There are three optional types of lockages available to
yachts under 125' L.O.A. when transiting
the Canal. They are: center chamber; sidewall or alongside a Commission
Tug. Ail vessels will be required to be capable of making a center chamber
lockage. The other two
options will be at the discretion of the Commission Port Captain.
b. Sidewall Lockage:
This type of lockage uses two of the required 125-foot lines to hold the vessel alongside one sidewall in the chamber, recommended rope
size of not less than 7/8". The walls of the locks are rough
unfinished concrete, which can cause considerable
damage to vessels not properly protected by fenders; damage to masts or
rigging on sailboats may
also occur, if the turbulence causes the vessels to roll and strike the sidewall
a. Center Chamber Lockage: The vessel is held in the
center of the chamber by two bow and
two stern lines. This type of lockage requires four 125-foot lines,
recommended size not less than 7/8" diameter, nor larger than
11/2" in diameter. Locks personnel cannot
handle lines any larger in diameter than this.
c. Alongside a
Commission Tug: This type of lockage, when available, also uses two of the
required 125-foot lines, recommended size of not less than 7/8" rope.
this of lockage depends on the
ship traffic for the day, and as such cannot be scheduled.
d. Another option to center chamber or sidewall lockage is called
nested. This is where one or several handline vessels
tie up along side each other. This type of lockage is
used when several handlines are transiting at the same time.
FLOODING LOCK CHAMBER
Four-foot diameter wells in
floor admit water from conduits into chamber. Great pressure boils surface but fills huge
chamber in less than 15 minutes.
If you are unable for any reason, to commence your scheduled transit,
your vessel will be charged
a fee of $295 for delay, unless the transit was cancelled prior to close
of regular business hours on the day immediately preceding the scheduled
transit. Hopefully, this will prevent the unnecessary call out of a pilot or transit advisor.
If your yacht is operated from an open cockpit an awning should be
rigged, if possible. This will keep the operator, pilot and crew out of
the sun and rain during transit. Vessel must
maintain its schedule, regardless of weather conditions.
Your cooperation with Canal officials will not only save time. and
expense, but will result
in a much smoother transit for ail concerned.
We hope that this information will be of help to you. We take this
opportunity to wish you
a pleasant stay in
PHYSICAL FEATURES OF THE
is 50 miles long from deep water in the
to deep water in the Pacific.
It was cut through one of the narrowest places and at one of lowest
saddles of the long isthmus of Panama, which joins the North and South American
original elevation was 312 feet
above sea level where it crosses the Continental Divide in the rouge mountain range.
The Canal runs from
northwest to southeast with the Atlantic entrance being 33.5 miles north and 27 miles west of the Pacific entrance.
The airline distance between the two entrances is 43 miles.
It requires about 9 hours for an
average ship to transit the Canal. During this brief time, the passengers aboard have the
opportunity to see one of modern wonders of the world in operation. Its principal physical
features are the two terminal ports, shorts sections of the channel at either end at sea
level, the three sets of twin locks,
A ship that gees through the Canal
to the Pacific should enter the channel from
at the Cristobal breakwater.
The sea level section of the Canal on the Atlantic side
is 6.5 miles long. This section of the channel is 500 feet wide and runs through a mangrove swamp where the
trees are only a few feet above sea level in most places.
A ship is raised or lowered 85 feet
in a continuous flight of three steps at Gatun Locks. Each lock chamber is 110 feet
wide and 1000 feet long. The length of Gatun locks, including the two approach walls is 1.2 miles.
, through which the ships travel
for 23.5 miles from Gatun Locks to the north end of
, is one of the largest
artificial bodies of water in the world. It covers an area of 163.38 square miles and was formed by
an earthen dam across the
adjacent to Gatun Lock. The two
wings of the dam and the spillway have an aggregate length of about 1.5 miles. The dam is
nearly a half-mile wide at the base, sloping to a width of 100 feet at the crest, which is
105 feet above sea level, or 20 feet above the normal level of
A MAN-MADE DITCH FOR SHIPS
Because of its historical
background, no part of the Canal trip is more interesting to the ship passenger than
. During the Canal construction
period it was called
, but was renamed for Col. David DuBose Gaillard,
the engineer who was in
charge of this
section of the Canal work.
This portion of the channel is 8 miles long through
rock and shale for most of the distance.
It was here that the principal excavation was required and the devastating
slides occurred during
construction and soon after the Canal was opened.
The ship enters the
Cut where the
flows into the Canal channel at
than any other section of the Canal,
gives the impression of an enormous
man-made ditch. A short distance before the ship reaches Pedro Miguel
Locks it passes Gold Hill on the left, the highest promontory along the
channel. It raises 662 feet above
seen on the west bank opposite Gold Hill, originally had an altitude of 410 feet, but this was reduced to 370 to stabilize the hill
in 1954. The channel in
was originally excavated to a width of 300
feet. During the 1930's and 1940's, the straight
section immediately north of Gold Hill was widened to 500 feet in order to
provide a passing section for large
ships, and during the period 1957-1971, the remaining portions of the Cut were also widened to 500 feet.
ship enters Pedro Miguel Locks at the south end of
. Here it is lowered 31 feet in
one step to
, a small artificial body of
water a mile wide that separates the two sets of Pacific locks. The length of Pedro
Miguel Locks is five-sixths of a mile.
The transiting ship is
lowered the remaining two steps to sea level at Miraflores Locks which are
slightly over a mile in length. The lock gates at Miraflores are the
highest of any in the system
because of the extreme tidal variation in the
Welcome to the
. We hope that you had a pleasant
voyage arriving here, and that your transit of the Canal will be a pleasant one. This booklet
has been assembled for your information and guidance.
You are probably aware of our obligation to operate the
waterway and its ancillary services in
strict accordance with the regulations that govern the day-to-day
activities at the
. These regulations contain provisions that allow the organization to
operate independently and dynamically as an autonomous agency of the
all of the above seems a bit daunting - and make no mistake boats get
badly damaged every year - do consider having a look at the DVD
Panama to Galapagos