Jump to content
twangster

ūüéĶPanama! ūüéĶ Vision of the Seas Oct. 30, 2019

Recommended Posts

The fact that those little engines are called mules doesn't surprise me in the least ..... considering canal boats from the 1800's were pulled by mules.  Cumberland, MD, where I am, is the western terminus of the C & O Canal National Historic Park

C & O.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, coneyraven said:

The fact that those little engines are called mules doesn't surprise me in the least ..... considering canal boats from the 1800's were pulled by mules.  Cumberland, MD, where I am, is the western terminus of the C & O Canal National Historic Park

Indeed.  Back in the day mules were used extensively along canals.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With the Miraflores Locks complete it was time to proceed.  The ship before us is already halfway across Miraflores Lake.

pcgb2Iz.jpg

They begin to let the cables to the locomotives go as we slowly move forward.

xQQJNl2.jpg

As we make our way across Miraflores Lake that ship is nearly through the Pedro Miguel lock that comes next. 

BftnzIF.jpg

Tugs at the ready to push us around.

74WM9JE.jpg

Two people in a row boat...

UztCLQA.jpg

Our narrator over the P.A. system informs us they had studies done to evaluate replacing the people in a row boat with various other ways to accomplish the same goal.  At the conclusion it was determined this remains the most flexible means to get the job done.  It simply works.

gINYgEk.jpg

Looking at the countryside you get an idea of just what they had to deal with over one hundred years ago when they started building the canal.

eEGkKcT.jpg

At this point we could clearly see the Centennial Bridge, the next bridge we would pass under and channel forward into the Culebra cut.

ntW86OJ.jpg

As we approach the Pedro Miguel lock the doors begin to open

4PkNogs.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At this point I decided to move down to deck 5 to get a closer look at the lock.

6oTiV6D.jpg

6e8k4ye.jpg

Down here you get a much better feeling for just how tight a fit we are.  This spot near the control tower for the Pedro Miguel lock is the narrowest part of the original canal.  While the lock chambers are 110 feet wide, this section is 109 feet wide.  Our commentator Bill's last position with the Panama Canal Company was working in the control room at this lock.  Earlier in his time at the canal he was also a mule driver, something many canal workers did back in the day.  

7EpwjKh.jpg

Looking straight down.

Bu6AVZq.jpg

It was really great to see the operation from this very close perspective.

1997Whl.jpg

A lock gate in the opposite lock.  These are called miter gates.

LYBvK6S.jpg

UaBPCkd.jpg

Close up look at the lock walls.

mXy5f8s.jpg

IPcZcYh.jpg

On the other side of the ship you could clearly see we were nearly up to the level of new Pacific access channel.

YftUZwu.jpg

kOhmkbu.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With that we were now up to the level of Gatun Lake.  Moving around the ship I wanted to see how it looked from different areas around the ship.

hZdssQh.jpg

ynR689I.jpg

Looking back from where we came it was clear how the original locks were augmented with the Pacific access channel for the new locks to the right.  In the case of the new locks there are still three steps but they are all done in one lock complex so they bypass Miraflores Lake.

WhkFHgR.jpg

The Solarium roof was once again open.

wxvyBPA.jpg

u2xs41G.jpg

Next we pass under the Centennial Bridge.  

HiLVJie.jpg

SbgPl19.jpg

Sq3E3gg.jpg

pUFN0re.jpg

5FT6utJ.jpg

aHpydXp.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While creating the man made Gatun Lake solved the largest span between the oceans it didn't quite reach all the way to the Pacific.  The 8.75 mile gap required another solution - digging.  Enter the Culebra Cut, also known as Gaillard Cut.  The volume of earth removed from this section of the canal is staggering.  

IenUKvI.jpg

At one of the narrowest spots you can see the terracing of Gold Hill and Contractor's Hill from the original days of canal construction.

gi1jnxs.jpg

This area was known for its landslides dumping massive amounts of earth back into channel of the canal as it was being excavated.

CecSwti.jpg

While the effort to construct the entire canal is impressive the amount of effort to create the Culebra Cut is mind blowing.  Spoils removed from the cut were hauled away in train cars used in other areas of the canal or dumped in the jungles.  The earthen Gatun dam that creates Gatun Lake was created from this excavation.   

0ED8jMZ.jpg

Tugs are always at the ready in case a ship suffers a breakdown or mechanical issue that could be devastating to canal operations.  If a ship lost propulsion or ran aground and closed the canal that would cost a fortune in lost revenue.  Consequently tugs always escort ships through the Culebra Cut and they are ready to spring into action should a ship start to get into trouble.

DMKk4T2.jpg

r0CCCYo.jpg

The canal is quite deep to accommodate the draft of the biggest ships that can use the canal so you can imagine how landslides were an issue over a hundred years ago and even to this day in places.

SyNOZFq.jpg

Looking at the vegetation and how thick the jungle is you can imagine what it would have been like when workers first arrived to begin working on the cut.

YH4lqfv.jpg

Efforts continue to ensure run off from the rainy season is managed in a controlled fashion.

mTeLWkw.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Once through the Culebra cut we enter an arm of Gatun Lake where it begins to widen.  

0ZRGhRW.jpg


fEvqL1r.jpg

5Yy7O3C.jpg

A railway runs along the canal that in places is visible.

pqE5tSz.jpg

At this point we are roughly halfway across Panama.  Screen capture from the MarineTraffic.com app:

OAU2KGB.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Reaching Gatun Lake there was an opportunity for some ship activities.   

Bill Benny our guest commentator hosted a brief presentation followed by a question and answer session that lasted over 50 minutes.  This was invaluable and I learned so much during this event.  It's really quite something that Royal was able to find a resource like Bill to take the cruise with us.  One question was "How much does it cost for Vision of the Seas to use the Panama Canal?".  I'll get into that later in another post.

uL640bE.jpg

Anyone who has sailed across the international date line or the equator will know there are ceremonies that mark the occasion.  Our cruise director staff put together a spoof on this concept for our Panama Canal crossing.  

GWxvwUM.jpg

Basically 'court' was held and various crew members who were charged with various 'crimes' were handed down their sentence.  

Aw20zfT.jpg

jdzlRoQ.jpg

On the far left is Enzo our Activities Manager.  Steve our Cruise Director took delight by ordering an extra pie for Enzo.

Ge5iiX9.jpg

This progressed with the Staff Captain eventually being called before 'the court'.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our cruise across the Panama Canal continues as we sail through Gatun Lake.

Ev69cL2.jpg

m3JMVZF.jpg

A channel was created in sections of the lake.  The ship following behind us is seen here navigating the channel through the lake. 

3ZZ7WLF.jpg

It occurs to me before the lake was created this would have been the top of a hill that you could climb up, assuming you could make it through the dense jungle.

akf4ub9.jpg

Through a clearing to starboard we could make out another bridge in the distance.

vSA170Z.jpg

This section of the lake opens up and there were several ships at anchor waiting their turn to use the Gatun Locks around the corner.

1whGTbA.jpg

RasdBV9.jpg

aJILNsj.jpg

Central America themed items for sale during the transit.

QE35J29.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On our left the Gatun Dam makes all of this possible.

4XU9Pf3.jpg

The earthen dam is very wide.  It took a tremendous amount of earth removed from Culebra cut to build enough land over 90 feet tall to create the lake.  It is said that there is enough earth in the dam to build a wall 5 feet tall and 1 foot wide around the circumference of the planet at the equator.  

Qlk6aBX.jpg

The concrete structure in the middle is simply the spillway that can be used to release excess water when required due to heavy rains.  

POxlZM8.jpg

This is what keeps the lake at 85 feet above sea level.

EIUzdxv.jpg

To our right that orange ship we saw in the new locks on the Pacific side has reached the new locks here on the Atlantic side.

OboFOUG.jpg

We will use the original Gatun locks. 

2uy8PKO.jpg

E3xHgFI.jpg

A Southbound tanker clears the locks and begins to make her way across Gatun Lake.

7XswW4J.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Approaching the Gatun locks.

C7sirEV.jpg

The men in a row boat get ready once again.

ZViLpDl.jpg

Bill Benny our commentator talks about the signal on the lock that was used in the days before radios.  It's still maintained and is in operation today. 

If the arrow is pointed straight up the lock is not ready, do not approach.  If the arrow is pointing towards the 2 o'clock position it means the locks are being prepared and should be ready in approximately 10 minutes.  If the arrow is horizontal and pointing to the right it means enter the right lock. In the position displayed here it means approach and tie up with the locomotives.  

Xw3VEwk.jpg

Massive rubber wheels protect the corners of the locks.

2MfCZY2.jpg

To our right that orange tanker is progressing into the new locks.

c7ebwPM.jpg

We begin to move towards and line up with the lock wall.

uBHqutn.jpg

rQzBcbe.jpg

Tugs push us towards the lock was so that locomotives on the port side can be connected.

b2U6GS6.jpg

Xtoo05R.jpg

With the locomotives connected on the port side and tugs pushing us on the starboard side we move forward.  The locomotives on the starboard side return from their last ship and get ready to send their cables to the ship.

SqCJ223.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The canal has its own fire department.

xFYzz8p.jpg

A Southbound container ship is locking opposite us.

B8qzu8C.jpg

Dl5qQBg.jpg

pAJZk5i.jpg

As we are getting ready to drop the container ship was being lifted. The high walls of the containers created a reference point so you could see just how quickly it was lifted.

8Wqhf2A.jpg

1wAFqit.jpg

ne4vnfB.jpg

Soon enough it was on its way while we were now closer to the level of lock.

RjgAroU.jpg

From deck 5 you really feel the canal, like you can reach out and touch it.  

6SS4hA8.jpg

i8kekkl.jpg

hbzdtCW.jpg

950V2YK.jpg

ZzBaxx2.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A tanker ship is now opposite us locking in the Southbound direction.

HTPrOf6.jpg

Another benefit of being down on deck 5 is the ability to move around and experience different areas of the process. Having cleared the lock chamber the gates behind us close and we get ready to repeat the process again.

tL6ThcO.jpg

BOYWvr6.jpg

CL45LWu.jpg

za7Riu0.jpg

PnXvj2X.jpg

lH0iwzK.jpg

fqTYJxh.jpg

6WBF0v2.jpg

TYLHbNU.jpg

hjlZryP.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pictures don't do it justice.  I've taken a series of video clips that I plan to stitch together that will hopefully capture the day. 

Until I get that video put together here is a clip that should give you a better idea of what it's like to move between the lock chambers, how close the ship is to the walls of the lock and an up close look at the locomotives.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wanted to see what it was like looking out my deck 3 cabin window as we descended.  They were both pretty wet from the humidity but I managed to get some pictures working around the water droplets on the outside.

GWtjPMC.jpg

WFDmwdP.jpg

SiRBVCV.jpg

WkQPbv9.jpg

Not bad for concrete work that is over a hundred years old in the Panama humidity.

7UKcc8B.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yet another tanker was locking opposite us as we moved forward.

KBYeI8L.jpg

mQZIgir.jpg

rQMjdRb.jpg

6irmsJR.jpg

Finally back at sea level as we prepare to let go the cables from the locomotives another tanker is approaching heading South.  They were pumping the Southbound ships through at this point. 

Y42Xe3d.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With that we've been lowered from 85 feet above sea level and we are now in Caribbean Sea at the level of the Atlantic ocean.  The gates close behind us and get ready to do it all again for another ship.

eN95shi.jpg

PWzlP14.jpg

1Dbt34w.jpg

HIuQL8p.jpg

From the aft looking towards the left you can see the new canal locks through the trees.

fZF93tf.jpg

tRFA82g.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bill Benny our guest commentator had suggested we keep an eye out on the port side after leaving the Gatun locks.  This small inlet to the left was the area to look out for.

lu0Ucbj.jpg

This small canal that forks to the right is the only visibly remaining sign of the French effort of late 1800's.  

UKdK6Q8.jpg

That was the original width they were planning to make the canal.  It's become overgrown a little and in their defense he pointed out that ships were not that big back at the time.  He doubts anyone involved with the design or building of the original canal would have any idea how big the ships that use the canal today have become.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...