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Author Topic: The Panama Canal - a day trip  (Read 2469 times)

SailorGreg

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The Panama Canal - a day trip
« on: February 08, 2016, 04:26:05 pm »

 I spent a large chunk of January away from my models on a much larger boat (P&O’s MV Aurora), the highlight of which (for me) was a transit of the Panama Canal.  It took pretty well a whole day from picking up the pilots and line handlers at 5.15 am (just below our cabin window – thanks guys!) to popping out into the Pacific at about 4.30 pm.  A once-in-a-lifetime experience (unless, I guess you do this sort of thing every year, which I don’t!).  I thought some of the piccies might be of interest, so here they are –
First, a few for the tug fans – these are the tugs that took us into and out of the locks (plus a couple of pushers – lots of these being used for general maintenance but I didn’t get any good photos of them).


[URL=http://s1293.photobucket.com/user/Greggyp99/media/Cruise%2020126/Tug1_zpsjwrxb9rz.jpg.html][/url]






















 


I guess everyone knows that the biggest ships are a pretty tight squeeze in the Panama Canal locks – here’s a couple of shots showing how tight it is –






 
The big ships aren’t allowed through under their own power – too risky! – and are pulled through the locks with the electric “mules” you can see in a couple of the piccies above.  Here are a couple of other shots –






 
And there’s lots of them –



 
The lock gates are pretty massive (the locks are 1000 feet long) –






 
They are moved with just 40hp engines.  Also, there are no pumps – all the locks are filled and emptied entirely by gravity, so each lockful of water is ultimately lost to the ocean when it is drained.  For those who are unaware, much of the Panama Canal isn’t a canal as we might understand it – a trench dug through the land to carry vessels.  For a large part of the transit the ships pass through Lake Gatun, formed originally by a dam and which is 164 sq miles, the largest man-made lake in the world when it was created.  As well as a passage for the ships it provides the source of water to fill the locks (Panama gets 120” of rain a year).  After sailing through the Caribbean, the water in Lake Gatun is a very odd colour –





A great day, and lots of fun to watch this extraordinary engineering feat in operation.  If you ever get the chance to do a transit, I recommend it.


Greg

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Re: The Panama Canal - a day trip
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2016, 04:54:09 pm »

Lovely. Thank you for sharing. A great experience that I am sure that I would enjoy.

Those tugs are weird - it doesn't help that the one moving (picture 7) is going backwards (I think)

The Panamax standard certainly does not leave much room for error with the ships designed to optimise it.
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SailorGreg

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Re: The Panama Canal - a day trip
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2016, 05:03:51 pm »


Those tugs are weird - it doesn't help that the one moving (picture 7) is going backwards (I think)


The one in picture 7 is going right to left.  They were all travelling like that when not manoeuvring, so I guess the fat, blunt end with the winches is the bow - but like most tugs they went backwards, forwards and sideways with equal alacrity!

Netleyned

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Re: The Panama Canal - a day trip
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2016, 05:08:37 pm »

Did the trip both ways in the mid 70's on HMS Juno.
Very impressive engineering compared with the Suez
Canal '63 HMS Eskimo.
The line handlers seemed very keen to get as many packets of
cigarette papers as possible from our Canteen.


Ned
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Arrow5

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Re: The Panama Canal - a day trip
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2016, 05:21:45 pm »

Great pictures and a wonderful experience , thanks for sharing them. :-))
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Martin [Admin]

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Re: The Panama Canal - a day trip
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2016, 05:37:14 pm »


Ditto!   :-)) :-))
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Jerry C

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Re: The Panama Canal - a day trip
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2016, 06:03:44 pm »

I delivered one of those tugs Greg.
Jerry.

SailorGreg

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Re: The Panama Canal - a day trip
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2016, 06:13:02 pm »

I delivered one of those tugs Greg.
Jerry.

From where Jerry?  I thought they were US-built?

And which end did you point forwards?  Or didn't it matter?

Jerry C

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Re: The Panama Canal - a day trip
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2016, 06:36:08 pm »

Hong Kong Cheoy Lee. We went pointy end first cos had 17 ton of spare fuel in containers on the blunt bit. Trip via Okinawa (repairs)
Honolulu (fuel water and stores) to the canal. No accommodation on board, pure day runners. Camp beds where we could fit them ditto freezers. 73 days to cross.
Jerry.

dave301bounty

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Re: The Panama Canal - a day trip
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2016, 07:15:15 pm »

Thanks for sharing these ,ive, been thro this canal quite a few times ,but never ever saw what was going on ,I was always on stand by  engineroom ,,so again  thanks for showing .
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Re: The Panama Canal - a day trip
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2016, 07:54:06 pm »

Hong Kong Cheoy Lee. We went pointy end first cos had 17 ton of spare fuel in containers on the blunt bit................
Jerry.

It really is coming to something when we have to describe a ship this way!

Sounds like a fun trip, I am guessing they were queuing to do it. Actually I am surprised that they are delivered this way - 73 days on camp beds with no real accommodation doesn't sound very 21st century.
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malcolmfrary

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Re: The Panama Canal - a day trip
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2016, 08:33:26 pm »

And for them wot haven't found the webcam yet - http://www.pancanal.com/eng/photo/camera-java.html

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Peter Fitness

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Re: The Panama Canal - a day trip
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2016, 09:32:30 pm »

Great photos, which bring back fond memories. We did the trip through the canal from Pacific to Atlantic on board the QE2 in 2008 and, as you say, Greg, it was a once in a lifetime experience. We spent almost the entire transit up on deck, except for a brief visit to the restaurant for lunch. I took over 130 photos in the canal. I would love to do it again but, unless I win the lottery, I never will <:(


I've attached a couple of photos, one of the QE2 entering Miraflores Lock at 6.30am on 5th April 2008 at the start of the transit, and the other of the CMA CGM Swordfish, showing just how close the Panamax ships are to the sides of the locks. Swordfish accompanied us for almost all of our journey through the canal.


BTW, we were told the ships actually do use their own power to move through the locks, the mules make sure the ship is kept clear of the sides, and does not strike the lock gates.


Peter.
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nivapilot

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Re: The Panama Canal - a day trip
« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2016, 10:14:17 pm »

Wow....that's close.
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