National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London displays Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle by Yinka Shonibare, a 1:30 replica of Nelson’s flagship, HMS ‘Victory’ on which he died during the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805. It has 80 guns and 37 sails set as on the day of battle. The richly patterned sails were inspired by Indonesian batik, mass-produced by Dutch traders and sold in West Africa. The sculpture is 15.4 ft long and measures 7.7 ft from the keel to the top of the main mast.
All types of ships, yachts and boats can be seen in Bar Harbor, Maine
A huge container ship moves through the Panama Canal …
…. and the gates close behind it.
Once the ship is secure in one lock at the Miraflores Locks, Panama Canal, the water level is lowered to match that of the forward lock ….
From the outset, it was considered an important safety feature that ships be guided through the Panama Canal lock chambers by electric locomotives, known as mulas (mules, named after the animals traditionally used to cross the isthmus of Panama), running on the lock walls. These mules are used for side-to-side and braking control in the locks, which are narrow relative to modern-day ships. Forward motion into and through the locks is actually provided by the ship’s engines and not the mules. A ship approaching the locks first pulls up to the guide wall, which is an extension of the center wall of the locks, where it is taken under control by the mules on the wall before proceeding into the lock. As it moves forward, additional lines are taken to mules on the other wall. With large ships, there are two mules on each side at the bow, and two each side at the stern—eight in total, allowing for precise control of the ship.
The mules themselves run on rack tracks with broad gauge, 5 ft, to which they are geared. Traction is by electric power, supplied through a third rail laid below surface level on the land side. Each mule has a powerful winch, operated by the driver; these are used to take two cables in or pay them out in order to keep the ship centered in the lock while moving it from chamber to chamber.
The old canal locks can barely fit the huge container ships – they often come too close to the edge with hardly room to spare. With as little as 2 ft (60 cm) of clearance on each side of a ship, considerable skill is required on the part of the mule operators.
A 3,500 car-container ship enters the Miraflores Locks on the Panama Canal
Stops just a few yards from our small boat – a little too close for comfort! The “mules” make sure it doesn’t escape.
Once the ship is completely in the lock and gate is closed, the water level is reduced to match the other side. The other gate is then opened and the tugboats guide the ship from the Panama Canal onto open waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
Under the old lock system at Panama Canal, tugboats’ engagement with ships has been limited to guiding them in open waterways and to the entrance of the locks, where powerful locomotives known as “mules” take over, latching on and keeping the vessels in place as the water level is raised or lowered.
There are no mules in the new locks setup. Instead tugs approach a ship, latch on at both the bow and stern and accompany it inside the 1,400-foot locks. With the lock doors closed on a 1,200-foot New Panamax, there’s little room to operate for the roughly 90-foot tugs positioned both fore and aft.
The shipping vessels run on their own propulsion throughout, and are under the control of a canal pilot who goes on board to steer. Communication between the tugs and the pilot are key.
A tugboat gently guides a large ship through the Aqua Clara Lock, Panama Canal
A giant cargo container ship barely fits through the old locks at Miraflores on Panama Canal.
Huge ships pass through the Panama Canal 24 hours a day. Of the aprroximately 14,000 ships that transit the Panama Canal each year, more than half have beams in excess of a hundred feet and can barely squeeze through the old locks, which can accommodate ships up to 106 feet wide.
Posting for the next few weeks images from a cruise in the Eastern Caribbean.
Here is a view from the deck of a ship with various shades of blue sea and sky mixed in with clouds and white wave tips.
USS Constitution located in Boston is a wooden-hulled, three-masted heavy frigate of the United States Navy. Named by President George Washington after the Constitution of the United States of America, she is the world’s oldest commissioned naval vessel afloat. The Bunker Hill Monument is in the background.