First, I am sooo envious you are able to do such a trip. If only my wife would be open to this! I have transited the canal three times, twice on private vessels owned by other people. The first time, the owner did all of the paperwork. We had to go to multiple locations that are not close together. This required the better part of a day and a taxi for the entire time. It took I think about five or six days to get everything done. And we had to find our own crew, get our own tires for fenders, and acquire our own lines. Those things are not necessarily difficult as there are boaters at the canal who will crew through a transit before doing their own.
The second time, the owner used an agent. I don't recall
his name but he came recommended. He was terrible at returning calls but in the end did provide all paperwork, lines and fenders, though by then we had all of the crew arranged.
Bottom line is that for approximately $500 you can save a bit of work. If I was transiting in my own boat, I would hire an agent but do more research
on which one to use and get multiple recommendations.
The Shelter Bay Marina on the Caribbean
side of the canal is a spot of luxury before heading west into vast distances of ocean. They have a swimming pool, spa, nice showers, a restaurant and a small marine hardware
store as well as providing shuttles into Colon (which is a pit but does have some provisions).
: Wow, if you are in Martinique
, take the opportunity to buy anything canned that is gourmet or a treat. (Look for canned butter, too.) It will be your last opportunity at those prices. As others have said, Panama
City on the Pacific side of the canal has great provisioning
. When you hire a taxi, find one who speaks your language, then ask for a fixed price
to give you a city tour as well as take you shopping
stores and groceries are all close to each other and taxis are reasonable.
had marginal provisions. Butter was rancid though they still sold it. No bread was available except chemical filled Bimbo bread. (As a quick aside, we stowed a loaf of Bimbo bread and forgot about it. When we discovered it three months later, it looked just like the day we bought it. What do they put in it to accomplish that in the tropics!?! No, we did NOT eat it.)
In the Marquesas
, you can again find anything your heart desires. . .but at a hefty price
. We payed about double what we would have at home, but at least you could get whatever you wanted! It was refreshing after the Galapagos
which had poor quality, third world goods.
I have not done the milk run from Tahiti
. . .it is still on the bucket list.
Enjoy your adventure!!!