Gatun is where the three locks for the Panama Canal are that lead from the Caribbean up to the central lake. As such it should be more celebrated on VT. All the traffic that goes through the Canal comes through these locks. The maximum size of ship that can be accommodated is called a Panamax
The maximum dimensions allowed for a ship transiting the canal are:
* Length: 294.1 metres (965 ft)
* Beam (width): 32.3 metres (106 ft)
* Draft: 12.0 metres (39.5 ft) in tropical fresh water (the salinity and temperature of water affect its density, and hence how deep a ship will float in the water)
* Air draft: 57.91 metres (190 ft) measured from the waterline to the vessel's highest point
A Panamax cargo ship would typically have a displacement of around 65,000 tons
Originally, the lock gates were operated by a huge drive wheel, powered by an electric motor, to which was attached a connecting rod, which in turn attached to the middle of the gate but when the system went down, it was possible to operate the locks using the big wheel manually. The mechanism has now been replaced by hydraulics.
Fondest memory: Before you get to the lock you see the Atlantic Entrance Range Middle Light sticking up over the trees. After you get past it you can look back and see the whole lighthouse (photo 4). Next to the third lock is the Gatún Northbound Rear Light (photo 3) which is much photographed because it is right next to the ships going through the locks. It is also the tallest and most conspicuous lighthouse of the Canal.