I couldn’t come up with one word to describe the transit of the Panama Canal so here are a few: Awesome, overwhelming, grand, breath-taking, splendid, tremendous, remarkable, amazing, awe-inspiring, astounding.
A few facts about the Panama Canal
“The Panama Canal is approximately 80kms long between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. This waterway was cut through one of the narrowest saddles of the isthmus that joins North and South America. The canal uses a system of locks/compartments with entrance and exit gates. The locks function as water lifts. They raise ships from sea level (the Pacific or the Atlantic) to the level of Gatun lake (26 metres above sea level). Ships then sail the channel through the Continental Divide. Each set of locks bears the name of the town site where it was built: Gatun (on the Atlantic side) and Pedro Miguel and Miraflores (on the Pacific side). The lock chambers – steps – are 33.53 metres wide by 304.8 metres in beam, depth 12 metres in tropical fresh water and 294.1 metres long. The water used to raise and lower vessels in each set of locks comes from Gatun Lake by gravity. It comes into the locks through a system of main culverts that extend under the lock chambers from the sidewalls and the centre wall. Ships from all parts of the world transit daily through the Panama Canal – between 13,000 and 14,000 vessels every year. The canal has a workforce of approximately 9000 employees and operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”
|The first of two bridges that cross the canal. A third is being constructed and should be finished in two years time.|
We set our alarm clock for 6.00am as this was the time that we would head into Panama City. What an eye opener that was! So much high rise. Even Donald Trump has built towers in Panama City – his first building outside the USA. Panama City is the world’s number one city for retirees. The government has very generous incentives for retirees including medical and from what we could see it is a very attractive place to live.
|A pilot boards the ship and takes charge all the way through the canal|
We entered the first of five locks at 8.00am and left the last at 4.30pm.
|Entering the first lock with just inches to spare on either side|
|Looking back to a cargo ship entering the lock beside us|
The canal winds its way through rainforest until you reach the gigantic Gatun Lake at Gamboa.
|Very lush rainforest edges the canal|
|Plenty of industry along the canal|
|How I spent most of today......on our balcony!|
The canal has been declared one of the seven wonders of the modern world and it is well deserved. It was the French who originally started work on the Canal but malaria and yellow fever put an end to their work. The USA then took up the task. The Panama Canal, since 2000, has been owned and run exclusively by Panama. A ship such as the one we are on pays approximately $100,000 to transit the canal.
|Goodbye Pacific hello Atlantic|