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Old 11-02-2007, 12:58 PM   #1
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Does anyone know what are the rules and regulations for cleats/bollards for transiting the Panama Canal? We have open bitts /cleats (mushroom bitts/bollards) and are concerned we would be refused a transit. They obviously prefer closed cleats but there is nothing to say specifically that open cleats are not allowed but we understand that in some instances they have refused. Many thanks.
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Old 11-02-2007, 02:00 PM   #2
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Welcome aboard Claire.

One of our forum members (JohnT) transitted the Canal a couple of weeks ago. He is sure to log in within the next 24 hours and I'm sure will be able to assist with your query.

Also see the CruiserLog Wiki page on the Panama Canal for some links of interest.
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Old 11-02-2007, 05:15 PM   #3
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Greeting Claire,

Your cleats should not be a problem. During your transit they will be used in one of three ways as follows:

1. If next to a tug you will be tied on firmly to the tug when ascending or descending in the locks. The tug is against the wall and you are tied onto the tug – you only let go your lines once the lock doors have opened for the next chamber.

2. If rafted-up to other boats, which appears to only happen in peak yachting season, the outer boats control the lines, similar to the single boat method below.

3. With the single boat mid-lock method the line handlers ashore throw heaving lines to the line handlers aboard. You tie your heavy lines onto their lines and they haul them up and place them on the shore bollards. Your line handlers then take a turn around your cleats and hold onto the lines – make sure you have gloves on – and if going up, everybody takes in line as the boat rises, keeping the boat mid-lock. Going up in the locks is the most turbulent and needs better control of the lines than going down. The reverse is applicable when going down the other side. The lines are fixed to the shore bollards and the line handlers aboard slowly let out line as the boat drops in the lock.

NEVER “tie-off” or lock the line on the cleat unless tied next to a tug or another vessel – if you do and the lock starts emptying, say goodbye to your cleat!

You will need four line handlers besides the skipper/captain of your vessel. If you do not have sufficient crew to man the lines, get a few yachities to help but I do recommend you also get at least one person that knows the system to do the transit with you. If you are a lass with more brains than brawn, become the official photographer and meals/drinks provider for the transit and get some brawn to handle the lines. Give Rudy a call on 6743-7241. He is a local who has done thousands of transits and two with me – he knows the advisors and the system backwards and can arrange the rent of lines and extra tyres for fenders as well. Remember too that you will have to provide meals to the line handlers and advisors during the transit.

Good luck with your transit – it is really an amazing experience so enjoy it to the full. If you need any further information, plop your questions on this brilliant board and somebody will always try and assist you.

JohnT
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Old 11-02-2007, 05:57 PM   #4
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Thanks for the info John.
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Old 11-06-2007, 10:32 AM   #5
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Hi JohnT

Thank you so much for this info, it's really helpful and much relieved that we should be ok with the cleats on our boat. Looking forward to the transit!

Thanks again,

Claire.
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