Panama Canal

Posted by Rebekah
Dec 04 2010

So the Flier is at Panama Canal today.  I wondered what the Panama Canal looks like when I did the research for the book.  Everyone has heard of it, I’d seen documentaries about how it was built, but never really looked at it.  So I had fun, and I hope you enjoy the discoveries.

First the deck log for today (Whoot!  two days in a row!  I’m on a roll!)

Deck Log for today. Sorry it's so dark. Transcription to follow.

So here’s what that says: ————————-

Friday, 3 December 1943

Pg. 47

Zone Description +5

0000-1200

Moored starboard side to port side of another submarine at Berth A, Pier 3 Coco Sola, Canal Zone

J.E. Casey, Lieut. USN

1200-2400

Moored as before

J.W. Liddell, Lt. USNR

————————-

Most people know the Panama Canal is cut across the narrowest part of Panama, and hence, the narrowest point of North and South America.  What I didn’t know however, was that the canal does not cut straight through the land of Panama, it cuts from the Atlantic coast to a lake called Gatun, then from Gatun to the Pacific Ocean.  But Gatun is partially created through damming a number of the rivers that fed out of the lake into the oceans, so it is too, partially man-made.  It’s fascinating really.

Here’s a Map:

It took me a while to make this. It's a composite of a few different maps, each of which (of course) had something I needed to show, and lots of extra stuff I didn't. So here's the end result. Flier is in Coco Solo circled on top. When she goes through the Panama Canal, it will only take one day. It just won't be today. Tomorrow doesn't look good either.

Going through the Panama Canal is dangerous enough that any ship needs a trained pilot to go through.  There are a limit to how many of these pilots there are, so, regardless of the fact that Flier is at the Panama Canal, it will be another two days before she goes through. (Today the wait time is generally between 20-30 hours.

In the meantime, the men had some time to get out and about and on the town.

I just listened to Jim All’s account of Panama (It’s not long, but interesting–and yes, I am editing it.  I’m catalouging it on the other computer as I am typing on this one.) and hope to have that edited soon.  Having to learn Adobe Premier is quite the learning curve, but I’m working on it.  He remembered docking at Colon, not Coco Solo that the records state, but then again, the two cities were across a bay from one another.  Coco Solo was essentially the secured military district, and Colon was the actual town.  They were there for four days, and when not on duty, I can guess where most of the men ended up.  Jim did say he “had a great time”.  How great, he wouldn’t say beyond that!

Coco Solo is on the bottom left, the edges of Colon on the upper right. Taken in 1941, this is the military base Flier is tied to on this date in 1943.

Taken a few years earlier (when O-boats were all the rage) this is a close up of the submarine base in Coco Solo. No idea if this photo shows "Pier A, Berth 3" that Flier is tied to. Be really cool if it did though.

Well, I tried to post two days in a row.  Had I typed faster or Midnight not been so stealthy passing four minutes ago…oh well.

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