Yes – we’re finally doing it. The path between the seas beckons, we have our transit date for the Panama canal.


We returned from the San Blas islands to Portobelo and were greeted by a mountain of admin back in the UK that had accumulated from a month of being incommunicado and a dead computer. Yup folks, there is no escaping the real world.


However, mountain scaled, we were able to concentrate on one particularly important piece of admin, getting everything together for our transit of the Panama canal. We decided to use an agent as the groaning pile of correspondence from the UK left us a bit paperwork-sick and several fellow cruisers had recommended that agents come with several advantages. It means that you don’t have to deal with the canal authorities in embarrassingly poor (still) Spanish, it means that you’re more likely to be given a transit date that doesn’t get moved about, it means that you don’t have to pay a hefty deposit bond of $1000 in cash which won’t be paid back into your account for 6 weeks or so (if it IS paid back at all) and it means that rather than scrambling to find the necessary lines and tyres to secure and protect your boat within the locks they are all delivered to you in your marina slip well ahead of the transit date.


The con – well, cash obviously. However, we weighed up the hassle against the convenience and going with an agent won out. Actually, we’ve been incredibly impressed by just how efficient our chosen chap is and are now feeling as if we have lots of time to prepare for the big day.


One other stage to go through, pre-canal, is that you must be officially measured – a process known as ‘Admeasuring’. This doesn’t really effect you in terms of cost, the two rates for yachts are $800 flat fee if you are less than 50ft and $1300 if you are more, which for us at 40ft isn’t an issue. However, it is always interesting to get an official measurement as just because a boat is called a Crossbow 40 does not mean she’s an even 40ft.


In fact, our girl is rather bigger than we first realised, as she measures a whopping 43.31 feet if you measure from the pulpit (not like one in a church, this is the stainless steel structure at the bow) to the davits (the projecting steels at the stern off which we hang our dinghy). This probably makes her true length more like 42ft which makes us feel like we got a bit more boat for our money.


Not that we’ll be changing any of our documentation anytime soon as we still like to squeak into the 40ft and under charging category for marinas!


Watch this space for news on how our transit went – we’re going through on Saturday 26th. See you in the Pacific!