It's been a long day for us so far - very tiring watching our own ship move!
It was an early morning start - I was up just after 4am, more out of knowing that there might be something happening and might miss it if I didn't get up! Watching the passing ships in the night (literally) for a little while on our balcony and left Kemm to sleep a little longer. About 5am I ventured up on deck to determine how many others were up and about and whether the coffee was ready. Surprisingly there were a number of other people milling around up on the highest outside deck and the coffee machine was definitely working!
It was a beautiful early morning and I headed back down to our cabin to grab my camera and sunhat and then head back up top to 'mark my spot!' I was not the only one. Getting a vantage spot on the railing was the goal of many of we early morning risers. As such it meant for the next 4 ½ hrs we clung to that position! One lady who was shorter than us stood I think for nearly 3 hours in one spot behind us - I'm sure I could feel her eyes boring into my back saying 'and why won't you let some other people have a look as well!'. No way lady - go push in to someone else's spot - not mine! I got up at 4.30am for just this reason! Selfish Brenda! Such is life!
Apart from the coffee, the man next to me had swapped his spot with his wife whilst he went and got a coffee but came back with a 'Panama Bun' as they call it - just a sweet bun, and handed me one for which I was very grateful. But I still wasn't moving!
So … here's some basic statistics that we have picked up in our reading material.
The Panama Canal was completed in 1914 - a project begun by the French in 1881 and eventually sending them broke in 1904 when the Americans took over the project and taking a further 10 years to complete. During the time the French were constructing the Canal, there was a loss of some 22,000 lives.
The Canal connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean via the Carribean Sea.
Latest statistics in 2008 show some 15,000 vessels use the canal each year - 40 per day at an approximate cost of $300,000 per vessel and a gross annual revenue of $4.6 billion. Well that's what Kemm and I have based our calculations on!
There are 3 lock systems along the Canal - the first and largest has the capacity for 2 side by side systems with 3 lock chambers each and raising ships up to Lake Gatun some 84 feet above sea level. When first built, Lake Gatun was the largest ever man made lake. A further 30kms across Lake Gatun and along the actual Canal 'Cut" is a single chamber one way only lock chamber which drops ships back down a further 27 feet. After that the final 2 lock chamber drops ships back down by 2 levels of 27 feet each and back to sea level.
Much of the actual 'Canal' banks themselves have never been touched by human and as such are dense rainforest and pristine green. Lots of rain through the region as it is tropical of course - and for a half hour along the way, the skies opened up in thunder and lightning!
The whole journey began for us at 5am and we finally made it through the last lock at about 5 pm so a very long day with people and cameras moving continuously around the ship, fitting in food where needed, a quick dip in the pool to cool down - very hot and humid which a lot of people are not used to. Many come from Canada and the States in snow country and don't get the heat and humidity the likes of we Queenslanders do. However in saying that, it's still very hot weather. A giant thunder and lightning storm dumped a huge amount of rain for about half an hour but it was soon back to the warmer weather again. It was certainly an amazing day with lots learnt!