Thursday, January 22, 2015
Panama Thinks Big
These are the gates to the new Panama Canal locks waiting to be installed on the Atlantic side. The wire lines in the foreground are standard telephone poles. They are 95feet tall and weigh 3,319 tons. The old locks can fit boats known as ‘Panamax’ size. These boats are basically 965 ft long, 106 ft beam with a max draft of 39.5ft (in tropical fresh water). The new locks offer a new size: ‘New Panamax’ which will accommodate boats 1,200 ft long, 161ft wide with a draft of 50ft. That’s a big ship. The old size took container ships that could hold 5,000 Twenty Foot Equivalent Units (TEU) – standard measure of a container. The New Panamax ships will be able to carry 12,000 TEUs.
The new locks should be ready early next year and hopefully be usable for the next 100 years. The 100 year old original locks will stay in service.
When we were in Panama City about 2 1/2 years ago the streets of downtown were all torn up with the construction of a subway. If this had been any other Central American country I would have bet that the project wouldn’t be done in 5 years – if ever. Not in Panama. They do big projects. The first line of the subway is open and really easy and fast to use. A trip on the subway costs 35 cents. You use the same Metro card for air-conditioned bus trips at 25 cents each. Beats taking a taxi!
We are busy getting the boat stocked for the long passages into the Pacific. We went to the Cruiser’s Dim Sum breakfast Tuesday on our way to shopping. Dim Sum for breakfast never showed up on my breakfast list before, but its actually pretty good and a good way to get to know what the other cruisers in the area are doing.