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An Update from Webb Chiles

Nation — Another solo circumnavigator sent us an update. We were delighted to hear from the legendary Webb Chiles, who, after a unique transit of the Panama Canal, is about to embark on the last leg of his sixth circumnavigation.

After a 17-day passage from Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, to Colon, Panama, that saw a 43 knot gale, the Bahamas become a dangerous lee shore, failure of three tiller pilots and the wind instruments, the port pipe berth sheer off the rivets attaching it to the hull, and far too many ships, Gannet, my Moore 24, was trucked across the Isthmus and is now on a mooring at the Balboa Yacht club almost prepared for what hopefully will be the final passage of her circumnavigation, the 3,000-mile sail partly against prevailing wind and current to San Diego.

There’s more than one way to transit the Panama Canal.
© 2019 Webb Chiles

Gannet presented insuperable problems for making the transit in the Panama Canal, which I have done three times previously in larger boats: There was no way to feed or sleep four line handlers, no sun shade for the advisor, no enclosed head, too small cleats for lock lines. Another problem, speed, could have easily been solved by renting or borrowing a bigger outboard.

I do not know if the Canal authorities would have permitted the little boat to be towed through by another yacht. No offer of a tow came forth, so I arranged for a cradle to be made and the truck ride. Gannet made the fastest crossing of any sailboat — at times clocking 43 knots — and probably the most expensive. I do not yet know the final total, but it will work out to be considerably more than $100 a mile.

The charge alone for the travel lift to put Gannet in the water was an outrageous $856.

Getting a little boat across the isthmus of the Americas is no small task — it’s not inexpensive, either. “Getting Gannet across Panama will cost very nearly what I paid for her,” Chiles wrote on his blog.
© 2019 Webb Chiles

I will not push hard against strong wind on the sail to San Diego. I will sail wide angles, slow down, even heave to and wait for favorable conditions. It is possible that I will divert to Hilo, Hawaii, which is easier to reach and where Gannet would also complete a circumnavigation.

I will probably sail next week, sometime between March 11 and 15.

For those who might be interested is seeing what happens, Gannet’s Yellowbrick tracking page can be found here.

Gannet is holding tight in Panama and waiting for her right turn back to San Diego.


  1. Teri 5 years ago

    Hello Webb Chiles!

    We live near by the Balboa Yacht Club and our friend in the US sent us your blog. If you are still around today (March 9th) or tomorrow, we would love to share stories.

    Kind regards,

    George and Teri

  2. Chris 5 years ago

    Hello Webb,
    Love your show! Keep it going…
    God Bless

  3. Mark 5 years ago

    Hi Webb,
    I found your blog (journal) a few weeks ago and now I check your progress every day.
    You are the MAN!!!!

    All the best

  4. Paul Dimtroff 5 years ago

    Safe travels with good winds and mild seas.

  5. Mrs. Luann Davis 5 years ago

    Wondering if you are the Webb Chiles that Dan and I knew years ago. Did you once own a dog named Bagel?

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