I sit at my desk, our lovely ship is anchored off Fuerta Amador, near Panama City, having made our transit of the Panama canal yesterday. Over 900 of our guests are ashore, enjoying the city and its surrounds and I, having had a long day yesterday, completed my necessary tasks and paperwork and have spent some time preparing this post.
I have found that a hiatus of 3 months from writing the blog leaves me with a re-learning process; editing the GoPro video took longer than expected for example. I used to be able to ‘knock them out’ in 10 minutes, this first one since coming back took me an hour 😯 .
My day yesterday started at 4:30 a.m. We were scheduled to be at Cristobal breakwaters at 5:30 a.m. however, as is often the case, the schedule changed and a delay of 30 minutes resulted. These delays are usually to do with northbound vessels being delayed, as a consequence the canal is not open for southbound until they have cleared. We follow the ‘Azamara Quest’ through the breakwater entrance and undergo our canal inspection; in short, whether we are deemed suitable to make the transit. Pilots, agents, Immigration officials, a plethora of personnel join and leave, the pilots of course remain with us.
The Pilot/Master relationship is of extreme importance during a transit, a symbiotic relationship, we both need to be able to work together to ensure the transit is trouble-free and without incident. I am fortunate that I had some very amicable gentlemen, very capable and fun to work with. Pilots conn the ship during all stages, except the getting into the locks themselves. Here it is we who approach and enter the locks, (getting near the “wall’ and into the lock). It is here, once the ‘mules; are attached, that the pilot takes control of them; for example, once the 2 mules attached to the bow are in control, all I have to do is worry about the stern, the pilot will look after the bow. Once the stern ‘mules’ are attached, the pilot controls them, all we have to do is adjust the speed into the chambers. As one can imagine, after a 15½-hour day, anchoring at Fuerta Amador came as a welcome relief.
I took numerous photos, blessed that my 2nd-in-command, Thomas is a capable ship-handler and this gave the opportunity to take them; we having alternated the locks.
We leave soon for the first leg of our Pacific crossing; 3,851 miles, 6,161 kms towards Nuku Hiva, an island in French Polynesia. 8 days at sea and several clock changes. I may have a lack of material for the posts, however will try to keep you updated. I leave you with my video of the Canal transit. 🙂