Panama City 08:54N 79:31W
John & Irene Hunt
Fri 8 Feb 2008 17:01
The trip through the canal was interesting. William, our pilot was a font of knowledge and if I can remember correctly, here is some information which might be of interest.
The whole system is run from fresh water originating from the rivers which pour into Largo de Gatun, a manmade lake around 26 miles long. When the canal was finished, it took 10 years for the lake to fill. (It wouldn't happen in Australia, the Greenies would stop it and the politicians in power would not have enough guts to make it happen! Oops here I go again.)
There are no pumps, the system is fed by gravity. Enter the first lock on the Caribbean side from sea level and it is all salt water, the chamber fills through holes in the bottom with fresh water which is fed from the lake. This raises us up to the top and then we pass into the next chamber which in turn fills, all with fresh water. The canal authority are not keen on yachts. If you can imagine, a large ship displaces a lot of water and less fresh is used to raise it to the next level. 9 or 12 yachts in the chamber displace so little water that it uses the entire 252,000,000 gallons to fill the chamber. This amount of water will run Chicago for 4 days. Three locks going up and two going down runs Chicago for 3 weeks!
We commenced out transit at 19:00 hours and emerged into the lake at 22:30 for an over night stop in an anchorage between the mainland and the Islas Tigre one of the many islands dotting the lake. The pilot arrive at 06:30 the next day and we then completed the transit at 14:30 and are now in The Flamenco Marina on Flamenco Island at the end of a causeway to the mainland.
Yesterday we visited the old town the Casco Viejo area and lunched at a delightful restaurant with a 5 course set menu housed in a lovely old building. All though nothing here is too old as Henry Morgan sacked Panama in 16xx and burned it to the ground. After lunch we wandered around, keen to see the Panama Canal Museum but unfortunately it is Carnival and everything is closed from Saturday 2nd through Tuesday 5th. Bumped into some local bicycle cops, who not only spoke good English, they were keen to practice it and showed us around the area including a visit to the Presidential Palace, external view only.
Things are very cheap here. We visited the Albrook Mall and I bought three 100% cotton shirts for US$60, a Casio watch waterproof to 100m and with 5 alarms functions I wanted for the yacht for $35 and a local mobile phone (our Australian provider does not have an agreement here) for $26 including $26 worth of prepaid calls!
Caribbean side and some huge ships.
The Gatun Locks on the way up.
The canal through the lake silts up and this dredge works constantly to keep it
over 14 metres deep
One of our fellow travellers. This is the new bridge across the canal opened a few years back.
Another fellow traveller with 2200 passengers.
The yachts are rafted together two and three across. This is in the Miraflores Lock on the way down.
Our personal bicycle cop. Cecil becomes a taxi driver after work and his corporal,
Vladimir drove us around for two days for the princely sum of US$8 per hour.
Great guys and a real advertisement for their country.
Part of the Presidential complex with exotic birds wandering
around the marble courtyards. Not a sign of poop anywhere so I
guess they have their own pooper scooper following them around.