Monday, November 20, 2017


As part of a South Americn tour we decided to go to Panama in order to do a full transit of the canal from Pacific to Atlantic. Prior to that we had a guided tour of the ruins of old Panama City and on a visit to the Maritime Museum we saw the remnants of the Panama city tramway in the square outside.

What a fantastic and interesting passage through the canal it was. We left the start point on Flamingo Island at 0730  and travelled the 57 miles taking 10 hours to do the transit.  When we set off it was announced that we would be accompanied through the locks by a sailing boat and car carrier.  The car carrier, Grand Legacy, was the size of a cruise boat and was carrying 5800 cars. Apparently the compartments in the boat are adjustable so that they can be made to fit any size cars so as to optimise space. The fee for transiting the canal for the car carrier was $8000, plus pilot boat @ $300 per hour. The fees for using the canal are graduated on size of vessel, cargo carried etc. The Pacific side is +24 feet high and the Atlantic +2 feet.

Each fill/empty of the lock uses 26 million gallons of water and takes 8 minutes to do and is  fed from Gatun Lake which is in the middle of the canal. The lakes takes the water run off from the Rain Forest.
Tram lines in the square outside the Maritime Museum

Looking in the opposite direction

Albrook bus terminal Panama city, very large and busy double deck bus terminal at the end of the Metro line, full of American school bus type buses.

Panama City metro train

Map celebrating 100 years of the canal

As we approached our first lock, a ship carrying 100's of containers was entering the loop canal which has been built to accommodate longer vessels

Grand Legacy car carrier in the lock with one of the mules

Close up of a mule. These are attached to the larger vessels and contrary to popular opinion do not pull the vessels through the locks, but work together to keep the vessels in the centre of the lock to avoid collisions with the sides.

Mules waiting to be deployed through the lock again

Grand Le3gacy showing all four mules  keeping her in the centre of the canal

Grand Legacy and her mules showing not much spare space either side. As can be seen, the mules have to do some climbing and lowering depending on the height of water in the lock

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