Our voyage took us from the Caribbean side of Panama, starting at Colon, to the Pacific side near Balboa. It took several days to make all the necessary arrangements, including acquiring a dozen tires to use as extra fenders.
We went through the locks with a Norwegian vehicle carrier called the Terrier, 638 feet long and 105 feet wide. Vehicle carriers are like huge floating boxes and have been specifically designed to transit the canal. They can carry as many as 6000 vehicles.
We had asked for center lock, meaning that we would have two bow lines and two stern lines to the sides of the locks, but we ended up tying along side of the tug that was accompanying the Terrier. It seemed much easier as we had only to raft up with them in each lock, and they had lines to the sides of the lock that they could winch in electronically as we rose, or let off as we descended.
The weather was rather rainy, and it was a very long day. We had hired two line handlers and we also had a pilot. We did not reach Balboa until dusk, and ended up picking up a mooring at the Balboa Yacht Club for the night.
These islands lie in the Gulf of Panama, about 40 miles south of Panama City.
We were happy to leave the city lights behind - we were anchored right off of Panama City, which has its share of skyscrapers and smog.
We arrived in Las Perlas Islands after a four hour voyage. There are very few tourists here! Nothing except water, shorelines, beaches, trees, birds, fish, dolphin. We did see a fishing boat, and went for a long dinghy ride and saw a man working his 'field' on an uninhabited island, and then actually located a village of local people.
With a few houses, laundry drying, a fire burning, children playing with toy boats. We also located a lovely waterfall that spills into the ocean!