After sailing the 18 miles from enchanting and ancient Portobelo the Picton Castle came to anchor yesterday after swinging ship and adjusting compass at the entrance to the Panama Canal area. Then we did the work (below) resulting in being prepared for Canal transit. The gang did an excellent job in the heat.
Early this morning some huge ships steamed in line southbound down the channel slowly towards the first locks. One ship, the Hoeg Giant has a beam of 151 feet. As the width of the original locks can take a vessel of a bit under 110 feet wide this ship must have been heading for the new locks designed to take much bigger ships. Each of the older locks are 330 meters long by 33.5 meters wide. Up until these new locks were built by the Panamanians a ship that filled but not bigger than these locks was known as a ‘Panmax’ ship. Bigger than that had to go around. I am not sure what the new ‘Panamax’ is yet. Big enough.
At anchor we are surrounded by all the signs of major marine industrial activity. Ships – tankers, car carriers, chemical tankers, bulkers, even the occasional cruise ship, steaming north and south, many ships at anchor, very up to date tug boats attending some of these ships, pilot boats and crew boats tooling around and one small barque with her yards cockbilled waiting to head to the Pacific.
We had the Boarding Officer board last night about 1830 for initial inspection – he was done about 2020. This morning a Port Captain came aboard to inspect again. He checked that all is inboard, that the chocks and bitts are clear, heads for the 8 line handlers are in order and a few other things. The ship is prepared for Canal transit at this time. Yards are braced and inboard. Both anchors are clear, bumpkins and boat davits are swung in. Boats are all hoisted onto the deck. Nothing that can be moved is sticking outboard. Communications equipment has been checked. Steering gear inspected and greased. Engine controls inspected and greased. Awnings established for pilots and helmsman. Toilets prepared for line handlers and pilots.
Standing by for instructions for time on Canal Transit. We have been notified to expect Pilot board tomorrow at dawn. Engine up, anchor at short stay.
To watch Picton Castle transit the Panama Canal on webcam, try these links (we found not all cameras one one site are working, so you may have to try a few different sites, depending on which part of the Canal you want to see).
Going from the Caribbean side to the Pacific side, Picton Castle will first pass through the Gatun Locks, then Lake Gatun, then the Pedro Miguel Locks, then the Miraflores Locks. The pilot will board at dawn and the whole transit should be complete by about 1730.
Our Panama Canal transit is scheduled for Wednesday May 30, 2018.
Boats stacked together on the hatch so everything is kept inboard of the rail