2019   Rest of Panama

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As well as being the narrowest part of the Americas, Panama is the lowest, so has no real mountains.   The canal cuts across by raising ships only about 90 metres to sail through the Gaillard cut, shown here from the deck of a boat we were helping through.

The canal was a major engineering feat when built early in the last century.  It was also a political feat, given the contentious local politics, which have continued to  today.
Americans built the canal, and ran it until 2000, when Panamanians took over.
We noticed that when the massive expansion was built earlier this century, American companies seemed to be absent.
Helen and Neill helped a catamaran through.  (five crew are required by canal rules)
The bridge behind Helen was recently completed, and is only the third bridge across the canal.
Yachts go through with large ships, which can cause turbulence that take some muscle to handle the lines.

Having a ship like this close behind is imposing.

Some are even bigger and come closer
We spent some time in Shelter Bay marina, near the Caribbean end of the canal.
This is a dozen kilometres from Colon, and quite wild.
We were serenaded by howler monkeys, who issue blood curdling screams that surely terrified the early explorers.
Our time in Panama was split between early February, when Helen went home for her hip replacement, and November/December when we came back to get prepared for more sailing in Gunayala with plans to head North then West to Belize and Guatemala
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