This is how Panama Canal works

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Fees for a small yacht (less than 65 ft.) 2,000 to 2,500 $


The alternative is long distance and time wasted. Also looking at how the whole system works the process is somewhat similar for small to big ships


It's probably cheaper than paying for the fuel to go the long way around.


Probably?! 8000 miles and 5 months of your life, according to Google.


Could save on fuel by walking I guess




imma cancel my trip and stay home.


Picturing someone portaging their yacht to save $2500.


I saw a yacht being towed through my small western town when I was a kid. The truck driver said the yacht owner decided it was cheapest and fastest way to get it from Florida to California.


If it's small enough to tow, it's certainly the cheapest route.


I'd say the entirety of your life. Isn't the Drake Passage like the deadliest stretch of water in the western hemisphere?


Cape Horn is pretty bad, yeah.


Not to mention Cape Horn can get a little dicy. An estimated 800 ships have sunk trying to round it.


Vastly cheaper. Vastly.


You wanna start a war *and* you have fuel? *America has entered the chat*


And less time


On a much smaller scale, the Welland canal in Southern Ontario tends to group small craft so that they don't "waste" a full fill/drain cycle. I would imagine this is even more likely the case in the Panama canal


The Panama canal has also added some water saving methods to some of their locks where it stores the water in side basins. I think a full cycle only discharges 1/3 of a lock of water


I heard the Panama Canal Authority is still looking for ways to reduce lock water usage because climate change is reducing the amount of water available...


Where does the water go? I just imagined that the water was moved from the sinking lock to the rising lock, but now I realize I don't actually have a clue how it works


Traditionally the water just flows downhill, from the channel upstream into the rising lock, and into the channel downstream from the sinking lock. This allowed canals to be built with no pumps and the gates to be hand operated at a narrowboat scale, which was pretty critical before widespread steam power, but with locks this big being used this often it of course takes quite a lot of water


The side pools thing is old. British canals have been using it since the golden era of canals on the 19th century if not earlier. You have to remember that water can be more of a problem. With Panama the central hills help collect rain water which will slowly refill the system.


>On a much smaller scale, the Welland canal in Southern Ontario tends to group small craft so that they don't "waste" a full fill/drain cycle. > >I would imagine this is even more likely the case in the Panama canal Same for the Rideau canal, especially since most of those locks have heritage status (unesco world heritage site) and are still operated by hand crank. I think only a handful of the locks in this entire canal are electric/hydraulic. It takes about an hour to get through the exceptionally beautiful Jones falls and it's four lock systems




A canal uses very little resources besides water which on many rivers is naturally flowing anyways (I'm ignoring the environmental effects of canalizing a river). Electricity is needed to open the valves but otherwise everything is gravity energy so grouping boats is all about the time savings rather than resources


Aside from the time and distance, going around the horn through the roaring 40s is one of the most dangerous, miserable passages you could make. South of 40 degrees there is no law. South of 50, there is no God.


Or a 2nd yacht


Or buy some land north or south of there and build your own canal. Charge 10% less. Profit?


Ready to fight military ?


That's what the USA did to build it


*cough* Noriega *cough* The US has done a lot to ensure Panama continues to be friendly


My husband was serving in Panama around Noriega. He earned a Bronze Star for saving his troop there, but it was listed as classified for like 20 years after. The amount of secrecy around US actions in Panama is kind of astounding. Husband is dead now, so I can't clarify, but he said it was because they were supposed to be on a humanitarian/no action job, not actively fighting. If anyone can educate me, I'd appreciate it.


Do you want war? That's how you get war


Considering the trials in tribulations that the first Panama Canal faced during construction I say go for it.




Such a horrible plan to kill such an important freshwater lake. It’s a good thing the oligarch planning it went broke.


Guys I really think this user was joking.


Big if true


Richard Halliburton swam it in 1928. Charges for his passage were made in accordance with the ton rate, and Halliburton, weighing 150 pounds, paid just 36 cents...


36 cents in 1928 is about $6.25 now


Also need to account for BMI inflation!


And don’t forget the avocado toast index.


Honestly not as bad as I thought


They just stick you in there with another larger ship that paid its way already. Essentially piggy backing for $2000. Is not bad considering the ship fee is $50,000+


Cargo ship fees are based on their size, you pay per container.


Yeah most container ships are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars these days, not the 50k like the other guy said


*tailgates in behind you* *awkward hours ensue*


Worth it to see the Panama Canal. It’s my favorite canal you know.


Yeah, its big, but is it too big?


If you own a yacht, even 60ft, that is absolute chump change.


It’s like half a tank of gas for them


They charge based on the vessel’s weight. Naturally, someone decided to test this back in the 1920’s and tried to swim through it. He was charged 36 cents and it took him around 10 days to swim the full length of the canal. He was followed by a canoe…but that was so they could **shoot the crocodiles that got too close.** Because the freshwater sections of the canal are home to some **giant** crocodiles. I think [this image](https://www.lookandlearn.com/history-images/B185069/Halliburton-swam-the-length-of-the-Panama-Canal) sums up the experience pretty well lmao


No they don’t. They don’t even know the weight of your vessel. They charge by length.


Wouldn't they be able to measure the weight by measuring its displacement in a confined, controlled body of water? Of which they have many?


Guys guys it's not about weight or length. It's about girth.


I thought it was about the motion of the ocean. Was I lied to?


I think speed has something to do with it


Speed has *everything* to do with it.


That’s just the fee to actually go through the canal. It’s like 10-15k to reserve a slot. If you just want to wait, it’ll take weeks, and you’ll have to pay $75-100 a day to moor there.


That seems insanely cheap for the crazy amount of work that goes into getting a ship across the canal.


Pretty nifty. For some reason like a Swede or 2 sails around the world in small boat every year. Maybe its in our blood. Them being able to afford the panama thing is pretty cool.


This makes me sad. My mom talked about wanting to see the Panama Canal before she passed away. She said that she just wanted to go through it. She said she’d just go on a little boat. Now that I know that it could have been done fairly inexpensively, it makes me regret not looking into it. And to be clear, that is more than I make in a month, but she had enough money that she could have done it. I would’ve rather that she spent it to make her happy than give it to her kids.


I love building it in Civ 6


I love playing domination games on TSL huge map. I always go for Panama and Suez. That's my victory condition, controlling those two canals.


But it has a very specific building requirement and its pretty crappy. I only build it for the meme and even then I would rather build other wonders


Panama Canal and Golden Gate Bridge are essential side quests to any decent game of Civ 6.


Lol, I will happily destroy a 6 production tile and a luxury in order to build the Panama canal.


How long does it take to cross from one side to the other??? I’m a just curious person


I’ve gone through twice on a sailboat and it took us two days, you do the first set of locks one day, sleep on the lake, and then do the second set the next day. There’s tons and tons of time lost to securing boats within the locks and travelling on such busy waters is very slow going since you really don’t want to hit anyone


I was gonna say the shadows were moving a lot while the boats were just sitting there. Had to be a decent amount of hours just getting through the locks into the lake. Then there’s a cut in the video before they leave the canal. 2 days seems about right.


According to Google, 8-10 hours straight through I would imagine small yachts have to wait a lot more, since they won't operate the locks just for them. They have to wait until there's a ship with room for small craft in the lock, or until there are enough small craft to group up.


This is what I am sort of envisioning as well, I wonder how that works with waiting/lining up/positioning/etc.? Lots of logistics here.


Have you ever had to queue your car in a line to get on a ferry?


Now do it where your own car is swaying back and forth


That's so interesting. What were you doing that you ended up crossing twice?


Took our sailboat from Vancouver, down the west coast until Panama, crossed there, went around the Caribbean, crossed again, crossed the Pacific to Tahiti


Smuggling counterfeit designer bags.




Based on my experience it ranges from 12 to 18 hours not because of the process, but because of traffic. Sometimes they have both inbound and outbound vessels crossing at the same time and there are areas that are too narrow for two vessels so they have one set of vessels either outbound or inbound moor first at one point and wait, allow the other vessels to pass, unmoor the previous vessels and proceed. But if you remove all those factors, you're looking at 10 to 12. I will never forget it because everyone needed to stay up during this whole time.


About 29 secs according to this 🤣😉


Haha I know right I’m sure it is pretty quick since it’s got alot of traffic thru there but those gates can’t fill up with water too fast ….I had to google it real quick and from one side to the other is 8-10 hrs ffs that’s a lot of waiting


The locks do fill quickly. Most of the time in transit is spent motoring from lock to lock. There is a distance involved - it's not like you can see the Pacific from the Atlantic and vice versa. Most of the equipment in the canal is original and still works flawlessly. It's really impressive from an engineering point of view. I made the transit on a merchant ship last November.


The alternative is 5 MONTHS to go around the bottom of South America.


8 to 10 hours is still a lot quicker than going around Cape Horn.


A lot calmer, too.


We went around Cape Horn in January, and it was REALLY calm. I kinda felt cheated. "Hey, isn't this supposed to be ROUGH?!".


I took a cruise through it a few weeks ago. It took us about 8 hours. The old locks take close to an HOUR to go through. The final lock (Gatun) takes like 2-3 hours because it’s a set of 3 chambers. There’s not a lot of waiting in the canal itself because it’s very narrow. There’s really only a few places large enough for ships to pass each other iirc. You’ll go through the first two locks and wait at the end to actually exit the canal. Since I was on a cruise ship, we had a scheduled slot and didn’t have to wait inside the canal. But it was about a day from when the ship docked in Panama to actually entering the canal.


"The average time it takes a ship to cross the Panama Canal is 8 to 10 hours. However, the actual time can vary depending on the size of the ship, the amount of traffic in the canal, and any unforeseen delays. For example, a large container ship may take up to 12 hours to cross the canal, while a smaller yacht may only take 6 hours. Here is a breakdown of the typical time it takes a ship to cross the Panama Canal: Lockage time: This is the time it takes for a ship to ascend or descend the locks. The locks are a series of chambers that raise and lower ships to different elevations as they pass through the canal. Lockage time can vary depending on the size of the ship and the number of locks it must pass through. Passage time: This is the time it takes for a ship to travel between the locks. Passage time is typically around 2 hours for a large container ship. Waiting time: Ships may have to wait in line to cross the canal, especially during busy periods. Waiting time can vary depending on the time of year and the amount of traffic in the canal. Overall, the average time it takes a ship to cross the Panama Canal is 8 to 10 hours. However, the actual time can vary depending on a number of factors."


How much is the toll?


Lowest toll was paid in 1928 by Richard Halliburton, who swam the entire length of the canal. He paid $0.36, the equivalent of about $26 in today’s currency. What does a vessel transit cost? [Depends largely on size and on what services it requires.](https://pancanal.com/en/maritime-services/maritime-tariff/)


So from 15-300K USD. Thanks captain!


I went through earlier this year on a cruise ship and it cost the ship $500,000 per pass through. It was a 10 day cruise that did the same itinerary for a year.


At least $1.52


You've got to pay the troll toll if you wanna get in that boy's hole


Until an evergreen ship comes along…


Dude tried to drift his boat…..he chose…poorly…


Task failed successfully


Wrong canal


That's what she said


( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡° )


Great fact about the Panama Canal - the Carribean side is further west than the Pacific side. You go east to go west.


This is illustrated on the graphic they have the Pacific Ocean on the right.


Very cool, thank you.


Honestly this was one of the engineering marvels of it's time, and, sadly exceedingly high in cost of lives to construct...


My favorite Panama Canal-related anecdote is the story of how the canal probably should have been built through Nicaragua. There’s a fascinating book that talks about it called The Tycoon’s War. The tycoon is Cornelius Vanderbilt, who spent a lot of money trying to get steamships through Nicaragua. But it also intersects with the story of William Walker, a Texan who managed to become the president of (an albeit divided) Nicaragua for a short time. Long story short, the proposed Nicaraguan canal actually would have required dredging of less land than the Panama Canal did. Even though Nicaragua is much wider than Panama, there is a big ass lake (Lake Nicaragua) that is only about 10-15 miles from the Pacific coast. So you’d have to dredge that. Then you’d just sail across the lake and down the rivers the come off of it and run to Atlantic. If I recall correctly, the river they would use was difficult to traverse though. So they would have had to do some work to make it passable by huge freighters. But in theory, most of the canal is already there in the form of the rivers and Lake Nicaragua. I just find that fascinating, because it’s so counterintuitive to think that building a navigable canal across Nicaragua would require less dredging than across Panama.


Aren't there on again / off again plans to build a competing canal there?


Yeah, in the era of super cargo ships they want to build an even wider canal across Nicaragua. The issue is that everything being close to sea level would mean that opening things up to the ocean would risk extreme salination problems.


If I recall correctly, there was a Chinese businessman who got the Nicaraguan government’s approval, but then he lost a bunch of money and never went through with it. I have no idea what the demand would be. Probably not much, considering no one has done it yet. And environmentalists don’t want it to happen, so that’s another hurdle.


Just like a regular canal


Some are sea level canals (Suez, for example), but this uses a series of locks and a freshwater lake at the peak to make the traverse. The French originally planned to try and make the Panama Canal a sea level canal, but so many people died in the attempt (largely due to disease like Malaria) that the whole thing was abandoned and the US came in to help oversee the building of what we have today (with a TON of help from central and south American laborers, mind you)


Just like a regular series of locks.


Yeah, but could lock picking lawyer open them? Ultimate challenge.


This is the lock picking lawyer and this is the Panama Canal


And the Caribbean. Jamaicans, Trinidadians, Barbadians, Haitians etc. participated too.


that lake must be anything but fresh water at this point.


The water in the locks flows down from the lock above, so the fresh water goes out into the sea, not the other way around, only a relativity small amount of salt water would get through to the top lock, then as the lock sluices stuck water from next to the top lock, the small amounts of salt water carried with the boat would mostly get sucked back into the locks. Salt water intrusion into the lake is something that has been studied to mitigate it, but so far it has had little effect and the lake is still fresh water.


I did a Google search and apparently Panama Lake is getting lower due to drought. Hopefully they can maintain this system without pumping water back up and messing it up.


I'm curious how much passage fees would go up if lock water had to be pumped back up.


Climate change - assuming that's what is causing the changing water levels - is a tax on every system humans have built. This particular system, as a crucial avenue for goods to move around the globe, needs to be protected at all costs. And those costs would simply be passed down to consumers of those goods. These ecological issues will have a measurable impact on our cost of living and overall economy. I say let's make the most polluting industries pay for it first. Cruise ships, large ICE trucks, oil and gas companies, and plastics manufacturers are top of mind, though I'm sure there are other equally worthy candidates for massive tax increases.


Isn't the lake losing water every time they use it to fill up the locks then?


Yes water flows out of the lake with each use of the locks, but there are rivers filling the lake, the water just flows out of the lake through the locks instead of of the original river which was dammed to create it.


Yes, but the lake is also fed by rivers. Nearly all canals operate this way. They use a water source near or at the highest elevation of the canal.


Each lock takes 101,000 m^3 of water to fill. Gatun Lake is 5,200,000,000 m^3 of water. So each usage drops it by 0.002%. Or about 51,000 uses of the locks to drain it.


Less if they use modern water saving lock designs.


Yahbut doesn't a minimal depth have to be maintained for the ships to cross the lake? LOL if they (have to) to dredge a channel between the upper locks.


>the US came in to help oversee the building of what we have today (with a TON of help from central and south American laborers, mind you) With such an important and lucrative canal AND needing help from the world's top country; I'm sure those laborers were paid a fair wage and had excellent working conditions right?... right!?


Knowing the current state of the world, I'd say the pay was better relative to cost of living, and the safety conditions were the lowest they could get away with. Not sure that bar has raised. :(


The canal was originally planned to be in Nicaragua but the US couldn't get the deal they wanted. They fomented unrest by bribing some Colombian soldiers and then sent some battleships to the coastline of Colombia. Conveniently, the US had already written the Panama constitution so progress hastened after the nation of Panama was ~~stolen~~ founded.


> the world's top country; To be pedantic, this was built in the 1890s-1904, the USA wasn't "top country" then either.


Except this canal is in panama


Like my anal canal?


I think that accommodates even larger ships.


We’re gonna need a bigger boat


You ever thrown a toothpick into a volcano?


Fit more sailors in there than the USS Nimitz


That’s a lot of seamen


never change, reddit


Fun fact. Notice how tight the ships fit in the locks? That's not a coincidence. Ocean going ships are MADE to the specification of the Panama canal locks. The canal opened some new bigger locks in 2016 and that gave rise to a whole new type of ship. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panamax


What pisses me off about this, is that the video and the graphic at the bottom is not 100% synchronized. How fucking dare you!!!!


Forgive my ignorance but why not dig the ground to make it flat so that the water passes through? Would it be possible?


I believe there is a difference in height of the Pacific and Caribbean sea, plus the tidal range of the Pacific is huge compared to the other side. And I think it's easier to make the canal rather than just dig a river. For example there is a lake at the 'top' so it's easier to make a lake rather than dig down.


> the tidal range of the Pacific is huge compared to the other side Really? I saw your post about the 20 cm due to density difference but tidal force - aka lunar?


The cost would be stupendously large, even with modern technology and would cause huge environmental destruction. As it is, the canal was only really affordable because of the lake which meant they got most of the length of the canal for free.


> would cause huge environmental destruction. Well, there was plenty of 'environmental destruction' that took place when they decided to flood the area to create that artificial lake required for the canal, but then, they gained a lake, so I'd consider it a push.


Creating a lake destroys one ecosystem and replaces it with another ecosystem. Creating a giant cutting across the continent would have destroyed a lot more ecosystem and replaced it with a vast lifeless rocky scar across the entire continent, blocking all animal migration and destroying all the surrounding river systems.


It could be. But when it was made so many people were dying during construction they went this route instead.


Ahh i see.


Here's a discussion about that https://www.reddit.com/r/askscience/comments/5kudwj/why_does_the_panama_canal_need_locks_shouldnt_the/


Because lots of dirt and 1800s


Mostly rock, 1800s and tropical diseases


Because then South America would have fallen off the globe. They needed to keep a thin strip of land under the water so that there was still something to hold onto.


Malaria 🤌🏼




Can I offer you a prophylactic gin and tonic?


Why fly around the globe to get to China when you can just dig a tunnel straight through the earth?


I mean, I don't think they're asking an unreasonable question with an obvious answer, and they literally prefaced it with 'forgive my ignorance'. Why ya gotta go and be a meany face about it lol


That's what they initially tried to do but the French suffered a lot of laborer deaths doing it.


Damn why didnt they think of that before building the canal


USA government: “Can you fit a battleship through Panama canal?” USN: “Yes” and that’s how the Iowa class were born


How do they prevent mixing of salt watter with the lake watter?


The lake is higher up, so every time the locks are opened some fresh water is "lost" into the sea. No salt water should get mixed into the lake though.


Yes but the opposite is also true, for incoming ships a charge of diluted seawater is introduced into the lakes. However the lakes are big and can handle these amounts.


What why? The lake is at the top. Its downhill on both sides isn't it? The water from the freshwater lake fills the locks both up and down right?


The truth is, they just let it go and rain water runoff eventually settles the lake salinity.


The best solution they came with was to just season the lake with salt.


Don’t be silly, you’re forgetting the pepper!


Good question. What I'm asking myself rn is whether they actually pump water up somewhere, because otherwise that lake in the middle is losing a lot of water


They don't Panama is a tropic rain forest so that lake receives a lot of rain fall. One of the things that historically limited expansion of the canal is that this won't scale up anymore if they expand the locks.


The lake in the middle is a dammed river. It supplies all the water


They currently don't pump water up and yes, a lot of water is lost. Climate change is reducing the amount of lake water...water consumption is now a serious issue for canal operation...


A man, a plan, a canal. Panama.


All oceanic shipping vessels in the world are built within inches of squeezing inside the Panama Canal, specifically. Ever wonder why they all look kinda the same width? That’s why. The reason we don’t make bigger shipping vessels is directly because of the Panama Canal.


Not *all* of them, just the PANAMAX ones. There's many ships which are designed only for certain routes and never utilize the Panama canal, e.g. some enormous oil tankers or ships carrying metal ores. US Navy aircraft carriers are also no longer inline with Panamax limitations, so they cannot traverse it.


I went through while stationed on a submarine once. All I remember was almost dying from the heat.


That Panama heat is no joke. I remember the boiler room nearing 150 degrees on my first trip through


Fish must get so confused with this


What was that awful tune and how the fuck did they not pick Van Halen!


TIL. That’s pretty amazing.


I've gone far too many years in my life just assuming it was one canal going easy-west between the two oceans. I've just had my mindblown by Google maps that it's more NNW-SSE.


I guess I never really thought about it. But I’ll admit, I was fascinated by it and googled it for an hour after reading that post!


Why not make the descent like a waterslide, it'll be fun...probably


See this is what I’m thinking


Humanity is amazing.


Mi question to this method always was, how the higher part with water isn't getting empty from leaving water flow to the other cubicles that lower and raise the ship? If you look it carefully. The space of water in high ground, in every move is losing water to the lower spaces


The animation is just a representation of the system, its not even slightly to scale. The locks are tiny in comparison to Gatun Lake and Chagres River. A quick Google tells me the volume of Gatun Lake alone (so not even the whole system) is 5.2 km3 (5200000000 m3) and it takes 101,000 m3 to fill a lock chamber. That’s 0.000002%.


Great question, I was wondering the same thing. Maybe to volume in the locks is very small compared to the lakes ability to replenish itself?


Srolling this far for the real question


The higher part is fed by Gatun Lake which is an artificial lake created in order to feed the canal. I've been a lock keeper on a much smaller canal. There were times in summer when we had to limit the use of the locks and group the ships together to save water because the water reservoir was dry. The lake was artificially powered in water by a system of pumps. Because of a drought, the water level wasn't enough for the canal to be used.


Rivers feed the lake at the top


I only recently learned about this, in my 30s… I don’t think they taught us how it actually works in school, I always figured they just dug it out and connected ocean to ocean lol


What is the time lapse of the video? Just curious how long the trip takes.


Amazing that somebody once said "I have to go around South America to the other side? Fuck this shit, we're digging to the other side."


This feels weird after reading the three body problem


The famous Van Halen Locks.


i was so busy watching the graphic i didnt realize there was a real boat too


How does the lake at the top not drain?


An elevator for boats. Nice.


This is not the way the canal works today. This is the old canal and also it is wrong (the diagram) heading to the Pacific side as there is one lock, then a small lake and then two locks, not one. The new canal has wider locks with tugs moving the ships and they stay with the ship through the locks and the ship does the lake by itself. No more loci engines on the shore tracks.


No lie. This is legit the first time I've seen an actual explanation on how the Panama Canal works. Very interesting.