A few weeks ago I went to the Giza plateau, near Cairo, to visit the pyramids. They are truly mind-boggling in many ways. Of the original Wonders of the World, the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) is the only one still standing. With each base side being around 230 m and a height of around 140 m, it is a truly amazing structure. When you enter the pyramid, you’ll have the opportunity to walk (or actually climb) through the Grand Gallery, over 8 m tall and over 40 m in length, a truly outstanding example of engineering and craftsmanship.
Apart from asking the BIG question: “How did they build it?”, I felt small – tiny even – despite the fact that is was my second visit to the pyramids. Standing 2 m tall myself, I usually am not that easily impressed and most certainly do not feel small.
But I have had that experience several times, especially when visiting ancient monuments, like the Great Wall in China, the pyramids in Egypt, Petra in Jordan, Machu Picchu and Saqsayhuaman in Peru or Chichen Itza in Mexico. When you realise the limitations the people had in those days, compared to all the technology readily available to us in modern times, it is mind-blowing that they were capable of building such structures, typically in very remote areas.
Feeling small is not limited to ancient structures or ancient Wonders of the World, however. Earlier this week I visited customers in Rotterdam and took the time to go to the location where Heerema Marine Contractors’ Deepwater Construction Vessel “Thialf” is moored for maintenance. Even though I have seen this vessel before, just as its main competitor, the Saipem 7000, I remain incredibly impressed by the sheer size of that vessel.
A few months ago, I had the pleasure visiting the Thialf with Young-PIANC. Standing on the helideck, you have one of the best views in Rotterdam. Standing next to the crane blocks, you realise that all other blocks are tiny compared to these monsters. You notice that each crane itself it taller than your average local church tower. And those cranes can do a tandem lift of a staggering 14.200 tonnes….
Enough reasons to make you feel small, I’d say. Again this feeling is not limited to semi subs as the Thialf.
I felt the same when visiting the “Stanislav Yudin” of Seaway Heavy Lifting, even though it is smaller and a different type of vessel than the Thialf. Watching a “Emma Maersk” class Ultra Large Container Vessel, or an F.P.S.O. or maybe a huge cruise vessel like the Queen Mary II makes me feel just as tiny. I can’t wait to have a look or maybe visit the “Oleg Strashnov”, Seaway Heavy Lifting’s new heavy lifting vessel, as you can imagine.
I can draw two conclusions:
- when it comes to feeling small, Wonders of the World are definitely not limited to ancient pyramids or structures.
- it is fun feeling like someone from Lilliput visiting Gulliver’s world, when you’re 2 m tall
Note: picture of AtoN kit on top of GDF Suez jack by kind courtesy of SHL / GDF Suez.