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Thursday, September 19, 2013

One Helluva Transit - Panama De Canal

My sailing life has given me few incredible lifetime experiences. When my husband told me about our next voyage, I was on cloud nine. The Panama De Canal- one of the seven man –made wonders of the modern world and monument of the Millennium. It’s a 50 mile ship canal that connects Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. The sole reason behind constructing the most difficult engineering wonder till now was to enable ships to avoid long navigations and made it possible for them to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific in half the time previously required.

In the canal ship crosses three set of locks, The Gatun, The Pedro Miguel and Mira Flores locks. Unlike the Suez, which is at sea level for its entire length, the landmass is above the mean sea level. These locks have been created to lift ships upto 85 ft above the sea. Although there are 12 sets of locks total, there are only six massive pairs of locks that ships use for transit, each 1,000 feet long and 110 feet wide.  Each filled with water or emptied in less than 10 minutes, and each pair of lock gates takes two minutes to open.You can read more detailed history of the canal up here.

Due to the large size of our ship, it took us almost 20 hours to complete the transit. And without wink, camera in hand I enjoyed the whole ride with a gaped mouth. I was dumbfounded by all the work and engineering that went into building the whole design of the canal. Phenomenal sense of human fortitude and ingenuity! I am totally overwhelmed to experience such a magnificient thing up close and personal. Also I came to know about canal’s Live-Cam facility. People can watch you live while you cross. Although I was bit late to get the news, otherwise would have asked my folks to watch the whole transit experience online.

I will include some of my pictures to share with those who have not had the pleasure of seeing it in real life yet. So Hop-in and enjoy a free ride to magical Panama canal.

The ship approaches the lock gates at a reduced speed.
The ship enters the lock gates which is narrow when compared to the
size of the ship
The lock gates are then closed enclosing the ship inside it. To lift up the ship,
water has to be pumped into the lock chambers.

When water is pumped, the level of water increases inside the lock chamber
lifting the ship up.

The lifted height equals the height required for the ship to proceed to the
 next lock chamber.

Gates closed when ship finishes passing through them

When the water level equals the level of the Atlantic ocean side, t
he outward lock gates open up, leading the ship to the sea passage.


 Bon Voyage......................................................................................................................................