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Panama Canal, Part One, Monday 28th December, 2009
Dec 28th, 2009 by susan_dyer

 

On Monday morning we set our clocks for 5:15 AM, showered and dressed and headed straight for the bow of the ship.  We had been told that space along the railing would be limited and crowded and since this was our first (and probably our last) time through the Canal, we wanted a good view of the passage. It was still dark when we claimed our spot, with just a hint of pink in the sky. 

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These web sites have maps of the Canal, and include many of the places that I will point out in the blog as we travel along.

http://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/namerica/camerica/pncanal.htm

http://www.panamaforum.com/panama-canal/1508-panama-canal-map.html

Jim went off in search of coffee right away, and while it was warm enough to be in shorts and a light top, the coffee still felt nice and comforting!

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As you can see, we were hardly fighting off crowds for a place at the railing!  :)   The lights on the shore were most likely the city of Colon…

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I can not remember this Scottish gentleman’s name, but we had a great time that morning.  He said that he felt that he should be dressed “up” for his first time through the Canal, so he chose this shirt!

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We crept along and the sky became more and more pink coloured.  The journey from Colon to Balboa is about 50 miles and depending on traffic, can take as much as 9 or 10 hours to travel.

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The lights in the distance were the first set of locks that we would pass through at Gatun. 

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We were standing near the bow on this deck…

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…while some passengers had chosen to stand on other decks.  Of course many passengers were still in their jammies, sitting on their private balconies…  :)

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There were plenty of tug boats keeping a close watch on our progress towards the first set of Locks.

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As the sun rose higher, we could see the ships already in line ahead of us at the Gatun Locks. 

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One of the many rivers that flow into Limon Bay and the body of water just before the Locks.

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In this picture you can see four ships.  Two are already in the two locks separated by the concrete area that divides the locks.  The second pair of ships are just maneuvering into position to await their turn… 

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This gives you a better look at the centre “island” which is command central for the Locks.  You can see from the ship on the left just how tight a squeeze it is for some of these monster ships.

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Once the ships were in place, the huge Lock gates shut behind them…

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We noticed a line of cars and buses backed up on either side of the canal…

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…and then noticed that once the gates were tightly shut, the traffic was allowed to cross from one side to the other!  :)

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Next up will be our progress through the Gatun Locks!  :)

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