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Kjell O. Stave


Database for Questions & Answers: Panama Canal.

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1.   Does the Canal cost 500$, and is the deposit 800$. My boat is 22 feet.

2.   Do i need crew to cross?, How did you get visa for Panama

     I think the minimun price for the canal crossisn now is about 600$. (under 50 feet). The deposit is 800$. When i was planning my trip i studied the canal up and down for months on end. This turened out to be a complete waste of time because it is easyer than one thinks and there  is plenty of help to get. Totally i spendt about 1000$ for my transit, this includs two hired helpers for two days and all papers.

-         You dont need visa in advace before arriving in Panama, extension is easy to get if you want to stay longer than 30 days. You can get this after arrival if you want.

-     Anchor with the other boats in Colon on 'the flats'. It is about 2 nm after the breakwater to 'the flats' and easy to spot.

-        Go to the yacht club (easy to find) and have a beer or two in the  bar before you do anything else. Do not make any deals with the taxi'es or any locals that wishes to help the first day and not the second day either. It is better to take it a little easy and get to know the place and the other sailors. Odds are that you will meet someone that has done all the papers before and can help you and someone that has done the canal before and will share the knowledge.

-         I hired a taxi to take me around the city for papers. He charged 10 dollars for one houer and i spendt 5 but it was well spendt money. We got to see the city as well as we avoided all the hazzle with lines etc. It is possible to make it on youer own but unless you are on a very, very tight budget i would recomend a taxi.

-         For some reason i dont know ther is only two taxies working in the yacht club. I dont know why but for us it is good, they have experience and know what you need.

-     You need 4 lines that has to have a certain lenght and about ten tires to use as fenders. You can hire this from the taxies but there is some money to be saved by waiting and talking to different people about this.

-         You need 4 linehandlers pluss you (captain) on the boat and the transit now takes two days for sailboats. It is of course an advantage to have friends on the boat this day so you dont have to hire linehanlers. It is normally around 100 dollars for one man for two days. This people is also found via the taxies. Normally there is plenty of other boats going through and people help each other through. If you go with another boat first that helps you prepare a lot and he will of course have to help you through later.

-         The Captain that the canal people give you needs food and water. They prefere bottled water. Some are nice and some are ass*****. Good luck.

-     Youer boat is so small (22 feet) that you will most likely be raftet together with another boat that is bigger and he will have to do the motoring inside and between the locks. This is nice if you are rafted with a nice man.

-         I theory you have to clear out of colon and in again in panama. this is about 40$ and just bull. When i arrived in panama i asked the official (who comes to youer boat when you have anchored, normally) if he cared if we cleared out or not and he said no. appr. 40% of the boats dont bother and he thought it was silly to so they dont care. BUT you have to clear IN in panama.

-         Option: If you have a boat that is less than 2,5 meters wide you can hire a truck and take it on the road. You will be able to do this for about half of the price the canal costs but you will miss out on sailing on gatun lake and you cant really say that you went through the panama canal.  Youer choice.



In Panama things change rapidly and the prices and today's facts might be absolute when you arrive. As mentioned the best is to go straight to the bar, order a few beers and take it easy, talk to other sailors and find out what's going on.

Anchor in colon.

This area is called

'The Flats'

In the background you can see the tires

that i got for fenders. (15$)

In the foreground: My friend Joar  ;-)


Rafting of boats. This is normal for boats up to 50 some feet. Linehanlers in action. On the pic you can see my friends from Pilialoha from New Zeeland. They took care of the motoring in and between the locks.


Kjell O. Stave


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