I've been through the Canal many times. What I can assure
you is.....whatever the cost and politics are today, it will be different when you arrive. It is important to understand that and be prepared for the unexpected. If you get upset over the situation when you arrive, you can only harm yourself.
As Mark so aptly stated, our small boats are a burden to the Canal Authorities. I have heard that they have been considering (for years) putting a barge in service
to transport several yachts at one time on a single
vessel. It would need to be a private entity that is willing to take all the risk involved and you can bet that the cost of lifting, cradling and launching each vessel would be substantial. At one point, I heard that the barge was actually being built (that was in 2001 that rumor was flying around).
It has also been rumored for years that private yachts will be required to carry private insurance
for the transit.
You will hear all kinds of rumors on your way through Mexico
. I would pay little attention to any of them because what ever a passing yacht experienced one month ago may change the day before you get there.
If it were me, I'd budget
$3000 for the transit and be pleased if it is lower. If you budget
$1000, you may be setting yourself up for a huge dissapointment.........JMHO.