The middle part of the trip across Panama is mostly take up by sailing through Lake Gatun and then the canal cut as it you pass thru the continental divide and then pull up the the first of the two lock systems, Pedro Miguel Locks, that lower the ship to the level of the Pacific Ocean.
One thing that Beci and I both found very cool was the reaction of the Panamanian people along the shore. The first picture here shows a marine fuel station, and all the people out to look at the Magic sail by. Remember, that these people see 40 ships every day, and every cruise ship that goes back and forth thru the locks, but the Magic is different, and they all came out to see the ship. Just a bit past the fuel station we passed the river that flows into the lake right where the canal starts. The constant flow of fresh water is the engine that fuels the canal. every ship takes a lot of water to raise it up to lake level, and a lot to let it back down to ocean level. None of that water is pumped, it’s all done by gravity feed from the lake. 40 times per day the lake is drained just a bit, and without the constant rains of Panama’s rain forest the canal would cease functioning.
All the way thru the cut, we were shepherded by a tug boat. In this shot you can see a pilot boat bringing us some of the workers who handle the lines as we go thru the locks. Behind that is a ship, the Genco Warrior, moored safely out of our way. Nobody is allowed to pass a ship as large as the Magic while we’re in the cut.
As we pull up to the Pedro Miguel locks there is a lot of heavy construction off to our right. This will be the new channel for the new larger locks at this point. You can also see a large arrow in the second picture. This is used to tell the incoming ship which of the two chambers to use in the locks. With radio traffic, it’s just a backup now, but at one point it was main method of communication between the locks and incoming ships.
The final picture in this series shows one of the Mitsubishi traction engines with it’s cables attached to the ship.