1. How long will it take?
Distance/average daily run. Wind and current
should be on your side.
2. Is it against prevailing winds?
Normally it is downwind. Look up Publication 136 (Ocean Passages for the World / Admiralty) or Cornells book, if 136 not available.
3. What sort of wind strength is typical?
20/25 is normal but it can blow more, esp. if you sail close to Colombia's coast. It can be lighter close to Panama
4. Some said spend some time in the San Blas Islands, is this out of my way?
It is nearly on your way. Make sure you have the permit/check in.
5. I believe this is just before hurricane season.
It is before, but not just before.
6. From 3Eagles thread on the transit it sounds like an agent isn't needed.
We did not use one either, but it was back when you could anchor
on Flats. Now I beleve you are supposed to use a N shore marina while the harbour authority is on the S coast (I might be wrong here).
7. Background is: I'm a life long coastal sailor with virtually no experience off shore but I'm hoping to draft
an experienced friend whos sailed to Hawaii
. I'm thinking of puchasing a boat in Martinique, sailing it to and thru the Canal to Golfito where it will be shipped to Canada
Do get the friend drafted. If Golfito is far N from Panama
make sure the current
is not against you. I believe people say it is difficult to coast from Panama to Mexico
8. I will be on a relatively tight schedule unless I decide to go with a later Gofito shipping
date. But I really don't want to take that much time off of work.
Being on a tight schedule is not what yo want when sailing. Beware Panama transit can last.
Good luck, have fun!