I have sailed through the Panama Canal so many times, as I worked many Panama seasons onboard. I find it difficult to get excited about this part of the world! But this time I quite enjoyed just watching.
The Panama Canal was built so it is quicker to transit to the Pacific Ocean from the Atlantic Ocean and vice versa. As it takes a lot longer to get to either ocean sailing around South America.
It is an artificial 48 miles (77 km) long waterway that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and it cuts across the Isthmus of Panama.
The Panama Canal is used daily for cargo ships and cruise ships to transit. It has become a very popular cruise with several cruise lines.
The Panama Canal was opened in 1914. The building started in 1881 by the French, but due to engineering problems and a high mortality rate stopped building in 1894.
The canal was very difficult to build between the wet season and the dense jungle that had venomous snakes, insects and spiders in it. Then there was yellow fever, malaria and other tropical diseases that killed thousands of workers. In the end 22,000 lives were lost due to disease and accidents.
The United States took over building in 1904 and completed in 1914. In 1999 Panama took control of the canal.
Pedro Miguel Locks
When the canal opened in 1914, 1,000 ships transited through the canal. Now over 15,000 ships transit the canal every year. Since the canal has been open over a million ships have transited the canal.
Pedro Miguel Locks
It takes six to eight hours to transit the canal and ships must go through three locks.
This is how the transit looks like from the Atlantic side:
- Atlantic Ocean (Caribbean Sea)
- Transit Cristobel
- Gatun Locks
- Gatun Lake
- Passing Gamboa
- Passing Centenario Bridge
- Pedro Miguel Locks
- Miraflores Locks
- Pass under the Bridge of Americas
- Passing Balboa Anchorages
- Enter Pacific Ocean (Gulf of Panama)
Between the locks and Gatun lake it is interesting watch. Gatun lake has little islands full of lush plants with wildlife living on them.
The locks are the features though seeing the water raising and lowering the ship to pass through. Watching the little trains on each the side of the lock guiding the ship through.
Leaving the Miraflores Locks
The canal has now been expanded so larger container ships can transit the canal. So far, no cruise ships have passed through. The new locks are parallel to the old locks.
Passing under the Bridge of Americas
Love Lucy x