Organise transit logistics
Four line handlers are compulsory aboard, and four lines meeting canal transit specifications are required. You’ll also want robust fenders.
An agent will organise all of these, or you can source them locally yourself. The morning VHF net, marina bulletin board, regional Facebook groups, and the cruiser’s Coconut Telegraph will connect you with local suppliers.
Line handlers are commonly recruited from other cruising boats. Joining a boat to transit is excellent preparation for taking your boat through, and a way to pay it forward when it’s time to find your own handlers.
If you don’t find volunteers, experienced Panamanians can be hired for around $100. Whoever comes aboard, make sure they know how to tie a proper knot and have basic boat sense, and will be ready to work instead of take pictures.
Lock lines must be must be a minimum
Heavy duty fendering is an absolute necessity to ward off damage from rafting up and the unforgiving walls of the locks