Thursday 15th February
We were very excited this morning as it was time for our transit of the Panama Canal. This had been on my wish list of places to see and visit for ever, and I never ever thought I would actually be lucky enough to tick this one off my list!
At about 6.45 am Panama city came into view. And what a sight it was with all the sky scrappers and tower blocks looming up in the distance in the early morning light.
The Aurora just squeezes in to the Miraflores locks with only a matter of a few inches to spare. Here the ship is raised 54ft to the same level as Miraflores Lake.
As we exit these locks you can see a far smaller ship leaving the adjacent lock.
This picture (slightly out of sequence ) shows the ships at anchor waiting until night time for their transit, as it is considerably cheaper then. We were informed that it cost £300,000 to take Aurora through!
These new locks were opened in 2018 and allow ships 25% larger to use the canal. The new locks cost $5.4billion and now the new larger container ships can take advantage of the 12000 mile and 23 days savings that the canal offers.
The first bridge we go under is the Bridge of the Americas.
It looks like we only just fit under but I’m assured that we had plenty of room to spare!
This is the Culebra Cut which slices through the continental divide. This stretch of the canal is 9 miles long and it is hard to believe it was built in the early 1900s.
Looking back through the cut you can see the Centennial Bridge which was completed in 2004. This was built to supplement the overcrowded Bridge of Americas and can now take 6 lanes of traffic.
The next set of locks are the Pedro Miguel Locks which raise the ship a further 31ft to the height of Gatun Lake.
Here we are greeted by members of the Aurora photography team making a DVD of the trip through the canal (and yes I did buy it and yes you can come round to see it!)
These trains are called mules and they are used to pull the ships into and through the lock.
Not always successfully, as this photo shows. We were sat right beside this rail when it got caught on the side of the lock and it sheared right off!
This is Gatun Lake, created between between 1907 and 1913 by the building of the Gatun dam across the Chargres River.
With the scenary changing every moment there was always something new to see and little time to sit down.
Although if you’ve done it before you might get a little blazé about it!
A new bridge under construction, it was very interesting to sail underneath whilst all the work was going on above!
Good bye Panama Canal, a very pleasant way to spend a day!