Gatun Locks at four in the morning

We are currently at 9°0’11.15″N 79°35’52.54″W approaching the Miraflores Locks in the Panama Canal.

As promised, we set the alarm for 4am, which was a little rough for me, since I’d been up past midnight—until the ship was anchored inside the breakwater that surrounds the entrance to the Panama Canal. I peeked out the window and saw that we were somewhere in line for the locks, but I couldn’t tell how close we were.

We pulled on our clothes with a sense of urgency and went up to the bridge. From there we could see that the Cap Cleveland was next in line for the Gatun Locks, a series of two locks that would bring us up to the level of Gatun Lake.

After taking a few pictures, we went down to the main deck and all the way to the forecastle (at the very front of the ship), to experience the locks up close. The ship was guided along by two locomotives on either side of the locks. They traveled along special tracks that enabled them to climb hills and pull enormous Panamax ships—built specially to fit through these locks.

We stayed down at the forecastle until we made it through both sets of locks and into Gatun Lake. At that point, there wasn’t much else to see. They were going to drop anchor again just after the locks, and continue the transit sometime later in the day. When we got back to our room it was 5:30, so we collapsed into bed and slept until 10.

View from of the bridge of the Cap Cleveland approaching the Gatun Locks of the Panama Canal
Approaching the Gatun Locks of the Panama Canal

Justin and Stephanie in hardhats at the forecastle of the Cap Cleveland, approaching the Gatun Locks of the Panama Canal
Justin and Stephanie (in hardhats) at the forecastle

Doors of the first Gatun Lock of the Panama Canal at low water
The first Gatun Lock at low water

Doors of the first Gatun Lock of the Panama Canal at high water
The first Gatun Lock at high water

the first Gatun Lock of the Panama Canal opening
Lock opening

the first Gatun Lock of the Panama Canal open
Lock open

Special locomotive for the Gatun Lock of the Panama Canal
A Gatun Lock locomotive

Double doors of the second Gatun Lock of the Panama Canal
Double doors of the second Gatun Lock

Entering Gatun Lake after passing through the Gatun Locks of the Panama Canal
Welcome to Gatun Lake

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