Our Panama Canal transit on May 28th was not just a historic event, but also a proud moment for all the individuals who make up our Corps of Exploration including our online followers. It was a privilege to experience this event with the entire extended team.
Leaving behind the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea is bittersweet as we have conducted amazing exploration in these regions over the past six years. This canal transit is an important milestone punctuating the end of the first portion of the 2015 exploration season in the Gulf of Mexico. Alternatively, it marks the beginning of exploration in the Pacific, a first for the Nautilus. From Panama, the ship will travel to the Galapagos Rift region for several weeks of exploration including a trip to the site of Dr. Robert Ballard’s groundbreaking discovery of hydrothermal vents and chemosynthetic organisms in the volcanic ridges of the rift.
Experiencing the Canal
As the ship moved closer to the entrance of the canal, the anticipation on board the ship grew. Some individuals on board, including our Captain Pavel Chubar and our Deck Chief Mark Deroche had transited the canal before, but somehow doing it aboard Nautilus made this trip particularly special.
Our approach was slow, but once we entered the first three sections of the Gatun locks, it went very quickly. Rising and falling vertically in a ship is an unusual feeling. It happened so gradually, however, that the next thing we knew, we were 85 feet higher, and we now towered over the terrain and ships we left behind us. Much of the crew watched the crossing from the top deck overlooking the bow, but we were rushing from bow to stern to capture various images and timelapses.
Cloudy skies and a fine mist fell throughout the crossing of the lake and under the Centennial Bridge suspension bridge as we neared the end of the journey in the very early morning hours, descending into the Pacific around 2am CT. As the gates opened and we moved through the final lock, someone remarked, "It smells differently on this side." We breathed the air of the Pacific Ocean, ready for our next leg of this journey.
For a great recap of our entire transit, visit the following links:
Traditions at Sea
There are several "rights of passage" of sailors, including the first time you cross the equator on a ship, which many will do for the first time as we travel to the Galapagos Islands. Crossing the equator is marked by a highly secretive ceremony known as the "Neptune Ceremony."
Crossing the Panama Canal is one such milestone, and it's accompanied by a certificate called "The Order of the Ditch." We hereby grant all of our followers who traveled with us through the canal an honorary Order of the Ditch!
Virtual Corps of Exploration Documents Our Journey
One of our favorite things on board E/V Nautilus is to see when our fans help document our journey. Many creative individuals used various online tools to track our trip through the Panama Canal, here are some of the best ones we found. You make us proud!
Time Lapse of Panama Canal Webcams
Animation of Maritime Tracking Path of Transit
Screen Captures of Webcam Transit
Video of Webcam Captures of Miraflores Lock Transit
Thank you again and stay tuned for more adventures from Nautilus Live!
Following our work in the Gulf of Mexico, the E/V Nautilus will transit from Galveston, TX to Panama and then transit through the Panama Canal, a historic crossing that signals the entry of Nautilus to its future work in the East Pacific region. The Panama Canal officially opened on August 15, 1914, one of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken. The shorter, faster, and safer route to the U.S. West Coast and to nations in and around the Pacific Ocean allowed those places to become more integrated with the world economy.