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Old 24-06-2013, 07:08   #1
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Panama Canal Agent?

We are hoping to transit the Panama Canal in the next month or so. Can anyone a)
1. recommend an agent.
2. give an idea of how long the wait will be and how much warning we will get when our slot comes up (would be nice to wait in the San Blas).
3. give an idea of cost (47ft catamaran that can do 8kn under motor)

Many thanks in advance,

Tony
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Old 24-06-2013, 07:50   #2
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Re: Panama Canal Agent?

Tony,
Here is a link to an article Jack Tyler wrote on their canal transit a few years ago.
Panama Canal

You will likely get more recent info from other posters here, but I think this article answers most of your questions.

John
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Old 27-06-2013, 08:49   #3
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Re: Panama Canal Agent?

We went through a couple of years ago. Can't help with an agent. We did all the arrangements ourselves and would be happy to recommend this approach to others. We found it painless and a lot cheaper than the agent route. Did a report on it for the SSCA Bulletin if you have access to those. The Feb issues have an index for the previous year.

You can go the Canal website to find out the current charge. If you can get your boat under 50' you will save a lot of money. They come to your boat and measure quite carefully and they include everything like anchors sticking out and davits. Our 45' boat measured at 48.5' because of our Monitor vane (I left the rudder down for the measure and glad I did, would have damn close to 50' otherwise.

Delays come and go so what is happening now may not happen when you get there. We made our arrangement in Colon and then went to Isla Linton which is about halfway between Colon and San Blas for Christmas week. Had one of the best meals of my life at a restaurant run by a French couple at the resort on the island there. We had already spent several weeks in the San Blas and had no desire to return there. SB was OK but not the paradise that we heard. Also if you to San Blas you are in a different port district from Colon and you have to check in and put of each. The Port Captain in Porlamar (SB) did not give us the correct paperwork so when we checked in to Colon we had to pay a fine, which was actually cheaper than the correct paperwork would have been. Panamanian bureacracy is an art form and costly and a royal pain.
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Old 27-06-2013, 08:57   #4
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Re: Panama Canal Agent?

friends who went thru recently used a taxi driver for info--they have done this 6 times, now with success......
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Old 27-06-2013, 09:02   #5
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Re: Panama Canal Agent?

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Originally Posted by AiniA View Post
We went through a couple of years ago. Can't help with an agent. We did all the arrangements ourselves and would be happy to recommend this approach to others. We found it painless and a lot cheaper than the agent route. Did a report on it for the SSCA Bulletin if you have access to those. The Feb issues have an index for the previous year.
I would like to learn more the DIY way when I am on my own. I think it is a good experience to go through.
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Old 27-06-2013, 09:28   #6
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Re: Panama Canal Agent?

I went through S to N, but the procedure should be the same. Find the Canal authority office in Colon. Any taxi driver will know it. Wander in and tell the first person you see that you want to transit. Bring your passport, boat doc and all the accumulated clobber of officialdom you have collected so far. You'll probably not need any of it, but it doesn't hurt. They'll schedule a time and place to send the admeasurer--for me it was next day. If you're not in the Shelter Bay Marina, they'll want to meet you in anchorage area "F". The admeasurer, who speaks English, will measure your boat, fill out all the paperwork, and tell you where to sign. He'll give you a form to take to the bank along with cash (for my boat, 37' admeasured length, it was 1,500 dollars), which you deposit, collecting the receipt. Then you phone (it's a dime) the authority on the next business day when your payment has posted, and they schedule your transit. Sometimes it's next day, sometimes longer. Be prepared to get postponed a day or two at the last minute--they'll tell you the night before if you bother to call and confirm, which I recommend.
These things might have changed from 2010 when I transited, but whether it's necessary to check into and out of Colon with the local harbormaster (if you've already entered Panamanian waters), and secure a zarpe to Panama city from Colon is up to whether the harbormaster catches you, since he's the only one who thinks this bit is necessary. He makes a good bit on his "Fines", which if you ask any canal authority people (who are a different branch of things) are ludicrous. Many boats never contact him at all, being "in transit", and do nothing illegal by it. But again, be aware that Panama has the most convoluted, inconsistently applied rules and most corrupt officials we ever encountered, even counting Mexico, who'se corrupt antics are monumental.
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Old 27-06-2013, 09:31   #7
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Re: Panama Canal Agent?

Forgot to mention, a few weeks after our transit our mail receiver in California got a check for just over $800. That was our security deposit, the bulk of the $1500 in cash that we paid initially.
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Old 27-06-2013, 10:09   #8
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Re: Panama Canal Agent?

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...... But again, be aware that Panama has the most convoluted, inconsistently applied rules and most corrupt officials we ever encountered, even counting Mexico, who'se corrupt antics are monumental.
Just a clarification, I think you are talking about port officials here, not the Canal Authority staff -- who I found to be very professional.
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Old 28-06-2013, 11:13   #9
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Re: Panama Canal Agent?

Thanks to everyone for the useful replies.

I also found a lot of useful information and agent recommendations here:
Procedures for Transiting the Panama Canal — Noonsite

and here:
Planning to Transit the Panama Canal? — Noonsite

And here:

Panama Canal Agents: Cruisers' Recommendations — Noonsite

Tony

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