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© Michael D. Camphin

Panama Canal limits shipping due to low water levels affecting yacht transition times

10 August 2023

The ACP have issued a new Advisory for shipping as an extended period of drought hits normal operations in the Panama Canal.

Yachts that have not booked their transit will find delays running between 2 to 7 days. Unbooked larger vessels are also seeing very high delays of more than 2 weeks in certain cases. It is therefore recommended to book transit slots for specific days following the updated guidance.

In particular yachts should plan ahead despite experiencing less disruption at present as the situation is changing daily. A limit of only 32 vessels on average per day is now in place until September 2024.

Yachts that are over 125 feet which use Locomotives and Panama Canal Lineholders are also encouraged to book their transit for a specific day as August and September availability has almost run out.

Delays could also worsen in the coming months with an increasing backlog of vessels due to the restrictions affecting yachts that have not yet made a decision on their transit booking dates.

The new ACP Advisory is in effect since July 30th, and low water levels at the Gatun Lake as a result of the current drought means that measures are being taken now to avoid further restrictions. Due to the unpredictably dry season, additional action could be taken at short notice to restrict transits further.

The Panama Canal Authority communiqué can be reviewed here for additional guidance.

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