We’ve been hanging around the Canal Zone, marveling at what a tremendous industrial miracle it truly is. Â The crazy things humans do: like making water flow uphill (which is what the canalÂ effectivelyÂ does); creating a river that flows from sea to sea across a mountain range, which would be an impossible feat withoutÂ the “locks” that are setup throughout the canal. Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â Locks are surprisingly simple, though pretty darn impressive to watch; basically they are 2 sets of giant double doors whichÂ separateÂ one section of the canal fromÂ from another, each section is higher than the last –Â untilÂ the mountain is crossed and the canal startsÂ descendingÂ (section by section). To change levels and pass through the canal, a ship first enters through one set of the double doors into the lock chamber (the section of canal between the doors) where the doors close, sealing the ship off in a little section of the canal. Â Water rushes in and the level of the water in the lock rises (the ship with it) until it is even with the next section of canal. At this point the second set of doors open and the ship moves along the canal until it reaches the next lock. Going down simply reverses theÂ process:Â the ship enters the full lock, the doors close, water is let out until the ship reaches the level of the lower canal, the second set of doors open….
Â Here a few facts for the trivia buffs:
The most expensive regular toll for canal passage to date was charged on May 16th, 2008Â to the 964-foot (295 m) Disney Magic Cruise Liner,Â which paid just over US$331,200.
The adventurer Richard Halliburton paid the lowest toll, 36 cents to swim the canal in 1928. Â (No one else has ever been allowed to swim the entire canal; it’s apparently too dangerous).
The average transit takes 8 to 10 hours. Continue reading