I was introduced to couch surfing from a traveller I met while traveling around Panama. Her name is Babette, a big time traveller for the past 8 years from Kansas City, Missouri. I have met many couch surfers during my travels, but never thought of trying it out until Babette mentioned it to me. Through the CouchSurfing web site, she organized a free sail boat ride through the Panama Canal. Included were all meals and the 2 night accommodation! I’m in.
Last year during my Calgary to Panama campervan road trip, I met Stephanie, another backpacker/couch surfer. Stephanie is also a bigtime traveller, she did all the America’s on her own. Stephanie introduced us to Peter who also had a boat in Rio Dulce, Guatemala . He took us out for a great afternoon of sailing the local waters! Stephanie was couch surfing on Peter’s boat a couple of weeks before.
The route through the Panama Canal was well worth my accepting the offer. The 47’ sail boat was clean and well equipped with a great crew. My job on board was a line man, working with the people who represented the canal. I had to pass the line/rope to the canal operator in order to walk the sail boat through the canal safely. The great crew included owner ,captain Josh from California, his buddy Travis from Florida, couch surfers Maru from Argentina, Babette from Kansas City and myself Pete from Calgary, Alberta, Canada!
The fresh water Panama Canal is actually 28 miles long with two lock systems at either end. As we passed through from the Caribbean side, the boat had to be raised 15 meters through 3 systems of locks. Approximately 3 miles into the lake, we had to anchor for the night. After a good night’s sleep and breakfast we continued to the Pacific side, an all day journey. We motored at 7 knots passing a lots of ships and a beautiful landscape, even saw a 15 ft alligator. The final lock system at Panama City lowered us 15 meters to the Pacific ocean, where my job was complete!...Thanks again Josh, Travis and the crew for such a great experience!
Thanks to all the CouchSurfers.com hosts Josh, Travis and Peter for allowing me the opportunity to experience the lifestyle of living on an ocean boat.
Story from Pete Montgomery WorldTripPete.com