Hi All (written Jan. 10,2017),
For those of you who have followed us for years, this is the third time we have passed through the Canal so most of this will be repetitive, but for all you newcomers I hope you find it interesting.
First a few facts about the Canal. It was started in 1904 and opened Aug. 15, 1914. It is 48 miles long and consists of 3 , 2 channel locks (called the Gatun Locks which raises/lowers the ships from the Caribbean Sea to the Gatun Lake and Culebra Cut. This takes them across the Canal and then to 3 more 2 channel locks (the Pedro Miguel lock and 2 Miraflores locks) which raises/lowers them into the Pacific Ocean. It handled annually about 1000 ships in the beginning but due to expansion the figure rose to 15,000 in 2010. As of June 26, 2016 a new third cannel set of locks has been opened beside the original 2 channels which will double the capacity of the Canal and allow for passage of the super size tankers. The Canal allows a ship sailing from New York to San Francisco to travel 5,900 miles versus traveling 14,000 miles if it had to sail around Cape Horn.
OK, follow me through one of the locks: the Pedro Miguel Lock, to experience a piece of the day (it takes a ship about 8 to 10 hours to pass through the Canal). Come with me up to the front of the ship to view our passage:
Before reaching the Miguel Lock we pass along the Gatun Lake and Culebra Cut with scenes like this:
As we sail through the Lake and Cut we pass all types of cargo ships like this huge container ship:
Now we begin to approach the Pedro Miguel Lock with its two channels (we will pass through the one on our right):
The lock where our ship is going looks awful small from this distance and with the front and rear gates closed, but just wait until we pull up beside it and begin to enter. We will be pulled through by the canal electric trains, one holding the front of the ship and one holding the rear of the ship, from both sides of the lock:
and watch the rear gates up front start to open:
As we are pulled into the lock and stopped inside, the rear gates start to close:
The water flows out and we are lowered to the level of the next lock:
If you think this ship just fits in this lock, take a look at the two sides of the ship:
Once the water reaches the lower level (in this case of going down to the Pacific, the opposite if we were going up from the Caribbean) the front gates open and we sail out:
The locks close, the water flows in to the lake level and they’re ready for the next ship:
And we sail off to the next Locks and the Pacific Ocean:
That’s it for the Panama Canal. We have a day at sea and then we stop at our first Pacific port; Puntarenas (Puerto Caldera), Costa Rica (Jan 11, 2017). The day after that we stop at Corinto, Nicaragua (Jan. 12, 2017) and the day after that we stop at Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala (Jan. 13, 2017). Three ports in a row, so I will try to post at least one or two during that time, but will probably have to wait until Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on Jan. 16,2017 to get caught up.
Love you all,
P.S. Just a suggestion for you new readers. The email you get only has the contents of the Post I am making. It’s best if you click or double click on the title of the post, which will take you to my site (garyguertin.wordpress.com) where you can see any changes I have made and see previous posts you might have missed. Hope you enjoy!! I have read all your comments, and thank you very much for your words.