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Bec goes wandering

Panama Canal January 2013

PANAMA | Wednesday, 9 January 2013 | Views [353]

Everyone is up early as we arrive a the first lock just as the sun breaks the horizon , over the last few days we have all been secretly
scouting out the best positions to get the best view of transiting the Panama Canal. Some believe a higher vantage point is best and they opt
for the top deck; for others, the ship’s bow is the most obvious choice.

As we approach the two-lane canal, passengers take up a spot in one section, then move to another – bow, stern, port, starboard, upper,
lower. Some people prioritise breakfast and let the scenery pass by the restaurant window.

Passengers realise that the lowest walk around deck has a great advantage  – not usually a highly sought-after vantage point. From this
level, you can see just how close to the canal walls the ship cruises.

So the day begins at 5:30 a.m. on the Atlantic side of Panama (Caribbean Sea).
The cruise ship enters Limon Bay, a natural deep-water harbor leading into the Panama Canal.
A quick stop before the Manzanillo Bay Breakwater entrance allows four Panamanian Pilots to board the ship.
It is their job to safely guide her through the locks.

Slowly it makes it way towards the entrance wall where cables are connected to the electric mules that will stabilize the ship to prevent it
from banging side-to-side.

For safety purpose, ships are guided though the lock chambers by the electric locomotives known as mules, named after the animals
traditionally used to pull barges. The mules are used for side-to-side and braking control in the rather narrow locks.
The forward motion into and through the locks is actually provided by the ship’s engines and not the mules.