The Rio Chagres is a beautiful tropical river, a magical and mystic place, surrounded by virgin rainforest.  There is an atmosphere of silence, except for the sounds of many different birds, especially parrots, toucans and other animals.  The howler monkeys continue to be the loudest mammal we have ever heard.  The river was dammed in 1910 to create the Gatun Lake and supplies the water for the locks of the Panama Canal.  It is navigable up to the dam, about six miles.  The river usually runs sluggish with operations for the Gatun hydroelectric.  But during heavy rainfall the flood gates are opened to prevent the Lake from overfilling.  We had the experience of sitting on top of a flooding river for a couple of days while the flow was over 5.5 knots for almost 12 hours.  Quite a fascinating ride while the anchor held us in one place.  Another definition is intimidating. 

Here is the dam release two miles above us.  We are very happy they had only 3 out of 14 gates open while we sat below in these flood waters flowing past us along with logs, Cayucos and trees of all sizes.  The damage to Moonlight was minimal with only a small amount of bow antifouling paint missing (she needs a bottom job anyway).  These pictures were taken by a fellow cruiser Sandy from S/V Heart of Texas.


Before the flood waters this was a magical and mystical place.  

The entrance was an easy passage and a fascinating exposure to the Chagres. 

When we arrived at the second bend in the river it was anchor time and enjoy the surroundings.       

Then it was kayak time to explore the rainforest for any visual treasure that we may find. There is a Yen in there, ten feet away and she disappears.  It is a good thing that we have a hand-held compass which is still on the boat. 

Life is fascinating on the river. Fresh water swimming, kayaking and of course watching the rain come down.   A sick Tern adopted the boat as her home.  She was welcome until she thought she could re-decorate the deck in relief brown

Of course, our kayaking and swimming days came to a temporary halt after seeing this guy (a 6-8 ft. crocodile) crossing the river near the boat.