panama canal transit
Aboard SV resilience
Transit the Panama Canal on a 75' custom Aluminum Ketch with a bad-ass Captain!
who is sv resilience?
BIG NEWS- Cruisers Academy is growing... We are now partnering with a 75' Aluminum Ketch and her experienced owner and Captain!
While cruising in Mexico, a beautiful 75' sailboat, 'Resilience', caught our eye in the anchorage. We dinghy'd over to say hello, and were met by a friendly Captain named Tripp. He explained they primarily use the vessel as a platform for their non-profit to conduct their own research, accommodate scientists, create films, and bring others along to learn.
Can you see why we were instantly intrigued!?
We hopped aboard and Tripp, along with his girlfriend and business partner, Kiera, gave us a tour around the boat. From their extra large and comfortable cockpit to the walk in engine room, it was fun to explore this 'small ship'. As they shared their mission, values, and beautiful boat with us- we looked at each other with a huge smile. We'd been asking the universe for the right Captain and boat to show up for us to grow the Cruisers Academy, and here they were! Tripp has been has been a sailing instructor since he was 15 years old, is a natural and professional teacher, wooden boat-builder, experienced cruiser and now Captain of a badass expedition vessel with a very cool opportunity on the horizon.
This is where YOU come in...
Tripp and his crew are headed through the Panama Canal from Panama City to Shelter Bay this March. They have four bunks available for anyone who wants to experience one of the worlds greatest marvels of engineering and check the Panama Canal off their bucket-list. This will be Tripp's THIRD timing transiting the canal, so he's a man with a plan!
Although Brady or Blue won't be aboard, we feel this captain and boat fit our ethos through and through! As we grow we will always partner with people who we hold to a very high standard, not just in ability and skill but in human-ness!
Check out this brief boat tour aboard RESILIENCE...
what to expect
$3,900 per person
5 days (4 nights) onboard SV Resilience - a custom built 75 ft. Aluminum Ketch
March 13, '23: Board boat in Panama City, Panama (Pacific side)
March 15, '23: Target day to transit Canal. This is just the target, the transit can happen on either side of this date.
March 17, '23: Depart boat in Shelter Bay, Panama (Atlantic side)
Closest Airport: Tocumen International Airport (PTY) in Panama City (can taxi back from Colon/Shelter Bay).
What to Expect:
Tripp and his crew have been running charters and science expeditions on board SV Resilience this past year and have taken her from Alaska, all the way down the West Coast, around Baja and are now ready to take her through the Canal and into the Caribbean. As an experienced sailing instructor, cruiser, captain, boat builder and host - Tripp will be explaining all aspects of transiting the Panama Canal from logistics, to a bit of history, and everything in between! You'll be able to dive into any specific questions you may have about the cruising lifestyle or how to maintain a cruising boat. Tripp will also give you an entire walk through of the vessel to see the systems involved in what it takes to make this beauty of a sailboat run.
While March 15th is the transit date to aim for, transiting the canal is a bit of a waiting game and the days before the transit will be spent on standby with the boat at anchor outside of Panama City, Panama. The city itself is an awesome destination, and Casco Viejo is actually a world heritage site with loads of beautiful restaurants and night life attractions.
It will likely take one day to transit the canal, with the slight chance of having to anchor in Lake Gatun in the middle of the canal for a night.
After making it through the Canal, SV Resilience will be anchored in Shelter Bay which offers some hikes, monkey sightings and beautiful scenery.
There is a ‘Marina Hotel at Shelter Bay’ if you’d like to stay an extra day. They run shuttles or can arrange a taxi back to PTY airport. The price ranges from $70 to $135 a person and take approximately 2.5 hours to get from Shelter bay to Panama City
If you want to extend your trip in Panama on either side, we recommend looking in Bocas Del Toro and Bouquete!
Who’s this for:
Anyone who has crossing the Panama Canal on their bucket list! This is an incredible chance to see first hand the beauty and wonder of the Panama Canal. The Captain of SV Resilience, Tripp, has already crossed the canal twice and has extensive experience to share. His partner Kiera is a Marine Biologist and runs a Science Program aboard. There will also be 1-2 film crew aboard to document the experience so this adventure is best suited for those who don’t mind having cameras around.
A bunk aboard SV Resilience for 5 days/4 nights. Each cabin has two bunk beds and an ensuite head. If you book with a partner, you will share a cabin with two bunk beds. If you book solo, you will be placed with another solo person and each get one of the bunk beds.
All food and drink while aboard SV Resilience (dietary restrictions can be accommodated).
What’s Not Included:
Flights and travel to and from the SV Resilience
Hotels on land before or after your time onboard
Any food or drink purchased on land
Any additional tours on land you’d like to take
tell me about
SV Resilience is a 75' custom Aluminum ketch. She was designed by Alden yachts and built by Palmer Johnson in 1978. Over the years she has gone through extensive refits and upgrades including a full re-power!
Since Tripp and Kiera have taken her over they have installed a brand new generator and done an incredible job re-building the hydraulic systems aboard.
She is also kitted out for optimum safety at sea with satellite phone capabilities, a life raft, EPIRB, AIS and plenty of life vests and tethers.
There are four bunks available for the Panama transit. Each bunk is a part of a bunk bed set up, split between two cabins. Each cabin has it's own head, and hanging closet.
If you book with a partner, you will be put in the same cabin. If you book solo, you will be sharing a cabin with another solo traveler we will pair you with.
Please watch the video above as well as click through this photo carousel to get a better idea of Resilience's layout.
The panama canal
A Brief History
The Panama Canal moves ships between the Atlantic Ocean on the east side and the Pacific Ocean on the west side via a series of of seventeen artificial lakes, artificial channels, and locks. A ship traveling from New York to San Francisco saves 7,872 miles by going through the Canal instead of around the tip of South America. The Atlantic entrance to the Canal is only 22.5 miles west of the Pacific entrance!
The Panama Canal is perhaps the most crucial piece of infrastructure supporting the free flow of international trade and goods in the western hemisphere. The idea of creating a water passage across the isthmus of Panama to link the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans dates back to at least the 1500s by explorer Vasco Nuñez de Balboa. The realization of such a route across the mountainous, tropical terrain was deemed impossible at the time. The only other route was to sail around South America via the stormy, unpredictable Strait of Magellan, or use the Panama Railroad to transfer goods and people from one ocean to another.
France began work on the canal in 1881, but stopped because of lack of investors' confidence due to engineering problems and a high worker mortality rate from malaria. The United States took over the project on May 4, 1904, and opened the canal on August 15, 1914 at the cost of $345 million. The US continued to control the canal and surrounding Panama Canal Zone until the 1977 Torrijos–Carter Treaties provided for handover to Panama. After a period of joint American–Panamanian control, the canal was taken over by the Panamanian government in 1999. It is now managed and operated by the government-owned Panama Canal Authority.
How It Works
The Pacific Ocean is at a different level to the Atlantic, and the Atlantic has tides of less than three feet while the Pacific varies around 20 feet. This is why a sea-level Canal would not be possible. All of the chambers have a lift of around 29 feet, except for the last Miraflores Lock which must compensate for the Pacific tides. Water is moved from a higher lock chamber to a lower one using only the force of gravity. Approximately 26 million gallons of Lake Gatun water ends up in the ocean each time a ship passes through one end of the Canal, making a total of 52 million gallons for a complete transit.
(1) Enter First Lock Chamber
Your ship will approach the first part of the locks and go alongside the longer centre wall. You will probably see two tugs helping to push the ship sideways against the wall. Once in this position the first mule wires are attached on the shore side. The ship will then move forward to pick up the mule wires on the other side. Look for the rowboat that is used to pass the lighter heaving lines across so the ship’s crew can winch the heavier wire onboard. Once the mules are secured on both sides, the ship will move forward into the first chamber. This is done under its own power, with the mules keeping the ship centered in the lock chamber(s).
(2) First Chamber Fills
A valve is opened and water flows by force of gravity from the higher chamber to the lower one, equalizing the water levels, and raising the ship up around 29 feet above sea level. You won’t see much of your own chamber from the ship, but you might be able to watch the water ‘boiling’ in the adjacent chamber.
(3) Move to Next Chamber
Once the filling is complete, the gate in front of the ship will open and the ship will move forward into the second chamber, once again under its own power with the mules keeping it centred.
(4) Second Chamber Fills
The gates will close behind the ship. Here you can see a road bridge extending across at the same time. The valve of the next highest chamber is opened, and water flows into the second chamber, raising the ship again.
(5) Move to Third Chamber
The same process happens again, this time with water spilling from Lake Gatun into the highest chamber, so the ship ends up at the height of Lake Gatun. 26 million gallons of water will have been taken from the lake. This is replaced by rainfall. This picture is the rather unusual sight of two ships transiting in opposite directions.
(6) Chamber Fills and Move to Gatun Lake
Once the water level is equal, the gates will open and the ship exits the locks and enters Lake Gatun at around 87 feet above sea level.
The original height of Lake Gatun was 85 feet but this does vary according to rainfall. Part of the expansion project was to raise the maximum height of the lake to 87 feet.
(7) above series repeats
After Lake Gatun, there is another series of locks to move through in similar fashion until exiting on the Atlantic Side of the Canal.
A bit more about Apparent winds
Apparent Winds is dedicated to collecting and sharing stories of hope. They are focused on environmental and cultural preservation around and throughout the world. SV Resilience acts as their sailing research vessel which acts as a platform for their in house data collection, headquarters, and our means of sustainable travel. Their mission is to share these stories through film, educational outreach, and the written word.
didn't see your thing?
This is the first of many seasons of offshore sailing for Cruisers Academy, so stay tuned. We thank you for your interest and we hope to sail with you in the future.
If you haven't already joined us for our flagship CA-1 course in Tahoe, you can learn more about this 4-day consecutive course below. Summer 23' dates are now open!