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Old 21-01-2011, 05:18   #1
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Recommendations for Pilot - Panama Canal?

Anyone have any recommendations for a cheap (but good) pilot for transiting the Canal? We will have line handlers. Just need a pilot. Thx.
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Old 21-01-2011, 05:42   #2
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I didn't know that you could choose a pilot. When I went through (twice) in "76" you had to provide the line handlers and didn't have any choice in the pilot, cheap or otherwise. That was quite some time ago but I don't see things getting easier. How much liquid can you carry through the canal and do you need a body scan?
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Old 21-01-2011, 06:22   #3
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Hmmmm...well maybe I don't need to find the pilot. Thx. What about a ship's agent. I heard one charge $500 to do the paperwork and be an advocate for you through the Canal bureaucracy. Is it worth it? We have more time than money, but if the hassle is big enough, then $500 might be worth it.

As for the liquids and body scan....good!! :-) Fortunately the US gave up the Canal a few years back so now all we have to worry about are cavity searches!
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Old 21-01-2011, 07:03   #4
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agent

About $350.00 in 08. We used this guy. Enrique Plummer.
(507)6674-2086/(507)6682-1846
eplummer10@hotmail.com
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Old 21-01-2011, 08:29   #5
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You do not need a ship's agent. The taxi drivers will take you around to where you need to go to fill out the forms. The one advantage of using an agent is that you do not have to put up a bond to go through the canal (to pay for damages you might do to the canal!). Other cruisers at either end will be reliable sources for details. I used Delphinos a couple years ago. Pete said he did not charge me anything, but there was about $150 on my bill for some bank charges that I could not explain, but it was worth it as he got me moved up the list a couple days. You will have no choice in pilots--one will be assigned by the PCA the day you are going. They do not drive the boat, you do. They merely communicate with the canal staff. I will also suggest that you get at least one Panamanian line handler in your four. While it is not technically difficult to go through, it is convenient to have someone. Remember to get food for the pilot (and your line handlers). Pilots have the contractual right to order (at your expense) food brought to the boat if you do not adequately feed them during the transit.
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Old 21-01-2011, 08:52   #6
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Go to www.Noonsite.com they have a whole section specifically about transiting the canal, all the info you need.
They have all the rules and rates, transit timrs erc..
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Old 21-01-2011, 09:34   #7
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Here is a more direct link straight to the right page... Noonsite: Panama
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Old 21-01-2011, 16:22   #8
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Good info, Pete. Thanks.

Yeah, a friend of mine grew up in Panama and is bilingual and volunteered to help us as a line handler. So I think/hope we should be OK there. I'll check into Delphinos. I already went to noonsite, but I'll check again. Thanks, all.
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Old 22-01-2011, 08:44   #9
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We have spent two cruising season in Panama. We suggest using an agent called Stanley. He has been in the business a long time and usually can expedite your transit. He usually can be found at Shelter Bay Marina.
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Old 22-01-2011, 09:29   #10
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Canal Transit

We stayed in Panama several cruising seasons. If you want to use an agent we can recommend Stanley. He is excellent to work with and very knowledgeable. He usually can be found at Shelter Bay Marina. As others have pointed out, The canal authority will assign a pilot for your transit. Have fun.
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Old 22-01-2011, 09:35   #11
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You can do most of the work yourself and don't need a 'real' agent. They cost a few hundred dollars and are geared for the big boats. The tier that most cruisers use are the taxi driver/paperwork fillers. However like many things its good to get to Colon first and talk to some cruisers (NOT the first agent that pops out at you).

I'd be inclined to share a taxi with another cruiser couple from Shelter Bay and sus stuff out.

By the way, if you are in a hurry and don't want to stop at all then a real agent can get you through fast. You need to contact them prior to arrival...
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Old 24-01-2011, 16:52   #12
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Thanks, MarkJ. Good advice. I'll likely follow it. At this point we have more time than money, so I will likely look to navigate the bureaucracy just as I navigate around the world. Good or bad, it's all part of the experience, right? :-)
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Old 28-01-2011, 07:25   #13
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Panama Canal Transit

Your are correct and that is the right attitude. I am not sure which direction you will be transiting. My info is going from east to west. If you want to do the paper work yourself (I do not know for sure you can do this anymore), and keep expenses down, you will have to anchor where you have shore access. In Colon the anchorage has no shore access. They say there is a water taxi service which may be available. If there is no taxi service, you will have to go into the Shelter Bay Marina. The other alternative which is not too bad is to anchor in Portobello and and take the bus into Colon. But to get your boat measure you will have to be anchored in Colon or at the Marina. Hope this makes some sense. Jim
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