Transiting the Panama Canal
We approached from the Caribbean side passing the Panamanian ports of Colon and
Cristobal about 5:15 AM. I was out on deck, the temperature was a comfortable
78°. Although there was a moon, it was still completely dark. The entrance to first
locks appeared ahead about 5:30 AM. The green lights visible in the photo below
were a set of three range lights directing us straight to the locks.
Locks directly ahead, Pilot boats (on both sides) heading out to greet arriving ships.
We can now see that we're headed toward the port lock of the twin side-by-side locks.
Lots of lights - locks operate 24 / 7, but the cruise ships pay extra to go thru in daylight.
The lock gates are open, but a one-lane bridge remains in place until the last minute.
Here, just as dawn is breaking, we prepare to enter the first of the three Gatun Locks.
The electric "mules" which will help guide us through can be seen waiting on the right.
The first lines are brought out to the ship by two men in a rowboat - the same way it
was done back in 1914 when these locks first opened. Apparently, other methods
have been tried, but nothing proved more reliable than two men in a rowboat!