Panama Canal

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Panama Canal

Many say that Panama City looks a lot like Miami Beach, Fla.

The Bridge of the Americas (left) is an impressive structure. We had this wonderful view right off the stern of Quest while staying at the Balboa Yacht Club in Panama City.

 

When we arrived at the Balboa Yacht Club in Panama we were able to find mooring close to Lazy Bones. (right) These moorings can be hard to come by - and the Yacht Club takes NO reservations. They provide water taxi service around the clock. This is a good idea since the currents coming out of the canal can be tremendous.

Here we are at TGIFriday's in Panama after a successful trip from Costa Rica. Our first desire was to find a place to have a cool drink and relax. (Pictured here, left: Harvey, Delia, Scott & Jean.)

 

After arriving in Panama we took a tour of the Canal. Here we are entering the first of three locks that will raise us to Lake Gatun where we will traverse the country at its narrowest part. Then we will be lowered by three more locks to the Atlantic Ocean.

As we enter the first lock (left) we can look back at the Bridge of the Americas and the Port of Panama. Also, check out those large tractors, called "mules" because they help move the large ships through the locks. The Chinese have taken over the management of the canal since the Americans left and have provided this much needed new machinery.

Here we are (right) in the Mira Flores Lock (the first lock). One of the reasons we're so happy is that the weather is considerably cooler than it's been in two months. And the Quest is not a cruise ship, it's a sail boat. Behind us you see the gates that hold back the water from above.

This is a view from the Mira Flores observation building. These large container ships are called "Panamax" ships because they are built to fit inside the locks of the Panama Canal with only a few feet to spare. These electric locomotive engines keep the ships in the center of the locks by means of large steel cables. The ships themselves go through the canal on their own power. The water entering and leaving the locks creates tremendous turbulence which can be problematic for small boats.

We are lucky that our tour boat can raft next to this tug boat. (right) It's much cleaner than having your boat against the dirty wall of the lock chamber!

 

This is a new bridge for crossing over the canal (left). You can see the new range marker that tells whether you need to steer your boat to port or starboard. A green light would tell you that you're a bit too far to port.

When this cut (and other dredging) was made the causeway was built to the south of the entrance of the canal on the Pacific side. Not only does this provide a place for depositing all the dirt and rock from the canal, but it also protects the canal entrance from ocean surge from the south.

Rain water and dammed up lakes keep Lake Gatun full. (left) It is this water that allows the locks to raise and lower the ships. This spillway is opened when water is needed in Lake Gatun.

It was pretty amazing to come this close to these huge ships as we traversed the canal. Our tour guide was terrific, giving us lots of history and interesting facts about the canal.

 

There are many islands in Lake Gatun. Some of these islands provide recreational spots for the Panamanians who have boats.

Dredging and widening is constantly going on in the canal as seen on the right.

 

All along the lake and throughout Panama the rain forest was exquisite with flowering trees and plants.

Lake Gatun was created by a dam which keeps the lake at a constant level.

 

Here's how cruisers "gussy up" for a night on the town. Panama City had numerous attractive and delicious restaurants from which to choose.

We visited Old Town Panama City on a Saint's Day. It is common to have religious parades through the streets of Central American countries.

A view of the church from across the square. This "Old Town" area was built during the French influence in Panama.

 

These are various views of the buildings of Old Town, Panama City.

Is Tony in trouble?? (right) Stay tuned to find out.

 

 

More shots of Old Town Panama.

 

 

 

 

There are also many government buildings in this area.

 

The view across the bay is of downtown Panama City. It looks a lot like Miami! (right)

 

Panama is a very poor country with many dwellings similar to the multistoried aqua building you see here. The poverty has intensified since the Americans have been asked to relinquish the Canal and abandon their large army and navy bases.

 

These ruins come from the era of Spanish exploration. There was a very large population living on this site! The Panamanians are in the process of restoring these fabulous structures.

 

 

There were many ruins that told a story of the early settlers. Thousands of people lived in this area.

 

These structures were incredibly large. I think that I'm fascinated by this site because we forget about the Spanish presence here in Panama. This site told a story of quite a thriving community.

Neat arch! Don't you think? (Tony's Photo)

 

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12/21/2010 20:11                                         Hit Counter