A Travellerspoint blog



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47f9e590-7409-11ec-9196-3ff66a1ec39f.jpgA man. A plan. A canal. PANAMA. It is indeed a long palindrome, fitting for this looooong (51 mile) canal we are traversing today. We have learned many facts:
-- The canal goes from north to south, given the twist in the isthmus.
-- The gates are original, in use since 1914; each weighs 690 tons and is the height of a seven story building (85 feet).
-- Every single one of the canal workers outside in the heat is FULLY masked.
-- Ships go toward the Pacific in the morning and toward the Atlantic in the afternoon; big ships cross in the day; smaller ones at night (the canal is lighted!).
-- The crossing takes about 12 hours and saves about 25 days of travel.
In our “pod” (probably not a nautical term) were a large Holland America ship and a small sailboat. The three of us fit into each lock and rose and fell together. Next to us in an adjacent chamber was a ship packed with 3500 cars. The Hondas were going to the US and then to Europe, where BMW’s were bring picked up and brought to Japan. The toll for the auto-carrier? $250,000.

The engineering concept of the Panama Canal is so simple that you could do it with toy boats, but the engineering execution is so complex that it is beyond our ken. It is amazing and clever and we can’t stop looking at it. Our veranda is only a few feet from the canal wall. The ship is centered by two little trains on each side hauling metal cables that pull the ship one way and the other. So after passing through two locks at breakfast we are now 85 ft. above sea level, cruising in Lake Gatun, a huge (180 square miles!) artificial lake filled with islands and massive ships. At the end of the day, we shall be descend to the Pacific through the next locks.

In the meantime, Bill progresses slowly but surely. Sleeping isn’t easy, but sitting in a deck chair seems to work quite well. We are going to try the seafood buffet for lunch – cabin fever has set in!

Posted by HopeEakins 00:46 Archived in Panama Comments (3)

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