Dream Time: Prepping for the Panama Canal

In April 2000, husband and wife Neville and Catherine Hockley fell head-over-heels for the sailboat Dream Time in a Long Island parking lot. In June 2007, they packed up their stationary lives in New York and set sail for an eight- to 10-year adventure on the water.

Today, Dream Time is the couple's home and office as they sail around the world, working remotely to run a New York-based design studio while blogging about their journey and documenting the people and places they discover along the way.

The plan is a complete circumnavigation that will take the Hockleys across the Pacific to New Zealand and Australia, then up to southeast Asia and over to India. They intend to travel up the Red Sea to Cairo before exploring the Mediterranean, crossing the Atlantic and returning to New York City.

Read excerpts from their adventure below and join ABC News in tracking their travels.

Watch the Hockley's recent conversation with ABC News Now.

View photos of Dream Time's travels.

Visit the boat's Web site to learn more about their journey.

Feb. 11, 2009. Day 624: Colon, Panama


Catherine Hockley writes: Well this is it….. February 20th is our date for transiting the Panama Canal. A canal official (Admeasurer) came to the boat with lots of questions, paperwork and a long tape measure to asses the boat and gave us the once-over before declaring us canal-worthy, happily we passed inspection and were given our official 'Ship Identification Number' and the transit date was set.

The Panama Canal is long, large and more than a little intimidating for the uninitiated, so to avoid any first-time jitters anywhere near the canal's unforgiving 100-ft. concrete walls, we are going for a little practice run on a friend's boat first. Vessels our size are required to have four "experienced and capable crew" to handle the lines going through the canal, so most boats need extra people, and we are going to help out on a friend's boat tomorrow. It normally takes about 24 hours to go from one side to the other. You transit the first three locks in the late afternoon of one day, anchor in the lake for the night, and then after negotiating the three remaining locks, you pop out into the Pacific by the end of the next day. Easy peasy right? I really hope so, It'll be our boat next week!

Now that we have completed most of the boat projects that we came here to do, the next fun challenge on my list is provisioning the boat for the next six months. There won't be many food shopping opportunities in the Pacific, probably not till we get to Tahiti in June or July, so I'm busy making lists of what I think we're going to eat and use for the next six months; Then all I have to do is figure out where I can put it all! We'll need all the basics like rice, pasta, oatmeal. Dried fruit, milk, eggs etc. Canned anything, like fruit and vegetables, fish and meat, even Spam made the list! (apparently it's fashionable again) and of course the essential m&m's, then all we have to think about is our en route provisioning, and that we leave in the capable hands of Neptune, and the fishing gods.

Sadly there'll be no room for non-essentials (yes, actually m&m's are essential!) and there's going to be no room for ice cream, so I've decided to find a way to eat ice cream every day til we leave, it seems like the only sensible thing to do.

Pacific here we come!

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