Friday, March 4, 2011

Canal de Panama....

Sunday, February 13, 2011

We set our alarm for 6:00 a.m., to be up in time to see our approach to the Canal.  We threw on some clothes, and headed for the forward 'secret' deck.  Not so secret, but we still got a good spot.  Lucky our cabin was so close to the front.

It was way too early and too dark, for the first photos to come out.

The arrow shows the pilot which lock to enter.  Note the man in the small boat.  He's coming out to tie us up.  They still do it that way.

These machines, called Mules, were ready to guide our ship through.  They are tied to the ship, and help keep everything going straight.

As we approached the first lock, we could see the tunnels on each side.  That's a road that goes through the locks.

The bridges rotate back into the sides.

The traffic was backed up, waiting.

Through three locks, we would be lifted 85 feet, to Gatun Lake.

The Mules, and men,  work on boths sides of the ships.

The drive beside and through this watch house.  

Notice the ship photographers.  They were everywhere, all the time.

These are the Gatun Locks....built in 1913.

The gates are large and heavy.  When open, they recess back into the wall.

Gates closed.

The view from the Promenade deck....deck seven.  It's a tight fit.

We learned later that this ambulance was there to pick up a lady from our ship.  She had a heart attack.  Scary...

I ran down to deck five, and got a not so good picture of the gate as we passed through.

We came out into Gatun Lake.  This lake was formed by damming the Chagres River.

You can see the dam, in the distance.

This is a partial crossing...meaning we were only going through the Gatun locks,  turn around, and come back.

We anchored for a while....

...and, waited our turn, with the other ships.  The locks go one direction half the day, then the other direction.  The fee for our ship to traverse just these three locks, was $250,000.  But, a savings for ships who would otherwise have to go all the way around South America, to get to the Pacific Ocean.

More capacity is needed, so they are busy building three more sets of locks.

Tie-up boats

We headed back out, the way we came.

Back out, into the Atlantic.

Passing by the eastern lighthouse.

Back out, where ships sat, waiting to come through the canal.

Our transit was very interesting.  A lot of hard work, struggle and deaths, went into building this engineering marvel.  Some day, maybe we'll make the full transit....through all three sets of locks, from the Pacific, to the Atlantic.

We didn't get to dock in Panama.  When we booked, we were supposed to dock in Colon.  We've never gotten an official reason for the change....but, that's another story.  We enjoyed the experience we had. for a day at sea.

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