Kelly Sweeney aboard dredge off Panama

Happy New Year, Shipmates!

I am working as an officer on a US flag dredge, the M/V Stuyvesant, off the coast of Panama. I flew down to catch the job the week before Christmas, covering for a young mate so he could be home with his family for the holidays.

The weather has been typically “Panamanian” – humid and hot! It’s 90 degrees in the day, a cool 80-85 at night. Occasionally we get a heavy tropical downpour lasting a half hour or so, and then it clears up. We’ve had mostly calm winds and seas, though a NNW’ly wind of around 25 knots has been picking up each night recently as we approach Balboa.

The dredge is involved in a terminal expansion project. We’re filling in the slip next to terminal 17 in Balboa, on the Pacific side of the Canal. We dig out at two sites about 50 miles offshore, then come back in and pump ashore. The whole turnaround takes between 12-15 hours – a long haul for dredge work!

The Canal traffic has been steady. Have only seen on US flag ship come through, but have seen a number of US flag tugs. Had a chance to talk with the mates on the Justine Foss (Foss Maritime) and the Zeus (Dann Towing).

A number of years ago I went through the Canal on New Year’s Day on a chemical tanker. Last night when the clock struck midnight, we were just backing out of the slip, when all of a sudden the sky was filled with fireworks. Not a bad way to start the New Year onboard ship. After watch I sent my wife a Happy New Year e-mail, then watched some of the Dick Clark New Year’s Eve Show on the Satellite TV in the lounge.

Well, time for some lunch before I head up to watch.  I hear the cooks have a special New Year’s Day meal set up. If it’s anything like the spread they put out for Christmas, I’m going to have to loosen my belt a notch!

Till next time I wish you all Smooth Sailin.’

Captain Kelly Sweeney

By Professional Mariner Staff