A Travellerspoint blog

Day Thirty Nine - Transit of the Panama Canal

Saturday, 3 October 2015

What a day !! Started early as we sailed towards the approach channel for the Canal. There were dozens of ships of all sizes and types lying at anchor awaiting their scheduled time to sail in. There were views of Panama City in the early morning light. The many impressive modern buildings were somewhat at odds with my expectations - in a very good way.

On our approach to the Miraflores Locks we passed beneath the Bridge of Americas. To our port side we were presented with a view of the new locks which are due to open the canal to larger ships early in 2016. This construction phase should be completed by the end of 2015 after which the new facilities will be subjected to an extensive testing program. The Miraflores Lock comprises of two sets of two lifting chambers. Due to the size of the ships and the volume of water involved it takes almost an hour to pass through.After a short transit we entered the Pedro Miguel Locks which are a pair of single lift chambers.

We then sailed under the impressive Centennial Bridge carrying six lanes of traffic high above the ships. We then sailed almost three hours on the outer reaches of Gatun Lake crossing the Continental Divide through the Culebra Cut. There is still a lot of activity involved in widening and dredging the navigation channel. All of this activity makes this transit unique as the construction phase will come to an end soon.

The cruise through the main basin of the Gatun Lake presented us with many wonderful views of the lush tropical jungle which came right down to the water. There was a constant procession of ships heading South as we headed generally North. Amongst a mixture of various cargo vessels we were met by the cruise ship Costa Luminosa as she made her way to the Pacific Ocean.

Took a little time out to grab a quick snack and then prepared for our entry to the Gatun Locks. It was interesting that there was a large collection of cargo ships lying at anchor waiting their turn to enter the locks. I'm told that our uninterrupted passage comes at a considerable cost to the cruise line. One of those extra fees that is added to the basic tariff. The Gatun Locks are a pair of three lifting chambers which lowered the ship to the level of the Caribbean Sea.

It was just past 16:00 when we sailed out of these locks making a total of 10 hours of almost uninterrupted exposure to the blazing sun. I suspect I'll have significant sun-burn tomorrow. During this time I managed to record 440 images, not all them crystal clear due to shaking of my right hand. Anyway it presents me with a massive challenge to select an image for my 365 Project. The most graceful structure was the Centennial Bridge and my best shot of that was with a tanker ship sailing ahead of us passing under it.

So for today's image we have the Centennial Bridge over the Panama Canal. You can view the image by following this link to my main album.

Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony

Posted by greynomadm 17:51 Archived in Panama

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