Preparation for transiting the Panama Canal

Ya and it’s crew are getting ready to transit the Panama Canal. As with other sail boats we have filled out endless forms, decide how to accommodate 3 extra people (line handlers) for the night as well as feed them 3 meals. These preparations are all part of transiting the canal. However, Ya -a fossil free boat has a few extra preparation 

Firstly, the authorities require a minimum speed of 5 kts. Ya best speed verses use of power is 2.3 -3kts, where 300watts. To achieve a speed of 5.0kts, triple the amount of power is required, see diagram below.

Relationship of speed versus the necessary power

This increase in speed over 10-12 hrs would be a considerable drain on the power. Therefore Peter is renting a generator so we can maintain the minimum speed and keep the batteries happy.

Secondly, Ya relies on the 3 aft solar panels to provide energy. Any damage to these panels would significantly reduce our power. The line handlers on land throw lines with a monkey knot on the end of the line to handlers on the boat. If the monkey knot lands on the solar panel, we have damage .

Monkey Knot
Line Handler with a Monkey knot in his hand.

may occur. Peter has three pieces of old ply wood to cover the solar panel, preventing any possible damage to the solar panels.

We need 4 line handlers per boat excluding the captain that is 6 people on the boat including the pilot. Once the line handlers and pilot transit the canal, they are transported by taxi back to the start area approximately I hr.  In the world of sustainability, the amount of fossil fuel used to take the line handlers up and down the canal by road is considerable. Fewer line handlers would reduce the fossil footprint. Numerous boats have transited the Panama canal. Ya being fossil few has a few different considerations than most.