Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Captain's Blog 2/7/12

The transition from Pacific Ocean to Caribbean Sea is always striking this time of year. While the Pacific is calm, hot and dry - the Caribbean is warm, windy and humid. Not five miles from the Cristobal Breakwater we could discern the ship's motion, gently climbing into head seas and coming down in a relaxing monotony.

Our northbound transit was smooth. It was interesting watching the large number of cadets and crew out on deck watching our lift through Miraflores and Pedro Miguel locks. The crowd diminished significantly when we entered Gaillard Cut, and once we left Gamboa there was hardly anyone left out on deck to observe Gatun Lake passage. The experience of the locks is the same from day to night where the massive illumination makes night turn into day. In Gaillard Cut the steep stepped hills on each side are ominous at night - particularly on a moonlight night like last. But Gatun Lake is really cool at night because there has absolutely no 'light pollution', it is just plain dark. The only light one sees are the bright buoys and range markers. I liken it to being at an airport at night, where the taxi ways and runways are distinctly visible against the black tarmac.

So, after dropping to sea level at the Gatun Locks at 0045 we began the short passage to the sea. While enroute we discharged the seven UMIP cadets that rode the transit with us, accepted the repaired electric motor (that we had sent ashore on Friday), and discharged the pilot. At 0200 we took departure from Cristobal, and again we're in the Caribbean Sea.

More tomorrow...

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