Transiting the Suez Canal: a lovely video

March 31, 2021 • 2:30 pm

Since the Ever Given got stuck in the Suez Canal (it’s now freed), a lot of us have been looking up the Canal, and asking questions like “can ships go both ways at the same time?” (Answer: yes, if they use the bypasses, but ships usually travel in convoys, two southbound and one northbound.)

What does it cost to go through? It’s expensive: an average of $250,000 (US) per vessel.

You can learn everything you need to know from the Wikipedia article on the canal, including when it was built: surprisingly long ago, between 1859 and 1869. A few essential facts:

 It offers vessels a direct route between the North Atlantic and northern Indian oceans via the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, avoiding the South Atlantic and southern Indian oceans and reducing the journey distance from the Arabian Sea to London by approximately 8,900 kilometres (5,500 mi), or 8 days at 24knts (JAC: “knots”) to 10 days at 20knts. The canal extends from the northern terminus of Port Said to the southern terminus of Port Tewfik at the city of Suez. Its length is 193.30 km (120.11 mi) including its northern and southern access-channels. In 2020, more than 18,500 vessels traversed the canal (an average of 51.5 per day).

Here’s a satellite photo of the Canal.

And a diagram of the complex setup. I always wondered if there was a bridge over it, and there is one, as well as a tunnel.

This is all an excuse to show this lovely 2½-minute GoPro video of a ship going through the canal in real time; a passage takes 11-16 hours because low speeds are mandated.

The music is a bit annoying, so you might want to turn the sound off.

You can see a similar transit of the Panama Canal (11 hours) here. I actually did half of this while lecturing on a Sci Am cruise to the Caribbean. We went through the locks, guided by those powerful “mule trains” that serve not to power the ship (it steams under its own power), but to guide it and keep it centered in the locks. After going to Lake Gatun (I got off to visit the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in an island in the lake), we turned around and went back out to the Caribbean.

Lagniappe: Burger  King put out an ad showing a Double Whopper blocking the Canal, presumably because of its size. Predictably, some of The Easily Offended got upset, and gave several reasons for their distress.

Watch them try to free the Ever Given in real time

March 29, 2021 • 8:30 am

If you click on the screenshot below, you should be able to zero in on the Suez Canal at the linked site and see where the hapless container ship is stuck—and also watch tugboats try to free her (as icons) in real time The icons move about as the tugs and other ships fuss and fidget.

If you don’t see it, go to the “vessels” function at upper left, put in “Ever Given” for the name, and then click the three vertical dots at the right to go to “show on live map.”

Every few minutes the map updates the position, course, and speed of all the vessels involved. You might get fixated!

Will they free her this week? I’m not counting on it. Howevr, this morning’s New York Times reports that the Ever Given has been “wrenched from the shoreline”, is partly afloat, and may indeed be freed soon.

This is a screen shot from abut 7 a.m. Chicago time.

Here’s the traffic jam south of the ship. I’ve put an arrow by the Ever Given:

h/t: Stash Krod

Zagreb: The world’s shortest tram and the Museum of Broken Relationships

October 21, 2018 • 2:15 pm

On my last free day in Zagreb, I went to the Museum of Broken Relationships, and was very glad I did. I combined that with a gratuitous but important ride on the Zagreb Funicular (Zagrebačka uspinjača). Reputedly the shortest public-transport funicular in the world, it’s only 66 meters long and takes 64 seconds to make a very short climb—a climb you could make by walking up the adjacent stairs in about two minutes. (It travels from the “lower town” to the “upper town”.) It was built in 1890 and was originally steam-powered but now runs on electricity. In 1969 it was renovated, taking four years to resume operation. Preserving the original appearance and much of the “constructional properties,” it’s now a national cultural monument.

I wanted to film the ride, so I bought a 5-kuna (80¢) ticket and rode it up. Here are some photos and a film of the ride.

The entrance (yes, that’s the top right above):

The ticket:

View from inside going up:

Side view (I love the old-fashioned shape). There’s only one rider; after all, you can walk down in a minute!

Top view: There’s a trip every 10 minutes, with one car going up and the other down. Here they pass each other:

And the video of the whole trip—just about a minute long:

Close to the upper “station” of the tram is one of the strangest and most affecting museums I’ve seen, The Museum of Broken Relationships. Opened in 2010 (there’s a knock-off copy in Los Angeles), it highlights objects involved with unsuccessful relationships, along with written statements from those involved about the meaning of those objects. The stories are almost all deeply moving, and not all of them are about amorous relationships. There are failed parent-child relationships, with parents dying, children being estranged, and so on. Wikipedia adds this:

In May 2011, the Museum of Broken Relationships received the Kenneth Hudson Award, given out by the European Museum Forum (EMF). The award goes to “a museum, person, project or group of people who have demonstrated the most unusual, daring and, perhaps, controversial achievement that challenges common perceptions of the role of museums in society”, rating the “importance of public quality and innovation as fundamental elements of a successful museum”. The EMF’s judging panel noted:

The Museum of Broken Relationships encourages discussion and reflection not only on the fragility of human relationships but also on the political, social, and cultural circumstances surrounding the stories being told. The museum respects the audience’s capacity for understanding wider historical, social issues inherent to different cultures and identities and provides a catharsis for donors on a more personal level.

Here’s the entrance. It’s not a large museum; you can see everything in about an hour even with careful reading, but I’m told that the Museum has a huge collection donated largely by heartbroken lovers, and it’s stored in a warehouse (they rotate some of the items):

Some explanation about the items, and an interior view. Note the asymmetrical sex ratio of donors (lower right):

I’m going to show just three items and their explanation today; I figured that I have enough photos to put up one object per day for at least ten days. I think they’re more poignant when displayed singly like that.

Object #1 and explanation (each one gives the duration of the relationship):

Object #2 and explanation:

Object #3 and explanation:

There’s a book, too, in which people leave their own tales:

“We will never break off!” I don’t think that’s a good prediction. . . .


More to come. . . .