Yeah Right :-p To say I wasn't nervous would be a total lie. I was in charge of 125 feet of rope. I was told that a man on the side of the canal would throw me a rope with a monkeys fist, (a large knot to give it weight), on it and I'd have to catch it and tie it to my rope. Then I had to let the rope out as the man pulled his line in. When he put the large loop around the bollard, I had to quickly and smoothly pull in the slack and tie the rope off. Whew you think..Okay. I can do that...then come more instructions...as the water lowers or rises depending on which lock you're in you have to keep the boat centered by taking in slack or letting the line out, carefully....Okay, you think again, I can do that....
Thing is, you don't want to mess up and cause damage to the boat. When the water comes in and you are being lifted up, it boils like you're in a huge cauldron and the water swirls around, pushing the little boat this way and that...But I digress, lets start at the beginning....
|Sunrise..David and Ian chatting in the cockpit.|
|Pastries and fruit for breakfast.|
|Charlie..A nice guy, full of smiles..speaks great English.|
|Ahmed, Our Advisor lands neatly on the deck after leaping off the pilot boat.|
|Huge bridge..the locals complain of traffic jams due to the smaller roads leading to it.|
|Going under.. :-)|
|The bridge and traffic...|
|The docks where the really big ships are offloaded.|
|What the lock looks like from land...|
|In the lock..waiting for the water to start rising.|
|The water starts to boil in from under us..|
The water poured in, I used a winch handle and wound the line in...success! in no time at all the water had filled up the lock and the bells were ringing to warn everyone the the gates would soon be opening.
|Up we went|
|Right to the top...the gates start to open...|
|After the locks comes a huge lake we had to cross..pouring with rain..lovely..|
|A pretty yellow butterfly decided to have a drink of rain water..ha ha.|
|The end of the blast..the smoke was settling..|
|The section of land being cleared for the new locks...|
Several hours later we arrived at a massive bouy. It was so large we could tie up to it like it was a dock.
|Ian tying up a center line with Ness and Cassimira, our expert line handler looking on...|
|Calm, collected and in charge. Ahmed was a good advisor.|
|Off he goes..bye.|
Ness cooked up a wonderful curried chicken dinner. We were starving by this time and the beers were going to our heads..haha..thanks Ness, it was very yummy. I was told that there are some people who don't bother to feed the crew on a crossing...I could hardly believe my ears. The work you do is tiring and you get very hungry and thirsty. To not take care of your crew is is is....words fail me. I mean really! even if some of the crew are being paid for the days work, they should still be fed. Cassiemira was a paid linesman, he was also in charge of taking the lines back to the Pacific side of the canal at the end of the trip, saving the boat owners the hassle of sorting that problem out. He worked at the bow with Ness and she said that Cassie worked really hard, jumping to do things even before it was obvious that they needed to be done...how can you not feed someone like that?
|The lake is surrounded by a dense forest of trees.|
|Sundowners and supper..ahh :-)|
We didn't have to be ready for our new advisor till two pm the next day, so it turned out to be lovely and lazy. I got up really early and took a photo of the sunrise
..and then crawled back into bed to read....I finally got up a little later than everyone else.....we had breakfast..yummy scrambled eggs with fresh fruit afterwards...The night before two more yachts had appeared and tied up to the other buoy that was near us.
|Two other yachts had tied up to the other buoy.|
They were going the other way. At about 9am their advisors arrived and off they went. They seemed a little concerned that we were still attached to our bouy, but we yelled that we were going east...they gave the thumbs up and tootled off across that huge lake. Several of the ships that had anchored there overnight were starting up their engines and making ready to get moving. we just sat about and relaxed. At about 1pm I suggested to David that we climb onto the buoy with a bucket, some soap and shampoo and have us a bucket bath....the water was lovely. What was weird though, was that I had to keep on reminding myself that it was fresh..not salty. We ate lunch and soon after that our new advisor..Carlos arrived, and we were soon on our way.
|The pilot boat arrives...|
|Carlos takes a leap onto the buoy.|
|Organised chaos! Tying the boats up together.|
|They're really nice and snug.|
|A ship comes in behind us...|
|Ahead of us is a tug..|
|The water goes down...|
|The gates start to open...|
|Our shore linesmen are tiny up there..|
|A giant ruler set into the wall.|
|Carlos is very pleased!|
|The ship follows us out..their linesmen are those two huge locomotives.|
|There are rather large waves...this was rather a dicey transfer...|
|The pilot boat captain knows his job!|
|On our way to the anchorage.|
By 5.30pm we were at anchor and Ian was assembling his dinghy to get us ashore. He had to do two trips but he was quick so that we could meet our waiting taxi outside the gates of the marina...
|The dinghy is lifted off the deck and lowered into the water. Ian climbs in..|
|He lifts out the aft section that he'd been standing on a minute ago..|
|Puts it into the water and swivels it around.|
|Bolts it together...|
|In go the lines..|
|Followed closely by Cassiemira. Ian was soon back to collect David and me.|
I don't know about them but David and I were whacked when we got back to the boat at about 8pm. We had ourselves a well earned nightcap and staggered to bed.The next day we had absolutely no energy whatsoever!
What an experience, I absolutely loved it! Can we do that again...please! :-D