Well, we have it. An official date for our Panama Canal Transit. We will leave Colon the evening of September 12, and do our up-locking during the late hours of the 12th. We stay overnight on a mooring in Gatun Lake, and then lock down to Balboa on the 13th.
Yesterday our agent, Tito, took us down to the ACP (Authority Canal de Panama) office and we registered Soggy Paws with the ACP. After registering and scheduling the measurement, Tito got us in to the Canal Operations Room. This is where the guys that actually control the traffic at the Colon end of the canal operate. They have a control tower view of the port and the beginning of the Canal, and an electronic status board of where all the ships are (probably using AIS). We got to meet the head guy, Captain Federico Cockburn, whose official title is Senior Canal Port Captain. He gave us a tour of the control room.Dave in the Canal Operations Room with Captain Federico
Then the measurer came to the docks to do the official measurement.
Dave thought Soggy Paws was a shade over 50 feet, from the tip of the bowsprit to the aft end of the dinghy davits/solar panel arch. We were anticipating getting hit with the 'over 50 feet' fee, which is $250 more than the 'under 50 feet' fee. We had contemplated disassembling the arch
, but decided it was too much work (not just the structure but the wiring for the solar array, the radar, the anchor light, etc).
We were pleasantly surprised to find that we measured out at a few inches under 50 feet.
The measurer is also supposed to inspect and make sure that we had the required 4 125-foot lines, and appropriate fenders. However, all we had to do was wave Tito's receipt at him, and he checked the box that said 'inspected'. Tito will furnish the lines and fenders on the day of our transit, and be responsible for getting them back after the transit. He is well known at the ACP, and one of the reasons we chose to use him, rather than try to do it all ourselves 'on the cheap'.
After about an hour of paperwork and discussion with the measurer, we had our official ACP Number.
The next step was to go pay the fee at the bank. They made a credit card impression that INCLUDED the $891 damage deposit. They hold this credit open until you actually complete your transit, and then close out the transaction without the damage deposit (hopefully). This process is much easier now with credit cards than it used to be with cash transactions.
Here are the fees we paid for Panama:
Panama Canal Fees
- Transit for vessel < 50 feet $500
- TVI Inspection (Measurement) $54
- Security Charge $55
- Buffer (Damage Deposit) $891
- Tito's Service Fee $50
- Taxi (ACP visit, bank, etc) $20
- Line Rental (4 125-foot lines) $60
- Fender Rental (10 fenders) $30
- Agro/Health Inspection $17
- Linehandler Fees (if any) $110 per person
- Cruising Permit for Panama $69
- Passport Stamps $10 per person $20
- International Zarpe (to leave) $20
We think we have 3 friends coming from the States to do line handling, and are looking for the required 4th line handler from the cruising community locally. Hopefully we won't have to PAY for a line handler, but we've already had offers from the local dock hands.
After 6pm on the day we completed the paperwork, we called the ACP scheduler for our transit date. Though I think we could have gotten through earlier, we asked for a date of Friday, September 12th, because we have friends flying in to help with the transit, and they don't arrive til the 11th.Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
The Panama Canal has webcams on the main locks. We will be passing through Gatun Lock, southbound, on the evening of Friday, Sep 12, and through Miraflores Lock, southbound, on the morning of Saturday, Sep 13.
Here's the link to the Panama Canal webcams page
. Maybe you can see us transit. We won't get specific times until the day before, and as soon as we get them, we'll post what we know.
Background information on the canal is better found at the Panama Canal Wikipedia Link
A great history of the Panama Canal is The Path Between the Seas
. You can order a used copy at Amazon.com for under $10, or probably find it at the library. Very fascinating, both the engineering side of the construction and the international politics at the time.
Labels: PanamaCanal, PanamaCarib, PanamaPacific