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Yachts and small boats to experience extensive delays transiting Panama Canal

11 October 2023

Due to the ongoing drought conditions at the Panama Canal, the local authorities have updated their guidance on restrictions for yachts seeking to transit over the coming months.

A shipping advisory has been released warning vessels under 125 feet in length (38.1M) that they will experience significant delays with an extended period of the dry season now forecast to last an additional 2 months in the region.

For yachts that are using the Panama Canal Linehandlers, locomotives and Canal transit over 125 feet in length, they can book their transit ahead of time. However, delays are also forecast due to the limited capacity for shipping.

As of 1st November, the number of vessels being allowed to transit through the Panama Canal will be reduced to 31 per day (a reduction from 32 currently).

Yachts are being encouraged to book their transit as early as possible so that they can avoid extensive delays.

The unusual dry season caused by El Niño has been affecting the world’s busiest shipping lane which accounts for 40% of global cargo transit at sea. Opening in 1914, the Panama Canal transformed global shipping routes, reducing the time it took to transport goods from the Pacific to the Atlantic by up to 5 months. Following the expansion of global shipping lanes post WW1 and WW2, today the Panama Canal plays a vital role in the world economy.

To get the latest guidance see the resources below to prepare your transit:

  • Yacht and Small Craft Transits While Water Conservation Measures are in Effect / A-44-2023: Download

  • Modifications to the Rules that Govern the Transit Reservation System / A-42-2023: Download

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