Why one shouldn’t anchor in Gatun Lake

While transiting the Canal yesterday, after our fly-by of the new Gatun lock, we passed many ships at anchor, waiting either for their exit to the Caribbean via Gatun; or their turn to transit southwards.

The pilot asked me if I wanted to anchor or prefered to slow steam until our Cut passage was ready.  I replied that I would rather steam;  “good idea, look at this” was his reply.  Whipping out his phone, he proceeded to show me some photos and a video of a recent incident on a ship anchored in Gatun Lake.

The crew went forward, to prepare for heaving the anchor, while the pilot and the Captain discussed their transit.  Out of the corner of their eye, they noticed the crew running down the foredeck, shouting, screaming and in an ‘agitated’ state.

Investigation revealed that up forward, next to the anchor windlasses was a Jaguarundi, a jungle cat that is native to Panama.  It had swum across the lake, climbed up the anchor cable and got onto the deck!  Fortunately it was a youngster; it was captured by Panamanian officials and taken back to the surrounding jungle and released. I knew of the danger of sea-snakes doing the same while anchored off India, however this was the first I’ve ever heard of a jungle cat being so intrepid 😉

A medley of command, travel and family

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