In another couple of weeks, work will be complete and Bramble will return to sea, ready for the next chapter of the voyage. She’ll depart Mobile, Alabama where she’s been in dry dock for an overhaul.
Once the vessel is expedition ready, she’ll be heading into the Caribbean, and visiting the tropical paradises of Belize, Roatan, and Utila. There’s plenty of opportunities there for our professional dive team to test their undersea gear and capture some amazing imagery.
Next, she’ll be heading through the Panama Canal and into the Pacific Ocean.
Besides the fact that it connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, how much do you know about the Panama Canal?
The Panama Canal is an artificial 51 mile/82 km waterway that cuts across the Isthmus of Panama. There are canal locks at each end to lift ships up to Gatun Lake, an artificial lake created to reduce the amount of excavation work required for the canal. Ships are lifted 85 feet/26 metres above sea level and then lowered at the other end.
The original locks are 110 feet/34 metres wide but between 2007 and 2016, a third, wider lane of locks was constructed. The new locks allow transit of larger, post-Panamax ships, capable of handling more cargo.
Construction of the Panama Canal was no easy feat. France originally began work on the canal in 1881 but stopped due to engineering problems, not to mention all of the deaths of works. The United States took over the project in 1904 and opened the canal on August 15, 1914. It’s still one of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken.
The Panama Canal transformed the global economy but greatly reducing the time for ships to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. In particular, the shortcut meant ships could avoid the dangerous and lengthy voyage round Cape Horn at the southernmost tip of South America.
What can Bramble expect of the passage? It takes 11.38 hours to pass through the Panama Canal. Statistics of how many ships travel through the Panama Canal each day vary, but most likely on the day of travel, Bramble will be joining approximately 40 other ships for that day of travel. Passage must be booked in advance and there will be a process of queueing before being allowed to enter the locks.
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