Our Panama Canal Transit in a few simple (comparable) facts…
- Cutting across Panama, the Panama Canal connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean for 48 miles, allowing ships and yachts to pass through without having to go the long way round…We left from Colon, went through the Canal and ended up in the Pacific – a day later.
- Quite simply this engineering marvel was started by the French and taken over by the Americans, who finished the construction in 1914…We entered the Canal late on Saturday 18th February 2017 as 4 British crew and 5 American guests, we came out of the canal on the afternoon of Sunday 19th February 2017, with 4 British crew and 5 American guests.
- Between 12000-15000 ships pass through the canal every year, taking around 3-5 hours…As 1 sailing yacht we passed through the canal in 2017 and took around 15 hours – we chose to take longer as we stopped overnight in Lake Gatun on anchor. This is still much longer if we were to bypass the canal and try to travel around South America…
- The length of the canal from Atlantic to Pacific is 51 miles and 10 miles wide…We are 30m long and 8m wide.
- There are 12 locks (in pairs) in the canal and each door of the locks weighs 750 tons… We are 125 tons.
- The Panama Canal hasn’t missed a day of operation in over 100 years and still uses all original gates…We occasionally have the odd day off…
- The canal operates using a system of 3 locks; the Miraflores and Pedro Miguel locks on the Pacific side and the Gatun locks on the Atlantic side… To operate us, we have 1 engine, 2 generators, 3 sails and 10 winches. For the transit we had 4 line handlers and 4 lines.
- You are not permitted to transit the canal on your own, a specially trained canal pilot takes navigational control… We had two pilots, for the each part of our transit. One told us good stories about crocodiles in the canal and another one liked our coffee machine (a lot)
The transit through the canal was amazing, you can’t quite grasp the feat of engineering here and the concept that you are being lead into a new ocean. Going through in the both the evening and the daytime was great as we got to get a feel for the canal in both lights. Now into a new ocean, new countries and a new adventure, bring on the Pacific.
February 2017 (Panama)