Co-ordinates: 09°16’ 26” N, 79°55’ 23” W
Weather: Humid and very warm with a clear blue sky and 34.8 km wind
Air Temperature: 26.7°C, 80.6 °F
I started my day at 7.00h in the morning at the entrance of the Panama Canal, still recovering from an incredible birding tour the day before. Today I hope to have the chance to see many Panamanian birds again. Through the public address system the voice of our Captain, Adam Bockzec, announced the time of arrival for the Silver Explorer to the southern entrance of the Panama Canal would be around 7.50h, right after passing under the Bridge of the Americas. By that time all the guests were out on deck and the bridge was very popular in the frames of the cameras.
At 8.30h we reached the Miraflores Lock, the first one coming from the Pacific towards the Caribe. Yesterday, the guests had the opportunity to see this Lock from the landside and get plenty information about the history of the Panama Canal. After the independence of Panama in 1903, the country negotiated an Agreement with the United States for the construction of the canal that was finished on August 15th, 1914 and then managed by the US until 1999. On December 31, 1999, Panama took over full operation, administration and maintenance of the canal in compliance with the Torrijos-Carter Treaty, which had been negotiated with the United States in 1997. Since the Panama Canal serves as a maritime shortcut (80-kilometer waterway) it saves time and costs in transporting all kinds of goods.
During the transit through the Canal, I was birdwatching out on Deck 6, helping guests in the identification of some new bird species plus frigatebirds, raptors, swallows and many flycatchers. On each side of the canal I also saw incredibly colorful trees, one with yellow flowers known as Guayacan, and the other with purple flowers: the beautiful Jacaranda. At 10.30h we passed by one of the areas excavated for the expansion of the canal, a new 1.6 km Pacific access Channel, almost parallel to the current navigational channel that will join the new Pacific locks with the Culebra Cut. These constructions consist in two new locks complexes one on the Pacific and the other in the Atlantic.
At 10.30h we passed the Pedro Miguel Lock and the Centennial Bridge, time to see a flock of Pelicans feeding frenzy nearby the ship, and a crocodile just swimming alongside, a fantastic experience for everybody that ran to starboard side to take a picture.
After lunch, our onboard Historian, Christian (Rapa Nui) Walter, offered a lecture about the History of the Panama Canal, which was followed by a short presentation given by Roberto Medina (one of our local guides from Panama) explaining the Canal Expansion Program.
The crossing finished around 16.00h and after dropping off the pilot we proceeded towards the Port of Colon, where we’ll spend the last night of our voyage. Later in the evening we went alongside and had just enough time to get ready for the final photo video presentation offered by our onboard photographer Ray Stranagan. Another amazing day on board the Silver Explorer.