What an incredible experience to go through the Panama Canal. I didn’t know all that the transit would entail, but it was quite involved. With the ARC, we had a solid transit date and we were able to “rent” the required lines and fenders as part of the fee we paid. We had a time we had to be near the locks so that we could pick up our advisor and tie up to the other boats who would be with us. In each lock, we had 15 sailboats (five groups of three).
Guillermo was our advisor who came to our boat prior to going through the locks. Your advisor is with you for several hours, and you are required to provide dinner onboard your boat the first evening and breakfast and lunch the next day. There are two locks (Gatun and Miraflores). You complete the first set of locks the first evening and the second set the next day. (It is about 50 miles from the first set to the second.) In between, there is a large, manmade lake where you raft up with other boats and stay until morning. We were rafted up between two monohulls (Time Bandit from Ireland and Toujours Belle from Germany) and one was considerably heavier than the other which made Dan’s motoring more difficult. All in all, it was easier for us in the middle of the three boats because we did not have to catch the monkey fists that were thrown by the Panama Canal line workers to the exterior boats. We also did not have to feed our lines up to the canal workers. Fortunately, I was able to “kick it” and watch everything that was going on around us (except for the meal preparation)!
When we finally got through the second set of locks, the kids and I waved and screamed to all of the people at the Canal Visitors Center (and to the camera that provides a live feed on the Internet). My brother caught the screen shot of it online but it was way too far away to see the crazy people jumping up and down on our bow.
Go Pro screenshot–Ariana and Ryan look like they could have been photoshopped in!
The Lake Between the Locks
We had watched a documentary on the making of the Panama Canal ahead of time, so it was great for the kids especially to have the historical knowledge as we went through. Ari and Ryan may not be in the classroom right now but they sure are continuing their education—and with firsthand knowledge!
I was curious about the cost of going through the Canal so I imagine readers of this blog are too. Apparently, large ships can pay between $200,000 and $500,000 or more. Cruise ships pay based on the number of people they CAN carry rather than how many they actually have onboard so it makes sense to fill those rooms! I never got an accurate number with respect to a sailboat, and our fee was included with the ARC fee we paid so I am not certain how much it was. One person told me a few thousand dollars, another person told me $800 and yet another said it was only a few hundred (which I doubt highly given the costs associated with clearing in to countries, etc.). I do know that it costs less if you measure under 50 feet (which we do). So, I wish I had a better answer for you, but I was unsuccessful in nailing the exact amount.