'Lectronic Index

Previous 'Lectronic Edition

Photos of the Day

May 4 - Warm Spring Bay, Alaska

Today's Photos of the Day come from Rick and Jen Fleischman, who along with their Catalina 50 Bob, spent the long and cold winter at Warm Spring Bay, Alaska, which is up near Sitka.

"In the seven months - October 1 to May 1 - that we've been here, we had a total of 121 inches of rain and 119 inches of snow," reports Rick. "And this was a very light snow year, as the bay often gets 25 to 35 feet of snow, and the record is almost 60 feet. For a large part of the winter, the sun didn't come over our horizon - in part because of the tall mountains. But it was so overcast that we didn't notice. Now we have about 17 hours of sunlight a day, and are gaining more than four more minutes each day. We had an early spring this year, with lots of sunshine in April. I will be leaving with the boat on Tuesday for the two-day trip to Sitka, arriving there just in time to haul out and get the boat ready for charters later in May.

Photos Courtesy Rick Fleischman

Truckin' Quiz

May 4 - Mexico

How many boats get shipped from Marina San Carlos / Marina Seca in Mexico, to Tucson, and thereafter elsewhere in the States each year?

Panama Canal's Charges And Delays Way Up For Small Boats

May 4 - Panama Canal

"We just completed our southbound transit of the Panama Canal aboard our Hallberg-Rassy 46, and found the new way of handling sailboats to be quite different - and much more pricey - from what it used to be or at least from what the cruising guides say," writes Giorgio Cagliero.

"We used Tina McBride as our handling agent, and we think she did a great job. However, the Canal's new fees add a lot to the cost of a transit. Under the new policy, sailboat transits start around 5 or 6 p.m., and sometimes even later at night. Your advisor takes you to Lake Gatun, where to tie to a mooring. Generally, only three boats go through a day, and they have all three of you raft together on the buoy. The advisor then leaves, and another advisor arrives in the morning to help you complete the transit. So far so good. But consider all the fees for a sailboat of less than 50 feet:
$600 Transit fee
$850 Buffer (hopefully to be refunded)
$440 Delay fee (because you did not complete your transit in one day - as if you had a choice!)
$320 Launch fee (to get your advisors back and forth to your boat)
$100 Mooring fee (to be rafted to a rusty mooring buoy on Lake Gatun)
Total fees: $1,460 + $850 buffer + $500 handling agent (if you use one) plus miscellaneous small fees for visas and stuff.

"And then there is the wait. This season sailboats had to wait anywhere from 10 to 19 days to transit, the average time being 15 days. Now if you don't want to wait for 15 or more days in lovely Colon, you may request a pilot instead of an advisor, and you can pick almost any day you like to transit - and most likely you'll start the transit early morning, which means you might even complete the transit in one day. Some of the other fees are waived also, but there is the pilot fee - a whopping $2,250! Clearly the days of transiting the Canal for $500 are gone for good!"

Getting ready to lock through on the Caribbean side of the Canal
on a drizzily dawn in May.
Photo Latitude/Richard

Readers - Unless Cagliero's transit was an isolated incident, things really have taken a turn for the worse in Panama. We're not at the Canal every day, of course, but we can't recall anybody being charged a mooring fee at Lake Gatun, a launch fee to bring the pilots back and forth, or a delay fee that wasn't caused by the boater himself. That adds up to $760 in 'new' fees.

However, as we've written before, we don't think the $500 for an agent is necessary. We've done the transit paperwork with the help of taxi drivers for about $50 - and it was a lot of fun.

As for a "typical" wait of 15 days, that seems to be way longer than in the past. But with the tremendous increase in global trade, particularly from China, it doesn't surprise us at all. To the best of our knowledge, the Canal is operating at maximum capacity most of the year.

Terrific Website

May 4 - Cyberspace

Having had to report those disparaging things about current Panama Canal transits, at least we can say that the Canal has one of the best and most informative websites we've ever seen at: www.pancanal.com/eng/general/howitworks/index.html. The photos and graphics are terrific, and give a clear demonstration of how the Canal works. Plus the site is packed with great statistics, historical and current photos, and interesting statistics such as how many accidents they have each year.

Gatun locks

Oh yeah, and the Canal cam. Check it out.

Miraflores locks
Photos Courtesy Panama Canal Website

Cal Sailing Team's Spring Gala

May 4 - Tiburon

Cal Sailing Team's Spring Gala is this Friday, May 6 at San Francisco Yacht Club in Tiburon. It starts at 7 pm. We've got food, no host bar, silent auction and a DJ. There will also be presentations by our Team Captain and by former Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, Liz Baylis, at 8:15 pm. All proceeds go to supporting the Berkeley team, which gets no funding from the university.

As far as the silent auction goes, we've got yacht charters in the San Juan Islands, week time-shares in Maui, pro ski instruction, wakeboard lessons, SFYC & OCSC sailing lessons, a coaching session with Seadon Wijsen, a Cal football family season pass, and a lot more. We're taking payment at the door. It's $35 a head to cover food, and oh, there's a raffle for an iPod, wine, and a Doyle sail bag.

For more info go to www.calsailing.org.

The Answer To The Quiz . . .

May 4 - Mexico

. . . is 60 to 70 boats a year are trucked north from San Carlos to Tucson.

Top / Index of Stories /
Previous 'Lectronic Edition
Subscriptions / Classifieds / Home

©2005 Latitude 38 Publishing Co., Inc.