Tag Archives: Panama

9 December 2019 to 4 January 2020:
Valparaiso, Chile to Los Angeles:
Crossing the Equator on America’s West Coast

By Corey Sandler

We flew south all through the night from New York to Santiago, Chile. We left the wintry East Coast of the United States and landed in summery South America.

Viking’s Viking Sun will spend the next 28 days heading northwest and then north, calling at ports in Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, and then San Diego and Los Angeles in the United States.

This is just one month in a record-setting eight-month-long World Cruise. We will cross the Equator as we sail along the appropriately named nation of Ecuador. In fact, across the eight months of this cruise, this ship will cross the Equator four times heading south then north then south then north again. A hearty few dozen guests will be aboard for the entire journey, while others will partake of various segments.

I’ll be posting photos and comments here throughout this cruise. I hope you’ll join me here.

25 December 2018:
Christmas in the Panama Canal:
The Path Between the Seas

By Corey Sandler

There are few sights more astounding than to approach the locks at the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal and see a huge freighter, containership, or cruiseship floating 85 feet above you at the top of the stairs.

I have made the transit of the Panama Canal several dozen times over the years, and it never fails to impress.

Here is our ship as captured by shoreside webcams today:

And a view as longtime Silversea hotel director Norman Rafelson waved at tourists watching us in the locks:

When it opened in 1914, it was a triumph of human engineering and medicine. It still is.

The canal itself runs for about 50 miles. There are three locks at each end which lift ships to the level of manmade Gatun Lake which floods the Continental Divide to permit a crossing.

The new locks, which are roughly in parallel with the original set, allow huge containerships and other vessels to enter the system. Vessels like ours generally use the old locks, and we all meet in the lake for a procession between the seas.

Here are more photos from previous transits:

All photos and text Copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. See more photos on my website at http://www.coreysandler.com

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

JANUARY 2018. VIKING SKY TO THE PANAMA CANAL AND THE CARIBBEAN

By Corey Sandler

Welcome aboard. I am happy to share some of my photographs taken aboard Viking Sky on our journey from Miami to the Panama Canal and back. 

Viking Sky at anchor off Key West, Florida

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2018. All rights reserved. All contents copyright Corey Sandler and Word Association; this website is not produced or endorsed by Viking Cruises.

MONDAY, JANUARY 8, 2018: Key West, Florida

A bird’s eye view of a Viking Sky tender
An ancient lock on a shipwrecker’s warehouse in Key West
Instituto San Carlos, the headquarters of the post-Independence, pre-Castro Cuban community in Key West
The files of the former Consulate of the Republic of Cuba in Key West

To send me an email,  click here: www.coreysandler.com/contact-me/

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 10, 2018: Belize City, Belize

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2018. All rights reserved.

Altun Ha, first built about 900 B.C.E.
Altun Ha, near Belize City
The ruins of the ceremonial site were only rediscovered in the 1960s
Altun Ha near Belize City. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of cities and ceremonial sites of the Mayans and other ancient peoples in Central America and most are still covered by earth and hidden within forest. Archaeologists say they are probably safer that way, since there is not enough money to protect and preserve them all once they are uncovered.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 11, 2018: Carambola Gardens at Coxen Hole on Roatan Island, Honduras

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2018. All rights reserved.

Emerging from the shadows of the forest
A tiny hummingbird flits into view

To send me an email,  click here: www.coreysandler.com/contact-me/

SATURDAY, JANUARY 13, 2018: Along the Tortuguero near Puerto Limón, Costa Rica

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2018. All rights reserved.

A two-toed sloth, just hanging around
A common basilisk hidden in the green forest. The creature is better known as the Jesus Christ Lizard because of its ability to run across water when necessary
Shadows in the water
A blue heron observed us from the shore

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2018. All rights reserved. All contents copyright Corey Sandler and Word Association; this website is not produced or endorsed by Viking Cruises.

SUNDAY, JANUARY 15, 2018: Colón to Panama City on the Panama Canal Railway

We arrived early this morning at Colón, Panama on the Atlantic Ocean and spent the afternoon in Panama City on the Pacific. Although I have made the transit of the isthmus more times than I can remember, this was the first time I did so by rail.

The Panama Canal Railway was begun in 1850 and completed in 1855 as the first mass transit across the isthmus of Panama, replacing the very difficult trails through the jungle. And then the railway became an essential part of the construction of the Panama Canal itself, when work was begun first by the French in 1881 and then redone and completed by the Americans in 1914

The American effort required the rebuilding and relocating of some of the track because the American design was based on damming the Chagres River and creating a manmade lake as the means of transit between the seas. The track today includes some of its 1850 route and some of the 1914 relocated path which parallels the Panama  Canal.

Today the railway serves mostly as a “dry canal”, carrying freight from the Atlantic to the Pacific in containers mounted on flatbed train cars, but it also runs a few passenger trips for tourists each day.

A modern diesel-electric locomotive powers the Panama Canal Railway today on a 48-mile crossing from the Atlantic to the Pacific
Containers and flatbed railcars, part of the “dry canal”
The railway track parallels the canal, here crossing on a trestle over the Chagres River which is the source of the water for Gatun Lake and the engine for the operation of the locks
At Gamboa, near the midway point of the canal, stands “Titan”, one of the largest floating cranes in the world. It was built in Nazi Germany in 1941 to service U-boats in Kiel. After the war it was seized by the U.S. as war reparations and brought across the Atlantic and through the Panama Canal to Long Beach, California where it served for nearly 50 years at the shipyard there. (Its local nickname was “Herman the German.”) In 1996 it was moved once again, this time to Gamboa where it is used in the maintenance of the locks of the original canal
An old piece of railroad equipment on a siding near the train terminus at Balboa on the Pacific side
Modern Panama City as seen through a thicket of pleasure boats at the Pacific end of the canal

To send me an email,  click here: www.coreysandler.com/contact-me/

MONDAY, JANUARY 15, 2018: Partial Transit of the Panama Canal

We arrived early this morning at the Gatun Locks of the Panama Canal and then rose up three locks to Gatun Lake, which today was at its maximum level of 86.7 feet above sea level.

Once we reached the lake, we made a U-turn and then made our way back down to the Atlantic Ocean. In modern cruising language, this is known as a “partial transit”, which sounds like an oxymoron to me.

I have been through the Panama Canal more times than I can remember, and it is always a thrill. I spent the day up on the navigational bridge offering commentary about our partial transit. Call it an up and down excursion…

The view from the navigational bridge as Viking Sky climbed the stairs at Gatun
One of the electric locomotives, or “mules” of the Panama Canal. The mules (the name is derived from the original means of moving barges along the Erie Canal in upstate New York) do not pull the ship; instead their function is to keep a ship centered in the lock chamber
In the early morning, we passed below the nearly completed bridge at the Atlantic end of the canal

To send me an email,  click here: www.coreysandler.com/contact-me/

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2018. All rights reserved. All contents copyright Corey Sandler and Word Association; this website is not produced or endorsed by Viking Cruises.

TUESDAY, JANUARY 16, 2018: Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena in Colombia is one of the best preserved old Spanish colonial cities in the new world.

We had a lovely day in Cartagena, although we were not alone: four cruise ships in port, thousands of tourists in the streets, and painful traffic jams.

The best time to visit: after hours, when the vendors and the selfie-sticks have gone home.

The old city of Cartagena
The dome of San Pedro Claver Church in Cartagena. Claver was known as the “slave of the slaves”, begging in the streets to help the poor Africans brought by the tens of thousands to Colombia
A golden display of indigenous art
A work by Colombian artist Fernando Botero, champion of a style known as “Boterismo.” He obviously thinks large.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 20, 2018: Nassau, Bahamas

So, we weren’t supposed to be here in Nassau, Bahamas this morning. But a combination of bad weather and other factors in the Western Caribbean caused us to cancel calls scheduled for Montego Bay, Jamaica and then George Town on Grand Cayman Island.

We sailed two days eastward along the south side of Cuba and then turned north toward Nassau for a final port of call.

Nassau is an interesting place, mostly because of its history as a British colony somewhat similar to Bermuda and the Turks and Caicos. It was a place of plantations (and therefore slaves), and its success drew in pirates and privateers and attacks by the Spanish who contested some of the same waters.

Today, the English are still here with a Royal Governor and the police force look more like British Bobbies than the ones in London. The Spanish and the pirates are gone, and in their place hordes of tourists. Many of them arrive by cruise ship at the huge port which can accommodate five and sometimes more large ships.

One of our favorite places to visit is Christ Church Cathedral, an Anglican/Episcopal church at the corner of King and George streets. The structure is handsome, with the current building dating from 1841 on a base that dates back to the mid-1600s.

But it is the collection of plaques and other remembrances that line the walls of the church that fascinate. Any one of them could generate a novel, or at least a lecture for me.

Small, medium, and large at the dock in Nassau. Viking Sky sits between the luxurious private yacht Turquoise and the huge and loud Disney Dream

A Viking long boat on the Viking Sky’s funnel catches the morning sun

Christ Church Cathedral in Nassau

A bit of old Nassau, hidden in plain sight

Echoes of Colonial Britain at the Governor General’s house on the hill

Safe travels to all.

To send me an email,  click here: www.coreysandler.com/contact-me/

18 October 2017:
Transit of the Panama Canal:
Floating Across the Continental Divide

By Corey Sandler

Silver Muse arrives at the Miraflores Locks at the Pacific side of the Panama Canal, 18Oct 2017. 

Early Wednesday morning, before sunrise, Silver Muse took her place in line for a trip through one of humankind’s greatest adjustments to the face of the earth: the Panama Canal.

We arrived outside of Limon Bay in the Caribbean Sea and then moved slowly south to the Atlantic Approach of the canal.

Yes, south. Although we are moving from the east coast of the American continent to the west, at the narrow isthmus through Panama the land bends nearly 90 degrees. And so we enter from the north and exit into the Pacific Ocean sailing south.

Map data (c) OpenStreetMap (and) contributors, CC-BY-SA

That’s just one of many things around which mariners and travelers need to wrap their mind. The most astounding is the fact that our ship—for the very first time in her young career—will rise about 80 feet in three steps at the first set of locks and then descend about the same distance at the end of the day as we enter the Pacific.

Silver Muse makes her maiden transit of the Panama Canal. Photos by Corey Sandler

In between, we sailed the fresh water of Gatun Lake, created in the early 20th century by the construction of a dam across the Chagres River.

The Panama Canal itself is nearly unchanged from the way it was when it began operation in 1914. Last year, a new set of wider and longer locks were opened alongside the original ones; think of them as new entry ramps to an existing watery highway.

I have made the passage many times, and it always is a thrill to view the technology and relive the history of its construction.

All photos and text Copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS,  PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

21 APRIL 2015
 Our Passage Between the Seas: The Panama Canal

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Early this morning, about 6:30 a.m.,  we arrived in Limon Bay in the Atlantic Ocean.

At 4 p.m., we sailed out of Miraflores into the Pacific Ocean.

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Silver Shadow in the Miraflores Locks, 21 April 2015. (From Panama Canal Webcam)

I have made the transit of the Panama Canal more times than I can remember; it never ceases to impress and excite me. Sign me up for a return trip.

The desire for a passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific was a driving force for four hundred years: from the time the Spanish first arrived in the dead end of the Gulf of Mexico in what today in Panama.

The alternatives were not good: a months-long sail down and around the bottom of South America at Cape Horn, or an overland passage up and over the cordillera mountains and through torrential rain, raging rivers, and deadly threats from disease and killer creatures of just about any description.

Ferdinand Marie de Lesseps was a national hero, “Le Grand Français,” the Great Frenchman.

He had successfully led the project to build the Suez Canal in Egypt, in the process enriching thousands of French investors.

De Lesseps was a promoter, an entrepreneur, but not an engineer. He was very good at building companies.

But he declared: “The canal will be built.”

And notwithstanding the rain, the rivers, the mountains, and disease, de Lesseps said his project would be en niveau, sans ecluses. On the level, without locks.

APRIL 21, 2015: FROM THE ATLANTIC TO THE PACIFIC

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The French project began January 1, 1880. It was immediately obvious they were not in the dry sands of Egypt.

By 1885, extravagance, graft, and the unrealistic design for the canal had emptied the company’s treasury.  After eight years, the canal was only about 40 percent complete, and work on dams and locks barely begun.

And now the United States, led by the charismatic president Theodore Roosevelt was ready to reassert itself. The Americans bought the assets of the bankrupt French effort.

The first challenge for the Americans was not one of engineering but instead conquering disease. Clearing Cuba and then Panama of malaria and yellow fever was one of the great accomplishments of medicine and made it possible for massive effort by the United States to build the canal.

A PANAMA CANAL ALBUM

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Today, the canal is nearing completion of a major expansion.

At each end, the final touches are being put on new sets of locks that will allow much larger ships to take the watery elevator up and over the Continental Divide.

On board ship, I give three lectures about the canal and the politics of Central America.

You’re welcome to join me next time.

All photos copyright 2015 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS,  PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams cover

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)