Before we begin our 48 mile journey from one ocean to another, I thought I would go over a few details for you technophiles (tip of the hat to my brother for noting this intel):
- The MS Zuiderdam is 955' long, 105' wide, 26' deep.
- Each chamber in the three Gatun Locks is 1000' (305 m) long, 110' (33 m) wide, 70' (21 m) deep.
- The locks on each end of the canal will raise ships 85' (25.9 m) to the level of Gatun Lake. The Gatun locks (Atlantic side) accomplish this with a series of 3 locks each raising a ship by roughly 27' (8 m). The Pedro Miguel and Miraflores locks (Pacific side) do this in combination of two lock systems. Pedro Miguel is made up of two lock chambers and Miraflores is one single lock chamber.
- Each transiting vessel uses 52 million gallons of fresh water and takes anywhere from 8-12 hours to go from the Caribbean to the Pacific.
- Total cost for our little boat to transit the canal? $408,000. (that's some kind of surprise to find on your credit card bill). And that includes a $30,000 "lock time" fee to have a specific time to enter the locks (sort of like paying for a reservation to get a reservation at some swanky restaurant). If you don't pay the lock time fee, you have to park your ship in Limon Bay and wait your turn in the queue.
Took us under an hour to navigate the locks and parked in Gatun Lake. For those who wanted to explore the rest of the canal or take a ride on the Panama Canal rail road or kayak a portion of the canal, we could get off here. The rest would stay on board and cruise the lake before heading back out through the Gatun Locks to dock in Colon. Us adventurous souls we were herded into 'tender' boats and shuttled to a waiting bus that whisked us to Gamboa and a ferry that took us across Gatun Lake, through the infamous Culebra Cut (the site of many slides and deaths) and then down the three locks on the Pacific side to Panama City. Took about 3 hours to navigate to the Pacific and was fascinating to see the locks from an up close perspective. As an Engineer, I was totally mesmerized (drooling, some say) at the pure engineering skill and effort that wend into the entire effort. My little hamster wheel was trying to grok the sheer magnitude of the Engineering, the construction, the logistics, the costs of the entire operation. Impressive especially considering it was completed almost 100 years ago.
|Brother & Dad|