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This sign speaks volumes about differing national style, I believe.  In the US, hyperbole would scream out danger;  here a benign-looking reptile is announced as “possibly present.”

I made arrangements for a boat ride on the Canal with the Other company, and they cancelled on me.  I could have had this!!!  And on a historic vessel once used by Al Capone and John Wayne.  Separately.  Gotta research this.

Talofa happened past, headed for the Caribbean.  Be friends on Facebook.   She’s 97′ loa, started in 1928.

Rio Indio passed.

As did Water Phoenix.

Maintenance gets done on the Canal between ships.

Chiquita Schweiz is one of about 14,000 transits annually.

This gate, like all 46 gates in the system, is original and  built in 1914, weighing 690 tons! Manufactured in Pittsburgh.  Gates for the new canal are being fabricated in Italy.

That IS a monkey’s fist on the heaving line on this electric mule aka locomotive.  Built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries.  Click here for other clients.   The Canal has a hundred of these, whose purpose it NOT to tow, only to keep the vessel centered by

means of these cables.  The largest vessels are escorted by eight of these $2 million mules.

If you need to imagine “panamax,” look at these fotos.   Where wall ends and hull begins is hard to tell.  Keeping a 105′ beam vessel from hitting the sides of a 106′ wide chamber . . . hence the mules.

Here’s another view of “panamax.”  Zim Beijing, a sixth boro regular,  today spent $497,000 and change just for the eight-hour transit.

Behind this ridge lies the work site of the expanded locks, where work

goes on round the clock.

Yesterday I caught what looked like a rushing clous of dust . . . a mystery until I heard the blast.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp, who gallivants on to another place early tomorrow.

A final thought:  Miroflores Locks Visitor Center stems from a realization by the government here that shipping attracts tourists.  If any of you have the ear of decision makers in New york, could you plant in their ear the possibility of creating a visitor center/observation deck along the KVK to accommodate tourists who wish to see and learn about the maritime activities of the greatest port on the East Coast . . . as those same politicians like to call it.  And it should be where the shipping traffic is densest and closest . . . along the KVK.  New York, IMHO, has surely neglected this.  If you want me to help pitch the idea, get in touch.


I hope someone is replicating what William B. Van Ingen did a century ago.  I’ve never heard of him before, but I like this sentiment of his related to the murals he did showing the construction of the Canal a century ago:  “[a]ny success the paintings may have had, came, I believe, from an endeavor to see with the eyes of the man in the ditch.”  Oh for what access he must have had.   Getting access I know takes time.  Hmmmm . . .

What I’ve seen so far, mariners transiting the Canal seem to love it . . . they wave and laugh and take fotos of local flora and fauna!

Especially fauna.  All us folks along the Canal must be fascinating, and I check around and no one has indecently

exposed themselves, so it must be the sheer joy of seeing

a crowd that draws out the inner performer

in a mariner.  This link for the Visitor Center provides lots of further links for Canal info.

For south-bound mariners, this is the end of the near-

encounter with crowds.

Some crews locking through, like that on D. P. McAuliffe (ex-Victoria, 1990, built in Houma, LA at Houma Fabricators),   have to work

But for many mariners, passing the locks must be the closest thing to shore leave they get.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

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March 2012