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Old 12-02-2016, 10:20   #1
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Skipping the Panama Canal and shipping boat overland

Ok. If this sounds crazy let me know. Just say you wanted to transport your boat from either side of Panama. I've heard that using the Panama Canal is quite expensive and difficult. Are there companies out there who will take your boat across land instead? If so is this more cost effective? I'm talking about a smaller boat for example...say a 30 monohull and not a 50 foot catamaran.
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Old 12-02-2016, 10:25   #2
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pirate Re: Skipping the Panama Canal and shipping boat overland

I doubt it..
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Old 12-02-2016, 10:54   #3
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Re: Skipping the Panama Canal and shipping boat overland

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Originally Posted by donkey_jaw View Post
Ok. If this sounds crazy let me know. Just say you wanted to transport your boat from either side of Panama. I've heard that using the Panama Canal is quite expensive and difficult. Are there companies out there who will take your boat across land instead? If so is this more cost effective? I'm talking about a smaller boat for example...say a 30 monohull and not a 50 foot catamaran.
In Guatemala, Carlos Morales in Rio Dulce (AKA Carlos the welder) takes boats overland. Mono hulls only, the costs is approximately $4,000 US and the maximum size is about 38 feet

By comparison, a delivery skipper friend of mine reckons on $2,500 for a sub 50 foot boat to do the Canal transit (this includes the Shelter Bay costs, agents, line and fender rental etc). If you are doing it yourself you can probably do it a bit cheaper
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Old 13-02-2016, 19:44   #4
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Re: Skipping the Panama Canal and shipping boat overland

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Ok. If this sounds crazy let me know. Just say you wanted to transport your boat from either side of Panama. I've heard that using the Panama Canal is quite expensive and difficult. Are there companies out there who will take your boat across land instead? If so is this more cost effective? I'm talking about a smaller boat for example...say a 30 monohull and not a 50 foot catamaran.
It's quite feasible and would be a routine thing to do. A friend did this about 30 years ago. He wanted to get his 34' sailboat from the Atlantic to the Pacific and considered the Panama Canal to be expensive, so he went into somewhere near Brownsville Texas, loaded the boat onto a truck and they trucked it to California. Nothing much to it. I don't know the costs, but he said it was cheaper than the canal.

There are lots of trucking companies who specialize in moving boats. A yard picks up your ship with the Travelift, plunks it on the truck's float, the driver ties it down and off it goes. They can take boats with dimensions bigger than the stated highway limits.
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Old 13-02-2016, 21:06   #5
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Re: Skipping the Panama Canal and shipping boat overland

I have often wondered why no one has built a float-on float-off barge, big enough to hold a small number of typical cruising vessels for transiting the canal. I don't know what the transit costs for a tug and barge would be, but it seems that the economics might be favorable, plus it would reduce the "clogging" of the facility by hordes of small craft.

As I envision it, this would not entail building rigid cradles for the boats, as in the Dockwise ships, but having the "passengers" still afloat in a big bathtub. Possibly, they could be floating in the canal water, just surrounded by a big floating dock to which they are tied off. Dunno about the engineering, but it sounds good when I say it fast!

Anyone else with silly ideas like this?

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Old 13-02-2016, 21:51   #6
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Re: Skipping the Panama Canal and shipping boat overland

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If this sounds crazy let me know.


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I've heard that using the Panama Canal is quite expensive and difficult.
And where did you hear that?
Expensive: depends on your budget I assume you've checked the website and looked up the costs? Everything is neatly listed.
Difficult: not really. Maybe for people suffering from lockaphobia, but otherwise it's not that hard.
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Old 13-02-2016, 22:16   #7
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Re: Skipping the Panama Canal and shipping boat overland

Expensive as in I'm not rich and when/if I do it I will be on a set budget.

Lizzy Belle, How many times have you crossed the Canal?
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Old 13-02-2016, 22:23   #8
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Re: Skipping the Panama Canal and shipping boat overland

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Ok. If this sounds crazy let me know. Just say you wanted to transport your boat from either side of Panama. I've heard that using the Panama Canal is quite expensive and difficult. Are there companies out there who will take your boat across land instead? If so is this more cost effective? I'm talking about a smaller boat for example...say a 30 monohull and not a 50 foot catamaran.
You can have it trucked across Mexico, Costa Rica , or NicaraugaCosta Rica is closest to Panama
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Old 13-02-2016, 23:12   #9
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Re: Skipping the Panama Canal and shipping boat overland

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Lizzy Belle, How many times have you crossed the Canal?
Never on my own keel, but once on someone else's. If your crew (as in you and your line handlers) use common sense, you'll be fine.
And even if you don't all have common sense, I've seen some idiots make it through fine as well

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Expensive as in I'm not rich and when/if I do it I will be on a set budget.
That is true for most people. Have you looked it up yet?
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Old 14-02-2016, 04:26   #10
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Re: Skipping the Panama Canal and shipping boat overland

Sure it can be done but most people who get to the canal...they want to run the canal to say they did it. (probably the same reason no one has done a float on barge)

Now if you are in Texas and are trying to get to California as fast and cheaply as possible...trucking makes a lot of sense as the boat can be there in a day or two and it will likely be much cheaper.

Odds are if you can find someone who will do it but I'll bet you don't save more than a couple hundred dollars by the time you factor in pulling the mast, haul out, resteping the mast and launch along with the cost of the truck.
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Old 14-02-2016, 07:25   #11
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Re: Skipping the Panama Canal and shipping boat overland

Thanks for the responses guys. I don't plan on crossing the Canal but was just generally inquiring about it. Who knows what the future holds.
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Old 14-02-2016, 07:49   #12
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Re: Skipping the Panama Canal and shipping boat overland

Quick comment - the canal is not hard to do at all, especially if you do it centre chamber (lines to both side). Whether it is expensive is a relative thing. If you make your own arrangements (no agent), have your own lines and fenders and find your own line handlers (we worked with other cruisers on these) it costs around $800 up to a 50 foot boat (they measure and our 45' boat measured 48.5' with anchor and vane steering.
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Old 14-02-2016, 07:58   #13
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Re: Skipping the Panama Canal and shipping boat overland

I've only done it once. If you have done locks before it is uneventful. I think that the float on barge idea would be too expensive to make sense because it would take space in a large block. They fit the little ones in around the big ones we don't actually take up much functional room so the cost for pleasure boats is WAY less than for commercial vessels.
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Old 14-02-2016, 08:02   #14
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Re: Skipping the Panama Canal and shipping boat overland

Hi, the canal is neither difficult nor terribly expensive compared to the alternatives.

We have transited 3 times. I've used an agent the last 2 times, and the cost has run somewhere between $2500 and $3000 all in. In both of the more recent transits, we paid extra to avoid waiting for an advisor, meaning we paid an extra fee for a pilot.

The time without the agent was a long time ago, and I don't remember the cost. The 2 more recent ones were in '07 with a 43' boat, and in '13 with our 55.

During busy times, you might find yourself waiting for weeks, and this did not work for us.

So, you can get through for under 2k if you're willing to wait for an advisor.

Trucking? You won't come close to the cost. You would incur close to this much expense just getting hauled and launched and having the rig taken down and restepped. They you would have to pay for the truck. I am not aware of such a service in Panama anyway.

Bottom line, I would have no reservations about the canal. I don't know if I wanted to simply get my boat from the east coast USA to west coast USA that trucking wouldn't be as good of an option, but if you're cruising down there anyway, the canal is the way to go.

TJ
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Old 28-11-2017, 06:38   #15
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Re: Skipping the Panama Canal and shipping boat overland

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Thanks for the responses guys. I don't plan on crossing the Canal but was just generally inquiring about it. Who knows what the future holds.
The future might hold the enforcement of the 8kts minimum speed. Although I think it is unlikely, but this might be prohibitive for the boat class you are mentioning (<30', where even hull speed goes below 7kts). Also, for small boats land-transfer is usually cheaper, Colůn to Panama city is just 50 miles on road...

Even now, all kind of delay fees might apply if someone has a small/slow boat...
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