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Old 09-06-2013, 06:13   #1
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Panama Canal Transit

Sometime this week we'll be leaving St Martin for Panama.

From stuff I've read in the past it appears that using an Agent is required.
Two questions:
1) Is this the case?
2) Who has used agents and found a good one... honest, professional, reasonably priced etc.?

All input appreciated as usual.

Vic
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Old 09-06-2013, 07:01   #2
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Re: Panama Canal Transit

I happen to be reading John Baldwin's book. He mentions that you are required to have several "line handlers" on board when transiting the canal. You might want to ask if the agent provides them if you don't have enough crew and of course ask about the cost.
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Old 09-06-2013, 07:22   #3
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pirate Re: Panama Canal Transit

Hello mate... how's the new boat going... is your face hurting from the big yet....?


Quote:
Originally Posted by VirtualVagabond View Post
Sometime this week we'll be leaving St Martin for Panama.

From stuff I've read in the past it appears that using an Agent is required.
Two questions:
1) Is this the case?
No.... You can do it yourself... but it involves visiting several offices scattered around Colon.... it will save you a few hundred $...
2) Who has used agents and found a good one... honest, professional, reasonably priced etc.?
I used a guy called Eric... nice guy... well known and liked... its the news he sometimes has to bring... not the man.. that annoys..
"Sorry Phil... two days delay... no Pilots available"...
Pilots are all part timer's who's 'Day Job' can effect your Transit Date..
The bill for a Roberts 54 + tyre & line hire with 4 handlers came to just under $2,000... I believe the prices went up significantly last July.. so could be half as much again..

All input appreciated as usual.

Vic
Your very welcome...
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Old 09-06-2013, 07:33   #4
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Re: Panama Canal Transit

We transited the Canal from the Pacific to the Caribbean last November... An Agent is not required, but we used one and it made the trip easy.

To transit you will need to have tires for fenders, lines and have four line handlers. The tires and lines can be rented and if you don't have four friends or would rather have professional line handlers you can hire them for $75 per day, each.

We used a Canal Agent, hired line handlers and rented lines... We were able to find tires for free. The total cost was about $2400, which included an extra $250 for being measured over 50 feet.

Some cruisers preferred to do the paperwork themselves, which although time consuming is easy. The nice thing about a Canal Agent is they are there if something happens, like break downs, sickness or just to communicate with the Canal Authority.

My Agent kept in phone contact with me through the entire passage and actually speeded up our transit by having the Canal Authority move our lock times up, since we transited faster than the Canal Authority though we would.

The last to know is that most recreational vessels transiting from the Caribbean to the Pacific will have to spend the night in Gatun Lake since they will not let recreation vessels travel at night. This means plan for two days of food, water and if you hire line handlers an extra days pay (Reduced to $50 for the second day).

It is an experience of a life time... Good luck!
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Old 09-06-2013, 07:53   #5
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Re: Panama Canal Transit

You certainly do not need an agent. We made our own arrangements which only requires a few taxi rides ($1 anywhere in town) in Colon and access to a cell phone. We bought a SIM card and air time for about $10 and that was the only cost. Easiest to do this at the marina but you can anchor at Club Nautico and do it from there, although you have to move to a particular anchorage to get measured (the 'admeasurer' comes to the marina if you are there). Apparently there have been robberies on boats at Club Nautico.

Couple of othere thoughts, if you have to wait more than a few days for your transit there are much nicer places to the east and west to anchor and visit. You can hire line handlers, lines, and fenders but you may organize these within the yachts that are there. We had line handlers from other boats who were going through later and wanted experience. Between us we had enough long lines and used normal fenders (all you need for a center lock transit which is what you want). The crew hired one of the advisors to drive them, the lines, and fenders back to Colon ($100) and we left our boat on a mooring in Christobal and took the bus back to Colon to help them with across ($3). When we went through we were with three boats so there were three skippers, twelve line handlers, and three advisors of whom four line handlers and 1 1/2 skippers did anything ( I was the 1/2 and helped with steering only in the flights of locks with the middle boat providing propulsion). The big stress was on the aft lines and the suggested line lengths were adequate only so length and strength matter here, bow lines not so much. If you can, lead the aft lines to substantial winches through chocks or large, strong blocks n deck - we used a couple of really big snatch blocks for this and it worked well.

Have fun, it is very interesting and not nearly as stressful as some people think. BTW, the advisors are either quite helpful or basically useless, but invariably late. Also there are webcams in various locations so your friends at home can look for your passage, although the chance of being there at the right time is very slight.
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Old 09-06-2013, 18:18   #6
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Re: Panama Canal Transit

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
Hello mate... how's the new boat going... is your face hurting from the big yet....?

Your very welcome...
Hi Phil,
Thanks for that. I'll try to find Eric if I'm feeling fragile after the trip there. For the sake of a couple of hundred bucks he could be worth it.

We've had some good times. She sails far better than I expected. Sandy and I sailed her from Bermuda to St Martin... the first passage without extra crew and we handled her just fine, so we have made her a boat for a couple to handle.
We've had to do a heap of work on her and I can still continue making lists, but I want to get to the place where we can drop anchor and relax. Does that ever happen?

Vic


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Old 09-06-2013, 18:29   #7
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Re: Panama Canal Transit

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeremiason View Post
We transited the Canal from the Pacific to the Caribbean last November... An Agent is not required, but we used one and it made the trip easy.

To transit you will need to have tires for fenders, lines and have four line handlers. The tires and lines can be rented and if you don't have four friends or would rather have professional line handlers you can hire them for $75 per day, each.

We used a Canal Agent, hired line handlers and rented lines... We were able to find tires for free. The total cost was about $2400, which included an extra $250 for being measured over 50 feet.

Some cruisers preferred to do the paperwork themselves, which although time consuming is easy. The nice thing about a Canal Agent is they are there if something happens, like break downs, sickness or just to communicate with the Canal Authority.

My Agent kept in phone contact with me through the entire passage and actually speeded up our transit by having the Canal Authority move our lock times up, since we transited faster than the Canal Authority though we would.

The last to know is that most recreational vessels transiting from the Caribbean to the Pacific will have to spend the night in Gatun Lake since they will not let recreation vessels travel at night. This means plan for two days of food, water and if you hire line handlers an extra days pay (Reduced to $50 for the second day).

It is an experience of a life time... Good luck!
Thanks Tom.
The cost is higher than I was expecting. I had a couple of grand in mind, but we're 54' on deck.
Hopefully we'll be able to use our lines, and possibly fenders?

We're looking forward to the experience.

Vic
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Old 09-06-2013, 18:37   #8
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Re: Panama Canal Transit

Several ways to orginize the trip, from paying for everything to doing it all yourself. It's not hard to find friendly sailors to be line handlers so all you would need is maybe one guy the agent supplies to kind of supervise the operation. You will probably figure out he is unnecessary after the first lock. Even a disengaged pilot will let you know enough to get through. He wants to get home at the end of the day too. The only snafu we had was getting our line handlers home. We thought a taxi to the bus station and the bus fare back would do. Next time I will hire a taxi to take them all the way back. The bus system works but it is an inglorious way end to their day.
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Old 09-06-2013, 20:11   #9
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Re: Panama Canal Transit

Vic, You don't need an agent, but you and Sandy really really should go through the canal on someone else's boat BEFORE taking your own boat through.

That will teach you far more than you can read here. If possible, go through a couple of times beforehand. Leave your own boat in Shelter Bay. It is a fantastic experience going through the Canal and is also a way of helping out someone else, so they can return the favour to you.
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Old 09-06-2013, 20:44   #10
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pirate Re: Panama Canal Transit

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimbo485 View Post
Vic, You don't need an agent, but you and Sandy really really should go through the canal on someone else's boat BEFORE taking your own boat through.

That will teach you far more than you can read here. If possible, go through a couple of times beforehand. Leave your own boat in Shelter Bay. It is a fantastic experience going through the Canal and is also a way of helping out someone else, so they can return the favour to you.
Vic.. look at being on a 21 day minimum wait for transit... stay in Shelter bay till you've been measured.. use that time to get a SIM card, make some friends on the other boats and post a line handler note on the marina board with your local number... then once measured head for the San Blas, visit Portobello... and wait for the phone call telling you your going through in whatever days then head back a day or two before to collect your crew..
last May we paid $600/week roughly for the 54ftr in Shelter Bay...
Once your through you can anchor up in Las Brisas ... or the bay on the N. side of the isthmus... and take a breather.. mooch round Panama City.. get social and relax for a couple of weeks before heading off
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Old 09-06-2013, 21:25   #11
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Re: Panama Canal Transit

Sounds like there is an opportunity for someone with a tug, flat barge and crane. Throw on some type of jackstands and tie downs on the barge and it could probably carry a half dozen (maybe more) 30 to 40 footers through the canal on each trip. Make the transit easier and cheaper for cruisers. Not to mention faster and less paper work.
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Old 09-06-2013, 21:32   #12
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Re: Panama Canal Transit

Highly recommend a day on Gatun Lake with one of the guides (or if you have a decent dinghy can do yourself).

Here are some album pictures of my day on the lake.

Panama Transit - Imgur
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Old 09-06-2013, 21:38   #13
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Re: Panama Canal Transit

Vic,

Brent on the L440 catamaran transited less than 1 month ago 12th May.
Well documented and worth a read.
Costs etc http://cat-impi.blogspot.com.au/2013...nts-costs.html

Transit
Impi

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Old 09-06-2013, 23:16   #14
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Re: Panama Canal Transit

My taxi driver was my agent and he furnished the lines, I bought the tires for fenders from a boat that had just completed their transit, fellow cruisers bought me beers to become my linehandlers and only charged bus fare to return to their boats.
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Old 10-06-2013, 06:06   #15
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Re: Panama Canal Transit

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimbo485 View Post
Vic, You don't need an agent, but you and Sandy really really should go through the canal on someone else's boat BEFORE taking your own boat through.

That will teach you far more than you can read here. If possible, go through a couple of times beforehand. Leave your own boat in Shelter Bay. It is a fantastic experience going through the Canal and is also a way of helping out someone else, so they can return the favour to you.
Definately second this advice. Going through as a line handler before your transit will give you lots of info and training. I can't see using paid' professional' line handlers. There's plenty of cruisers available who you can share transits with. The paid locals are a mixed bag - some very experienced, some with no clue.
We did our transit without an agent, just rented lines and tires from a local taxi guy.
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