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Author Topic: Panama Canal Transit  (Read 4008 times)

Peter Fitness

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Panama Canal Transit
« on: May 06, 2008, 05:04:47 pm »

I'm posting some photos I took from the QE2 as we went through the Panama Canal on her, for her last ever transit. Hope you like them.
We were accompanied by the same ships all the way through, so most of the photos are of these ships, Mediterranean Shipping Company Emma, and CMA CGM Swordfish. Both these ships, together with QE2 are Panamax ships, that is, the largest capable of transiting the canal. I have included one shot of the stern of Swordfish showing how little clearance there is on either side. It is the job of the mules to maintain that clearance, 2 on each side fore and aft, a total of 8 mules per ship of this size. The 2 men in the rowing boat take the line from the ship to the mules, very low tech, but apparently the most effective.
Peter.
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Peter Fitness

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Re: Panama Canal Transit
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2008, 05:11:13 pm »

Some more, including the men in the row boat.
Peter
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Roger in France

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Re: Panama Canal Transit
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2008, 05:16:57 pm »

Peter,

The latest 4 pics. have 0 kb (size) and I cannot view them and it appears nobody has downloaded them! Suggest you try again.

Roger in France.
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Peter Fitness

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Re: Panama Canal Transit
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2008, 05:17:59 pm »

But wait, there's more.
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Peter Fitness

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Re: Panama Canal Transit
« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2008, 05:19:24 pm »

Thanks Roger, but I had noticed it. I usually review the post immediately to check it.
Peter.
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Colin Bishop

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Re: Panama Canal Transit
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2008, 05:31:29 pm »

Great pictures Peter!
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Peter Fitness

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Re: Panama Canal Transit
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2008, 05:44:33 pm »

Thanks Colin, it was a great experience. I took a total 133 photos during the transit, some better than others.
Peter.
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Martin [Admin]

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Re: Panama Canal Transit
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2008, 06:18:08 pm »

Excellent Photos!
Thanks Peter.

I was just reading all about the Panama canal a couple of weeks ago on Wikipedia: 
"By the time the canal was completed, a total of 27,500 workers are estimated to have died! "

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panama_Canal
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cos918

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Re: Panama Canal Transit
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2008, 07:20:16 pm »

well peter your a lucky man and famous as you made it on to you tube.

john

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUNhVrO26Rw
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Peter Fitness

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Re: Panama Canal Transit
« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2008, 07:39:10 pm »

John, my son in Sydney told us he was watching us going through the canal in real time. The pictures would have come from the camera mounted under the bridge of QE2, and which were available on the cabin TVs, although I was on deck for almost the whole transit.
Peter.
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a3nige

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Re: Panama Canal Transit
« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2008, 10:04:40 pm »

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Colin H

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Re: Panama Canal Transit
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2008, 11:10:12 pm »

Gee I must be thick but I was looking for `mules` with ears and trying to figure out just how the hell they managed to control such a big ship.

Now that would be `low tech`.

Great pics Peter Thanks.

Colin H.
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Martin [Admin]

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Re: Panama Canal Transit
« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2008, 12:50:16 am »

Hi Peter,

How long does the transit take?
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Roger in France

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Re: Panama Canal Transit
« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2008, 06:29:24 am »

Thanks for the excellent pictures, Peter. I wonder what the fee for the transit is?

Roger in France.
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Peter Fitness

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Re: Panama Canal Transit
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2008, 05:55:27 pm »

Martin, we arrived at the entrance to the first lock, Pedro Miguel, at 6.40am, and left the last one, Gatun, at 5.10pm. That included about an hour's wait before entering the first Gatun lock, due to a "traffic jam". There were about 16 ships waiting to leave, and about 25 anchored on the Atlantic side waiting to cross in the opposite direction to us, i.e., to the Pacific.
Roger, I can't remember exactly, I have it somewhere but can't remember where at the moment, but the figure of US$200,000 springs to mind. It is based on a ship's capacity, not what it is actually carrying, in other words, it costs as much for a ship to transit empty, as it would if fully loaded. Costing is based on container carrying capacity, so passenger ships are charged as if they were container ships (I think). When we get back home to Australia, and have sorted out all our junk stuff, I will try and find the info and let you know.
Peter.
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walrus

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Re: Panama Canal Transit
« Reply #15 on: May 07, 2008, 08:38:48 pm »

Good pictures Peter. We did the same trip in December 2005 on Arcadia's first transit.
We were told by P&O that the trip was costing in excess of $300.000 but of course at 83,000tons she is a bit bigger than QM2.
It was a fantastic trip and took abot 12 hour to complete.


Edit: Date corrected.
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Peter Fitness

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Re: Panama Canal Transit
« Reply #16 on: May 07, 2008, 09:33:59 pm »

Walrus, I did some digging in our accumulated assortment of notes, pamphlets etc, and found my notes on the canal. I had written that the estimated cost for QE2 was in the region of US$290000 to $300000. I'm sure it was a typo in your post, but we were on QE2, not QM2, she (QM2) wouldn't go close to fitting in the Panama at over 150000 tons. QE2 had a clearance of about 14 inches on each side, not much room for error.
Peter.
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Peter Fitness

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Re: Panama Canal Transit
« Reply #17 on: May 07, 2008, 09:55:00 pm »

Martin, from what we were told, the majority of the deaths that occurred during construction of the canal happened during the failed French attempt, many caused by diseases such as malaria and yellow fever. Having built the much longer Suez Canal, de Lesseps thought that the Panama would be a far simpler project, however, he tried to cut straight through, but the cuts had to be so deep that the walls kept falling in. The Americans decided to build a series of locks to raise ships about 90', then another series of locks at the other end to lower them back down again. Approaching from the Pacific side, as we did, a flight of 2 locks, the Miraflores, are encountered, followed shortly by another 1, the Pedro Miguel. At the Atlantic end, a flight of 3 locks called Gatun, take vessels back down to sea level.
In my earlier post, I mistakenly said we arrived at the first lock Pedro Miguel, it should have been Miraflores - I must have had a seniors moment {-)
BTW, a section of the failed French effort can still be seen, off to one side.
Peter.
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Bunkerbarge

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Re: Panama Canal Transit
« Reply #18 on: May 07, 2008, 11:22:56 pm »

Great shots Peter and brings back memories of my own transits on a cargo ship on my second trip to sea in 1977.  As we left the last lock our claim to fame was commencing to increase revs before the mule was disconnected till the point where they were paying out the wire as fast as they could to try to get it off the ship.  We came very close to pulling the thing into the water!!  A tremendous achievement and a fascinating story of the build.

They are actually now talking about redesigning the canal and rerouting part of it but I think the cost is proving to be a bit daunting.

I was very lucky to have gone through the Suez on my first trip and the Panama on my second trip and they said Manchester Liners were not a world wide company!!
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Peter Fitness

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Re: Panama Canal Transit
« Reply #19 on: May 08, 2008, 10:19:42 am »

Bunkerbarge, work is in progress to enable post-panamax ships to use the canal.
I have added some more photos to give some idea of the set up of the locks, as regards height differences, and clearance in the case of QE2. There is also a shot of old mules, which are cannibalised for spares. The photo of turbulent water was taken as the level of the lock on the right hand side of the photo was lowered. Water flows through large pipes and exits under the bridge.
Peter
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Martin [Admin]

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Re: Panama Canal Transit
« Reply #20 on: December 10, 2008, 04:12:31 pm »

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Bryan Young

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Re: Panama Canal Transit
« Reply #21 on: December 10, 2008, 05:47:29 pm »

Lovely pics. Get any of the underwater lights that look great during a night passage?
A couple of observations. For those of you who don't know, when you see a ship described as a "Panamax" it means that she is of the maximum size that the Panama locks can accept. The large container ship pictured seems to be one of them.
Not shown but there nevertheless are very heavy chains (anchor chain sort) strung across the lock gates to prevent a ship ramming the gates. Very prudent!
Putting a large ship into the locks is a bit like going into a dry-dock. Consider a "Panamax" ship...if the ship is going to get in, then all the water that is already there has to be shoved out. So the ship is acting as a sort of piston. No point in going in on minimum power..all that water does not want to be moved. Similarly, the water rushing past the ship helps to keep the ship from scraping the lock sides. But if you cannot stop soon enough, well that is what the chains are for. Just imagine the carnage if a big ship broached the gates!
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Peter Fitness

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Re: Panama Canal Transit
« Reply #22 on: December 10, 2008, 10:26:33 pm »

Thanks Martin, that video brought back many memories, even though "Radiance of the Seas" was transiting in the opposite direction to QE2 when we were on board.

It seemed to be going much faster than we did, too  {-) {-) {-) only 1 minute 56 seconds - it took us 10 hours  ;)

Bryan, we were told about the term "Panamax" on our cruise. Here in Australia, Panamax is also a brand of headache tablet, so it gives a new meaning to the term for Aussies  :-)

Peter.
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