Panama Canal Done....In the Pacific!!!!

Wed 8 Feb 2012 00:56
That was pretty fucking cool. I am a massive fan of industrial engineering and this was awe inspiring. The Canal's three locks, each of which has two lanes, operate as water lifts to elevate ships 26 metres above sea level to the level of Gatun Lake in their transit through the Continental Divide, and then lower them back to sea level on the opposite side of the Isthmus. During these lockages, which use water obtained from Gatun Lake, the mightier gates seal the lock chambers and gravity drains the water to the lower levels. Around 197 million, yes 197 million litres of fresh water are used for each lockage and ultimately flushed into the sea. It was built in 1914 and up to 63 pyramids similar to those in Egypt could have been erected with the material excavated during it's construction. Over 152.9 million cubic metres of material were removed. Were this to be placed on railroad flatcars, it would circle the globe four times. Bonkers. The new Panama Canal locks will be 427 metres long and 55 metres wide, the size of four football pitches. Check the photos out below.
In the whole time it has been running it has only shut down three times. First was a huge landslide in the 60's, second was when the US invaded over General Noriega and the third was due to a huge storm. Pretty good going. All it takes is a few leaves on the line or some snow to shut London down.
It was amazing. We left Shelter Bay marina at around 5pm on the 5th with our two line handlers; Carlos and 'nice guy' Eddie, anchored and waited for the pilot to take us through the first lock; the Gatun. There was us, a ketch rigger and a 3 tiered tourist boat rafted up together. It was cool because everyone was excited and the pilot, Victor was chilled. It's pretty full on, especially as night fell and you are in amongst huge, and I mean huge, huge ships jostling for positions to get through. It's a slick operation and it was nice to be rafted next to another yacht as their was a lot of camaraderie.
It took about 4 hours to make our way to and through the lock and we anchored up on the other side in Gatun Lake overnight and waited the arrival of another Pilot at 7am. We then proceeded through Gatun Lake and it's many islands towards the next three chamber of locks eventually coming to the Bridge of The Americas at around 4pm.
We are now anchored just outside the canal and are leaving for Ecuador tomorrow. Can't wait as this part of Panama is a bit of a hole. The marina we stayed in on the other side was really nice though and we met some cool people. We were befriended by a crazy Ecuadorian who's nephew is the Vice President of Ecuador. Really? I hear you cry. Well we had our doubts but we shall see. We have since been in contact and are meeting him at Manta in Ecuador to go Marlin fishing and his friend owns half the town. Whatever, but I cannot wait to go big game fishing and Gareth is fizzing at the bang hole. The other guy is from Puerto Rico and a really good guy. It was mad because these are two places we were going to visit anyway and now we will have hospitality in both places. Always nice.
It's pretty crazy being in the Pacific. It's like a mill pond and we will probably be motoring all the way. That will make a really nice change. Chilling and fishing. All good.
Oh yeah. We had 63 flying fish on our deck one morning on the way to Panama and in the Marina were a couple of crocs; one 13 feet and the one in the photo below, which was about 7 feet!
Check out some of the photos below and will be in contact soon.
P.S This time it did come to blows but I will say no more about it and things have never been better!!!!