Tuesday 15th January 2013
The Panama Canal is a 48-mile (77.1 km) ship canal in Panama that connects the Atlantic Ocean (via the Caribbean Sea) to the Pacific Ocean. The canal cuts across the Isthmus of Panama and is a key conduit for international maritime trade. There are locks at each end to lift ships up to Gatun Lake (85 feet (26 m) above sea-level) which was used to reduce the amount of work required for a sea-level connection. The current locks are 110 feet (33.5 m) wide. A third, wider lane of locks is being built. Work on the canal, which began in 1881, was completed in 1914, and the Panama Canal shortcut made it possible for ships to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in half the time previously required.
I was awoken by Vance leaping out of bed saying ‘the engine noise has changed’….. it was 5:30am and pitch black outside but he went out onto the balcony anyway to see the arrival of the canal pilot. Then it was emails to friends at home to tell them that we had arrived at the canal so they could watch the live webcams on the locks and see our transit.
At 6am we had the in-suite TV on showing the forward facing view from the bridge and suddenly saw the Captain walk in front of the camera and set up his camera on the bridge deck.
By 6:30 I was up at the bow on deck 6 while Vance went up to deck 9 midships – a pre-arranged viewing location with friends at home.
We entered the Canal by the West Lock (starboard to us) and I managed to take quite a few!!! shots of us going through the series of three Gatum locks. Everyone was waving at the closer of the Gatum webcams only to find later that they had been struck by lightening the day before and weren’t working!! Luckily the panoramic webcam was working so a big thank you to our neighbour at home, Roy, who sent us images from his computer of The Quest – see photos.
Before we entered the Gatum lake our friends Suzy and Lance invited us to their front facing suite to get a better view. We sailed across the 15 mile lake passing the Chagres river. By 9am I suddenly realised I was still in my pyjamas so I rushed back to our suite to change into something more suitable for breakfast on The Colonnade and more photos from the aft of the ship.
At 12 noon we were back to Suzy and Lance’s suite for pre lunch drinks…Corona of course!! to view the single stage Pedro Miguel lock and then it was back to The Colonnade for lunch with Suzy, Lance, Sarah and Paul. We shared the port side outside table where we able to eat, view and take even more photos.
We passed the Miraflores lock visitor centre where hundreds of visitors waved to us as we passed.
Once through the two stage Miraflores locks where we had descended 54 feet we were finally in the Balboa harbour on our way to Panama city. After passing under The Bridge Of Americas this was our entrance to the Pacific Ocean. We arrived at Fuerte Amador at 5:30pm to anchor up for the night.
That night there was a Panamanian dance show at the pool side followed by the previously postponed ‘Rock The Boat’ dance party.
After a fantastic day we were really tired and were in bed by 11pm…zzzzzzz.
Techie bits: On the 15th of January:
Sorry folks there was so much to see and do that I forgot to capture the info.