Canal Business


A word about transit of the Panama Canal.

The Canal Authority makes a big deal of the 4 lock transit. That is quite understandable for a 100,000 tonne container ship whose fee may exceed $400,000, but yachts are caught up in the big ship administrative folderol.

Our fee is $2,300, which covers our agent’s fee, compulsory pilotage, provision of 3 line handlers, hire of long lines and fenders, customs and immigration departure formalities at the other end. And even compulsory purchase of an air horn! It will be a 2 day trip and we will anchor for the night on Gatun Lake. We have to feed and bed down our 3 line handlers, although the pilot will be taken ashore to sleep.

When I compare this with our previous, uneventful self-managed lock transits – 56 of them on the Volga system, as many again on Sweden’s Gota Canal, and those in Scotland’s languid Caledonian system – this seems like serious overkill. The alternative is an 11,000 mile detour around the bottom of South America to get from Caribbean to Pacific, so there’s not really any arguing about it. We will do a bit of a shop today and leave the major provisioning until our departure stop at the other end of the canal.

Heavy rain is forecast. Surprise surprise.

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