Up in the gantry

Up in the gantry

My dream has finally come true. I had wanted to go up in the gantry for many years, but I haven’t found the right place, the right moment or the ‘right gantry’ until now.

Whenever I visit a new city I try to find a ‘higher ground’ from where to have a panoramic ‘bird like view’ over the surroundings. A top of a hill, a tall building like a sky scraper or a TV Tower, a gondola or a high bridge are the best opportunities for fulfilling my goal and I always enjoy the feeling of profound freedom I experience when I am on top ‘of the world’, even if ‘my world’ is just a small town or a certain landscape. I have to admit that I do not like climbing the mountains just for the fun of it, but I will always make the effort if the view from above rewards me with a splendid image of a water of any kind – sea, lake or ocean. Anyhow, I prefer those ‘climbs’ which require a small physical effort or can be fulfilled with the help of any kind of ‘machinery’ – an elevator, for example.

Since I started my voyages on board port container vessels I had many opportunities to admire and photograph my ship from a ‘higher level’. Most of the time, the portside and starboard side wings, the ‘monkey island’ and the bridge fulfill my goal and offer splendid panoramic views over the surroundings, with a greater part of the vessel included in the image. Sometimes, if the weather is fine, I like to climb the metal stairs up to the top of the mast and admire the two shades of blue which make up the sky and the sea.

Up in the gantry

My heart always pumps up a little faster, but I love the mixed feeling of fear and happiness and the moment gets a special touch of adrenaline when some birds decide to join me and approach from all sides. Taking into account the danger of this action, I never climb on the mast more that twice during a four month voyage and I always take the necessary safety measures while climbing and descending.

Up in the gantry

If I am luckier, I sometimes have the chance of admiring the vessel from a ‘higher ground’ situated ashore and even, if I have to pay a fee in order to experience ‘the bird eye view’, I always find the effort worth taking.

Up in the gantry– view from Sky Tower, Auckland, towards HS Beethoven –

Up in the gantry– view from Captain’s Scott Memorial, Port Chalmers –

Up in the gantry– View from Christchurch Gondola –

Now, after so many years at sea, I finally managed to experience another thrill for which I needed the help, support and assistance of both my husband and another shore worker. I had planned to go up in a gantry for many years, but I haven’t found the perfect moment until last week, in the picturesque port of Panabo, Philippines. I would have preferred to go up in a higher one – in a Chinese port where most of the gantries are bigger and higher – but all the ports have their own rules and regulations and I couldn’t get the permission before.

The necessary permit was asked for and obtained in the small port of Panabo after a two-minute chat with the port gantries’ supervisor who invited us both to visit the crane during the 30 minute lunch break.

Up in the gantry

I think he was a little confused at the beginning when he heard that a woman would like to go up in the crane, but how could he refuse such a polite request?

So, after taking the safety equipment – hard hat – and only a small part of my photo gadgets, we followed our guide up in the crane, under the scrutinizing eyes of some shore workers who were having their break on the pier.

After we climbed the few steps of a metal ladder, we arrived in front of a small elevator cabin – all metal walled and painted in red.

Up in the gantry

Gantry elevator

Up in the gantry

Up in the gantry

Before stepping inside, our host assured me that the elevator was ‘made in Japan’ and, although a little noisy, it was very safe for all three of us. He also said that we could climb up the metal stairs to the top like he was doing whenever the elevator was out of order or during maintenance, but we all agreed the elevator was the best option. The ascent lasted less than a minute and during this time I could watch outside through a window. On top of the crane, we followed our host along the safety platform – stepping inside and outside of closed areas, going up and down metal stairs and zigzagging between smaller or bigger drops of oil and grease, for the sake of our shoes.

Gantry elevator

I took lots of photos from different positions towards the bow and the accommodation bridge, but also towards the port basin and the surrounding coconut plantation along the shore.

Gantry elevator

 

Gantry elevator

Gantry elevator

Up in the gantry

I didn’t want to take advantage of our host’s generosity and I was ready to start my descent when the supervisor invited me to follow him to another level for a better view. I couldn’t refuse him, could I? After only a few seconds I found myself walking on the crane’s arm, right above our vessel from where I took more photos and even a short movie.

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Up in the gantry

Up in the gantry

Up in the gantry

Up in the crane

Up in the crane

We were standing more than 40 meters above water level, on a metal construction that was moving and shaking continuously, despite the fact that it was not actually working. The supervisor told me that the crane was moving and vibrating due to the wind and in that moment I knew I wouldn’t want to be up there when the wind was really blowing.

After a quick photo with our host, we had to leave the top level and start our descent because the break was over and the crane was about to start moving for real.

Up in the gantry

Before entering the elevator, our host informed us that the cage was about to shake and vibrate more during the ride down, but we were not to worry about it. It even went through a stop and start moment while approaching the ground, but everything was quite normal and we had been informed about this, too … so, we didn’t worry at all.

I was happy to feel the ground under my feet again and, after shaking hands with our host and with the crane driver who was in charge of moving the crane along the pier, we went back to our vessel.

Up in the crane

I will never forget this day and I hope I will be able to repeat this ‘adventure’ in another port – if I ever get the permit again. I hope next time I will also visit the small cabin where the crane operator spends his four-hour watch while moving containers and hatch covers.

Up in the crane

Up in the crane

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