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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Panama Canal Preview & Havana Hash Transit Recipe

cruising activities
Gatun locks Panama Canal gates open; view from visitor center.
"Twenty-four point six million gallons flow through the locks in ten minuted via our gravity-fed system" the Panama Canal Gatun Locks visitor center tour guide informed us.  That's a LOT of water!















cruising destinations
Gatun Locks Panama Canal closed.  The crew walking across
the gate give you an idea of scale.  Notice the difference in
water level?  Locks are basically water elevators.
Tomorrow afternoon, between 4 and 6 pm we'll be flowing through along with it; amid the afternoon wave of smaller boats -- the freighters and cruise ship we observed were part of the early wave.  Every day 35-40 boats transit the locks, we're not sure how many will be in "our fleet."  Checking out the Panama Canal locks at the nearby Gatun Locks visitor center seemed like a good way to spend the afternoon together, our crew of six plus a canal advisor we'll meet tomorrow.









crew ron bergman, wayne seitz, tricia bergman, gunnel seitz, phil seitz
Our Panama Canal transit crew:  Ron Bergman, Wayne,
Tricia Bergman, Gunnel Seitz and Phil Seitz
(and me, taking the photo, not in it).
Our crew includes Wayne as the captain and pilot, me, Wayne's dad Phil, who introduced Wayne to cruising, his wife Gunnel also a seasoned cruiser, and our dear and adventurous former Vancouver WA friends Ron and Tricia, experienced river rafter and happy to come along for the ride.  Lucky for us, Panama is on their list of potential future places to live and the timing worked out perfectly.  We'll also be joined by a canal advisor; required aboard each transiting boat.

Nonetheless, all four seemed relieved they were staying in a nearby hotel tonight as our anchorage was rolly as heck.  Over dinner aboard tonight, the plates were flying, due to a good stiff wind and lots of pilot boats kicking up wakes as they zipped by our "anchorage" outside Club Nautico.  Ironically, the huge Princess Coral cruise ship that passed us by only 100 feet or so, and the massive freighters docking across from us for loading and unloading caused barely a ripple.


shelter bay marina tito fenders and lines for canal transit
Tito at forefront, offers lines and "fenders" for rent for the
Panama canal crossing.   Here's he's dropping off ours
at Shelter Bay Marina.
Yesterday we received our rented "fenders" (plastic wrapped tires) and special canal line at Shelter Bay marina, which we'll return as soon as we arrive on the Pacific side, in time for the large rally following through the next day to use them.

Today's dinner was a good test drive; it's been years since I've cooked for more than four, and the first time I've done so aboard out boat.  As our galley is only large enough for one person, with minimal counter space most of which doubles for access to the fridge (cold drinks!) and freezer, cooking anything is a challenge.  And did I mention it was rolly?

Tonight's leftover BBQ chicken will provide the meat for our main meal tomorrow, "Havana Hash."  It's a dish I invented in Cuba when we were scraping by as we were unable to resupply our food until we could exchange some of our cash for Cuban CUCs.  I'm hoping our guests will like it as much as we did.  Here's the recipe, when I make it just for two:


Havana Hash
1 T olive oil, extra virgin
1/3 c sweet yellow onion, diced
1 t minced garlic,
1 7 ¾ oz can salsa verde (used La Costena brand)
1 c cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast*, cubed
5 small white corn tortillas, diced (or the equivalent in arapes)
water, as needed, to keep from sticking

Warm the olive oil in a “nonstick” skillet.  Add the onions and cook until transparent.  Add the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds.  Add the salsa, chicken and corn tortillas.  Turn heat to low.  Add water a little at a time if the mix sticks or becomes too dry.

Optional:  top with sliced black olives and grated cheese

Served on the side with

Quickie Mexican Rice

1 T olive oil
1 c white rice
1 T “stolen” sautéed onion and garlic from the Havana Hash before the other ingredients are added.
¼ t ground cumin
1 t chicken bullion (used better than bullion)
1 8 oz can tomato sauce

Sautee the white rice in the olive oil for 1-2 minutes in a small saucepan
Add sautéed garlic and onion and cumin, stir and cook 1 minute

Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a simmer and cook until the rice is soft, about 20 minutes

cruising preparation
Boats basked in the morning light anchored at the work yard
near our current anchorage.
Location Location
We're parked outside Club Nautico (N09.21.885 W79.53.563), slightly North of Colon Panama.  We are an hours sail over to F Flats where we'll meet our advisor at 15:00 pm tomorrow, Friday the 13th.  We're told it takes about an hour to begin going through the locks from there, so we're hoping someone can catch us on the Gatun Locks web cam then, estimated between 4 and 6 pm, EST.   By end of day, Saturday, we will complete our 48 mile transit from the Atlantic/Caribbean side, across Panama, exiting into the Pacific Ocean.