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Old 21-01-2018, 12:01   #1
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Panama Canal Agent Recommendation Needed

Hello CF,

We are going to be transiting the canal this spring from Atlantic to Pacific.

I've read everything that I can find on the forum regarding agent -vs-no agent, etc. I think we are going to go with an agent.

Since this is our first passage, it seems that an agent can help with the learning curve but the main reason I'm thinking of going with an agent is that I have heard that they have canal contacts that can help get you scheduled thru earlier. It would really suck if we had to wait 4 weeks, so any option to get thru sooner has me interested.

Do any of you have any agents that you could highly recommend along with their contact information? What are the typical costs for an agent?

I have Pat and John Rains Cruising Ports book with recommendations but I was looking for other options.

Thanks in advance for your input !!

Jeff
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Old 21-01-2018, 15:29   #2
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Re: Panama Canal Agent Recommendation Needed

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Originally Posted by Mikado View Post
Hello CF,

We are going to be transiting the canal this spring from Atlantic to Pacific.

I've read everything that I can find on the forum regarding agent -vs-no agent, etc. I think we are going to go with an agent.

Since this is our first passage, it seems that an agent can help with the learning curve but the main reason I'm thinking of going with an agent is that I have heard that they have canal contacts that can help get you scheduled thru earlier. It would really suck if we had to wait 4 weeks, so any option to get thru sooner has me interested.

Do any of you have any agents that you could highly recommend along with their contact information? What are the typical costs for an agent?

I have Pat and John Rains Cruising Ports book with recommendations but I was looking for other options.

Thanks in advance for your input !!

Jeff
This is cruiser/agent BS. The canal is run professionally and the scheduling for handline vessels is done to fit in with the big boats and based on Advisor availability. I have seen agents actually make the transit start time end up being much latter in some cases.
On your Admeasure form you put your preferred transit date. Can be a specific date or can be first available after xxx. The evening of the day you pay your transit fee you call the Schedulers office. They speak perfect English. The first time you call it will take them a bit to find your paid form. Then they will give you a date and time for your transit. You should call the Scheduler office every few days to reconfirm or look for early opportunities. As your date gets closer you should call every day and verify. If it is an afternoon transit, then you should also call in the early morning of the transit day.
Now if you are using an agent they will call the scheduler for you and then call you. Most won't bother to follow up anywhere near what you might, as they get paid no matter when you leave. When the inevitable schedule changes occur it can end up being a game of telephone tag between the agent-scheduler-you-,agent-scheduler-you.... It is much more reliable if you are dealing with the Schedulers office directly.
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Old 21-01-2018, 15:48   #3
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pirate Re: Panama Canal Agent Recommendation Needed

Contact Erick at--
info@centenarioconsulting.com
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Old 21-01-2018, 17:28   #4
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Re: Panama Canal Agent Recommendation Needed

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Originally Posted by Paul L View Post
This is cruiser/agent BS. The canal is run professionally and the scheduling for handline vessels is done to fit in with the big boats and based on Advisor availability. I have seen agents actually make the transit start time end up being much latter in some cases.
On your Admeasure form you put your preferred transit date. Can be a specific date or can be first available after xxx. The evening of the day you pay your transit fee you call the Schedulers office. They speak perfect English. The first time you call it will take them a bit to find your paid form. Then they will give you a date and time for your transit. You should call the Scheduler office every few days to reconfirm or look for early opportunities. As your date gets closer you should call every day and verify. If it is an afternoon transit, then you should also call in the early morning of the transit day.
Now if you are using an agent they will call the scheduler for you and then call you. Most won't bother to follow up anywhere near what you might, as they get paid no matter when you leave. When the inevitable schedule changes occur it can end up being a game of telephone tag between the agent-scheduler-you-,agent-scheduler-you.... It is much more reliable if you are dealing with the Schedulers office directly.
Mikado
There's reason to use an agent, but the primary one you listed isn't one of them.

Download the Panama City Cruisers Guide. Do a Google search and you'll see a number of places to download it. It list agents as well as lots of info you might be interested in while in Panama. Rogelio is listed under agents. He is a good guy for any help in Panama and for cross is this taxis and airport pickups.
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Old 21-01-2018, 17:50   #5
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pirate Re: Panama Canal Agent Recommendation Needed

Shelter Bay marina runs 2 buses a day into Colon for supermarket trips.. downside is you've only two hours.
Usually you have to reserve your seats a couple off days ahead as lots want to go in.
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Old 21-01-2018, 19:02   #6
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Re: Panama Canal Agent Recommendation Needed

We second
"Contact Erick at-- info@centenarioconsulting.com".
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Old 22-01-2018, 03:30   #7
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Re: Panama Canal Agent Recommendation Needed

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Originally Posted by Paul L View Post
Mikado
There's reason to use an agent, but the primary one you listed isn't one of them.

Download the Panama City Cruisers Guide. Do a Google search and you'll see a number of places to download it. It list agents as well as lots of info you might be interested in while in Panama. Rogelio is listed under agents. He is a good guy for any help in Panama and for cross is this taxis and airport pickups.
+1. Rogelio is a good guy to know...and not just as an agent. Very knowledgeable and helpful. Also runs a taxi service. If your Spanish is weak, he also speaks fluent English. Good guy.

Panama phone #: +507-6717-6745
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Old 22-01-2018, 03:53   #8
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Re: Panama Canal Agent Recommendation Needed

Hi Jeff,

First off, an agent absolutely can get you through faster, If you're willing to pay for it.

Here's the deal. There are a set number of advisers. The boats queue up, and wait their turn. During the most busy time, when yachts are heading to the S. Pacific, waits can indeed be weeks.

The last time we went through from E-W was in late March, several years ago. Boats were waiting about 4 weeks for their transit.

I hired Tina Mc Bride about a month ahead of time.

We arrived at the flats anchorage at 0400, were measured at 0800, and transited THAT NIGHT. There were a heck of a lot of cruisers wondering what the hell was happening, I can tell you that!

This cost us about $3000 for a 43 footer.

This is accomplished by using a pilot, not an advisor. That extra charge was about $1600 above everything else. I was happy to pay that in exchange for not sitting in god-awful Colon for a month. This time was pre Shelter Bay, so options were worse then. Shelter Bay's a reasonably pleasant place to sit around for a few weeks if you're not in a hurry.

We used Tina again for a W-E crossing in 2014, and were again through in under 72 hours. This time we did not pay the pilot fee.

So, if you're willing to pay-you can jump the line!

I think that Tina's an awesome agent, by the way. She mostly does big yachts, and expects a wire transfer in full well before you arrive, but her service has been great both times.

I believe the website is panamacanaltransits.com.


TJ
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Old 22-01-2018, 04:25   #9
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pirate Re: Panama Canal Agent Recommendation Needed

I spent about 4weeks in Shelter Bay.. the problem then was a shortage of commercial pilots available for the trip.. we are a side line for them.. a way to make extra money in quiet times.. several boats were set up to go during that time only to be put back on the day of transit because a pilot was suddenly not available.
Just time your arrival so any possible delay does not affect plans Pacific side.. a few boats killed their waiting time by heading down to the San Blas to cruise around till the call from the agent..
Once through you can always kill time on the hook Panama City side doing your stores etc.. the shopping is much better than Colon.
We were a 54ftr and it was costing $700+/week in Shelter Bay.
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Old 22-01-2018, 08:17   #10
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Re: Panama Canal Agent Recommendation Needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikado View Post
Hello CF,

We are going to be transiting the canal this spring from Atlantic to Pacific.

I've read everything that I can find on the forum regarding agent -vs-no agent, etc. I think we are going to go with an agent.

Since this is our first passage, it seems that an agent can help with the learning curve but the main reason I'm thinking of going with an agent is that I have heard that they have canal contacts that can help get you scheduled thru earlier. It would really suck if we had to wait 4 weeks, so any option to get thru sooner has me interested.

Do any of you have any agents that you could highly recommend along with their contact information? What are the typical costs for an agent?

I have Pat and John Rains Cruising Ports book with recommendations but I was looking for other options.

Thanks in advance for your input !!

Jeff
-----------------------------------------

You can try with STANLEY. He is a good person. He helped me to make the transit a lot of year ago. +507 6807971 +507 4470065
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Old 22-01-2018, 08:35   #11
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Re: Panama Canal Agent Recommendation Needed

Hi from Catamaran Tiger Lily

I Used Roy Bravo of "Emmanuelagencies@emmanuelagenciessa.com". Being single handed he sorted everything out for me from liaising with all the agencies, paperwork, financies, admeasureres, pilot, ropehandlers and ropes. He even organised a mooring for me in the Balboa Yacht Club. He was always available by phone and answered my emails as promptly as could be expected. He met me for an initial meeting, prior to the transit and also on arrival at the Balboa end. He speaks fluent and is knowledgeable about all aspects of the passage procedures along with all the relevant personnel and certainly gor me through quicker than others. I was amchored on The Flats and was a 33ft catamaran.

For peace of mind and to save a lot of running around especially if not fluent in Spanish, I would highly recommend using an agent and Roy in particular.

I have enclosed the information and prices from my transit in January 2016 below



Good Day Dear Bob,
Thanks for getting in contact with us requesting information for canal passage. Guidance - at present moment canal
traffic under normal conditions
with delays up to two days waiting time from the moment your boat is
measured and same expect to increase by the time you planning to arrive due to high season`s
any how we shall keep you duly posted of developments. For your
quick reference please kindly see our best canal transit proforma basis
on information provided from your side as follows :
Canal tolls Usd 800.00 (up to 50 feet)Line handler (Usd 120.00 per man) 120.00 (if needed)Lines hire 120.00 (if needed) Fenders hire (6 big ones) 120.00 (if needed)Canal inspection 55.00Security surcharge 130.00
Tourist visa Usd (105.00 per person) 105.00 (apply if exceed 72 hours in the country)
Clearance/cruising permit 210.00 (apply after 48 hours in the country=
Bank commission 90.00
Transit Agency fee - basic 450.00
Petties & Incidentals 100.00
Total estimate expenses Usd 2,300.00
Our
services is a fixed price and we shall take care of all formalities
immigration (checking/out), customs (arrange clearance/cruising
permit), canal (register vessel in data, arrange inspection,
program transit date). Emmanuel Agencies, S.A., is a certify company by the Panama Canal and their in no need to pay a security bond (buffer
Usd 891.00), you can pay in cash or by bank transfer at least two days prior passage.
Awaiting your further advise, thanks.
Best Regards,
Roy Bravo
General Manager
Phone : +(507) 441-5652
Mobile : +(507) 6678-6820
Email : emmanuelagencies@ emmanuelagenciessa.com
Webpage : www.emmanuelagenciessa.com
Emmanuel Agencies, S.A.
Panama Rep. of Panama
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Old 22-01-2018, 09:27   #12
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Re: Panama Canal Agent Recommendation Needed

Dito Inchcailloch!

We used Roy Bravo excellent service to the Pacific and from the Pacific. We transited both ways.

It's really different strokes for different folks. If you want to run around to the various government offices to fill out documents, pay fees, save money and you have patience then you can do it yourself.

If you don't mind spending the money and want peace of mind hire Roy Bravo. Not only did Roy clear us through the canal, he took care of our immigration clearing in and out. It's not that immigration itself is difficult but when we attempted it they requested multiple copies of documents. Even though the customs people had a photo copier behind their counter they would not let me use it. I had to go away and find a copier, make the copies and return. You get the idea, just a lot of pain in the ass stuff to deal with. Roy deals with all of that.

Also, we had a crew member flying in on a one way ticket and Roy produced the entrance letter on his letterhead.

That crew member was carrying a Jabsco pump with them that was not available for purchase in Panama. Customs officials confiscated it. Since Roy was picking up my crew member at the airport when the crew member came out and explained what happened Roy went into the customs office and sorted it out. He got our pump back after paying a small customs tax.

I preferred to enjoy my time in Shelter Bay instead of running around Colon. Colon is not close to Shelter Bay.

There's no right or wrong way to transit, it's just personal preference.

Attached is a copy of my invoice for a Lagoon 450.
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Old 22-01-2018, 09:53   #13
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Re: Panama Canal Agent Recommendation Needed

We used Tina McBride, best investment.
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Old 22-01-2018, 10:14   #14
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Re: Panama Canal Agent Recommendation Needed

If we all start to pay the corrupt or exuberant high fees, than is it over a few years not more pleasant for the cruisers after you and will there not more any sympathy by local people!

We past the channel in 7 day's and did all the paperwork’s our self. There was really no problem to do it this way. We did in the meantime chopping in collon (and the bring it all to the boat if you buy a lot), beautiful hikes, ... .

There was no any corruption in Portobello, the only place where we problems had was by the Customs in Panama city to clear out. The Immigration there was no problem and straight forward! We end up with a discussion and had not to pay on the end, but the most people will maybe pay the rip off.

Chelterbay was one of the places on earth what I not will recommend to stay, go to the beautiful Portobello or stay on anchor on the other side in Panama city. You can also cruise in the San Blass wile you are waiting.

There are nice public busses between Portobello, Panama City, Colon and the airport. Public transport is always a good way to see something from the local culture. (travel with a crappy plastic bac, old flip-flops and no visual symbols like watches, …)

Contacts with real local people how you met are always the best memories, be aware from people how approach you! For me is travling in 3 class nicer than first class!
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Old 22-01-2018, 10:52   #15
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Re: Panama Canal Agent Recommendation Needed

Do what you want to do.

If you can afford an agent hire one. If on a tight budget don’t. It won’t change one thing for future cruisers and has been going on for ages.

As far as local exposure goes our agent introduced us to a ton. Her guidance and professionalism made the whole process pleasant and fast. We did transit faster than the do it yourselfers and getting out of sh*thole Colon was a blessing.

From paperwork to line handlers to fenders to cocktails was worth every penny.
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