Transit of the Panama Canal

Trip Start Jan 01, 2014
1
189
417
Trip End Dec 31, 2014


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Where I stayed
Tahitian Princess

Flag of Panama  ,
Friday, January 9, 2009

Map of the Panama Canal

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I have made transits of the Panama Canal several times before,  but it always remains a fascinating experience to watch those 80-feet high, 100-feet wide, 13-feet thick, water-sealed, doors swing open and close as ships move in and out.   The Panama Canal is about 50 miles long, and it can take about 9-hours to transit from ocean to ocean.   Boats are charged according to size and weight, and private boats are charged about $2,000.   The Gatun locks uses 21 million gallons of water for each ship. 


We were supposed to have arrived at the Panama Canal at 6:30 this morning, but we were early. My roommate, Greg, told me he was up at 5am, and we had already passed through the first bridge; the entrance to the canal. It usually takes about eight hours to transit the canal once past the first bridge. We were supposed to arrive in Colon (Cristobal) at 4pm, but will probably arrive about two hours early for a six hour port visit.

Charles I of Spain ordered the first survey of a canal route through the isthmus in 1534, but more than three centuries passed before the first construction was started by the French in 1880. The French through private investments spent 20 years, but diseases, financial, and engineering problems defeated their attempt. In 1904 after an agreement with the new Panama having gained independence from Columbia couple of years earlier, the United States purchased the French companies rights and properties for $40 million and began construction. After three chief engineers, and defeating the disease problems (Col. William Gorgas, MD, identified the mosquito as the source of yellow fever, and instituted mosquito control programs), the project was completed in 1914 at a cost of $387 million. The project ended up costing over 21 thousand lives. In the year 1997, Jimmy Carter “gave” the Panama Canal to Panama.

From the Pacific to the Caribbean Sea, the first lock is Miraflores locks (one hour to transit), the second the Pedro Miguel Locks 40-minutes), and the third the Gatun Locks (2.5 hours), the then the Atlantic Ocean.


PANAMA CANAL











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COLON








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