Before leaving Portobello I had completed and emailed in form 4405-i, the first step in registering your boat in the Panama canal system and requesting a transit.
Initial enquiries about getting a new exhaust elbow in Panama seemed to suggest I might have to wait 2 weeks but I found a guy in America who made them in Stainless steel so I ordered one from him. It took a week, 3 days to get from Virginia to Panama City via New York then 4 days to get from Panama City the 70 k to Colon, where I collected it from the Post Office. That was quite an experience in itself, 3 different counters to visit and different forms to fill and sign for then the packet was given to the Customs official who spent most of time sitting dozing on a chair who opened it to check that its contents matched the description on the customs form.
That same day I also visited Citibank to check that they had received my canal transit fees through wire transfer and completed the last bit of paperwork. On to the supermarket for more provisions, stocking up for the long haul. Back at the boat the new exhaust elbow fitted and the engine run up – all good to go.
Earlier in the week I had arranged for an admeasurer from the canal to come and measure the boat and had completed all the necessary forms to request a handline transit of the canal.
The final step was to phone up the scheduler for a transit slot. I was given Friday 17th Feb.
I will have to be at the Flats anchorage to pick up my transit advisor at 14.00 then shortly afterwards motor the 4 miles to the Gatun locks. After the 3 locks you moor up for the night in Gatun lake before resuming the rest of the transit the next morning.
With a date assigned I phoned Tito to hire the necessary lines – 4 x 150ft 7/8 to 1”lines and heavy duty fenders. Now to find 4 linehandlers. If the canal webcams are working you might spot me in the Gatun locks sometime after 16.00 Panama time (Thats 21.00 UK time)