Gerardin Travels        

Anxiously waiting for advisor to arrive.

Lisa, Ann, and Chuck getting ready

Pilot boat with our advisor arrives 45 minutes


We're to told to quickly follow him!

We fall in line to follow the big ship and pass

under the Bridge of the Americas.

Mira Flores lock entrance

The big ship is in. There was confusion with

the private yacht that was supposed to lock

with us.

The yacht was refusing to follow the lock

master's instructions and would result in fine

because of causing a delay.

We were told by the lock master via our

advisor onboard to enter the lock next.

Moving up to tie to the tugs as instructed.

Canal workers who take boats lines to shore


Canal worker preparing monkey fist to take

boats lines.

Due to the yachts refusal to comply with the

lock master, we were to side tie to the 2 tugs.

This is usually not done because it puts the

boats too close to the opposite wall during

the locking.

The tug worker takes our line and secures it


Lines secured to the tug...but they could have

been tighter.

Yacht behind us securing its lines. Each line

will need to be tended properly when center-


Ready for the ride up. See wire lines from

ship to "mules" on shore.

Locomotive / "mule"

Perspective give you a good feeling of how

high we have to rise.

Since we were tied to the tugs we didn't need

to tend our lines.

Watching the boat behind us while the lock

was filling. They really need to work hard to

keep the boat in the middle of the lock.

We moved around more than we'd have like

because of our lines stretching. Next lock

we'd make sure they were tighter.

On the top of the first lock. The "mules" on

train tracks will pull the ship in to the next


The tug crew unties us so we can move

forward and tie to them again in the next


The ship slowly moves out careful of his prop

wash. Guided by the "mules".

Then the tugs move forward.

Whoa, watch the wash.

The live web camera focuses on us!

We're secure to the tugs again and wait for

the yacht to secure it's lines to shore.

Great perspective inside the lock.

coming up

Lisa chats it up while we rise in the second


Tugs let us go first exiting the second lock.

Tugs roar by as we leave the Mira Flores


Approaching the Pedro Miguel Boat Club after

exiting Mira Flores Lock.

Pedro Miguel Boat Club

A fitting end to our double lock transit. Lunch

in the club house.

The line handlers head home after a

sucessful transit.

B Dock Alumni News - Volume XI

        Welcome! 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 France 2001 Net Result Golfito, C.R. - Balboa, Panama Partial Canal Transit Pedro Miguel Boat Club El Valle Part II Canal Transit Portobello Linton San Blas Islands Cartagena, Columbia Columbian Coast 1999-2000 Net Result

Transit of

the Panama Canal

from Balboa to

Pedro Miguel

February 16, 2001

There were many

procedures that needed to be

taken care of prior to the

actual scheduling of the transit.

The traffic through the canal

focuses primarily on large

container ships. Traffic runs 24

hours a day but interestingly

enough, is one way only

because of the narrow portion

called the Culebra Cut which

extends from just the other

side of Pedro Miguel Lock

(when traveling from the

Pacific to the caribbean) to the

south edge of the Gatun Lake

at Gamboa. This cuts through

the Continental Divide. It would be a real push for a boat

of our size to make it through in one day and we wanted

to see some of Panama. Colon, the caribbean side of the

canal is not a place you'd want to leave your boat and

travel. Balboa (on the pacific side) is moorings only right

at the entrance to the channel of the Canal and the wake

gets pretty tough with the big ships coming and going.

We made plans to stop inside the Canal after the first

double lock of Mira Flores and stay at the Pedro Miguel

Boat Club at the Pedro Miguel Lock for a while so we could

return home to California to do some work, and also travel

within Panama. So, we were going to do a "partial transit"

or in two parts -- one from Balboa to Pedro Miguel and the

second one from Pedro Miguel to Colon.

All ships transiting the Canal need to be "measured".

Every inch is taken into consideration for the transit --

bow sprits, wind vanes, dinghy davits anything that

extends beyond the actual hull is calculated in the actual

length of the ship. Once this measurement is complete the

boat/ship is given an official document with a number that

in essence states the measurements are on file with the

Canal authorities. One must make an appointment for an

"ad measurer" to come to your boat. Now, this sounds

easy, but there are no docks or marinas in the Balboa

area, so the ad measurer must come to your boat that is

usually on a mooring at the Balboa Yacht Club. At the time

of the measurement, you must present the official with all

the proper ships documents (registration, insurance, etc)

as well as have the official lines that you will be using for

the transit in the future. You are required to have 4 lines

125 feet long each and he inspects their condition as well

as verifies that your boat has acceptable cleats for the

lines and transit. Since we rented the lines, you had to

make sure that you arranged kind of a double rental

because you would need them onboard when the ad

measurer was there and also for the transit. These two

times could be weeks apart.

Once approval was given by the ad measurer you

would then need to pay your "toll". At the time that we

transited it was $500 US for the "toll" and an $800 deposit

incase your boat did damage to the canal in the transit.

Citibank was the only bank that was allowed to process

your payment. We had been told we could use our credit

card for the transit but later found out that Citibank

processed the charge as a cash advance and we got hit

with all the bank service fees for such a transaction. We

have been told that this has now been changed, but it

certainly wouldn't hurt to double check!

Two days after you've paid your "toll", you are

permitted to call scheduling to finally know when your

transit will actually take place. Now, this by no means

says that you'll be scheduled for the next couple of days.

It all depends on the big ship traffic and the size of these

ships. Some ships are called "Pan Max" ships. These take

up the entire lock as they are the maximum size for the

Panama Canal. Sometimes, cruisers are scheduled within

a few days and at times they are required to wait two


It's an exciting, but also nerve wracking experience.

We were the first amongst our group to make a transit so

we had no experience under our belt. Jeff and Ann of

"High Drama" had been in Balboa for a while preparing to

depart for Ecuador and during that time they had line

handled for other cruisers. They generously volunteered to

line handle for us. By our second transit from Pedro Miguel

to Colon we would have had plenty of experience

transiting the canal as line handlers for other cruisers and

were much more comfortable and could actually enjoy our



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