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Navigating the Panama Canal: A Memorable Journey

Embarking on a voyage through the Panama Canal is not merely a nautical feat; it’s an unforgettable adventure woven with challenges, camaraderie, and moments of both stress and serenity. I prepared to guide my 27-foot sailboat through this engineering marvel. Therefore I assembled a team of experienced line handlers and eagerly anticipated the journey that lay ahead.

Meet the Crew

Joining me were three seasoned sailors, John, Patrick, and Pat, who graciously flew in from the United States to lend their expertise. As semi-retired flight attendants with four decades of experience at Southwest Airlines, John and Patrick brought a wealth of skills and a laid-back demeanor to our crew. Accompanied by Pat, John’s longtime friend and neighbor, they were eager to experience the Panama Canal firsthand. The fourth seasoned sailor was Travis, already in Shelter Bay Marina to help a friend cross with his boat. Their willingness to assist me on this voyage filled me with immense gratitude and a touch of curiosity about these individuals who traveled so far to join me on this journey.

Preparation and Collaboration

In the days leading up to our departure, there was a flurry of activity as I made final preparations going back and forth to Colon to do shopping. I enlisted the help of friends at Shelter Bay Marina. Because on my boat is no fridge nor freezer. That being so their generosity in offering the use of their kitchen and freezer underscored the spirit of collaboration that permeated my preparations.

Setting Sail from Shelter Bay Marina

As we cast off from Shelter Bay Marina, embarking on our journey through the Panama Canal, the air buzzed with anticipation and excitement. Fellow cruisers waved us off from the dock. Their well wishes echoing in our ears as we ventured into the unknown.

Navigating the Canal

As we set off towards the canal, we encountered heavy winds and waves. As a consequence the pilot boat’s less-than-graceful approach left me feeling apprehensive. Despite the initial challenges, we maintained our course. We entered the canal at a speed just below the required minimum velocity. Thus prompting a stern warning from our agent about potential penalties. The hours that followed were a whirlwind of activity. As we navigated through the locks, secured our lines, and maintained our engine at maximum revs to keep pace with the convoy.

A Night on the Lake

As darkness descended, we anchored near the fourth lock. Enjoying a well-deserved respite and a hearty meal under the stars. Despite the cramped quarters aboard my boat, our crew of five settled in for the night, relishing the camaraderie forged through shared experiences.

Into the Pacific

As dawn broke, we resumed our journey, now hooked up with a catamaran. Though the journey tested our limits, it also strengthened our bond as a team. Grateful for the experience and the support of my crew, I entered the Pacific Ocean with a profound sense of accomplishment and gratitude for the journey that lay behind us.

Insights for the Journey Ahead

In the midst of this exhilarating moment, valuable insights and practical tips emerged, guiding us through the challenges ahead. As captain, the responsibility for the safety and well-being of the crew rested squarely on my shoulders. That being so it became clear that maintaining control and confidence in decision-making was paramount, resisting the urge to succumb to external pressures.

Navigating the Challenges

Docking alongside other vessels demanded precision and focus. Thus emphasizing the importance of clear communication and careful maneuvering. Establishing direct communication with the main advisor aboard the largest vessel ensured smooth coordination throughout the transit. Providing a satisfying meal and refreshments for the advisors proved instrumental in fostering a positive rapport and smooth passage.

Preparation and Coordination

Amidst the hustle and bustle, it became evident that thorough preparation and open communication with the agent were essential for a successful journey. Booking our time slot well in advance allowed for adequate planning and preparation, alleviating last-minute stressors.

Embracing the Journey

Despite the challenges and occasional moments of tension, embracing the unique experience and finding moments of joy amidst the journey proved invaluable. As we navigated the Panama Canal, these insights and practical tips served as beacons of guidance, illuminating our path forward and enriching our journey with unforgettable memories.


My name is Jacqueline Evers from The Netherlands. Solo sailing around the world in my 27 foot sloop. While my husband and son may have chosen a different path, their unwavering support fuels my solo pursuit of this lifelong dream.

Not confined by age or the constraints of conventional life, in my 50s, I bravely departed from the rat race, trading it for the serenity of the open sea. Through my unscripted videos and blogs, I offer a glimpse into the authentic tapestry of my sailing

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