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Old 07-25-2011, 06:51 AM   #1
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Panama Canal

This weekend we were line handlers on*friends' 42 foot sailboat*through the Panama Canal.** Here are a few details:
*
Every recreational vessel is required to have 4 line handlers, each equipped with a 1"x125' line.* Prior to the passage, there are many forms*to be filled out and money deposited in the bank.* The vessel is also officially measured.* Saturday*morning,*the day of the transit,*we picked up our Canal Advisor (pretty much the same as a pilot) at 6 am.* He directs all activities on the vessel as we go through the locks.* There are 3 different sets of locks in the canal.* First is*a 2-step flight*at Miraflores, and then a single flight*at Pedro Miguel; these*locks lift ships from the Pacific up to Lake Gatun.** You then cross the lake, about 21 miles,*to the*triple flight at Gatun that lowers you down to the Atlantic.* Each*lock chamber is*110*ft*wide by*1050*ft long, with a usable length of*1000*ft.* The total lift up is about 85' and then 85' down.*
*
On the way up we "rafted" with two other recreational boats;*we were on one side and a 40 catamaran was on the other with a power boat in the middle.**We went about 3/4 of the way on Saturday then we tied to a mooring buoy in the lake early afternoon (the catamaran and power boat made it all the way through but we were too slow).* The advisor departed and we spent the night there.* This morning, another advisor arrived to take us down to the Atlantic.** We were the only recreational boat this morning and we center tied in the lock in front of*an empty*bulk carrier.* As the water was drained from the lock, we slowly and evenly let lines out to*stay in the center.* There is quite a bit of turbulence so it does get a little exciting.* Each lock dropped or raised us about 28 feet (which means they*either add or remove ~433,000 gallons of water).* It look us 1 hour and 15 minutes Sunday* morning to get down the three locks to the Atlantic.*

Currently the canal is*slow do to the world economy.* In 2007, the canal was generating ~$7 million/day vs ~$4 million today (according to our advisor).**Even though the canal is technically opened 24 hours per day they are locking boats up and or*down in groups.* Saturday the last lock down at Gatun was 12:30 pm.* The next lock down was at*9:30 am Sunday morning.

They are pouring concrete for the canal expansion*and*are hoping to open the new locks in 2013, the 100 year anniversary of the canal.

I'll post more pictures later.* Ihave limitd bandwidth this morning.



-- Edited by Larry M on Monday 25th of July 2011 07:05:44 AM



-- Edited by Larry M on Monday 25th of July 2011 07:07:45 AM


-- Edited by Larry M on Wednesday 27th of July 2011 03:04:26 PM
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Old 07-25-2011, 08:42 AM   #2
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RE: Panama Canal

WOW!!! Almost $30/ft. to go thru? *Ouch*

Looks like they have the process down to a science though. Even down to renting you lines for $0.10/ft.

Looking forward to seeing more pics. I doubt I'll ever get to do it, but would sure like to. If for no other reason than to see that engineering marvel in action. Hope it was worth it
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Old 07-25-2011, 10:20 AM   #3
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RE: Panama Canal

Tom:* For a fully loaded container ship to go through, it can cost $237,600.* They get charged*$54.00 per 20' equivalent units and*can carry 4,400 units.

When we go through we won't use an agent.**The $193.00 is*a fixed cost to cruise or navigate*Panama for 1 year which we have already paid.*
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Old 07-25-2011, 01:53 PM   #4
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RE: Panama Canal

I hear there are a lot of cheap good boats down at Panama City as people buy boats and realize the Pacific is a lot different than the Atlantic and/or they can not find/hire a captain/crew.
*
Going through the Panama Canal can be costly and you are a time table/schedule.* Most boaters are not prepared and/or can meet the requirements.* Since there is a nature flow Pacific to the Atlantic many boats have trouble making the passage.**
*
I don't think we will get that far South but you never know.* Right now we just need to untie from the dock!* *****
**
*
*
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Old 07-25-2011, 02:29 PM   #5
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RE: Panama Canal

Quote:
markpierce wrote:

Here's looking at an odd turntable where tracks don't go through the middle and tracks approach at oblique angles.

What is not shown is the centerline or*maintenance*track out of frame on the right side. The angled bits of track allow a "mule" to be moved from any track to the maintenance shed at the left, to the track at the bottom, or the one*at the top of the picture.
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Old 07-25-2011, 03:25 PM   #6
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RE: Panama Canal

Quote:
Phil Fill wrote:I hear there are a lot of cheap good boats down at Panama City as people buy boats and realize the Pacific is a lot different than the Atlantic and/or they can not find/hire a captain/crew.
*
Going through the Panama Canal can be costly and you are a time table/schedule.* Most boaters are not prepared and/or can meet the requirements.* Since there is a nature flow Pacific to the Atlantic many boats have trouble making the passage.**
*
I don't think we will get that far South but you never know.* Right now we just need to untie from the dock!* *****
**
*
*
Actually there are more*recreational boats coming from the Atlantic going to the Pacific than the other way around.**The prevailing trade winds*make it quite difficult heading east from the canal.* Boats coming from Europe, South Africa, Caribbean*and the East Coast of the US have an easier time.* We are heading to*Columbia this fall and November is the end of hurricane season,*a transition month before the winter trades make going east a terrible beat to weather.* The other time of the year to go east is April thru May/June as the trade winds are dying down and hurricane season hasn't started yet.

We are anchored off the causeway facing Panama City with over 60 other boats.* There are only 3 marinas on this side and they are expansive with nothing under $1,000/month.* Balboa Yacht Club has moorings for $20.00/day and you have to use there water taxi which is included but it's rolly since it is in the canal entrance.

There might be a few boats for sale but if they are they are beat up.* If someone gets this far and wants to go back they typically go to Golfito, CR where YachtPath and DockWise both make scheduled runs to Mexico and both coasts of the US.

On a side not the*Canal Authority reports about 1,400 recreational boats a year go through the canal.*
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Old 07-25-2011, 09:11 PM   #7
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RE: Panama Canal

Very cool report, Larry.* Thank you.
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Old 08-06-2011, 08:18 PM   #8
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RE: Panama Canal

This post jogs a memory or two.

In 1960 our family returned from England to Oz through the Panama canal on a Dutch ship. I was very young at the time and it was an amazing experience. I still have all dad's old slides, showing both the Panama & Suez canals, I'll try to upload some and post them.
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Old 08-07-2011, 10:11 PM   #9
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RE: Panama Canal

Andy,
What ship did you come back on. Was it one of the Stratt boats. Royal Interocean Line. Used to work on a few of them back in the 60s.
Some used to carry 12 passangers. 12 was the max before a doctor was required on board.
Went thru the canal many times during the 70s when I was working for Gulf Oil on small crude tankers. Steamers of 45000 tonnes.
Memorable days in some of those ports.
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Old 08-08-2011, 12:50 AM   #10
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RE: Panama Canal

We came back on the 'Oranje', a Dutch ship(later renamed Angelina Lauro)She was built in 1938 , 20,000 tons with a top speed of 26 knots. She spent the war in Oz as a hospital ship taking troops to and from the islands . Funnily enough dad remembered seeing her when he was in*Tarakan*at the end of the war.She apparently was destroyed by fire in 1978/9 in the Caribbean.

As an aside we went over to England on the 'Fairsky', maybe you remember her. She was built in 1941 as a cargo ship and renamed the USS Barnes,and operated as an escort carrier after Pearl Harbour.She was then lent to the Royal Navy and renamed HMS Attacker, she was in Sinapore for the surrender.After the war she was decommissioned and turned into an ocen liner to take little old me across the world.She also was destroyed by fire in 1980 I think.

Sorry didn't mean to hijack the tread, to make amends I will definitely find the old photo's of the canal circa 1960.
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Old 08-30-2011, 01:30 PM   #11
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RE: Panama Canal

I went through again this weekend as a line handler*on a 52' motor sailor.* Going up we tied to a tour boat behind an 600 foot*tanker.* It got pretty exciting when the tanker*put it in gear to pull forward.**Here are a few*pictures.* The last 2 are as we are locking down on the Atlantic side.* We are looking at transiting the Canal with Hobo in mid October.
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Old 10-06-2011, 06:53 PM   #12
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RE: Panama Canal

what is the best time of year to leave long beach and transit the canal? My GPS syas it is 2600 miles from lb to panama?

any suggestions appreciated

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Old 10-07-2011, 06:40 AM   #13
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Panama Canal

I'd leave Long Beach so that you get to Mexico around the end of October.* Hurricane season on the Pacific Coast of MX ends Nov 1 (July to Nov are the hurricane months).* From there on, it's you choice.* The winter in Mexico is great, warm water, good fishing and great food.* From Guatemala to Panama to can do any time of the year but there are big seasonal differences.* In the winter you have gap winds called Papagallos, mainly in Costa Rica.* These winds come across form the Caribbean and can easily blow 40 for days.* In the spring, the northerlies die down and the wet season starts.* There are parts of Costa Rica and Panama that get over 200" of rain.* Panama City is the banana belt with only 70",* where Colon on the Caribbean side gets 120".* Capt. Pat Rains has an OK book out for Central America routes and http://sailsarana.com/*is an one line guide you can buy that was a great help.* It's written by a couple of active cruisers.* Take your time if you have it.* We left San Diego in Oct 2008 and sometimes I feel like we're rushing.

When to transit the canal?* That*depends on what you are going to do on the other side.* Hurricane season ends in the Caribbean Nov 1.* The trade winds or "Christmas" winds start around the end of November/early December and blow hard all winter, so you would be going to weather.* If you're trying to get to the Eastern Caribbean people try to do it in November or April/June.* We're going through the canal in a few weeks and then we'll spend the winter in the San Blas Islands.* In the spring we'll head to Columbia then the ABC's, outer Islands of Venezuela to Trinidad.* That's this weeks plan anyway.


-- Edited by Larry M on Friday 7th of October 2011 06:48:47 AM
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Old 10-27-2011, 01:45 PM   #14
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RE: Panama Canal

<h3 class="post-title entry-title">A Hobo Canal Transit</h3>*



This is Captain Morgan preparing for his first transit of the Panama Canal. Morgan (thats what his friends call him) owns the Krogen 42 trawler Hobo, out of the Pacific Northwest.
Hobo dressed with her Sunday best tires.


*

Morgans assistant, Capt. Larry on the left and our first days Canal advisor lining up the first lock. Now I know that my blog reader is probably getting bored with Canal Transit stories. But it is my blog, and Im just not getting bored going through the Canal. This thing is just a marvel of 100 year old engineering. Taking a boat through the modern shipping cross roads of the world just cant be boring. And risking body parts while you do it adds to the rush.
Lining up for the first lock. With a tourist boat in front and behind him a Sportfisher.

The bulk carrier Nord Taipei went into the lock next to us at Mira Flores. We kept hearing her name on the radio and were surprised when we saw the actual spelling. Lena was sure it was the Nord Type-A. Some hyper, Viking crew.
* The Canal walls do get slammed on occasion by the big ships. Heres a little repair work going on.
Steve, Larrys brother, tending the bow lines with me.


*

*

*

*
Another Lake Gatun sun rise, perfect for waking the howler monkeys.


Captain Morgan, with assistants' Larry and Lena, extremely proud of the present he left on Canal property on the shores of Lake Gatun.



Captain Morgan watching the port wing, Captain Howard, our advisor for the second day, and Captain Captain, aka Larry, setting up to go into the last set of locks.

Fun crew, good food, no drama, and we ended the trip with the same number of fingers as we started a good transit.

We finally transited the Canal this past weekend.* One of our line handlers, Paul, posted this on his blog.* I figured it was easier to cut and paste that to write our own.
*
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Old 10-27-2011, 01:54 PM   #15
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RE: Panama Canal

I was asked about damage to recreational vessels during canal transits.****Rumor has it that the Canal pays out more on the occasional damage claim for yachts than they take in for all the yachts.* A few days before we went*through, a catamaran that was damaged, was towed to the anchorage where Hobo was anchored and here's their story.

The*tow in from Lake Gatun*and through the 3 down locks cost $4,000. Before the Canal would pick them up they needed to put up a $5,000 cash deposit. Something that isn't easy when your ATM will only dispense $500 a day. So why did they need a tow? It was due to an ugly lock up. They were in the third up lock at the Gatun Locks. A tug was tied to the wall, then the Cat tied to the tug and monohull tied to the Cat. Close ahead was freighter. When the freighter started to move out of the lock, they gave it close to full power. One of the crew on the Cat was filming when he saw a massive turbulence headed his way. When the big ships turn their props in the lock, they are so close to the back of the lock and take up so much of the side of the lock that there isnt anywhere for the water to go. The wave essentially folded the monohull under the Cats outer hull. Then the 3/4 inch bow and stern lines on the Cat parted. Then the line from the monohull to the tug went under the aft end of the Cat and took out both of the Cats saildrives. Ouch! The Advisor had already called for an All-Stop in the locks, but the damage was done. The monohull went on to slam into the opposite side lock wall.

A few days latter they had a formal hearing at the locks, lawyers and all. They are still waiting to see if the Canal authority will cover the damage.
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Old 10-31-2011, 09:13 PM   #16
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RE: Panama Canal

Congratulations Larry and Lena,

very cool photos!
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