This Wednesday afternoon, if all goes according to plan, we will begin our transit of the historical Panama Canal and cross into the Pacific Ocean of the next leg of Starlight‘s journey to New Zealand.
Once through the Canal, we will probably only spend a day or two before setting out for the Galapagos Islands. We need to leave quickly, not only because of how late in the season it is, but also because we need to arrive in Galapagos with the boat’s bottom as clean as possible. We will have the bottom professionally cleaned and certified before transiting the Canal, but if we tarry after we transit, new weeds and barnacles will begin to grow on the boat. The Galapagos is very strict about turning away boats that have any fouling (marine growth) on their bottoms, as this could possibly introduce new species to the islands–something that officials are trying to avoid.
We have used this stop to install a new water maker, a larger alternator and “smart” regulator for the engine, new wiring on the boat’s main bilge pump, and several other small projects. Despite having more provisions aboard now than when we left Florida, the boat is also better organized and stowed, which should make life aboard a bit more pleasant.
During our stay in Panama, we have been in the very pleasant Shelter Bay Marina. This has proven to be a very good place to base from while we coordinated our transit and worked a little on the boat. It is not close to town, but the marina runs a free shuttle on most days to drop boat owners and crew in a good shopping center where it is easy to find all of the provisions and most parts that might be needed aboard.