and caught it before it… well, probably killed her.
But we are now on the Pacific side of the Canal, with no intention – or need, we hope – to return. Onwards and westwards.
Pamela J Blair
Finally! I thought the day would never come.