One thing that I was surprised was that the lateral drift was not computer controlled. Scary that even a small miscalculation can rip a hole in the ship's hull.
Does anyone know why there are so many ships waiting at Singapore? Are they merely idle? Waiting for port access? (if you're not familiar, look where Singapore sits on a map. Every ship between east asia and europe/middle east passes by).
> Vessels have flocked to Singapore because it has few storms, excellent ship repair teams, cheap fuel from its own refinery and, most important, proximity to Asian ports that might eventually have cargo to ship.
My visit: http://theroadchoseme.com/the-panama-canal
"A statement provided to us Friday from the Panama Canal Authority said that a high level of arrivals during the last in September coincided with schedule dry-chamber maintenance."
Kind of like ebay not considering their 2-hour Sunday "planned maintenance events" to be outages ... for 2 decades.
No big deal.
: Assumes turning around on the Pacific side
: Southbound https://www.searates.com/reference/portdistance/?B=23078&E=2...
: Northbound https://www.searates.com/reference/portdistance/?B=20155&E=2...
You have to get to about 57º to pass around the Horn in open water.
ETA: The southern 40s are known as the roaring 40s: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roaring_Forties There's not much land to stop the winds from ripping around the planet.
What I'm trying to get at is that, unless the canal was shut down completely for months at a time, there is no economical situation where it would make sense to round the cape instead of just waiting it out.
> Marine Traffic Control said the backlog is primarily due to weather conditions, including several days of fog at the canal. But we spoke with a canal insider, who said that in his decades of experience he has only seen it like this when there is some other issue going on – not one that’s weather related.
Thus, something is happening behind the scenes that they don't want to talk about.
Maybe there is political pressure from Nicaragua/Hong Kong proponents of the Nicaraguan canal. The biggest reason cited by the WSJ not to build the canal is lack of demand:
It's quite possible that Nicaragua/Hong Kong are putting pressure on Panama to increase the wait times. Perhaps they scheduled the "Dry chamber maintenance" during a high-shipping seasons on purpose:
> A statement provided to us Friday from the Panama Canal Authority said that a high level of arrivals during the last in September coincided with schedule dry-chamber maintenance.
Could Magic Mountain and Knott's Berry Farm run more roller coaster trains and decrease wait times? Sure, but then there wouldn't be as much incentive for people to buy flash/front-of-the-line passes. I'd be willing to bet the waits are at least partially artificially created to support the flash passes as yet another source of revenue.
Furthermore, the Flash Pass isn't so much a front-of-the-line pass as it is a bypass-most-of-the-line pass. It still deposits you in the loading/unloading area so you could still hypothetically have a 15-20 minute wait depending on how many riders are already in the loading/unloading area.
Edit: Goliath (built in 2000) still routinely has 1-2 hour waits and might even rival Tatsu for most Flash Passed coaster given that X2 was, up until recently, not even able to be added to the standard Flash Pass unless you upgraded to the Gold or Platinum Flash Passes.
Tell me that doesn't smell like an incentive to increase waits to drive sales of Flash Passes in lieu of outright raising prices to control demand.
Which is explained later in the piece.
Unless you think that's a bogus reason too?
Yes it's a bigger challenge, but these projects are some of the few remaining opportunities in modern economics to say "we expect payback time of two decades" and not get laughed at. No locks no lock maintenance, continuous flow, more ship, more money.
It's also possible to use novel techniques from the last hundred years of progress to "dredge forward" using water itself as an an active tool to wash away all but any hard rock terrain that needs clearing. The rain and loose soils that hurt the first attempt at the Panama Canal could be turned into a positive factor with today's technology.
b) The Panama Canal locks are already in pairs to allow simultaneous bi-directional traffic. They are currently building a third set of larger locks that will increase maximum dimensions of vessels transiting the Panama Canal.
Cargo and cruise ships ships got very big, very fast this century amidst the sustained high oil prices. 20 years ago the record holder was around 5k TEU, the current Maersk Triple E, produced in quantity, runs 18k TEU.
An 8" height difference seems fairly trivial in the broad scheme of things. This would be a very long canal. Far lesser ships navigate rivers against much steeper drops.
In the Panama canal, they benefit from keeping the inland lakes above sea level so that they're deep enough. If they were connected to the sea, they'd lower significantly and even more excavation would be needed to make a path for ships.
There would also be fascinating effects of strong currents through it, sea level changes, fresh water lakes becoming salt water (sorry local people!), and fish migrating.
I was recently on a sailboat going through Hell Gate on the East River in NYC. It has about a 6' tidal range. We can motor at 6 knots. When the tide was at peak flood into Long Island Sound we were doing about 1/2 knot over the ground. You can time an East River transit to work around the tides, the Panama Canal is too long for that to work.
(I don't recommend transiting Hell Gate under those conditions, the UN closed the river longer than they said they would and we only managed because there wasn't any wind. We should have anchored and waited a few hours, we would have gotten through almost as quickly.)
That tech aside, Chinese ventures have had their eyes on the idea of a canal there for a long time. Six months ago they apparently put out a premature press release (as Chinese firms tend to do with construction megaprojects for some reason) in this direction, which was disavowed.
Doesn't make sense for Panama to slow things down in view of the loss of income, the fees collected are serious money, probably the major income source for the country.
Next year would be a very interesting time to visit the canal re: opening of the new channel. A few years back I was on a cruise that traversed the canal, a highly educational and memorable trip worth doing. The Panamanians we encountered were proud of the Canal expansion project, a significant national achievement, something important to celebrate.