Saturday, May 28, 2011

Day 14; The Panama Canal

The Panama Canal is one of the seven wonders of the world. It saves 8,000 miles in a trip around South America. It was completed in 1914. There are six locks in each direction. Each sailing vessel must rise 85 feet from sea level during the course of the canal to float across Lake Gatun and then exit through other locks. No pumps are used at the Panama Canal. Water moves by gravity alone.
The chambers of the locks are 110 ft. wide and 1050 ft. long. Sometimes it appeared to be a tight squeeze.

The Panama Canal is 48-50 miles in length with a depth of 30-60 feet. 15,000 vessels travel through the canal a year. It is considered neutral, and all vessels can pass even in times of war. A tug boat is used to position the mammoth sized ships into the lanes.

An expansion was started in 2007 to expand the Panama canal so that 30,000 per year can travel through. In many areas we could see them dredging for the expansion.  There is a fee associated with using the canal. The highest fee ever paid was by a Disney cruise line vessel @ $331,000.00 and the smallest fee was paid in 1928. The cost was $.28 for an individual that swam through the locks. Our bill for the trip was $258,933.74. This paid all our fees for mules, tugboats etc.

There is something magical in watching the water levels adjust and the gates opening. The most inspiring thing is that in 1880 someone thought it could happen. It's an engineering wonder that I can't begin to wrap my brain around. So, I guess I'll go eat more chocolate.  More later about the 2 bridges that span the Panama Canal. Leave me a comment and have a great day.


Amber said...

This is my favorite one so far!

Georgia said...

I have always been fascinated by the Panama Canal. The stories of it's inception and the incredible amount of faith and mind-boggling number of deaths involved in its construction. But when you mentioned the fee involved in using the thing, I almost fainted. I understand that it is an amazing savings of time and miles in sailing around the Cape, but millions of dollars?! I'm shocked and dazed. Aren't the United States' vessels entitled to a discount since it was the labor of US citizens and the funding of a US government which built the thing? At the very least a ship like yours doing charity work should have been allowed through on a priority basis with steep discounts or even for free!