Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sunnyside Up makes her transit of the Canal

sunnysideIMG_9111

We were scheduled to pickup our advisor at 5:45am. The view above is looking up the Canal (north) toward the Bridge of the Americas as the rain comes in. Needless to say the advisor was rescheduled for 9am, not because of the weather – just because they wanted to get us up early. We drank coffee in the meantime.

sunnysideIMG_9113 And watched the weather get a little more rambunctious.

sunnysideIMG_9140 Freddie, our helpful advisor, showed up. Freddie’s day job is running a Canal dredge.

sunnsysideIMG_9136 Freddie’s day job dredge

As soon as Freddie showed up we took off for the first pair of locks, Mira Flores. We were scheduled for a ‘special lock’, which basically means there are no big ships going through. In our case it was us and the high-tech Canal tug Changuinola. The Changuinola ran along near us in the Canal as we made our way to the first locks. He decided to give us some entertainment along the way.

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Here’s the Changuinola doing 360’s in the Canal, just to play with us. These tugs can turn, at high speed, full 360’s. They run forward or backward equally as fast. You’ll probably have to click on the above pic to see the spins. This is what you do when you have a Joystick and 5,845 horsepower. She has 30,000 gallons of fuel and almost 2,000 gallons of fire suppressant foam.

  sunnsysideIMG_9126 Here we are side tied to the tug - inspecting a little bit of a rough landing.

sunnsysideIMG_9115 Coming into the channel just behind us was the USS Rentz (FFG-46) an Oliver Hazard Perry-class of guided missile frigate, homeport Naval Base Dan Diego.

sunnsysideIMG_9117 The Rentz appears to be setting up for a boarding and subsequent attack on the Peace Boat. The Peace Boat is an international relief boat http://www.peaceboat.org/english/

sunnsysideIMG_9125 Heading into the locks

sunnsysideIMG_9127 When you center-lock in the locks there are 4 line handlers on the sidewalls that throw a tag line down with a big monkey fist on the end. You take the line and tie it to your heavy 125 foot dock lines and they pull them back up to the pier. The bull's-eye target and the high-bar is where the line handlers practice their marksmanship. Twice a year they have a contest.

sunnsysideIMG_9129 Here’s a car carrier and his escort tug passing us along with a southbound sailboat in his wake.

sunnsysideIMG_9138 This is the maintenance yard in Gamboa near the Continental Divide on the Canal. The floating crane is the Titan, one of the worlds largest. It was built in Germany during WWII and confiscated as war booty by the US. It worked in Long Beach for 50 years and then came to the Canal in 1999. It does an easy job of picking up the lock gates and moving them for maintenance.

sunnysideIMG_9139 We got to Lake Gatun in the center of Canal about 2:30pm, normally early enough to lock down to the Atlantic side. This day they were only locking ships up in the afternoon. So we side tied to this giant rubber mooring, went swimming in the lake and drank beer.

sunnysideIMG_9146The calm of sunrise on Lake Gatun rudely interrupted by the screams of the howler monkeys.

sunnysideIMG_9157It wasn’t till 3:00pm that we got our new pilot the next day. He was a young guy, relaxed in his shorts and ready to move. We ended up as the last lock down before they started only doing lock ups.

sunnysideIMG_9151 Passing the tug assisting the ship we will lock down with.

sunnysideIMG_9154 Raining pretty hard as we entered the last set of 3 locks.

sunnysideIMG_9160 Here’s a set of deck loaded power boats taking the easy way through the Canal southbound.

sunnysideIMG_9166 About 30 minutes after you pass through the last locks you enter the inner anchorage in Cristobal. Here’s a Texaco tanker getting some major welding done – you can see the cutting torch sparks in the blow up.

I’m crewing on Kokomo’s transit on Monday. Pretty soon I’ll have this down.

Paul

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