. Now let me tell about the northern slope of the canal and the ascent into the three-chambered lock "Gatun".
This is the northern beginning of the Panama Canal from the Atlantic Ocean. This is the port of
and the port of Cristobal. Dozens of ships waiting to pass the canal cannot be seen through the haze on the horizon.
Large vessels in the canal were accompanied by towboats.
Here, we were entering a floodgate. The three-chambered lock "Gatun", connecting Limon Bay to Lake Gatun, is the first lock located on the canal track on the part of the Atlantic Ocean.
This is the fire extinguishing system on the dividing wall.
As soon as we approached the lock, or rather on the approach to the wall, the mooring ropes were pulled down from the board, and the boats took it and hooked onto the locomotives. The in-canal operation of large ships is provided by small special railway locomotives with electric traction.
A rack-railway, which allows the electric locomotives to overcome great heights, is located on the railway tracks along lock-chambers.
The electric locomotives, operating nowadays on the canal, are called mules (in honor of the mules who previously served as the main drawing force for moving barges along the rivers).
Meanwhile, a water discharge started in the nearby lock chamber, as a new vessel was approaching. All the canal locks have two chambers, enabling simultaneous oncoming traffic of ships through the canal. However, usually, both lock chambers operate during the passage of vessels in one direction.
When the chamber is closed, the canal covers a retractable bridge.
Here are the dimensions of the lock chambers: width is 110 feet (33.53 m), length is 1000 feet (304.8 meters), minimum depth is 41.1 feet (12.55 m). Each chamber can hold 3566 thousand cubic feet (101 thousand cubic meters) of water.
Vessels of various types pass through the Panama Canal. These may be some private yachts or large tankers and container vessels or passenger ships.
The maximum size of a vessel that can pass through the Panama Canal has become a de facto standard in the shipbuilding industry under the name of Panamax. Panamax type vessels have a length of 964 feet (294 meters), a width of 105.9 feet (32.3 meters) and 39.5 feet (12.04 meters) of draft. These vessels are considered average in size according to modern standards. Vessels with such characteristics enter the locks butt-jointed and have very limited abilities to maneuver.
The ascent into the chambers of the lock "Gatun" took 3.5 hours. After we entered Limon Bay, of Lake Gatun, we continued our way through the canal to the Pacific Ocean by a local pleasure boat.