Tips for a smooth canal Tran­sit

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Keep decks clear. Move or stow items

to keep the area around bow and stern cleats as clear as pos­si­ble.

En­sure all fair­leads are fair to start. Re-lead­ing takes time you may not have if cur­rents start spin­ning the raft.

Stern lines took the most load. Con­sider running them to a cock­pit winch with the stern cleat as a guide to pro­vide bet­ter con­trol and me­chan­i­cal ad­van­tage.

Prep line han­dlers well. Hold a crew meet­ing. Make sure they un­der­stand how crit­i­cal it is to be alert: they should not ex­pect to use a Gopro or post on so­cial me­dia dur­ing tran­sit.

Re­peat in­struc­tions from the ad­viser. It con­firms you have heard and are re­spond­ing to the ac­tion called for. It may serve to clar­ify the ad­viser’s in­ten­tions when is­su­ing rapid in­struc­tions.

En­gage your ad­viser. Talk through ma­noeu­vres in ad­vance, ask­ing for clar­i­fi­ca­tion on next steps and understanding ac­tions they will want you to take be­fore they need to hap­pen.

PAY AT­TEN­TION! The lead ad­viser (who is not nec­es­sar­ily on your boat) may call for rapid en­gine and/or steer­ing changes. the Pa­cific side locks. This was the long­est part of the tran­sit, a time for us to re­lax and en­joy a meal. March is dry sea­son; we could re­lax in the cock­pit for this part of the jour­ney, learn­ing from our ad­viser about his ex­pe­ri­ences and ap­pre­ci­at­ing the sights: our his­tory buffs an­tic­i­pated see­ing the crane named Ti­tan that was taken as a Sec­ond World War prize, and the an­i­mal lovers aboard worked at spot­ting birds, mon­keys, and croc­o­diles (a 3m croc swam along­side us in the Cule­bra Cut).

The ad­viser isn’t the captain – you’re still re­spon­si­ble for boat and crew –but our num­ber one take­away to tran­sit safely is that it’s es­sen­tial to work tightly with the ad­viser. They un­der­stand the lock con­di­tions: some in­struc­tions may seem odd, like directions to turn the boat to point to­wards a lock wall, but it’s for a rea­son. There could be a four-knot cur­rent de­flected by the wall, and their goal is to pre­vent the raft from spin­ning out.

Leav­ing the Mi­raflo­res locks be­hind, Totem mo­tored to­wards the Bridge of the Amer­i­cas and the Pa­cific Ocean. This marked our re­turn to the body of wa­ter where our jour­ney be­gan, the last leg of our cir­cum­nav­i­ga­tion, and the fi­nal weeks aboard as a fam­ily of five be­fore our el­dest heads for col­lege. A mo­men­tous event, suit­ably wit­nessed by a mon­u­men­tal cre­ation.

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