In your August/september On Watch (“Transiting Neptune’s Stairs”), Cap’n Fatty Goodlander tells of the comedy of errors during his Panama Canal transit, partly due to his two pilots not doing their jobs, and because he did not have a canal agent. They make all the arrangements, and they provide experienced line handlers instead of a pickup crew. During my pleasant transit of the Panama Canal, I was docked at the Pedro Miguel Boat Club, 2 miles from the Miraflores Locks on the Pacific side. My canal agent, Pete Stevens, informed me there would be a delay of three or four days to go through the last locks. Good! I loved the place: The clubhouse was an old wooden building surrounded by trees. In its large library, I read a good book. And I did boat jobs preparing for the Pacific. In his September 2010 On Watch (“Baksheesh!”) about his transit of the Suez Canal, the captain complained about his difficulties with the authorities. You printed my response, also saying that his troubles were due to his not having a canal agent. There are enough potential problems for a cruising sailor to worry about without inviting more. Descriptions of my transits of the Panama and Suez canals are in my book Around the World in Six Years.
—Henry Holt, Via email