SIGHTINGS hard aground off ensenada Friday the 13th proved unlucky for the container ship APL Panama, but not nearly as unlucky as Christmas Day. That’s when she went onto the beach near the entrance to Ensenada. The cause of the grounding is said to have been big swells and strong currents, which we take to mean the captain has a lot of explaining to do. At this writing, the 885-ft ship — still loaded with containers from Oakland — was still there, despite heroic measures to extricate her. The first best chance to get her off occurred during the high tide of January 13-14. This gave the crew time to go through the expensive and laborious process of offloading more than 2,000 tons of fuel, which apparently has to be heated in order to accomplish this task. By the morning of the 13th, all was in place for the salvage attempt. Four giant cables were attached to the Panama at regular intervals from bow to stern. These were attached at the other end to — count ‘em — seven tugboats about a quarter to a half mile offshore. There were two tugs each on the aft cables (the inner one pointed toward the sea, the outer one bow-in, pulling backwards) and one on the bow. As the high tide of 6.2 feet approached, a combined 40,000 horsepower bit into the water, and the tug-of-war began. Black smoke poured out smokestacks. White froth billowed from under counters. The crowd ashore held their breath. Police bullhorns blared. The ship’s crew watched over the side or at radar repeaters, waiting for any indication of movement. And nothing happened. Eventually, Mother Nature was declared the winner of Round I and everyone agreed to reconvene at the next high tide continued on outside column of next sightings page
Page 110 •
• February, 2006
The April 2006 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.