Thank you to everyone who has reached out about the status of the Bramble. The film production is independent and not affiliated with the owner of the ship. The film crew shares your passion for the ship and remain hopeful that the voyage will live on. We are hard at work putting the final touches on the third episode of the Bramble Docuseries and look forward to sharing any updates as they become available.
We had the great pleasure of doing a video interview with Master Chief James Hiller on Wednesday. Master Chief Hiller is 81 years old and sailed on the USCGC Storis when it made the historic circumnavigation of the continent along with USCGC Bramble and USCGC Spar in 1957. He had many fascinating stories to tell us. We were spellbound.
He wore his uniform for the interview and looked amazingly fit. This is really incredible when you learn that he had had open heart surgery only four days before! His wife told us that he doesn’t even take pain killers. Now that’s tough.
We’re looking forward to editing Jim’s interview into the documentary. It will add an amazing first person perspective.
We can’t thank him enough for making time for us and sharing his special stories for all to enjoy.
Here he is getting ready for the interview…
In another couple of weeks, work will be complete and Bramble will return to sea, ready for the next chapter of the voyage. She’ll depart Mobile, Alabama where she’s been in dry dock for an overhaul.
Once the vessel is expedition ready, she’ll be heading into the Caribbean, and visiting the tropical paradises of Belize, Roatan, and Utila. There’s plenty of opportunities there for our professional dive team to test their undersea gear and capture some amazing imagery.
Next, she’ll be heading through the Panama Canal and into the Pacific Ocean.
Besides the fact that it connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, how much do you know about the Panama Canal?
The Panama Canal is an artificial 51 mile/82 km waterway that cuts across the Isthmus of Panama. There are canal locks at each end to lift ships up to Gatun Lake, an artificial lake created to reduce the amount of excavation work required for the canal. Ships are lifted 85 feet/26 metres above sea level and then lowered at the other end.
The original locks are 110 feet/34 metres wide but between 2007 and 2016, a third, wider lane of locks was constructed. The new locks allow transit of larger, post-Panamax ships, capable of handling more cargo.
Construction of the Panama Canal was no easy feat. France originally began work on the canal in 1881 but stopped due to engineering problems, not to mention all of the deaths of works. The United States took over the project in 1904 and opened the canal on August 15, 1914. It’s still one of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken.
The Panama Canal transformed the global economy but greatly reducing the time for ships to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. In particular, the shortcut meant ships could avoid the dangerous and lengthy voyage round Cape Horn at the southernmost tip of South America.
What can Bramble expect of the passage? It takes 11.38 hours to pass through the Panama Canal. Statistics of how many ships travel through the Panama Canal each day vary, but most likely on the day of travel, Bramble will be joining approximately 40 other ships for that day of travel. Passage must be booked in advance and there will be a process of queueing before being allowed to enter the locks.
As we sail away from Norfolk we get fantastic news! We’ve gotten the go-ahead too dive on the wreck of Bramble’s sister ship, USCGC “Spar”. She was intentionally sunk in June, 2004 to create an artificial reef. Our Dive expert Bill is gathering equipment and personnel for the mission. We’ll be using full diving helmets with surface supplied air so the divers will be able to talk underwater! We’ll be shooting in 4K with our specially housed camera and remotely operated vehicle which is controlled from the surface. Plenty of wildlife down there including many sharks so it should be a very exciting chapter in the film.