Pre-Canal

The bar at Balboa Yacht Club may be one of the greatest people watching places on the planet. There are all manner of people passing through and one of the main activities is lining up crew for going through the Canal. You need a minimum of five people on board to make the transit with one driver and four line handlers. Since very few cruising boats have enough people on board you can’t sit around Balboa Yacht Club very long until you’re sure to be either asked if you need crew or want to crew for someone. Several of the boats moored at the club were looking for crew and there were usually at least a few youngsters making the rounds and posting a note on the board to offer their services.
Finding Canal crew for Mermaid wasn’t an issue. We had people lined up months before who wanted to come down and tick off the “Crewed for a boat through the Panama Canal” item on their bucket list. As the day of our Panama Canal transit approached our canal crew arrived. Mike’s Brother David Stout and our long time friends Kathy Ross and Holly Scott, the owner of Charlie’ Charts, flew in and spent several days helping with last minute boat chores and exploring Panama City. The crew visited the Canal Museum at the Miraflores Locks where they watched our friends on Neko pass through, visited the fish market and wandered through the streets of Casco Viejo, the still being restored section of old Panama City with architecture similar to what you find in the French Quarter in New Orleans. Everyone enjoyed the French ice cream shop we stumbled upon on a side street in Casco Viejo that offered exquisite ice cream and some very interesting flavors. Robin loved the basil ice cream … the lavender, not so much. We spent our evenings toasting the sunset on the foredeck with a round of Rony Mangos (Dark rum and Coconut rum with Mango juice over ice) as we watched the never ending parade of ships passing through the channel that to and from the Canal.

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