Costa Rica and Panama Elderhostel Cruise January-February 2006

Cruise Day 7 (January 29): Pacheca Island and the Panama Canal (Click here for Cruise Map)

On Sunday, January 29, we took the Zodiac before breakfast at 6:30 AM and toured the small island of Pacheco, which hosts nesting colonies of seabirds, including Blue-footed Boobies.   At 9:00 AM the Pacific Explorer started sailing towards the Panama Canal, as we watched the film "A Man, a Plan, a Canal: Panama" (note that the title is a palindrome). We arrived at the entrance to the Canal at 12:30 PM , at which time an inspector boarded to check documents and the ship's readiness for transit.  The Panama Canal pilot, who must be at the wheel during passage, boarded about 4:00 PM, with a string of flags that provide information about our ship.  As we approached the Bridge of the Americas, a crew of line handlers boarded for the journey. We then joined a freighter, Sir Walter, which accompanied us into each lock.  The Canal has three sets of double locks and takes 8-9 hours to complete the transit. It cost our small ship about $10,000 in fees to pass through the Canal.  We passed under the Centennial Bridge in darkness, and legend has it that, for good luck, couples must kiss as they go under.
--Click on pictures for full-screen views--
Pilot boards our ship
Bridge of the Americas

Line handlers in rowboat
Locks closing behind our ship
Mule locomotive
Ken and Mary Lou

Pacheca Island Birds : 3 Species (1 New)
Blue-footed Booby*
Yellow-crowned Night-heron
American Oystercatcher

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