crossing the Panama Canal is a small vessel

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Jeremy Illingworth, Apr 1, 2003.

  1. Jeremy Illingworth

    Jeremy Illingworth Supporting Actor

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    I was just wondering what the procedure was. Is there a seperate set of smaller locks for smaller ships or do they just toss you with a cruise ship or do they wait until they have enought small ships to go at once? Whats the cost? How long does it take to go through?

    jeremy
     
  2. Michael*K

    Michael*K Screenwriter

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    Not sure what the minimum size was. I remember reading a story some time back though about people that were kayaking on the Panama Canal. They weren't allowed to pass through the locks because of the heavy commercial traffic so they had to portage their way around.
     
  3. Greg*go

    Greg*go Supporting Actor

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    I can understand why a kayak would be a problem, but I remember reading during the summer about a small ship with a crew of 4 or 5 that went through for about $500US (although I have no idea when the article was actually written). I'm pretty sure groups of boats, big and small, go through it at once, though I'm not completely positive.

    I do remember that the biggest complaint the writer of the story had was all the paper work they had to fill out. And you have to have the correct equipment, and number of people needed to cross as well (there is a certain number of people you need to make sure your boat doesn't hit the sides in the locks). And after you fill out the paper work you may have to wait a day or so for a slot to open up for you.
     
  4. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    IIRC a famous explorer once swam through the Panama canal, including the locks. This was many years ago. I remember him describing being put on a scales and being charged by his weight. Was it Thor Heyerdahl? It was someone like that.
     
  5. Mike Voigt

    Mike Voigt Supporting Actor

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    Yes - one can travel the Panama canal by small boat, though it has to have a motor. Hence the kayak was out. The explorer was an exception (and I don't remember his name either).

    They will usually allow you to tag along with another vessel if there is enough room in the locks. It may take a day (or even a few days) to get that set up.

    There are no smaller locks for smaller boats. There are pairs of locks all along the way - 2 in Miraflores, one in Pedro Miguel, and 3 at Gatun on the Caribbean side. They all work the same way - and once the fresh water from Gatun Lake has been used, it is not returned; it is a one-way trip for the water, too, just flowing out into the Caribbean or the Pacific. Thus they control tightly how much benefit they get out of one load of water.

    Quite a spectacle to see; I grew up there.

    Here's a question for you history buffs - what reinforcing material was used in the concrete for the locks?

    Mike
     
  6. Brian Perry

    Brian Perry Cinematographer

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    My uncle just went on a cruise through the Panama canal, and the ship--which carried about 2,000 passengers--paid a fee of $250,000 to cross. When you break it down by passenger ($125 each) it doesn't sound like much, but that seems like an awful lot of money to pay.
     
  7. Kirk Gunn

    Kirk Gunn Screenwriter

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    Quite a construction project. Most folks don't know it was started by the French, but they quickly gave up the challenge.

    OK Mike - I give up... what is the reinforcement material ?
     
  8. CharlesD

    CharlesD Screenwriter

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    I believe there were various plans to dig a canal there dating back at least to the early 1800s (similarly there were various plans for a tunnel under the English Channel dating back even further) but of course it was simply impractical to undertake such a project without mechanical help and huge amounts of money.

    A quick Google search found this brief overview of the failed French attempt and the eventual digging of the canal:
    http://www.june29.com/Tyler/nonfiction/pan2.html
     
  9. Mike Voigt

    Mike Voigt Supporting Actor

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    Actually, the Spanish had conceived of a canal long before the French.

    They figured on Nicaragua - there is a river coming in from the Caribbean going to Lakes Managua and Nicaragua. Figured they could dredge that river to make it passable and dig the last little bit across to the Pacific. The US picked up on this idea later, but discarded it because of the potential for earthquakes (or so it is said).

    The French came in, figured it would be a reasonably easy job - after all, they had just dug the Suez Canal. Decided on Panama.

    Bad idea - the mosquitoes (and the horrible grounds) got the better of them. They went bankrupt. Ferdinand de Lesseps was not a happy man.

    The US discussed it with Colombia. Couldn't come to an agreement, helped Panama gain its freedom from Colombia (11/3/1903), and essentially in exchange got "perpetual" rights to the Canal. The story of how they assisted with the liberation is quite funny, too - a couple of warships, plus a couple of crafty railroad engineers who left the Colombian troops stranded in the middle of the jungle on the tracks. They unhooked the engine and left... [​IMG]

    Anyway, the US started in 1904 and finished in 1914. Mostly due to the genius of one William Gorgas, who figured out a way to beat the deadly yellow fever and malaria epidemics - he poured oil onto the waters and kept it up for a month to kill all the larvae, who depended on the oxygen for life. Nothing tells of all the other stuff he killed in the process... but it sure did a number on the mosquitoes.

    The Ancon went through as the first ship in 1914. Some may remember Ancon Hill from video footage during the Invasion a few years ago, or perhaps from having been there. When Panama got the treaty in 1979 they put a huge flag up there, paid largely by donations from schoolchildren. My $0.02 went in there, too (actually probably a quarter). Funny thing is, they oversized it for the location and chose the wrong material, and had to replace it because in less than a year it was tattering...

    In 1946, the treaty was renegotiated to 99 years instead of perpetuity. Then in 1979 it was renegotiated to end in 1999. The US essentially trained Panama to handle the canal over a 20-year period.

    Oh, as to the material, I'll give you a hint: it was also used in the construction of Edison's swimming pool in Florida.

    And if you can't stand it, here it is:

    The material is bamboo. This was a fantastic idea, since the steel rebar we're most familiar with, on contact with water or other acidic substances will rust and expand, thus cracking concrete. Bamboo does not - and the Canal walls are as good today as they have been for 90+ years. There are almost no other concrete structures in the world that can boast of that.

    Panama is actually quite a lovely country. Great people, very friendly, boasts of one of the largest middle classes in any Latin American country, percentage-wise. Tremendous banking center - last I counted, 103 banks in less than a square mile, including true giants of the industry from all over the world. I lived there from 1972 to 1983... and will go back for a visit one of these years. Would like to show my wife where I grew up, at least for a while.

    Ever heard of Golden Frogs? They only live in a small little valley, appropriately named El Valle, about 2 hours out of Panama City. The town of El Valle is in the middle of an old volcano crater.

    And, despite being between the 8th and 11th parallel, most definitely in the tropics, they grow strawberries, which need a little cold weather. Over in the province of Chiriqui, in David, where my parents bought me my first toy train... made in Germany.

    Memories, largely really good ones. Ah well. Things went downhill fast with Mr. Noriega - and the Cuban influence. Pity, too. I just hope they recover.
     
  10. Michael*K

    Michael*K Screenwriter

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    That guy that swam through the canal in 1927 was charged a toll of 26 cents...probably a steep price back then. [​IMG]
     
  11. Jeremy Illingworth

    Jeremy Illingworth Supporting Actor

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  12. Richard Travale

    Richard Travale Producer

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    I remember reading an article a few weeks ago about this. I think that it costs about $650 to cross and that is if you do it in one day. If you decide to stop anywhere they charge something like $250 per extra day.
     
  13. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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  14. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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  15. Kirk Gunn

    Kirk Gunn Screenwriter

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  16. Ray Chuang

    Ray Chuang Screenwriter

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    Speaking of the Panama Canal, they've started work on a new set of parallel locks that can handle ships up to 1400 feet long, 180 feet wide, and 60 feet draft (the so-called Panamax II limit, as opposed to the current Panamax limit of 1050 feet long, 110 feet wide and 41 feet draft for ships).

    I can see larger cruise ships take advantage of this updated canal along with the obviously larger cargo ships. [​IMG]
     
  17. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    Here are the specs for a Nimitz-class carrier:
    Length, overall 1,092 feet (332.85 meters)
    Flight Deck Width 252 feet (76.8 meters)
    Beam 134 feet (40.84 meters)
    Draft 37-41 feet (this one is Wikipedia so take with grain of salt.)

    It fits the new lock specs with a waterline beam of 134 ft. but there's the unknown issue of how deep the locks are versus how high the flight deck is above the water. But there's a chance the carriers could now traverse the Panama canal.

    How appropriate would it be to have USS Theodore Roosevelt be the first supercarrier to traverse the Panama canal. [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  18. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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  19. pahunrepublic

    pahunrepublic Auditioning

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    Actually crossing the canal in a small vessel tourists do that. In the country Panama they have many full and partial trips. They go every day. It's amazing stuff unique actually. They have many organized trips one just book it and that's it http://www.panamahub.net/54-panama-canal-full-transit.html
     
  20. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    I'm sure in a kayak you could easily just toss it on the deck of some larger ship and split the costs of using the canal a little... Jay
     

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