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Old 27-04-2012, 14:20   #61
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Re: panama canal fees to rise

A Chinese company submitted a bid to operate the ports in Panama that was accepted by the ACP. Other companies also submitted bids but aparently the Chinese government is "helping" the company that won the bid. The ACP still owns the ports. The Chinese have a contract, not ownership. BTW a railroad company from the SE US was awarded the contract to operate the railroad between the two ports.

Here's why such a small country needs two large container ports, one on each side, with a railroad to transport the containers:
The larger fully laden container ships have a maximum of less than three feet of water between their keels and the manhole type gates that the water flows through (if they were to use their props while in the chamber they would strike the bottom with their keel). When there has been a less than normal rainfall during the rainy season ,the water used in the canal must be rationed, and cantainers must be off-loaded to decrease the gross weight of the ships so that they will not require as much water to make their transit.

If you're really civil to the advisior on your boat, he tells you all this neat stuff.
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Old 27-04-2012, 15:13   #62
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Re: panama canal fees to rise

This has/is been entertaining reading as people piss at each other back and forth in the word battle. I would think going though the canal would be something people would want to do just for the experience (I've been though but didn't a single thing from down below in the engineroom of a submarine). I'm looking forward to it and will just budget for it.
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Old 27-04-2012, 15:41   #63
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Re: panama canal fees to rise

Don,
It is an incrediable adventure! Volunteer to be a linehandler and go out of your way to meet all the world cruisiers. Take a day and do the tours offered as well as the canal museum.
When you get on the Pacific side, take a week or two to visit Islas Secas and the second largest city in Panama, David, (da-ve) located on the NW end of Panama.

Ingore those who are always negitive as life is to short not to enjoy..
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Old 27-04-2012, 16:20   #64
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Re: panama canal fees to rise

Don, I agree with John A. There are cruise ships that have specific cruises just to take passengers through the canal for the experience. To me, that sounds almost just like your one past experience. But people on both sides are constantly looking for line handlers - you can experience the canal transit up close and personal as many times as you like for free (and you get free meals with that!). All you have to do is get to Panama...

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Old 27-04-2012, 16:40   #65
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Re: panama canal fees to rise

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Originally Posted by Viking Sailor View Post
What bothers me is that the money they make from cruisers is nothing compared to what they get for a big ship. I would not be surprised if all the money they make from from all the cruisers that transit the canal in a year is less then ten percent of what they get for a single big ship transit. Since cruisers always transit with a big ship why are cruisers even charged lock fees?

Some years ago, someone was looking at providing a trucking services for cruisers across Panama. It was suppose to be quicker and cheaper then the canal transit. Of course nothing ever came of such a competitive idea.

If they keep upping the cost soon it might even be cheaper to truck a boat between Texas and California. I wonder what the current costs are?


The water consumed to transit a large or small boat or 1 boat to a packed lock is IDNETICAL. The water moved is that which is UNDER the vessel = legth X width X depth of water moved. If a small boat moves with a container ship, it moves for ZERO cost. BTW - my uncle ran the canal until shortly before the turn-over. He said it would be marked by corruption and incompetance after we left.
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Old 27-04-2012, 17:08   #66
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Re: panama canal fees to rise

I went up the first two chambers on the Pacific side solo. I came down the three chambers on the Alantic side rafted to a tug.
There is a certain expense for the admeasurer, office staff, and advisior that must be allocated for your transit.

But lets get to the meat of this. If your going to be continually upset or pissed with everything being different than your lifes experiences have, so far shown you, stay home. Please don't go to all the expense and effort to do something that you're stressing about from the comfort of your current life. Stay home! You and the people who are already cruising will be much happier.

One if the great joys of my cruising adventure is that I left all the whiners and negitive BS behind. Sure things were not perfect, but it was one hell of an adventure.

I wish I were still out there. This massive cynicism and conspiracy theory BS is very unhealthy to me and to you.
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Old 27-04-2012, 17:39   #67
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pirate Re: panama canal fees to rise

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Boatman, are you in the canal right now? BTW, I have friends living in Panama City now for 6 years; they love it and won't come back to Canada except to visit.
Apologies to Panama for my original post...
just 17 days of being bitten to death by mosquito's and noseeums... and the boat problems in Swelter Bay got me really pissed off....
your stuck in the middle of nowhere with scarey stories about Colon...
a bus takes you from the Marina into town at 8am and brings you back at 11.15... so you have 2 hours and the only place open as such is the supermarket... the others start opening at 11am... just as the bus arrives...
The crossing was a piece of cake... the advisor arrived on time and we moored up in Lake Gatun at sunset... the next day we were at Pedro Miguel locks by noon and anchoered at Brisas by 4.30pm... both advisors were great... and the boys supplied as linehandlers by our agent Erick were good fun...
Today I went into Panama City... boy... what a difference from Colon side...
So... its not all bad and they still do one day transits... in the dry season... it went back to the 2 day transit a few days before our turn...
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Old 27-04-2012, 18:28   #68
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Re: panama canal fees to rise

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...
a bus takes you from the Marina into town at 8am and brings you back at 11.15... so you have 2 hours and the only place open as such is the supermarket... the others start opening at 11am... just as the bus arrives......
So why not take the 3:30 bus back? Or just go in on the 1pm bus???? The system isn"t real complicated.
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Old 27-04-2012, 19:11   #69
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Re: panama canal fees to rise

If you think that a Panama crossing is the worst thing you will experience in a world cruise, best to stay at home. We crossed last year from Colon and it is no big deal in any respect. Cost us $500 for the canal fees, about $15 (cell phone and cab fares) to set it up, and the cost of two bus fares ($5?). Others cruisers line-handled for us and we did for them. Between us, we had enough long lines and fenders.

We spent the night tied to an enormous mooring in the lake. Both sets of advisors were hours late. One guy was very helpful, the other asked whether what we did the first day worked well. We said it did and he said do it again and settled down to read his multiple newspapers.

A couple of thoughts - they could make the advisors optional. There are no advisors on the St Lawrence Seaway locks for example. It would be really nice to have somewhere reasonable to anchor in Colon. We anchored at the CLub Nautico and it is mediocre at best. Be aware that the admeasurers measure everything and their tape seems generous. Our 45-footer with a Monitor vane and no bowsprit came out at 48.5' which is dangerously close to the next cost level.
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Old 27-04-2012, 20:02   #70
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Re: panama canal fees to rise

For those interested, try reading the excellent book Path Between the Seas to learn about the canal. The formation of the country of Panama was the result of manipulation by a certain Frenchman (Barau-Varilla) more than by the US government - although the US was quick to capitalize on it.

When I transited in 1994 it appeared that the Balboa YC was run for the benefit of wealthy Panamanians, not Americans. Many of these wealthy owners used their boats to entertain their mistresses et al. It could be hard to get a water taxi in the morning as the women left... The building itself was rotten and infested with termites and ants, with only the basement in use for the offices and a bar/disco; the ballroom and restaurant with a grand staircase were off limits. The fire only dealt with the reality of disrepair.

While there I met a lawyer for the canal, and learned that most damage claims by yachts happened as a result of being tied alongside tugs. It seems like an easy way to transit, but having done it in one lock I would recommend avoiding it. At the time a yacht could insist on going "centerline solo", and that is the way to go IMHO.

As for the price, well, get over it folks. Prices for everything for cruisers keeps increasing (above inflation) so why would this be any different? They must still lose money on us. The idea that a truck across the States is somehow an economic alternative is laughable - say 5 to 10 times the cost. Having brought Carina back to Portland from Lake Michigan 3 years ago for a mere $6000+ I am thinking $800 to cross the Isthmus, without unstepping/stepping the mast, is well worth it. YMMV

I found mostly well-trained, competent people working on the canal. Of the 4 "advisors" shared between the two boats during the two days only one was not quite up to snuff. The position of advisor is really a trainee position for pilot - it enables the pilots-to-be to learn every detail of the canal at a slow pace before taking on the responsibility of a pilot.
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Old 27-04-2012, 20:03   #71
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Re: panama canal fees to rise

The PC yacht club was a great place. Guess you had to be there. A true calm in the storm that is Colon. Used to be able to call the canal office from the pay phone for a quarter. Guess you need a cell phone now. No doubt some canal authorities own a stake in Shelter Island Marina.
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Old 27-04-2012, 21:11   #72
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Re: panama canal fees to rise

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The french started it...The US picked it up around 1904 and finished it. They paid Columbia 10 million for the right to do it but never owned it. Panama became a country later I believe. There was alway tension between the US and Panama which resulted in many clashes. One such clash killed a few dozen Panamanians a 3 US soldiers. As far as Carter...Remember...we didn't own it and we didn't own Panama.
Personally, I own a 35 ft. boat. So it's $500 for me...Big deal! That's a monthly booze bill for most cruisers and in Mexico. You can pay $1000 a month in a Marina. Get over it! How many times are you going to go through?...Twice at most. Don't worry about beans and rice. Just stop drinking for month and you'll be fine.
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Old 27-04-2012, 22:46   #73
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Re: panama canal fees to rise

Just a correction: the Frenchman was Bunau-Varilla.
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Old 28-04-2012, 07:40   #74
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Re: panama canal fees to rise

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.... The position of advisor is really a trainee position for pilot - it enables the pilots-to-be to learn every detail of the canal at a slow pace before taking on the responsibility of a pilot.
This may have been true years ago, but it is not now. All the advisers have relatively senior positions working fulltime on the Canal, such as tug boat captain, dredge operator, pilot boat captain, security, etc. They volunteer to go through classes and training to get qualified to be an adviser. Then they sign up on their days off to do transits for extra cash and because most enjoy meeting the yachties from around the world.
Pilots typically are Panamanians who were 1st officers or higher on ocean going vessels who want to get back to living in Panama with a high pay job.
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Old 28-04-2012, 17:18   #75
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So why not take the 3:30 bus back? Or just go in on the 1pm bus???? The system isn"t real complicated.
So for two of us that $16 return on the 1 o-clock bus.... nope its not complicated at all...
I figured $558.64/week + $70 a week for electric entitled me to the freebie on the afternoon bus as well.. but then I do have a dash of Scot in me...
Oh... should mention.. Shelter Bay Marina has a minimum rate of 40ft... if your 30ft you still pay 40ft rates... something for you little guys to take into account... hear the San Blas is a great place to hang out while you wait to go through..
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