Delays on the Panama Canal - Sail Magazine

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:

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

daviscards

Davis Instruments: Quick Reference Cards

CHECK THESEIf you’re sailing with new crew this summer or your kids have suddenly and inexplicably started to look up from their phones and take an interest in the finer points of cruising, these Quick Reference Cards from Davis are a great way to further their boating education. ...read more

01-rbir18-596

Another Epic Round Britain Race

There are basically two kinds of offshore sailboat races out there: those that take place annually, like the Fastnet and Chicago-to-Mackinac races; and those that take place every other year, like the Transpac and Newport-Bermuda race, in part so the competitors have sufficient ...read more

01b_WALKING-KEDGE-OUT-cmykpromo

Getting More Use From Kedge Anchors

If you are cruising, you need at least two anchors on board for the simple reason that you must have a backup. Imagine having to slip your anchor on a stormy night with other boats dragging down on yours, or having your rope rode severed by some unseen underwater obstacle, ...read more

SailAwayCharter

How-to: Navigating on a Bareboat Charter

So you graduated from navigation class where you practiced dead reckoning, doubling the angle on the bow and maybe even celestial nav, and you now feel well prepared for your first charter trip. Well, you won’t be doing any of that on vacation—not past the first day, anyway.Most ...read more

04-Turtle-rescue

Turtle Rescue in the Vic-Maui

Strange and often wonderful things can happen in the course of an offshore sailboat race, and one of the strangest and most wonderful things we’ve heard of recently took place during the 2,300-mile 2018 Vic-Maui race, from Victoria, British Columbia, to Lahaina, Hawaii.It ...read more

dorcap-open-blue

ATN Inc: Dorcap

COOL SLEEPYou’re fast asleep in a snug anchorage, forehatch open to catch the breeze, when you’re rudely awakened by a sneaky rain squall. Now you’re not only awake and wet, you’re sweltering with the hatch closed. Sucks, right? That’s why ATN came up with the Dorcap, an ...read more

HIGH-RES-29312-Tahiti-GSP

Ask Sail: Who has the right-of-way

WHO HAS RIGHT-OF-WAY?Q: I sail in Narragansett Bay, which is a relatively narrow body of water that has upwind boats generally going south and downwind boats generally going north. When sailboats are racing, the starboard tack boat has the right-of-way over the port tack boat, so ...read more