At our anchorage at the beginning of the canal we wait for our inspection and our pilot. Late afternoon we follow a ship called Baltic Mercury towards the Miraflores Locks. Our Panama Canal Authority pilot, Captain Rudolfo, asks our captain to operate the ship from the bridge but our captain suggests it is better to use the duplicate controls from the starboard side extended bridge. Our Captain Andreas is taking his 150th transit of the canal today and last year was honoured by the Canal Authority as a pilot status. He is very experienced and his advice prevails. The ship is operated from the starboard controls!
It appears some of the Canal Authority workers are on a “go slow” today. Apparently they are seeking higher wages and the negotiations have broken down. It therefore takes a little longer than usual to proceed through the locks which is good for us as we get a longer show! The locks are well lit and we can see the linesmen rowing out to throw the lines for connection to the locomotives that run alongside us and steady the ship from side to side. The ship propels itself and the locomotives keep watch.
We are enjoying our Panama Canal Dinner Buffet as we approach the first lock so the ship’s restaurant empties when the real action starts. Our ship, the Variety Voyager, has plenty of deck space forward and aft, port and starboard, plus there is an excellent viewing deck up top. Everyone gets great views.
Beyond the Miraflores and Pedro Miguel locks we proceed through the channel called the Calebra Cut and across the Gatun Lake towards the Caribbean side. We are given an estimate of time for the next locks at Gatun and most folk head to their beds for a few hours. Wake-up alarms set, a few folk watch us through the Gatun Locks down to the Atlantic Ocean. Quite a few folk remain asleep.