At the doors of the Panama Canal
28 February 2014
We arrive in Shelter Bay marina, located at Fort Sherman, and see the canal entrance from a distance. Doesn't look so busy. The marina is full of boats awaiting transit across to the Pacific side. All you need to prepare is pretty much available right here, this is a good place to get and exchange a lot of good info. It's also a good place to find line handlers as each boat needs 4 of them, in addition to the captain. It is common for boaters to volunteer as line handlers to get a first hand experience of the transit before doing it with their own boat. Excitement is in the air. Preparations for the Pacific voyage are the order of the day.
We contact Eric Galvez, an agent who works for Centenario Consulting, a canal transit agent (firstname.lastname@example.org). He arranges everything, including line handlers (we book 4 -- I'll play hostess), boat measurements, lines (each is 40m (120 ft), fenders, cruising permit ("Zarpe") from Colon to Balboa. All in all, the cost for us ('54 ft boat) is $1,990 plus $400 for 4 line handlers.