Delays on the Panama Canal

By Rebecca WatersOuch! Over 150 recreational boats are backed up on the Caribbean side of the Panama Canal with wait times of up to 2 months for transit. Officially, the delays are due to the arrival of an unusually large number of commercial ships, about 50 a day, up from the 38 expected at this time of year. However, speculation is rife as cruisers worry about crossing the
Author:
Publish date:
Updated on

By Rebecca Waters

Ouch!

Over 150 recreational boats are backed up on the Caribbean side of the Panama Canal with wait times of up to 2 months for transit. Officially, the delays are due to the arrival of an unusually large number of commercial ships, about 50 a day, up from the 38 expected at this time of year. However, speculation is rife as cruisers worry about crossing the Pacific before cyclone season sets in.

Some people claim that workers are on a "go slow" order in an attempt to negotiate higher wages (canal workers can't strike). Others note that cruisers pay a lot less for their transits and, if delayed, are more likely than commercial-vessel crew to spend money and support the local economy. That could be a motive for a slow-down. Another theory is that falling water levels resulting from deforestation are limiting the possible number of transits through the canal. It seems likely that each of these elements is playing a part.

Regardless of the causes, cruisers are looking to alternatives; one is paying $5,000 for overland transit and another is sailing the long way around to the Pacific. The organizers of the Clipper Race, due to reach the canal soon, shortened the Santa Cruz-to-Panama leg of the race to ensure that all participants could move toward the canal as soon as possible and convene as a group. They are currently negotiating transit with the local embassy. Blue Water Rally organizers, who managed to get their entire fleet through in 48 hours in February, are already contemplating new approaches for their next transit, should delays continue.

There's not much that individual boats can do but wait. Agents are powerless in easing delays. Some sailors are extending their down-coast cruising and others are leaving their boats and returning home. The majority are sitting in marinas, hoping for an earlier transit time to open up.

Posted May 19, 2008

Related

Alerion2048x

Alerion Yachts 33, the 90 Minute Get Away

Easy to sail, luxurious, and swift; the Alerion 33 is the solution to your busy life. The intuitive, simple rig design, easy set-up, and put-away mean there’s no need to wait for crew to enjoy a weekend, a day, or an hour out sailing. Her beauty and comfort are evident in the ...read more

anchor

Know how: Ground Tackle

Your ground tackle is like a relationship—the more you care for it, the longer it will last. So, how do you enhance the relationship? First up, think of the accommodations—a damp, salt-rich, often warm environment, just the kind of thing to encourage corrosion. What can be done? ...read more

DSC_7522

Boat Review: Beneteau Oceanis 46.1

The Beneteau sailboat line has long represented a kind of continuum, both in terms of the many models the company is offering at any given moment and over time. This does not, however, in any way diminish the quality of its individual boats. Just the opposite. Case in point: the ...read more

shutterstock_1016585167

Cruising: Memories Made by People You Meet

Steve greeted my boyfriend, Phillip, and me as soon as we tied Plaintiff’s Rest, our 1985 Niagara 35, up to his dock on one of the Berry Islands in the Bahamas. He was tall, cheerful and clad in a hodge-podge of clothes one might wear to paint a house: oversized, grungy and old. ...read more

_98A7540

Cruising: Dogs Afloat

We dog owners understand the general expectations of ourselves in public places, like picking up after Fido and keeping him on a leash. There are, however, certain places where additional unspoken rules or expectations may apply—as in harbors or marinas. If you sail with your ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Log the glass  A week ago I set out after breakfast on a 50-mile passage. The day’s forecast via the internet was for 14-18 knots. It never happened, and I spent the entire trip adjusting my genoa ...read more