Friday, October 21, 2011

Not All Canal Transits Get the T-Shirt

In the blog a few days ago about bringing Kokomo through the Canal I mentioned the Cat above that was ‘stuck’ in Lake Gatun. Everyone on board Kokomo had all kinds of bizarre explanations as to why no one seemed to be onboard. Last night the Cat got towed into the anchorage here by a Canal pilot boat. They dropped their anchor just behind Jeorgia. I did my best social-butterfly routine and went over in my dinghy. I wanted to make sure they put out a decent scope on their anchor line, as the bottom here is soup mud and quite a few boats have dragged anchor.
The tow in from the lake and through the 3 down locks cost $4,000. Before the Canal would pick them up they needed to put up a $5,000 cash deposit. Something that isn’t easy when your ATM will only dispense $500 a day. So why did they need a tow? It was due to an ugly lock up. They were in the third up lock at the Gatun Locks. A tug was tied to the wall, then the Cat tied to the tug and monohull tied to the Cat. Close ahead was freighter. When the freighter started to move out of the lock, they gave it close to full power. One of the crew on the Cat was filming when he saw a massive turbulence headed his way. When the big ships turn their props in the lock, they are so close to the back of the lock and take up so much of the side of the lock that there isn’t anywhere for the water to go. The wave essentially folded the monohull under the Cat’s outer hull. Then the 3/4 inch bow and stern lines on the Cat parted. Then the line from the monohull to the tug went under the aft end of the Cat and took out both of the Cats saildrives (propellers). Ouch! The Advisor had already called for an All-Stop in the locks, but the damage was done. The monohull went on to slam into the opposite side lock wall.
A few days latter they had a formal hearing at the locks, lawyers and all. They are still waiting to see if the Canal authority will cover the damage. Rumor has it that the Canal pays out more on the occasional damage claim for yachts than they take in for all the yachts.

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