2004 Panama Canal Cruise -- Panama Canal, Part I

Updated January 29, 2013

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The reason for this cruise, of course, was to transit the Panama Canal. The photos here are an extensive record of our (exhausting) day, spent in the Canal. This is truly a cross-roads of the world, with many, many ships in transit, and in port at either entrance. The engineering that made this canal is a marvel, and the setting is other-worldly. In some cases, the ships run alongside wild jungle, with no humans in sight.

Of course, we could not see or photograph a lot of our journey through the locks. We were fortunate that a container ship was locking right next to us. This allowed us to take pictures that show how the locking is done. It is quite an operation involving men and machines. They use rowboats to handle the lines to and from the ships, which is not as 21st-century as you may want. However, this method works, and has worked for nearly a century.

This page is part 1 of 2, since there are so many photos to view.

These pictures were taken primarily with our new Kodak DX6490, which we love. The 10x optical zoom is great, and the electronics do a fine job of automatic adjustment and flash operations.

NOTE that these photographs (with the exception of the Panama map) are Copyright 2004-2013 Robert and Sandra Swanson. Enjoy the images, but please don't steal them!

[canal map]
Canal map
[sunrise]
Approaching the canal in the dark
[sunrise]
More ships visible
[sunrise]
Many ships waiting near the Pacific entrance
[sunrise]
More ships...
[sunrise]
They just keep going on
[sunrise]
Sunrise over the Legend
[sunrise]
More sunrise...
[pilot boat]
The pilot boat comes alongside
[panama city]
Approach with Panama City in the background
[panama city]
The causeway was made from soil dug from the canal
[panama city]
Many, many boats anchored near Panama City
[security boat]
Security boat
[panama city]
Better view of Panama City
[panama flag]
The Legend flies the Panama flag
[approaching bridge]
Legend passengers watching as we approach the bridge at Balboa (PanAmerican Highway)
[boat harbor]
Many, many boats moored near Balboa
[boat harbor]
More boats
[boat harbor]
More boats in the sunrise
[airplane]
Airplane flies over the Legend
[legend and bridge]
Will the Legend fit under the bridge? Stay tuned...
[legend and bridge]
Closer...
[legend and bridge]
And closer...
[bridge]
Ah, we made it.
[bridge]
Whew, that was a close one.
[docks and shipyard]
Docks and shipyard north of bridge
[shipyard]
Really awesome facilities; and that is just one dock area
[ship]
Ship just behind us; this container ship will be our "companion" for the early locking
[car carrier]
Car carrier?
[panama city]
Panama City in the distance
[dock]
Another dock
[channel]
Moving along the channel
[pilot boats]
Pilot boats; note the security fences
[approaching lock]
Approaching Miraflores Lock
[milo]
Milo viewing the action; their cabin was above ours
[lock entrance]
Miraflores lock entrance; note the big arrow telling us to use the left-hand lock
[lock entrance]
The arrow has switched; the other ship will be our companion in the right-hand lock
[other ship]
Our companion ship approaches Miraflores lock entrance
[lock entrance]
The rowboats (near tip of pier) are used to handle the lines from the ships
[lock entrance]
The electric locomotives ("mules") have already started to take our lines
[lock entrance]
The BIG ARROW
[other ship]
Our companion ship gets much closer
[closeup of mule]
A closeup of a mule
[other ship]
The container ship has a name...
[line handling]
Line handling; the mules unreel steel cables that are attached to the ship
[line handling]
More cables are passed from the mules to the ship
[other ship]
Used to be the American President Line, I think
[mules astern]
More mules are attached to our stern
[lines handled]
Two mules connected to the bow help to steady the ship
[crew]
Container ship crew relax after attaching lines
[containers]
Containers are held in place by rigid rods
[containers]
Some of the containers are pressurized gas tanks
[lead mule]
The lead mule
[lock door]
The lock door is open
[lock wall]
The lock wall has the length markings; total 1050'
[bridge of ship]
The bridge of our companion ship
[lock gate closing]
Lock gate closing (we are already rising in our lock)
[lock gate opening]
Lock gate opens after they are raised
[mule rises]
Mule "climbs the mountain" to the next lock
[audience]
Spectators at the lock
[audience]
Closeup of spectators at the lock
[lock building]
Miraflores locks were completed in 1913
[entering upper lock]
Entering the upper lock; tugboats wait to assist as the ship leaves
[pushing into lock]
The ship provides a little "push" to completely enter the upper lock, and...
[gates close]
The gates close behind her
[we rise]
We have already risen high enough to see over the containers
[upper gate opens]
The upper gate opens
[leaving upper lock]
And she leaves the upper lock
[dam and spillway]
Dam and spillway beside the Miraflores locks; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 1913 style



Copyright© 2004-2013 Robert and Sandra Swanson


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