March 2000 - The Panama Canal and the Galapagos Islands


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Posted on 1 March

Make sure you read Hannah's Panama log - and discover something special about her name!


Today we went to Portobelo in a taxi. A man called Carlos. He was very nice. He took us on a sort of tour around Portobelo and we saw two forts. We also went to a restaurant by the sea and we paddled. We tried to herd a shoal of fish forward but we lost them. I had fish for lunch. Hannah brought limpets from the sea and one inched its way on to Grandpa’s plate! I had a passionfruit solero! Yum yum. In the fort there was a ditch in front of the battlements and you could only see it from the top, so you trick the invaders when they run up to steal the treasure. So the soldiers on the other side called in a haa haa!


You start off at Colon. It might take a week for they keep on changing the schedule and they keep saying that you`ll go in tomorrow but then the next day they say "Tomorrow" again. Anyway, you start off there and when you go in, you either go in with twelve sailing boats or go in with at least 2 sailing boats and a huge ship. The start is the canal. It is very narrow and a big ship can only just fit!!! But we managed.

The Locks

We got to the locks. We went into a sort of cage and the big ship was in front so we had to go quite slowly. Once we were in, the gates closed behind us. We were tied on to another boat. Both Lazy duck and Cormorant (the boat we were tied onto) had pilots on them that were experienced Panama Canal sailors, and they walked around telling the crew to tighten a rope here and loosen a rope there. We need the ropes tied to the shore because we might hit the side when the water comes in and out and also when a ship is behind you and it uses its propeller. It makes a wash and the waves push us to the side so the ropes are to stop us doing that. We waited for the locks to fill up. There were bubbles coming from the bottom and it looked just like a jacuzzi but a little dirtier. When we were at the same level as the next lock, the gates in front opened and we went out. Then the same routine happens in the next lock. Then we went into the Gatun lake and travelled for 3 hrs before coming into another set of locks but this time coming down. This time there was no jacuzzi - just straight down. The ship was behind us this time and the other boat had cast off so we were on our own with the big ship. That meant that we could go a lot faster now. After the locks was another lake, then another lock, then the… PACIFIC!!!

The lake

After the first half of the locks came the 3 hr lake. We were sailing along (or rather motoring along) at 8 knots and soon we had to slow down because a man called David wanted to take pictures. So we put the battle flag up and put our Lazy duck T-shirts on and he took pictures. On the way we saw some plants that float on the water called water hyacinth. It carpets the bottom which means that no light can get through to the water below. So the organisms are killed off by the carpet and can`t make their food from the sunlight. The fish in the water need to feed and they can`t because the organisms aren`t there because they died and so the fish can`t live there either, so it was sad. Then we go into the next locks and then another lake where you go under a huge bridge and then the Pacific!!!


Panama and Palindrome

We were in the locks two days ago. We went to the Lake but the lake was too high. So we went in 3 locks to take us up to the level of the lake. We went with Cormorant, Cap’n Hook and a big big ship nearly as big as the Titanic called Asante. In the lake there were sloths because there was a big jungle all around us. These people came on board called Kiko Mia and David and Maite and their son Dagan. Kiko told me that if you wrote this backwards it says the same thing. A man a plan a canal Panama. That is a palindrome and my name and level are ones too.

Posted on 15 March


We arrived in Panama City and the first thing we did was open a bottle of champagne to celebrate at last of our going through. The next evening Kiko and Mia came on board for a drink and Kiko showed the best palindrome in the world. Here it is: A man, a plan, a canal, PANAMA! So if you turn it backwards it says the same thing like this: A MAN, A P/lan a c/a/nal, P/a/nam/a. Isn’t that amazing? The next day I went with David and Dagan to EXTREME PLANET. I went on the bouncy castle, the bumper cars and the claw thing. I had great fun from the claw thing. I got a doll, tiny skeletons, two rings, and two squigy jelly fish. Mark went at 6:00 in the morning and Grandpa went at 9:00 and I was sad to say goodbye. A few hours later Mark came back! It was then that we went to Extreme Planet. The next day, Kurt and Claire came. Well I couldn’t say day because they came in the middle of the night, because some of their luggage was missing! That day we had an oil slick and the grown-ups spent the day cleaning while me and Hannah were covering ourselves in tattoos from comics that dad brought back from the airport. The the next day on Sunday 5th we left for Galapagos! We have been sailing for a night now and the waves are hardly waves at all. We are sailing at about 5 or 6 knots and the wind is due to go down. Bother!!


We have been SO LUCKY! We thought the wind will drop but actually, as well as going at 7 knots, we are in flat, calm sea. It's lovely. Yesterday I saw my first ever whale! It was half in the distance and half very close. It was very exciting! Last night, I went on watch with Dad, from 9 to 11 pm. It was very tiring but I loved looking at the phosphorescence and stars. Kurt saw a dolphin at night and he said it looked like a torpedo under water. Today, we saw a school of dolphins in the distance. We didn’t know if it was a dolphin or a fish, but it jumped right out of the water and jumped back in again with a big splash! I always love seeing dolphins. I am reading a book called ‘Dove’. It is a true story of a boy of 16 who sailed right the way round the world single handed. I now know a little more of the places we are going to, because he had been to most of them, but not all. It is a very exciting book.


Yesterday we had squalls and the waves came ritht at us. Me and Hannah got soaking wet beds so we had to move to the saloon in the middle of the night. But now… now there is no wind. The sea is like glass. Now we have to motor all the way! (well maybe). We hope we have got enough diesel. Tonight we will cross the Equator so King Neptune will have to come on board. We are a bit nervous of what is going to happen!


Yesterday was really fun. First we saw pilot whales. There were four, swimming towards us. Then they swam under the boat. We could see them go under, because the water was so calm and clear. We started making a crown, a beard and a trident for Dad to dress up as King Neptune. After an hour or so, WE HAD THE CELEMONY!!! Dad put on his beard (made out of grey paper with cotton wool stuck on) and his crown (made out of orange paper with other coloured paper stuck on for jewels) and held up his trident (the boat hook with yellow paper shaped as a fork stuck at the top) and started banging it on the deck saying ‘FIRST VICTIM!’ Then he makes them kneel down facing away from him and says these words: ‘I am King Neptune the king of the deep. It is your duty my tradition to keep. Welcome down south, this is your first time, please step forward, I’ll cover you in slime!’ Then he covers us in gloop. To get it all off, we stopped the boat and swam in the warm water. It was lovely! That night I found some more dry slime in my hair. It made it very knotty!

Recipe for slime:

  1. The day’s rotten vegetables
  2. The leaves from 3 tea bags
  3. Potato peelings
  4. 1kg of flour
  5. 1 tin of peas
  6. 1 tin of Campbell’s chicken soup (with bits)
  7. top up with salt water and mix thoroughly

BLARGH!!!!!!! We crossed the equator at nine o’clock and we pretended that the moon beam was the line!


On Sunday (we arrived on Saturday) a boat came out to take us to see some SEALIONS! We went out to a little island and we snorkelled. I only just touched one with the tips of my fingers. They would go right to the bottom so you can’t see them. Then, after a few seconds, they all come rushing up like under water torpedoes. Then they swim all around you just out of hand reach and just before you touch them they swim away. It is so funny how they sit on rocks and then big waves come and take them with it, like a slide. When you look under water, and when the wave goes out, while you are being swept away from the rocks, you see all the sealions coming towards you because of the wave that takes you away from the rocks. Soon I got cold so I got in the boat. After everyone had got in the boat, we went to see the iguanas. We walked quite a way to a wild and rocky shore. There we saw small iguanas and big mamma iguanas. Some we saw swimming in the water. The iguanas have spiky chicken combs, starting from the head, and going down the back. They have very greening scaly skin with lovely long tails. They also have chubby little feet that they tuck in when they swim, because when they DO swim they only use their tails.

On Tuesday I went with Claire and Hannah to the Darwin Centre to see tortoises. We saw cute little tortoises that open their tiny mouths and chomp a bit of leaf, and we also saw Lonesome George. He is the last of his species. We also saw two mating. We watched them through the pontoon.

Posted on 23 March


We went on a highland tour with Paula. Hannah had been sick in the night and all that day, but she managed. We saw two extremely large volcano craters. They were not bubbling any more. Then we wen on, to the tortoises. Two camera men tried to take pictures of a tortoise in the water, but whenever the camera faces him, he turns around and only shows his back! It was very funny! We went up to a little hut thing and had free lemon grass tea. It was DELICIOUS!!! Then we went through the lava tube. It was very dark and you had to have torches. Mine was fading, but I at least had enough light to see where I was going! Then we went to a lovely house. A lady called Anita owned it. It was beautiful! Me and Hannah swam in the pool. I sat in a boat (blow up) in the pool and pretended I was in a life raft because my boat sunk. It was great fun. We had lunch there. I had delicious chicken and freshly made fruit juice.


John John and Sebastian have now arrived. The third night they were here we went on Pulsar (a catamaran that we went on for diving, snorkelling and tours. Very nice! I recommend it.) Our guide was called Patrick. He was French and very musical! Walter was the cook. He cooked lovely food (He gave Mum a break!) Carlos was the deck hand and very friendly. The captain (I forgot the name) was very funny and friendly too. Two Australians were already there called Sue and Adam. They were spending six days on Pulsar. They had already done three days and we had only just started our three days. They were friendly and helpful. Great company too. I was in a bunk that had a cave thing at the head of it and I preferred not to sleep with my head under there! Pulsar was a beautiful boat! I woke up in the morning with the sea lions barking like constant alarm clocks. We went ashore (after hot chocolate, ham, cheese and tomato followed by water melon for breakfast, yum yum!) and on the rocks, there were sealions. A male was barking at us to stay clear (a bit bossy) and telling all the females and pups off if they wander off! But none of the other sealions were interested. They just lolled around on the rocks watching their pups play in the water current. Then we went to look at the land iguanas. Then we went to the bachelor (sealion bachelors) home, and saw one female lying on the rocks. We saw lots of birds called swallow-tailed gulls. Then we sailed to Santa Fe and did another walk. We arrived on a beach with lots and lots of sealions on the sand and pups sucking their mothers milk. They were SO cute!! Also, on the walk we saw more land iguanas. They were sandy coloured.

Next day we were in Espanola. We went on a long long long beach. There were sealions there too. Me and Hannah made a sand castle with a hole going in and out the other side so that the sea water could come through and into a small hole. There were three pups that played with me, Hannah and Sebastian while Kert took pictures. One came and kissed me on my legs, two for each leg and waddled off to sunbathe! I went over to see it and waved, and the pup put his fin up and wiggled it, like it was waving back!!! SHE WAS LOVELY!!!

On that day it was Dad’s birthday. We gave him a hammock that we are itching to try out. We also gave him, and orange t-shirt with a lizard on, and a dark blue one with a sealion and frigate birds. At tea, we had a delicious carrot cake (which Mum made) with icing on (which Walter did) and on it saying HAPPY BIRTHDAY JONATHAN. Yum yum yummmmm. In the afternoon we had a walk to a cliff. On the way we saw two hawks and further on an ALBATROSS. We think it was too young to fly, because it kept spreading out its wings and we were so close without it flying away. They walk very clumsily from side to side. I think it is amazing how it can double fold its wings. When we got to the cliff, we saw a blow hole. It came shooting up, like a volcano explosion! That night we had a concert. We took it in turns to play Patriack’s guitar. One time, Patrick playing his guitar and singing, then Dad playing the guitar and me singing.

The third and last day, we went to Floreana. We went on a walk and we saw ghost crabs running up and down the beach, then we went to a lake and saw a few very pink flamingoes. They were pink from the food they eat. Then we went to a beach on the other side and there were sting rays in the water so we had to be careful. Then back to Pulsar. After lunch we went to the post box. It was a bag with cards in, stuffed in a barrel. We put ours in. People have been doing that for 200 YEARS!! You put your letters in the barrel, and look and see the address of the other letters and see if you are going to any of those places on the address so you can deliver those messages to the people who are supposed to get them! AMAZING!! After that we turned back to Santa Cruz AND MY LAZY DUCK!!!

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